Comic-Con: What to Expect (Maybe) From the Big Movie Panels

Exclusive footage? Cast appearances? A wish list of possibilties from next week's massive pop culture show.
Lucasfilm/Screenshot

Heading into this year's San Diego Comic-Con, it's not unfair for fans of genre films to feel a bit like Charlie preparing to visit the Chocolate Factory: What will we see? What will we learn?

Although Marvel Studios won't be present — in its movie incarnation, at least; the TV department will be there, promoting Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter — there are three panels being held in the cavernous Hall H that are likely to offer all manner of thrills for fans and casual audiences alike. Here's a (somewhat realistic) wish list of what we might see.

Lucasfilm

The Friday evening panel promises appearances by Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, producer and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and "special guests." Could that be code for "the cast of The Force Awakens"? We can only hope — although, given the overwhelming cast turnout at April's Star Wars Celebration convention, you have to wonder if even a cast appearance would feel like an anticlimax of sorts.

The April event also featured the debut of a second trailer for this December's return to a Galaxy Far, Far Away. Does that mean that it could be too early for a third trailer to debut at Comic-Con? Possibly, although where better would there be to debut it? (I mean, OK, sure, next month's D23 Expo might count, but still.) If nothing else, it'd be nice to see some new footage premiered at Comic-Con — and, if the Force was willing, perhaps learn some more details about the two announced stand-alone Anthology movies, including maybe finding out who'll replace Josh Trank as director of the second.

Warner Bros.

With all due respect to both Pan and The Man From UNCLE — especially considering that I'm a sucker for the retro elements of the latter — there's no way that Warner Bros.' Saturday morning presentation is really about anything other than its DC Entertainment movies. Yes, I said movies; although it's the cast and director of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice that are officially announced to appear, the fact that Suicide Squad is currently in production — and a few years' worth of getting used to Marvel Studios' "surprise" appearances at Comic-Con — it seems entirely within the realm of possibility that at least some of the cast of the movie might show up, perhaps accompanying some early footage from the movie.

(For those who think that unlikely considering that the movie isn't out until August 2016, remember that at last year's Comic-Con, fans got a preview of Batman v. Superman, almost two years ahead of its release.)

Independent of that, Batman v. Superman has to impress. Will the in-person appearances of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Lois Lane and Lex Luthor (Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams and Jesse Eisenberg, who'll show up alongside Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter and director Zack Snyder) be enough to do that? Perhaps, but it's more likely that new footage from the movie — presumably some of which has already been seen at CineEurope — will do more to get fans pumped up, so we should definitely expect some of that, at the very least. And, if Warners really wants to get fans excited, it might be time to introduce them to the rest of the cinematic Justice League …

20th Century Fox

Director Bryan Singer has already teased the possibility of showing fans footage from next year's X-Men: Apocalypse during the Saturday afternoon Fox panel, but the studio has the opportunity to show off its entire 2016 X-Men franchise — which also includes Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool movie and Gambit, starring Channing Tatum — should it want to. (Deadpool, at least, has completed initial shooting, and should have some footage ready; Gambit hasn't even started production yet, and Tatum might be too busy promoting Magic Mike XXL to make an appearance, however.) With Marvel Studios absent from the show, Fox has the chance to assert at least temporary dominance over the Marvel faithful by showing off its plans.

That could also be helped by Fantastic Four, which will be released in little over a month. Promotion for this movie has been somewhat understated, and met with a mixture of excitement and apathy from the hard-core comic book fan base. With so little time left before release — and relatively little buzz surrounding the movie — this would be the perfect time to try something big to win over what should be the core audience. But what, short of putting some pants on The Thing, could be big enough?

San Diego Comic-Con runs July 8 through 12 at the San Diego Convention Center.

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