Thursday, July 15, 2010

Danny's COMIC-CON Preview Post: The 10 Biggest Questions of Comic-Con 2010~!

Warning: if you don't speak geek, read on at your own peril.

- Well, we are getting close. Fanboys are salivating, the interwebz are abuzz, publications like Entertainment Weekly are featuring masked men with power rings on their covers. Yes, Comic-Con is almost here - the yearly mecca of geekdom that attracts legions of fans to downtown San Diego for four days of panels, parties, and paraphenalia. Really though, if you like pop-culture in the least, then San Diego in July is literally the epicenter of the universe. The biggest movies, TV shows, comics, and games will be previewed for the first time ever. The big studios, publishing companies, and game developers will be there in full force. It's an overcrowded, chaotic place to be, but it's also fun as hell. Which is why I will be there for the fourth straight year. And, why I've got this blog to take an early look at what I think will be the talk of the show come next week.

So, here we go ...


1.) Can Marvel Studios prove that it's still as mighty as ever?

- Marvel struck gold with the Iron Man franchise, finding just the right Tony Stark in Robert Downey Jr. However, the once-mighty House of Ideas is going to have to overcome a lot of uncertainty and skepticism during its Comic-Con presentation next weekend. The two centerpieces for Marvel will be Thor and Captain America - neither of which has ever enjoyed much success outside of the comics. Both movies will have to really make a splash in order to win over the hearts of jaded fanboys. Meanwhile, everyone will be wondering about The Avengers - the super-team-up film that Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, and Thor are all building towards. Lots of people are upset that Edward Norton is out as The Hulk. Afterall, The Incredible Hulk was the first Marvel film to exploit that whole idea of a shared-continuity movie universe. And hey, Edward Norton is an incredible actor to boot. It will be really interesting to see what sort of impression Marvel makes at Comic-Con. Not only will they need to prove that Captain America and Thor are for real, but they'll have to indicate that The Avengers is going to be worth the wait and the hype. The stakes are certainly high -- the future of the studio, and maybe even of the superhero movie genre in general -- will be in the balance.

2.) Can DC Comics find box-office success with anything other than Batman?

- Despite the massive success of The Dark Knight, DC and Warner are still playing catch-up to Marvel in a lot of ways. That is supposed to change with the formation of DC Entertainment, a new group dedicated to bringing DC's stable of superheroes from the page to the screen. First up on deck is Green Lantern, a franchise that's been the comic book world's most buzzed-about superhero book for the last several years, thanks to the epic storytelling of writer Geoff Johns, and universe-spanning stories like Rebirth and Blackest Night. Will the movie version of GL capture that same sense of awe and wonder and cosmic adventure? Let's hope so. DC needs a win after the misfire that was Jonah Hex, and the nonstarters that Superman and Wonder Woman have been. In any case, Entertainment Weekly just released the first photos of star Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern, and they looked ... okay. A bit odd, but could be cool in-motion. We'll see. But DC needs GL to be a huge franchise. There's no reason why it shouldn't be a huge, Star Wars-like epic. Will it be? We're about to find out.

3.) Has anyone seen that movie Tron? Yes? Really? Wow!

- Who would ever have guessed that THE blockbuster of 2010 is poised to be the sequel to Tron? But thanks to an amazing marketing campaign by Disney, and a movie that's shaping up to be creative, imaginative, and fanboy-pleasing, Tron is perhaps the most-anticipated movie of the year. You've got Jeff Bridges, you've got Daft Punk doing the soundtrack, and you've got Brad Bird and Pixar reportedly doing script touch-ups. Will Tron in fact be geek nirvana? Comic-Con will be the final test, and I feel like the movie will pass.

4.) What will be this Fall's biggest TV "event?" Smart money says Zombies.

- A lot of new Fall TV will be previewed at Comic-Con, including a couple of big genre shows from the major networks. A couple of them look very promising, so it will be interesting to see fan enthusiasm levels for new series like NBC's The Event and ABC's No Ordinary Family. Still, the sleeper hit may be AMC's WALKING DEAD. It's an adaptation of the critically-acclaimed comic book of the same name, and its writer, Robert Kirkman, is very much involved in the TV adaptation. Oh, and did I mention the pilot is written and directed by Frank Darabount (The Shawshank Redemption)? Plus, it's zombies. On TV. On AMC. Holy crapballs, this could be awesome. I can vouch for the comic - I'm a huge fan, and it's one of the absolute best books of the last decade. As for the TV show, well, it might just be THE must-see new show this year.

5.) What's in store for Batman now that Bruce Wayne is back?

