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After four dizzying days of film and TV news, San Diego Comic-Con 2016 is officially in the books. As cosplayers put their Stormtrooper and Harley Quinn costumes back into storage, fanboys everywhere begin to dissect the scores of new footage released over the four-day geekfest. THR‘s ace film and TV teams were on the ground in San Diego and covered all the biggest panels.
Who were the winners and losers? Who picked A&E’s Bates Motel to have the biggest casting bombshell of the Con? And who expected Game of Thrones to underwhelm? How did comic book powerhouses DC and Marvel fare? Below, THR makes sense of the overwhelming amount of news to digest from the confab.
Winner: Bates Motel | A&E’s little-watched but critically adored Psycho prequel announced that pop icon Rihanna will recur as Janet Leigh’s iconic Marion Crane in what was revealed to be its fifth and final season. Talk about going out with a bang. Bates would be one of three dramas to announce final seasons at the Con, joining MTV’s Teen Wolf and The CW’s The Vampire Diaries.
Winner: Wonder Woman | Warner Bros. had a lot of pressure going into this panel and it rose to the occasion. Not only did it have to right the DC ship after the divisive Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it also had to prove to the world it could make a hit comic book movie starring a superheroine. There hasn’t even been an attempt since 2005, when Elektra bombed critically and commercially. But the footage Warners showed was strong, and fans responded. And those in Hall H, including young girls, also went crazy for Gal Gadot as Woman Woman. DC also did a heroic job of handling the character’s 75th anniversary, keeping her in the spotlight with a powerful poster, announcing a series of United States Postal Service stamps and more.
Loser: Game of Thrones | Always a must-see at Comic-Con — the interactive show-themed photo ops on the convention floor were a social media hit — the panel underwhelmed in the cavernous Hall H. With showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss both in attendance, little new information was unveiled about season seven (no castings as in previous panels) and the fantasy drama’s mega-stars (Kit Harington, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke and Maisie Williams) skipped the trip to San Diego. At least there was the blooper reel.
Loser: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword | Amid Warner Bros.’ packed presentation featuring DC heroes, a Harry Potter prequel and Kong: Skull Island, the Guy Ritchie project got lost in the shuffle. It didn’t help that star Charlie Hunnam was the only talent there to carry the water, and the footage was not a clear hit, either. Ritchie’s take on the 1,000-year old legend was filled with quick cuts, GoPro camera work and time-shifted storytelling. Some liked it, some didn’t. But then again, Ritchie did a similar thing with 2009’s Sherlock Holmes and that was a big hit.
Winner: The Walking Dead | Season six ended with a poorly received cliffhanger in which the fate of at least one series regular was left hanging in the balance. With the winds working against it, the AMC zombie drama delivered an emotional and heart-pounding trailer that successfully recharged fans after a long off-season. The series also announced casting for a favorite from its source material, with the trailer even revealing King Ezekiel’s tiger. Rawr.
Winner: Marvel Studios | The film studio closed out Comic-Con Saturday night with a snappy, entertaining presentation that was crammed with news and reveals that whipped fans into a frenzy. It’s the Church of Marvel and a Vegas show all rolled into one. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘s Michael Rooker and his crew of Ravagers coming out in costumes? A big Black Panther casting? A day in the life of Peter Parker? The hilarious mockumentary on what Thor was doing during Captain America: Civil War? Marvel delivered material to fans even when there was no material to give. And they closed out with a bang: Brie Larson as Captain Marvel. Mic drop.
Winner: Marvel TV | The TV side’s first panel at San Diego Comic-Con with streaming giant Netflix earned a standing ovation after news of Daredevil‘s renewal and well-received promos for Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders. A day later, ABC’s own Marvel drama, Agents of SHIELD, tapped Gabriel Luna to play famed antihero Ghost Rider. And a day after that, FX unexpectedly dropped the trailer for Fargo creator Noah Hawley’s X-Men take Legion. So. Much. Yes.
Loser: DC TV | While The Flash‘s Flashpoint-themed season three trailer was enthusiastically received during The CW’s four-panel superhero marathon, it’s becoming increasingly hard to keep track of the musical chairs in the DC TV universe. Stephen Amell to Legends of Tomorrow; Katie Cassidy — killed off last season on Arrow! — is not only returning but she’s joining Wentworth Miller and John Barrowman as players who appear on multiple DC TV shows. And then there’s Supergirl, where not even the arrival of Superman could save this panel from being a total dud. At least it wasn’t Fox’s Gotham, which was exiled out of the block and into a competing panel at the neighboring Hilton Bayfront.
