When Directors Invade Comic-Con


For the past decade, the San Diego Comic-Con has seen a major upturn in Hollywood presence. As high concept science-fiction and fantasy films continue to dominate the blockbuster charts, SDCC has become the best venue to promote genre movies. Even movies and TV shows that have nothing to do with comic books or comic book-related genres (I'm looking at you, Judd Apatow comedies) spare their time to make a Con presence. This means plenty of appearances from famous entertainers—directors, writers and performers.

It's easy to whine about the decline of SDCC's focus on geek stuff (a disenchanted friend pointed out to me that Comic-Con is a place where fans pay money to be advertised to by movie studios), but let's be honest, where else would you see these big filmmakers connect so enthusiastically with their fans? This year marks the 40th anniversary of SDCC, and more than ever, they boast an impressive roster. Let's have a look at some of the big directors dropping by.

Robert Zemeckis
Two years ago, Zemeckis' Beowulf made a splash at Comic-Con, although he did not make an appearance. This time, coming as part of Disney's 3D panel, the Back to the Future and Cast Away director will present footage from his latest film, an adaptation of the classic A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey.

Tim Burton
Being the go-to director for goths and artsy nerds everywhere, Tim Burton's films have always made an impact at the Con, whether it be a Hall H panel for Sweeney Todd or the sea of Jack Skellington merchandise populating the floor. This year, the man who famously said that he doesn't read comic books is making an appearance to promote his new take on Alice in Wonderland at the Disney 3D panel.

Shinya Tsukamoto
The notorious Japanese cult director of perverse works of genius such as Tetsuo: The Iron Man, A Snake of June and Bullet Ballet, Tsukamoto gets his own panel Thursday as he discusses his newest project, a third English-language Tetsuo movie tentatively called Tetsuo Project. Can't wait to see what news or footage (if any) he'll bring!

James Cameron
Arguably the biggest force in American science-fiction (and the guy who made the whole country fear machines... twice), James Cameron is unveiling his insanely hyped up Avatar on Thursday in what is the first-ever public screening of any footage from the film.

Terry Gilliam
As the man who once tried to bring Watchmen to screen (expect questions about it from the audience), Gilliam is hitting the Con this year with The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Sure, it's an art film, but since it's Heath Ledger's last film before his untimely death, there's no doubt it'll receive a warm welcome from the Bat-geeks in the crowd.

Joe Dante
Known for alternating between horror and family-friendly films, the Gremlins director visits the Con to promote his latest, a 3D thriller called The Hole. He'll be accompanied by the movie's star Haley Bennett.

Matthew Vaughn
The Layer Cake director is no stranger to comic books. Two years ago, his adaptation of Neil Gaiman's fantasy graphic novel Stardust had its SDCC presentation. This time, Vaughn is here to promote the unique superhero story Kick-Ass.

Park Chan-wook
After completing his notable vengeance trilogy, the South Korean director dived into the fantastic: first with the quasi-sci-fi comedy I'm a Cyborg, but It's OK, and now he makes his first Comic-Con visit to introduce us to the vampire film Thirst. Will it take a bite out of Twilight?

Henry Selick
As with Burton, Selick's work is ever present at the con due to the popularity of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Earlier this year, Selick created yet another great stop-motion classic in Coraline.

Zack Snyder
Last year, Snyder made a big splash here when he brought the entire cast of Watchmen with him. Now that the film had come and went, he's back to hold a special screening of the recently released Director's Cut. Snyder will also chat online with fans at home using their Blu-ray copy's BD Live feature.

Hayao Miyazaki
In a rare public meeting of two masters from two sides of the planet, animation giant Hayao Miyazaki will be here to bring his latest, Ponyo, as part of Disney's animation panel. Joining him will be Disney/Pixar's John Lasseter, who many consider to be Miyazaki's American counterpart.

Robert Rodriguez
No, Rodriguez isn't here to unleash another seedy grindhouse picture, nor an action-packed geek flick. Instead, the Planet Terror and Spy Kids director is bringing his latest family film, the Nickelodeon-produced Shorts.

Peter Jackson
In the past decade, Jackson has made several virtual "visits" to Comic-Con when he greeted fans who came to see The Lord of the Rings and King Kong panels. This year marks his first live appearance, but it's not for a movie he directed. Jackson will present District 9, a sci-fi thriller directed by Neill Blomkamp, who will also join him at the panel.

Joss Whedon
If there's one person who deserves to be called geek royalty, it's Whedon. The man not only created two of the most popular geek shows of all time, wrote a popular stint on X-Men, and made the biggest thing to hit the web since MIDI files last year, his feature debut was made real by the blood, sweat and tears of fans. This year, Eliza Dushku joins him in looking at the future of Dollhouse.

Roland Emmerich
Leave it to the maestro of disasters to make two consecutive films with a year in the title and bringing them to the Con. After coming to WonderCon last year to promote 10,000 BC, now he's in Hall H Saturday as part of Sony Pictures' presentation of his doomsday flick 2012.

Troy Duffy
All of these directors are famous, but Troy Dufy is perhaps the only one who can be called infamous. The Boondock Saints director's career never went anywhere, mostly due to his own inflated ego, as chronicled in the documentary Overnight. This year, he's stopping by the Con to promote his first film in 10 years, and his only second to date: The Boondock Saints II. What else?

Jon Favreau
After successfully harnessing the power of fan input to make one of the biggest films of 2008, Iron Man director Jon Favreau is back at the Con again; this time for Saturday's sure to be biggest panel, the much-anticipated sequel to Iron Man. Favreau is also bringing his cast with him, including the film's villain, Mickey Rourke.

Alan Ball
Though only having one feature film under his directorial belt, Ball won the Oscar for writing American Beauty and created the critically-acclaimed Six Feet Under. Since creating HBO's newest hit, the vampire show True Blood, Ball is now Comic-Con material. He'll be here for a Q&A with the entire cast, as well as the original book's creator Charlaine Harris.

Kevin Smith
This one shouldn't come as any surprise, Smith is a convention regular by now. This time, he's here to talk about his latest project, the buddy cop movie A Couple of Dicks. Expect an hour of hilarious dick jokes.

Arya Ponto • Contributor

As former Editor of JPP, Arya likes to entertain peeps with his thoughts on pop culture, when he's not busy watching Battle Royale for the 200th time. He lives in Brooklyn with a comic book collection that's always the most daunting thing to move with, and writes for Artboiled.com.


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