- DC Comics has taken Batman on quite the roller coaster ride over the last couple of years. Under the guidance of mad genius Grant Morrison, Bruce Wayne was "killed," send back through time, and replaced in the present as Batman by former Robin Dick Grayson - who recruited Bruce's estranged son, Damien, to be the new Robin. Now, thank to Morrison's "Return of Bruce Wayne" storyline, the original Dark Knight is on his way back to the present, but it remains to be seen what his return will mean for Dick Grayson, Damien, etc. DC has already announced a slew of new creative teams for the post-Morrison era, so one thing is for sure: change is coming.

6.) Is True Blood the hottest show on TV? And will it be the hottest show at Comic-Con?

- With a red-hot, in-progress third season, an Emmy nom for Best Drama, and a rabid, ever-expanding fanbase, True Blood may just be the most buzzed-about TV show at this year's Comic-Con. And, with no Twilight panel this year, the line for True Blood's event could very well be the show's longest and most insane. But True Blood isn't just for teenaged fangirls - it's a show with bite, that's only gotten crazier and more over the top as it's gone on. With vampires, werewolves, sex, and violence - and a killer mythology that continues to expand - True Blood could very well attract the craziest - and most diverse - crowd at this year's show. Sidenote: GLEE has a panel this year, and it will be very interesting to see how the show is received at Comic-Con. I think it will get a good reaction -- after all, geeks love theatricality, and hey, *everyone* loves Jane Lynch.

7.) Can Scott Pilgrim (and Edgar Wright) take over the world?

- This August, all eyes in Hollywood will be on Scott Pilgrim - the action-comedy-romance comic book adaptation from Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright. Like Kick-Ass before it, Scott Pilgrim - filled with videogame references, Gen Y pop culture riffs, and a self-referential meta style - is a movie seemingly made by geeks and for geeks. So the question is: will the movie be a hit, or, like Kick-Ass, will its appeal not truly extend beyond the hardcore fanboys and fangirls? Wright will make one final plea for world dominance at this year's Comic-Con. Meanwhile, his old running buddies Simon Pegg and Nick Frost will be making their own appeal, plugging PAUL - a slackers vs. aliens movie that looks firmly in the tradition of Shaun and Hot Fuzz. To that end, it could very well be awesome.

8.) Can Fringe finally break on through to the "other side?"

- Look, for months now, I've been raving about Fringe. To me, it's evolved into the heir apparent to the likes of The X-Files and Lost, and the fact that the show was completely snubbed by the Emmys is ridiculous. But, fans are starting to catch on, and embracing the show en masse. In years past, Fringe was a popular show at Comic-Con, but this will be the first year that the show really comes out to the show in full force. The entire main cast will be there, and they'll be coming off a stellar season in which business really picked up. It stands to reason that the fans will be primed and ready to give all involved a true hero's welcome, and perhaps that buzz and energy will translate to the mainstream critics, press, and fans finally recognizing the show. Hey, it is on the cover of TV Guide's Comic-Con issue this week, so we shall see.

9.) Will comics finally go digital?

- The wheels of progress have been turning, and the times, they are a' changing. With the launch of the iPad and new digital comics services from Marvel and DC, fans are wondering if digital comics are finally becoming a viable alternative to plain old paper funnybooks. I think many fans will always prefer old-fashioned paper, but still, any advance that gets comics into more people's hands can't be all bad, right? I mean, Comic-Con has become as much about movies and TV and games as it has about comics, but it's a shame, because there is so much good stuff out there that the mainstream isn't reading. From superhero books to stuff like Fables, The Walking Dead, Invincible, and Sweet Tooth -- there are lots of comics that could find a much, much bigger audience via digital distribution. Will it happen? Will the publishers embrace this technology and put out books day and date with physical retail? It will definitely be interesting to see what happens.

10.) And finally ... what will be the show's big surprises?

- That's what's so great about Comic-Con -- you never quite know what to expect. A much-hyped movie could disappoint, and a little sleeper indie could steal some of the big boys' thunder. You just never know what will pop with the crowd. Will Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch kayo Comic-Con? Will Let Me In win over the skeptics? Will Sly Stallone kick some ass with The Expendables (okay, that's not really a question, but still). Will The Green Hornet sink or swim? Will there be any advance buzz about a new Superman, Batman, or Flash film? Will Megamind be able to out-despicable Despicable Me? Will JJ Abrams, Joss Whedon, or Peter Jackson have any surprises in store? Will the city of San Diego be trapped in a giant, unbreakable dome and be shrunken down to bottle size for the experiments of some nefarious alien menace? My god, the suspense. In any case, it's going to be a blast. Stay tuned for my complete post-show wrap-up, and until then -- "excelsior!", kick some ass, and dammit all.

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