Comic-Con can be a whirlwind experience – especially if you’re one of the press, scrambling frantically from panels to interviews to premieres, parties, and back again, in an effort to provide the most comprehensive coverage for your loyal readers . In fact, it’s only when the ‘Con is said and done that one can truly sit back (catch up on sleep) and fully process the gravity (and oddity) of what has occurred.
Now that we’ve had a day or so to get our real-world bearings again, we’re ready to talk about the fantastical world of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.
We had a crack 8-man, 1-woman team of Screen Rant staffers covering all of the ‘Con’s TV/Movie events this year, and suffice to say, between the 9 of us, we walked away with a few stories to tell.
Below you’ll find testimony from each member of our 2011 Comic-Con team, detailing their favorite (or at least most memorable) experiences from the convention. Some stories tell of epic parties, others of epic panels – and there’s even one tale about an actor whose off-screen persona seems a little too reminiscent of the questionable character he plays on TV.
So, without further ado, here are the standout stories of Comic-Con 2011, as told by our Screen Rant crew:
Comic-Con 2011: Our Favorite Moments
Vic Holtreman : Partying With Orci
My Comic-Con highlight would have to be finally having a chance to sit down and chat with Roberto Orci (writer Transformers 1&2, Star Trek 1&2) in an informal, off-the-record setting at the Dusk til Con party. Also, one of the main reasons I go to the Con is so I can catch up face to face with my fellow movie site writers and with the Screen Rant crew – and I’ve never had as many Screen Rant fans come up to me to tell me they love the site as I did this year – THAT was awesome!
If I were to pick an actual Comic-Con event, I would have to say it was the Amazing Spider-Man panel – the footage they showed has gone quite a way towards convincing me that I might actually like the new film better than the original – oh, and walking on the red carpet at the Cowboys & Aliens premiere was pretty damned awesome, too.
Kofi Outlaw: DJ Favreau
My favorite moment of Comic-Con 2011 was when Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Cowboys & Aliens) stepped out onstage at the Latino Review party and proceeded to DJ. As a Queens, NY native, Favreau knows how to rock a party right – mixing house beats into classic hip-hop, with an ear for transitions that was downright impressive for a Hollywood director. With his friend (actor/comedian Faizon Love) as his hype-man, Favreau rocked the party long after his initial one or two-hour commitment. In fact, he rocked that party so hard, one guy had to get hauled out on a stretcher: the hallmark of a good shindig.
Oh, and did I mention: As you can see above, Favreau’s Macbook Pro has a decal of Iron Man on the cover, positioned just right so that the glowing Apple insignia serves as Iron Man’s arc reactor. Totally Badass.
Rob Keyes: My Spidey-Sense is Tearing
My favorite moment of Comic-Con 2011 took place during what was arguably the biggest and best film panel this year had to offer. Sony Pictures brought four films to Hall H this year and while introducing their fourth and final panel for The Amazing Spider-Man, the moderator was rudely interrupted by a fan wearing a typical Spider-Man costume who wanted to say a few words. That fan was Andrew Garfield and what followed was a moment that solidified the young Brit actor as the right man for the film and the right man for the fans.
Nervous and emotional, Garfield read off his notes to explain how he wanted to attend his first Comic-Con as a fan first, and how Spider-Man has affected his life from when he was a child, how much this role means to him. It was a genuinely touching moment and was only made better by fantastic footage of their work.
Ben Kendrick: The Spielberg Cometh
This year, one of the most significant and electrifying moments of the show wasn’t about what’s to come – it was about tapping into where we’ve been. When fan-favorite director Steven Spielberg took to the stage for the first time ever at Comic-Con, he received a standing ovation from 6,500 Hall H attendees – fans who fell in love with scary movies watching Jaws and learned about friendship from E.T. and Elliot.
Of course Spielberg, as well as Peter Jackson (who was also in attendance), showed exclusive footage from The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn – but, when the hall cleared, I was left thinking less about the film and more about the growing Comic-Con phenomenon. While it might be easy for cynics to simply dismiss the event as a mindless celebration of geek-fandom, anyone who has attended a Comic-Con knows that it’s a magical (and at the same time bizarre) experience, where fans and filmmakers are allowed to relish in each other’s passions.
