Comic-Con 2010 has come and gone, and it all ended with a big burst of fireworks. It may not have started that way or seen them in the middle, but the finale still captured our attention and had our eyes looking upward.
There were huge, big-budget movies there. There were tiny, independent films. There were remakes, surprisingly no Spider-Man reboots, a few comic book properties, and movies there that had no business being there.
This isn’t a list of what movies people are looking forward to the most. That buzz goes far beyond Comic-Con. No, friends. This particular list is a catalogue of just how well a few standouts did over the weekend. They either picked up steam or put themselves on the map.
7. Paul Brings Comic-Con to Comic-Con
Place money down any time Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are in town. Even with their first outting sans director Edgar Wright (who had his own hands full) the pair managed to pull in the likes of director Greg Motolla, Bill Hader and Seth Rogen. Even with the strange electricity in the air after a stabbing in Hall H, the panel held its own and got the crowd excited about seeing that very same Hall on screen. Paul opens with two Comic-Con attendees having the best Con ever and continuing their road trip through the painted desert to find an alien voiced by Rogen. The footage they showed offered some consistent laughs, and Frost became the hands down winner as funniest panelist.
6. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark Scares Its Own Producer
After some old school scares, Producer Guillermo del Toro claimed he himself needed a change of pants. The awkward giggle coming from the audience was one of personal agreement, and for good cause. It’s been hard to get all that excited about a remake of a made-for-TV horror flick from the early 1970s featuring some of the best scares and some of the not-best acting from Kim Darby. Sure, it has its own appeal, but after the panel, some new people were putting this film on anticipation lists. It impressed in the way only good film craftsmanship can. Fear isn’t just about that jump scare that cause a pants change. It’s about atmosphere and suggestion, and director Troy Nixey brought that and, in speaking fluent Horror Geek, he proved himself as a fan and a new talent to watch out for.
5. Tron Stays Alive in its Third Year
Talking about Tron has become taxing because so many words have already been laid down. However, Disney didn’t take the opportunity as a free ride in San Diego. They again set up their Flynn’s Arcade complete with a bar from the new movie, but the true triumph was in showing the kind of footage that fans of the original could start glowing blue because of. It was clear from the people I spoke with after the panel that Tron: Legacy had won over a few doubters with the scene they showed. People were starry eyed – which may have been a result of the subwoofer in the building trying to make everyone pregnant. Sound design on that damned movie is unreal. So is the look. If people were looking for spectacle, Tron gave it to them.
4. Cowboys vs Aliens Blows Up a Small Town
The same power that took down the local saloon in a fireball on screen was present inside Hall H when Jon Favreau came out in rock star style and brought the attendees to their feet for one of the few times of the convention. Favreau has a sort of magical hold over Comic-Con crowds, but he more than most understands how to speak to a packed crowd of 7,000 that are looking for any excuse to cheer. The film hasn’t been shooting all that long, about a month or so, but Favreau must have had Comic-Con in mind since day one because the footage they showed had a temp score, had been color corrected and edited to look like something that might end up exactly the same for the release. Daniel Craig doing his best Clint Eastwood stole the screen in what looks like a classic John Ford western that happens to have an alien attack in it. Plus, it doesn’t hurt the cause of your film to get a five minute standing ovation for Harrison Ford before showing your footage. Well played, Favreau.
3. Sucker Punch Does Its Title to the Audience
On Saturday morning, with the need to camp out overnight to get into the Warners panel, the studio showed off some Harry Potter and some Green Lantern. Arguably, one of those movies doesn’t even need to try, but even with the heartwarming moment of Ryan Reynolds reciting the Lantern Oath for a young fan, it was Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch that really came out swinging. As it turns out, filling your movie with gorgeous talented women and leading them down your very own acid trip is a solid formula for garnering some crowd love. Plus, with Hall H not being at capacity, it was a footage screening that many were slapping their foreheads for missing. People started lining up at midnight to see a few minutes of Harry Potter and many left before any of the real brain candy was handed out.
2. Scott Pilgrim vs Comic-Con
That’s what the film’s marketers promised, and that’s what they delivered. Their Scott Pilgrim experience was continually packed throughout the weekend – people are crazy about free shirts – and their screenings were too. Edgar Wright and the team brought a little showmanship to Thursday’s events by asking those shoved into Hall H if they’d rather just see the whole film instead of a few clips. If you were lucky, you got a special one-up button and had your ticket in. If not, it’s almost a sure thing that you went the next evening to stand in line a while to get in. The marketers here did it right by creating an exciting moment and gave those not fortunate enough to get a ticket a chance to catch the film.
1. Marvel Becomes the Champion Savior of the Con
The films listed above did an admirable job of earning a spot in the news cycle and earning a spot in the minds of fans who may not have even known about them, but Marvel owned all of Comic-Con. And Comic-Con desperately needed Marvel. Having their panel as the capstone to the event was a huge success because fans – comic book and movie fans – were treated to some fantastic footage of Thor and Captain America before getting to see the entire team of Avengers on stage for the first time.
It was clear from the people crying and fanning themselves on the way out that Marvel hit a home run out of Petco Park that landed somewhere in New Mexico. Probably right next to Thor’s hammer. Staring up at the Avengers didn’t cause a sense of familiarity. Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr, and Clark Gregg were joined by just as many faces that haven’t been properly introduced yet. That blend of known and unknown was cause for an eruption of applause and, even through the unease of seeing Mark Ruffalo up there instead of Edward Norton, the audience found a way to go crazy.
Runners Up: Let Me In proved itself more than just another remake, Megamind proved itself more than just another children’s movie, “Walking Dead” proved itself deserving on a list of movie events because most other movie events were less than deserving, Priest proved itself more than Legion 2.