Another year, another headache in trying to figure out your Comic-Con schedule and making it work (#NerdWorldProblems). I leave for San Diego on Wednesday morning and my head is already half-bald from tearing my hair in frustration over which panels to sacrifice this time. One of these days that cloning technology will be mine.
For those of you on the same boat, I present a guide that might be helpful to consider. Here are some of the more interesting things happening at the Con this year both on and off site that you might want to put on the priority list, if you haven't already.
Quentin Tarantino returns to Comic-Con after six years with one of the most anticipated movies of the year. He shared the stage last time with Robert Rodriguez for Grindhouse, but this time around it’s all about him and his Django cast members. The question is who. If it’s Jamie Foxx, it’ll be his first appearance since he came to Con promoting Stealth in 2005. Christoph Waltz was here in 2010 for Green Hornet. You know who’s never been to Con? Leonardo DiCaprio. But will he show? Saturday, 11:30am, Hall H.
When you think about it, Arnold Schwarzenegger spent his career making movies that are aimed at the Comic-Con crowd: Conan, Terminator, Predator, Total Recall... Batman & Robin. Yet his first Con appearance* will be for an action movie that has no sci-fi or fantasy elements whatsoever. It was weird when The Expendables had a panel in 2010, it’s just as weird now, but we can get past it because he’ll now appear on the sequel’s panel alongside Sylvester Stallone, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, and Jean-Claude Van Damme! Thursday, 4:45pm, Hall H.
* Correction: Arnold did show up as a surprise last minute guest for the Terminator 3 panel in 2002.
It won’t be the first Community panel at Comic-Con, but it might be the saddest. Unlike the previous two years the show came to Con, this year it won’t have an appearance by its creator Dan Harmon, who was publicly fired from his own show at the end of the third season. It’s going to be the big elephant in the room, and I’m sure a number of fans will ask a looot of questions about that. The cast will still be there, though, minus Donald Glover (who’s currently on tour) and Chevy Chase (who’s probably not looking forward to questions about Harmon given their public spats). Friday, 10am, Ballroom 20.
Firefly 10th Anniversary Reunion
Sure to be a packed panel full of emotional Browncoats, this celebration of Firefly's airing 10 years ago will have the exciting reunion of the Serenity crew, joined by creator Joss Whedon (naturally). Note: This panel is also being recorded to air on the Science Channel on November 11. Friday, 12:30pm, Ballroom 20.
TV Guide Fan Favorites
If you don’t have the time to check out the Community and Firefly separately, the leads of both shows will join forces for an all-star panel moderated by TV Guide, which will feature a conversation between Joel McHale, Nathan Fillion, Doctor Who’s Matt Smith, Grimm’s David Giuntoli, Teen Wolf’s Tyler Posey and Nikita’s Maggie Q. The stage may or may not collapse from oversexiness. Saturday, 1pm, Indigo Ballroom.
The Hobbit panel itself will be very exciting, true, but there is something else to make it even better. Tourism New Zealand will be at the Con to give away a pretty amazing prize that includes round trip flights and 6-day trip for two to New Zealand, a VIP tour of the set and Weta Workshop, and tickets to the world premiere of the film in November. All you have to do is enter, which you can only do at Comic-Con. Wednesday-Sunday, Weta Booth (#3513B).
Fans will have to wait until Sunday night to watch the premiere of Breaking Bad’s Season 5, but they can at least safe their thirst two days earlier by going to the first ever Breaking Bad Comic-Con panel, which will have a sneak preview of the premiere, not to mention the whole cast participating in a Q&A. Bryan Cranston is an absolute riot at Con panels, so this cannot be missed. Friday, 6:45pm, Ballroom 20.
Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim... and Godzilla?
A Guillermo Del Toro panel at Comic-Con is always going to be a must-see, as the visionary director is also a hilariously raunchy speaker (think of a much more talented Kevin Smith), but there's a lot to look forward about his awesomely promising giant-robots-versus-giant-monsters movie too. Bonus: rumor is that Legendary Pictures will use this opportunity to show something from Gareth Edwards' Godzilla reboot. Saturday, 2:30pm, Hall H.
