4:26pm PT by Josh Wigler
Comic-Con: 'Stranger Things' Cast Promises "Justice for Barb" in Season 2
If winter can thrive in the summer, then it's certainly not too early to get excited for Halloween.
Whether or not it's seasonal, it's happening: the Stranger Things hype is officially underway. It doesn't return until Oct. 27, but the cast and creators of the breakout Netflix hit were already hyping the season premiere at Comic-Con for a huge Hall H panel, celebrating all of the major and minor moments from season one that put Hawkins, Ind., on the map. Among the actors in attendance: David Harbour (Jim Hopper), Finn Wolfhard (Mike), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas) and more.
The first season of the Winona Ryder-starring series was such an instant and unanticipated hit, it's almost as if it came from the Upside Down itself. First launched in July 2016 by a pair of filmmakers few had heard of up until then, the Duffer Brothers, Stranger Things crawled into existence like a Demogorgon stalking through the streets of Hawkins: shocking and impossible to ignore. The first season felt like a contained story, bringing Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) safely home from his supernatural imprisonment...though perhaps we should reconsider the word "safely," considering the kid was last seen spewing monsters into a bathroom sink, just in time for some holiday cheer.
But the world has clearly opened up, based on what was shared over the course of Saturday's panel. Patton Oswalt served as moderator, and made it clear why Stranger Things was so resonant for himself and so many people: "This show is basically my adolescence from the '80s. The only thing missing is if one of the kids fell into a Gallaga machine and had to control the ships."
Oswalt called upon the Duffer Brothers (Matt and Ross) and executive producer/director Shawn Levy to talk about the project's origins. Ross described their initial vision as a mash-up of their favorite creators: Steven Spielberg directing a big fat Stephen King book, with John Carpenter music.
"We didn't think anyone was going to make it," he said. "That was a nice surprise."
"I didn't know how it was going to work," added Levy. "We didn't know if anyone would let us make it or if anyone would watch it. But I knew...it was going to be something special. Whatever you need, I'll do it. Let's get it into the world."
With that, Oswalt brought the cast out into the world of Comic-Con: David Harbour (Jim Hopper), Finn Wolfhard (Mike), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas), Natalia Dyer (Nancy), Joe Keery (Steve Harrington), Matthew Modine (Martin Brenner), Noah Schnapp (Will)...
...and the person who received the biggest pop: Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven).
The kids struggled with what they could say about season two. Wolfhard spent way too much time defending against Oswalt's obsession with his unique name, while Schnapp promised a "braver" version of Will than the one seen in season two. Both McLaughlin and Matarazzo were hard-pressed on details, joking at one point: "This is going so well." For her part, Brown was able to open up on what it was like to bring life to a character like Eleven, even though her dialogue was incredibly limited:
Harbor was much more forthcoming about what's in store for Hopper, promising the character would undergo a very different arc than the hero we saw in the first season.
"Season two is a year later. You can't start from the same place," he said. "There's a psychology of a heroic action where someone does something heroic, and whether or not they can live up to that in their daily life or there are perils of your own savior complex and the intricate psychology of what that makes you as a human being and the pitfalls of that. It's a wildly different arc in season two but it's just as satisfying at the end. It all begins with him leaving Eggos for a character in the woods he believes might be out there, and he has some daughter issues of his own."
He also joked about showing off a little bit more of "shirtless Hopper" in season two: "Hopper gets to do some very thrilling sexy scenes in season two. So enjoy, kids."
Next, some of the new actors showed up on stage: Dacre Montgomery as Billy, Sadie Sink as Max and Paul Reiser as one of the new scientists in Hawkins. Montgomery described Billy as "a human villain," as opposed to the monster villains; Sink said Max is a new friend from California, and left it at that; and Reiser said his character is...well, not necessarily a villain.
"Understandably they're a little nervous about the guy whose replacing this friggin' guy," said Reiser, pointing at Modine. "I always said it! I said it in earlier films, this guy is no good. I come in from the government to clean up Brenner's mess. Well, not a mess. But it was untidy. It was certainly untidy."
Toward the end of the panel, the person who got the biggest applause was Shannon Purser, who plays Barb. She showed up to ask a question: "Will Barb make it into season two?" Sadly, the answer was a resounding no, though it was promised: "There will be justice for Barb."
At two points in the panel — midway through, and then again at the end — they showed a brand-new trailer for the second season. You can watch it in the video below.
Stranger Things has been a breakout at Comic-Con this year, with a Netflix activation across the street from the convention center gathering a massive crowd to take photos on the show's re-created set. Wait times exceeded an hour, making it one of the must-see events around Comic-Con.
Follow THR.com/StrangerThings for all of our coverage of the Netflix series.