In just a matter of hours, 150,000 rabid comics fans of all stripes will descend on San Diego for Comic-Con 2014. It’s the mecca of all things nerdy for the summer, where some of the biggest names in geek culture and entertainment come to show off what’s to come for the next few years. This year’s event is a bit different, though: with movies like the new Star Wars and Avengers coming out, 2015 and 2016 already promise to be the biggest years in film history, and Comic-Con could very well be Ground Zero for a pop culture singularity.
We’ve put together a primer for what to expect for this year’s mega-event. There’s plenty that’s already been announced, but there may well be a few surprises that could steal the whole show. The madness starts tonight and runs all the way through Sunday. Make sure you’re ready.
The big stories
Marvel: Not only does Marvel have a few huge movies right around the corner, it has a whole lot more in the works — and there’s a good chance that we’ll learn what they are during its panel on Saturday. Expect to hear plenty about Avengers: Age of Ultron and Guardians of the Galaxy, and potentially some details on six of Marvel’s upcoming films, including Doctor Strange and Captain America 3.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will conclude the second epic Middle Earth trilogy this December, and Peter Jackson will be on hand in San Diego this week to get everyone excited one last time. It’s about time that we all get a look at the next film, and that certainly isn’t out of the question given that Hobbit footage has been previewed at Comic-Con before.
Mad Max: Fury Road: George Miller is bringing his classic dystopian action series back after 30 years, and Warner Bros. is promising that he’ll show off a first look at it this Saturday. With Miller still in the directing chair and Tom Hardy taking over as Max, Fury Road is definitely one to look out for.
Game of Thrones: The HBO juggernaut recently ended its fourth season, probably its biggest yet. The cast and crew will be at Comic-Con this year answering questions about where the series will go next. Also, series author George R.R. Martin will be around to deal with rabid readers anxious for his next installment.
DC Comics TV: If Marvel will rule the box office, DC will own TV this fall. Expect plenty of news and impressions for highly anticipated shows Constantine, The Flash, and Gotham, along with updates on what’s in store in the next season of Arrow.
Fight Club 2: Chuck Palahniuk’s cult hit is returning with a sequel 15 years after David Fincher turned it into a wildly successful film. The sequel will be a 10-issue graphic novel written by Palahniuk, and Palahniuk will be in San Diego on Saturday to talk about it and the original Fight Club with Fincher and this new book’s illustrator.
Community lives to stream again. But what about that movie?
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For: We’ve already seen plenty of trailers for the new Sin City, but the film is coming to Comic-Con intending to make a splash: there will be a display of its classic cars and a panel with directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller.
Jupiter Ascending: After having its release date pushed way back at the last minute, there’s good reason to be concerned about whether Jupiter Ascending is any good. But with the Wachowski's coming off of their breathtaking Cloud Atlas, we’re certainly still eager to see more of what looks to be another absolutely epic film.
Outlander: Any time Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore wants to show up with a new series, count us ready to watch. Outlander promises to be a total epic, spanning time and genres, and we’re more than ready to get a first look at it this Friday.
Community: It’s pretty much always been on the brink of cancellation, but Community truly escaped near-certain death last month when Yahoo announced that it would be picking the show up for a short sixth season after it was cancelled by NBC. With a cult following and a huge fan demand for a movie, it'll be interesting to hear what series creator Dan Harmon has to say about the show's future later this week.
Tusk: Kevin Smith is keeping the details of his next film fairly secretive, but he’s finally ready to unveil its trailer this week at Comic-Con. Is it a horror film? Is it a comedy? We’re not really sure. Tusk has something to do with a podcast host, a spooky forest, and a monster, and that’ll certainly be a fun combination in Smith’s hands.
Could steal the show... if they show up
Star Wars: Episode VII: Star Wars is currently in the midst of serious filming, so J.J. Abrams and his crew aren’t expected to show up. However, considering how much he loves pulling things out of his mystery box for the sake of the fans (just look at the recent X-Wing news), maybe a cast member or two could make a surprise appearance.
Batman v. Superman: Zack Snyder’s superhero epic could blow the show away if it makes an appearance. Beyond Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck in the titular roles, the likes of Gal Gadot and Jesse Eisenberg have already been cast as Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor, respectively, along with rumors of Jason Momoa appearing as Aquaman. Even Hercules star Dwayne Johnson hinted at working with DC to play a character that can "throw down" with Superman. All told, this could be huge.
Interstellar: Director Christopher Nolan is coming off the incredible blockbuster that was The Dark Knight Rises with Interstellar, a sci-fi film that has a character venturing into space and through a wormhole in order to save the earth. It’s due out this November, making chances good that it’ll show up this week as a Comic-Con surprise.