Loser: NBC’s Powerless | Two days after DC Comics’ first half-hour comedy had its world premiere during Wednesday’s Preview Night, NBC opted to screen the pilot a second time during Friday’s panel. While the series — which boasts Comic-Con favorites Danny Pudi and Alan Tudyk — was well-received by the crowd, the fine folks running the shindig wound up turning off the power to the microphones onstage after the half-hour panel ran out of time and the room needed to be cleared for Starz’s American Gods. Memo to networks: Don’t screen a half-hour show and try to hold a Q&A in only 30 minutes.
Loser: MacGyver | Following a season of reboot swings and misses, the CBS remake hopes to bring original MacGyver Richard Dean Anderson on the series, which producers say will “honor the original show.” Only there isn’t a show to speak of yet as the drama is undergoing major recasting and is on its third writer ahead of a total pilot reshoot with a new director. This show is already in need of a MacGyver-level fix.
Winner: Justice League | In the wake of Batman v. Superman, Warner Bros. had one message to convey to fans: We are listening. And the Justice League footage the studio showed, with its quippy tone and one-liners, was meant to convince fans that Zack Snyder’s follow-up will be different from BvS. Whether the movie itself is indeed different is another story entirely and will be revealed only when the film opens next year.
Loser: Batman: The Killing Joke | The R-rated, animated adaptation of the landmark graphic novel became mired in controversy when the team added a backstory featuring a sexual relationship between Batman and Batgirl. Following the world premiere, the audience Q&A portion became contentious, at one point devolving into a shouting match between creators and fans and seeing screenwriter Brian Azzarello call a fan who questioned the sex scene a “pussy.” The subsequent news coverage focused on the controversy, rather than Mark Hamill’s well-received performance as the Joker, which added layers of humanity to the character never before portrayed onscreen.
Winner: MST3K | Eight months after launching a Kickstarter to revive cult favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000, the rebooted series is headed to Netflix, with the announcement revealed Saturday night to a packed ballroom of backers. In fact, the demand was so high for the revival that hundreds of fans waiting in line for hours Saturday to get into the tiny ballroom were turned away. There’s always at least one panel where SDCC underestimates the demand, and MST3K was it this year.
Winner: Once Upon a Time | The fairy tale continues to mine the Disney vault with this year’s crowd-pleasing news that Aladdin, Jafar and Princess Jasmine are joining the ABC drama. Plus first-look footage of the Disney favorites? This show knows how to please its fans.
Winner and Loser: CBS All Access’ Star Trek | CBS took advantage of the show’s 50th anniversary panel, tapping showrunner Bryan Fuller to moderate the session that turned political and used its Hall H presence to deliver a message of tolerance. Plus, Fuller also revealed the title of his forthcoming Star Trek and unspooled a first look at the show’s new ship, the USS Discovery, both of which went over well until … the show’s abbreviated hashtag — #STD — went, uh, viral and was quickly ridiculed online. Fuller, meanwhile, remains a Con favorite and his American Gods panel was among the highlights during Friday’s big TV day.
Winner: Sherlock | The BBC America cult drama returned to Hall H on Sunday with a special guest. Star Benedict Cumberbatch made his first appearance at the Con for the show and helped unspool a crowd-pleasing season four trailer. What’s more, Cumberbatch — already in town for Marvel’s Doctor Strange — went out Saturday night to personally greet many of the hundreds of people sleeping in line for the Sherlock panel. The crowd — both in line and inside Hall H — went nuts. For a show that hasn’t had new footage since 2014, that’s certainly one way to reward loyal fans.
Loser: The MIA film studios | This year featured the smallest selection of film studio presentations in recent memory. But does that mean the studios who sat out made a mistake? Even perennial favorite Marvel skipped last year and went on to win big with Civil War 10 months later. This year, Fox cited piracy as a concern for sitting this one out, but it missed key opportunities to connect with fans on its September Tim Burton movie Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Burton at Comic-Con? Heaven!) and December’s Assassin’s Creed. And it could have also plugged the June sequel to its surprisingly popular movie Kingsman: The Secret Service. Sony held events for Seth Rogen’s Sausage Party, while Spider-Man: Homecoming was featured during the Marvel panel. But a look at Magnificent Seven could have gone a long way (star Chris Pratt was already in town for Guardians of the Galaxy). The studio also missed an opportunity to offer a sneak peek at Comic-Con favorite Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. Lionsgate, meanwhile, plugged its upcoming Power Rangers reboot around town, but did not deliver a panel or footage.
Kate Stanhope, Mia Galuppo, Dave Nemetz and Sydney Bucksbaum contributed to this report.
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