Tom Jane’s secret movie
“[Jane] will be forced to leave San Diego prior to suffering the wrath of Hollywood Suits who are sure to be enraged by Jane's personal screening that pays homage to the art of comic book characters and not Hollywood cash!” That’s the crazy email I received about the secret short action-thriller Tom Jane has made with Ron Perlman that will be screening at the RAW Studios panel. “Please note the room will only fit a small number of people and due to the delicate nature of the film it will not be shown again anywhere.” I don’t know what the hell this movie is about, but say no more. Saturday, 7:30pm, Room 26AB.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson
The world's coolest astrophysicist will make his first Comic-Con appearance when he joins Chris Hardwick on the Nerdist Channel panel. The two will be joined by other personalities who are debuting shows on the Nerdist Youtube channel, including Howard Stern’s Baba Booey, also making his Comic-Con debut. Saturday, 12pm, Indigo Ballroom.
Man of Steel
Maybe second (fifth, technically) time's the charm. I was here back in 2005 when Bryan Singer and Brandon Routh presented Superman Returns. I remember the enthusiastic response from the crowd... And the dampened reaction to the actual film. There will still be Superman fans in the audience, but Zach Snyder and Henry Cavill will have to do a lot to sell some confidence about their reboot, and this panel will be ground zero for that. Saturday, 2:30pm, Hall H.
Iron Man 3
We all know that this panel is not going to just be about Iron Man. With Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige in attendance, the conversation is sure to be about the future of the Marvel movies in general post-Avengers. Feige might not reveal much about what we’re going to see, but expect a lot of hints on how these heroes would work solo in their own movies after coming together in The Avengers. Saturday, 6pm, Hall H.
Buffy Turns 20
Wait, you say, Buffy started airing in 1997. Did you do your math wrong? Ah, how zealously we try to forget the 1992 original movie. This panel will celebrate the various media appearances of the popular character from movie to television to comic books. On hand to discuss will be producer Jane Espenson, TV stars Nicholas Brendon (Xander) and Clare Kramer (Season 5 Big Bad Glory), as well as the original Buffy, Kristy Swanson. Don’t be surprised if Whedon also decides to drop in. This panel will be directly followed by the annual screening of the musical episode “Once More with Feeling.” Sunday, 2:15pm, Room 6BCF.
Dawn of the Con
This year, Comic-Con decides to kick off the convention with a bigger bang by hosting its first ever opening night party. Anyone with a Comic-Con badge can join the party, which is presented by VH1 and hosted by Rob Zombie. There will be monsters and heavy metal as Zombie will preview tracks from his new remix album Mondo Sex Head. Thursday, 5:30pm, Petco Park.
See all six Batmobiles
WB and Extra will erect a 60,000 sq ft stage outside the convention center to tape live interviews with stars, but the centerpiece will surely not be Mario Lopez. Parked next to the stage will be the six screen Batmobiles: Adam West’s Lincoln convertible, Keaton’s ride from Batman and Batman Returns, Joel Schumacher’s garish Batman Forever fin monster, the revamped version with a disco ball from Batman & Robin, The Tumbler from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, plus an unveiling of the new camouflage version that makes its debut in The Dark Knight Rises. Thursday-Sunday, Bayfront Park.
Dredd 3D Screening
Lionsgate may not have a panel to talk about the film, but they’re going to let the movie speak for itself to fans before Comic-Con even officially starts. Judge Dredd himself, Karl Urban, will be introducing an advanced screening of the new film. It’s first come first served, so get there early. Wednesday, 10pm, Reading Cinemas Gaslamp.
Adventure Time: Keyper Seeker
Fans can finally visit The Land of Ooo without the aid of recreational drugs as the show’s magical realm is recreated in downtown San Diego for an exclusive, fully immersive Adventure Time experience. “The Keyper, a beloved Adventure Time character who just happens to wear a key shaped hat, will present guests with a special key that opens one of the many doors within the secret lair of the Door Lords. Before a door will open, each guest must decipher a riddle that if successful will grant access to an extra-special prize locked inside!“ Wednesday-Sunday, The New Children’s Museum.
Star Wars burlesque
Devil’s Playground Burlesque will provide their famous Star Wars routines between performances from nerdcore acts like MC Frontalot, MC Lars, Dr Awkward, El Gun Legro, Geezer and MC Chalkskin. Tickets are $20 at the door. Saturday, 8pm, The Ruby Room San Diego.
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Of course, these are mere samplings of what will be available at the Con, where I will be for the next few days to report on what other shenanigans I can find. So get your schedules lined up and hydrate properly. San Diego Comic-Con 2012 is here.