Jurassic World: The Jurassic Park series hasn’t had much going for it since Steven Spielberg’s original movie back in 1993, but all of that could change with next year’s Jurassic World. Details on the movie have largely been kept under wraps, so Comic-Con might be the perfect place for it to finally roar and generate some big buzz.
Fantastic Four: Fantastic Four is another comic series with a bad history at the movies, but its upcoming reboot may finally have the right elements — namely, a strong director and a strong cast — to make it all come together just right. The film’s already been shooting, and Comic-Con would be a great place for it try to win over jaded fans and make some new ones.
We're not expecting to see cast members from 'Episode VII' in Hall H, But you never know
We'd also love to see
Warcraft: With Moon director Duncan Jones at the helm, there’s good reason to pay attention to the film adaptation of Blizzard’s classic video game series. Warcraft has already finished shooting, and though it may not come out until 2016, this is going to be a big one worth building buzz for.
Chappie: District 9 director Neill Blomkamp will return next year with Chappie, the story of an intelligent robot that’s kidnapped a pair of gangsters, both played by members of the eccentric rap group Die Antwoord. That description is enough to sell us on the movie; now we’d just love to see some of it.
Fast & Furious 7: After the sudden death of Paul Walker, Fast fans are certainly hoping that the long-running series’ seventh entry will give him a proper send off. Oh, and that the movie will be just as wild as everything that came before it. We could just find out what that’ll look like soon.
Tomorrowland: Coming in part from Lost showrunner Damon Lindelof, it should be no surprise that the details of Tomorrowland have remained mysterious. What we know is that the movie is a sci-fi adventure and that it’s being directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles). Altogether, that’s a lot to like.
Terminator: Genesis: There’s a new trilogy of Terminator films on the way, and with Schwarzenegger back on board, we can’t wait to see how the first one looks. We don’t expect to see Genesis show up at Comic-Con, but the movie ought to make a big splash if it does turn up.
The Hunger Games: Lionsgate Entertainment announced early on that The Hunger Games won’t have much of a presence at this year’s Con. That’s a shame, since Mockingjay Part I already looks like it’ll raise the bar set high by last year’s Catching Fire. Summit will, however, debut the new trailer on Samsung Galaxy Tablets during the event. Which strikes us as silly, but what can you do?
Don't forget about
Star Wars Rebels: Even though Star Wars proper isn’t expected to make an appearance, Disney XD’s new series Star Wars Rebels is coming out in a big way. The new series is set in the years after the rise of the Galactic Empire but before the original trilogy. So expect to see more Storm Troopers, evil Force adepts, and even a Cowboy Jedi before they’re through.
Robot Chicken: Robot Chicken has for years now blended raunchy humor with an eye for pop culture. (Just consider everything they’ve done with Star Wars and just about every ‘80s cartoon you can think of). This year they’re coming back to show off just how far they can push the envelope.
The Walking Dead: It may be going on its fifth season, but The Walking Dead still knows how to make a splash at Comic-Con. The cast will be on hand in San Diego this week to discuss what fans can expect from the fifth season, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see them tease a first look at it there either.
Sharknado 2: The Second One: Sharknado surprised everyone last summer by briefly taking over the internet. This year, the shlock returns with a sequel, and Syfy is doubling down on it with a whole week of shark content. It’s truly bizarre — but in a fun way — and we’re interested to see what they bring to San Diego this year.
The Giver: Philip Noyce's adaptation of this classic dystopian novel is due out in just a few short weeks, so it's only naturally it make an appearance this year. Jeff Bridges is already a sci-fi mainstay, but star Brenton Thwaites put in a solid performance in this year's The Signal. We're looking forward to this panel.
Everything else you'll see
Cosplay is not for the faint of heart
Diverse characters: Comics companies — and Marvel especially — have been pushing hard on the diversity front. In the last few weeks, we’ve seen a female Thor and a black Captain America. We also saw the death of a beloved character in Archie Andrews, who was killed protecting a friend who happened to be gay. These decisions will almost certainly make waves on the convention floor.
Toys: The splashiest parts of Comic-Con may be previews of movies and TV shows, but outside of that is a world of fandom. That world includes tons and tons of cool, exclusive, and intricate toys that you can expect to see popping up across the web throughout the week.
Costumes: Comic-Con sees an absolutely massive turnout of fans each year, and that makes it the perfect venue for cosplayers to show off some of their most impressive outfits. Expect to see photos of the amazing, the absurd, and the unexpected outfits of Comic-Con fans once they hit the floor later this week.
Panels: On top of the major studio panels and Q&As, there’s a panel for just about everything at SDCC, from Adventure Time fan meetups to seminars on how to self-publish your own comics. And it’s sometimes the hidden gems that have the most worthwhile surprises.