Anyone who followed the entertainment news as it flooded out of 2013’s San Diego Comic Con found themselves shocked and surprised by two or more bombshells dropped from above, as the movie and comic book companies kept trying to top each other with the Greatest Announcement of All.
My general impressions follow of what stood out to me most, whether good, bad, or both.
The most exciting bits:
* Guardians of the Galaxy concept art. Marvel has two releases in store for 2014: the known quantity Captain America: the Winter Soldier (footage of which was shown to fans at SDCC, to rave reviews) and the bigger gamble, based on spacefaring heroes who’ve been around in various lineups since the 1970s. The cast is certainly offbeat (Parks & Rec‘s Chris Pratt? a wrestler? two all-CGI heroes) and the concept art is faithful and encouraging. I wish them well on adapting an obscure series instead of pushing for Iron Man 4 All the Money.
* Another trailer for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The first teaser focused on the Victory Tour, which is a fraction of the book. With the new trailer, we finally see footage of the 75th Hunger Games and some of the other Tributes including but not limited to Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair. Not that I needed to see him shirtless, but it’s a positive sign that they’ve nailed the character. More Tributes next time, please.
* A Little Nemo sequel! Winsor McCay’s groundbreaking comic strip about oversized hallucinations has fascinated me ever since I wrote a paper on McCay in college. I normally don’t cheer loudly for sequels, but for the new miniseries Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, IDW Publishing has united an ideal pair of dream weavers: writer Eric Shanower (a key force behind Marvel’s faithful Oz books) and artist Gabe Rodriguez (now wrapping up Joe Hill’s Locke and Key) sound to me like just the right duo for the job. Too bad they can’t print the book in full Sunday-paper size like the originals. Dare we hold out hope for an IDW Artist’s Edition someday?
* Science TV! On Fox! No, really — not a typo! That Fox! The trailer for the revival of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos is much more…um, trippy than I expected. And yet, the footage of deep space — assuming that wasn’t all crafted on a team of mainframe-backed iMacs — is a wonder to behold. The internet does love some Neil Degrasse Tyson. The most intriguing part: not a single mention of the man who spearheaded this reboot, executive producer Seth MacFarlane. It’s potentially one of the best-ever uses of his Family Guy leverage and earnings.
* Sherlock season 3 filming has happened! Neither Benedict Cumberbatch nor Martin Freeman could appear live in San Diego, but both sent their prerecorded regards to the Sherlock panel, which confirmed that yes, they’re still making the show and everything. At the link is Cumberbatch’s taped tomfoolery regarding what really happened in “The Reichenbach Fall”. Almost.
* Tom Hiddleston live! On stage, in character, as Loki, mixing movie quotes and new lines. It’s the closest some audience members will ever come to watching Shakespeare on stage of their own volition.
Things about which, frankly, I’m torn:
* Godzilla teasing. The poster is sufficiently daunting, but footage aired at SDCC in both 2012 and 2013 was kept on internet lockdown, leaving attendees with strong impressions and leaving those of us playing the SDCC home-game out in the cold. The link contains grainy footage of questionable veracity, possibly only for exhibition purposes, but it’s more than I’ve seen anywhere else.
* Avengers 2 title and subtitle revealed. The official name of Marvel’s next $500 million blockbuster stands revealed as Avengers: Age of Ultron, even though we’re told it’s largely unrelated to the recent major comics crossover event of the same name. In which case, why pick that name and invite customer confusion? Was it that hard to come up with any other unused phrase and insert the word “Ultron”? I suppose we should be grateful they didn’t name it after a much worse crossover. I imagine fans would stampede away from, say, Avengers: Secret Wars II.
* A Wolverine: Origin sequel. (This one’s comics, not movies.) Kieron Gillen has proven his mettle on Phonogram, Journey into Mystery, and Young Avengers. Adam Kubert has illustrated many a frame-worthy cover. I look forward to seeing them collaborate on the Comic Book of the Year. But why does it have to be Wolverine: Origin II, a sequel some eleven years after the fact to a comic I refused to buy and wasn’t terribly excited to check out from my local library? It better not suck, and it better not be five bucks an issue.
* Revolution spoilers of epic proportions. As I would’ve expected, the panel audience was treated to a promo for season 2 with lots of clips of new and possibly exciting things, such as a now-deposed Bass Monroe down on his luck and Fight-Clubbing his way through a world that’s cast him aside. Beyond the video, though, creator Eric Kripke also revealed the outcome of the season-ending cliffhanger, which saw a pair of activated nuclear missiles launched and streaking straight toward Philadelphia and Atlanta. Suffice it to say I failed at guessing the outcome incorrectly, and — if Kripke is to be believed — the status quo truly will be undergoing a seismic shift this season. I kinda wish I hadn’t read the spoilers, but the first article I encountered (not the slightly more courteous one linked above) decided the show wasn’t worth a spoiler alert. If I’d been allowed to see the pilot unspoiled, I guarantee my jaw would’ve hit the floor and left a dent. Now? I’m denied that moment of in media res surprise and get to view it clinically instead. Humbug.
Sources of displeasure:
* Once Upon a Time developments. Their panel discussed two developments that aren’t thrilling me: the Season 3 devilry of Peter Pan, one of my least favorite Disney characters ever; and the show’s first spinoff, Once Upon a Time: Wonderland. I’m not thrilled about the show spreading its resources thin. Also, this is how self-contained fictional universes are ruined. It starts gradually with one spinoff. Next thing you know, there’ll be crossovers between the two shows. Then they’ll add another show or two and glut the airwaves with even more fairy tales. In time the Onceverse will become a gnarled mess of characters and sprawling continuity that will require fans to track plots and subplots on flashcards so they can keep up with all the tales. Once we reach that saturation point, there can be only one solution: a total reboot. Don’t encourage total reboots — skip Wonderland. Thank you.
* Superman/Batman. Or Batman/Superman, or World’s Finest, or Steel Knights, or Clark and Bruce Go to White Castle, or whatever they plan to call it. From the same creative mineshaft that brought you Alien vs. Predator, Freddy vs. Jason, and From Justin to Kelly, director Zack Snyder, the returning Henry Cavill, and anyone but Christian Bale will unite to bring us a five-jillion-dollar free-for-all in which I presume we’ll get to watch two super-heroes punch each other a lot instead of working together like actual heroic adults. Assuming this project manages to move closer to reality than the still-hypothetical Justice League megafilm America thinks it wants, my only takeaways from this announcement were: (1) they don’t trust Superman enough as a character to let him headline his own sequel; (2) they’re gonna screw up Batman no matter who dons the cowl; (3) tonally, this will be the most DC-New-52-iest of all DC’s movies to date, from which I expect several different levels of UGH; and (4) money money money money money money money.
* They got to see the S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot and I didn’t. Jealous? Me? Well, YEAH.