At the panel, Spielberg, one of the most celebrated and influential filmmakers in the history of Hollywood, best summed the experience:
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. I feel like I should be out there in the audience with you and not up here. We’re all in the same world together.”
Anthony Ocasio: Foreign Policy FAIL
After attending pressroom after pressroom for the numerous television series being represented at Comic-Con, you begin notice certain hilarious trends occurring. This year, one trend involved Fox Asia. With a reach of 47 million homes around the world, Fox Asia would continuously conduct video interviews with the various talent and conclude it with a request for them to give a “shout out” to all their viewers… and this is where the hilarity began.
As it turns out, when asked to speak to the “Fox Asia audience,” many of the actors/actresses referenced “Asian” in so many unintentionally inappropriate ways that after each one the producer/cameraman would look at each other, laugh, and say, “Well, we can’t use that.”
[NOTE: Although that's Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter in the photo above, he's not one of the people we're talking about. Mr. Sutter minded his manners well - this is simply the only photo of the elusive FOX Asia team that we had.]
Here are of some of the “shout outs” that will never make it to air (without naming names):
“Hey, this is [actor name] from [show name], and I just want to give a shout out to all our Asian fans. We love Asians! Asians are the coolest! We love so many Asian things: Asian food, Asian clothing. You Asians are the best!”
“Hey, this is [actor name], and I’d like to thank all the Asians for watching [show name]. What would the world be without Asia, and what would our show be without our Asian fans? I don’t even want to think about it. Yo, Asians, you rock!”
Paul Young: The Nicest Guy in Showbiz
I was fortunate enough to interview several celebrities at Comic-Con this year but none can hold a candle to the experience I had speaking with Hugh Jackman. He made a surprise appearance on the first day of the convention to promote his upcoming film Real Steel – and he sure knows how to work a crowd. Since the event wasn’t held inside the main convention center, but rather in a parking lot outside of Petco Park, it was open to anyone in the area. Not only did Jackman have the crowd mesmerized and eating from the palm of his hand – he surprised two attendees by taking them to the L.A. premier of his new movie.
His pleasant attitude didn’t stop there; he spent over two hours speaking to members of the press and then an additional 30 minutes signing autographs for anyone who asked him. Jackman knows that without the comic book fans and the first X-Men film, his career wouldn’t be where it is today – this is something he has said numerous times, and he has a truly thankful attitude at all times. I was a fan of his before, but I have nothing but the utmost respect for him now.
Mike Eisenberg: Meet Frank Reynolds
At the press roundtables for the FX show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, we got our own dose of the Danny DeVito we’ve grown to love in the show. It would appear his character in Always Sunny, the grungy Frank Reynolds, may not be such a departure from DeVito’s real personality. As he sat down for our roundtable, he took out his purple iPhone and began making grumbling noises similar to that of his Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot character in Batman Returns.
The photo he was so anxious to take was of three other members of the press – three female members. He kindly asked me to step away from the frame as he wanted only the three lovely ladies in his shot. But the picture took him an awkwardly long time to take – insert your own assumption as to why. He mumbled and grumbled his way through the picture, and concluded it with a hearty “Thank you,” and the creepiest laugh I’ve ever heard in my entire life. While this moment may not top some of his other headline-friendly press moments in the past, it was certainly a highlight for me at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con.
Roth Cornet: Girl Talk, Girl Fight
Nothing can really beat my participation in the Joss Whedon dance party at last year’s Con, but there were some truly fun and entertaining moments this year. Mike and I had an intense, but great time, managing the juggling act of doing a press line for seven movies at once and talking with Marc Webb, (a pre-arrest) Rhys Irans, Kate Beckinsale and many more. I must admit however (and I’m not sure what this says about me) that my favorite moment was watching Gina Carano beat the living tar out of Michael Fassbender in the footage that was screened at the Haywire panel — and then talking to her about it later in an interview.
Another gem from that panel was hearing director Steven Soderbergh say,”Matt Damon has the discretion of a fourteen year old girl” and that his retirement plans had been exaggerated. My only regret was that Soderbergh himself was not at the press line to interview. Otherwise, much fun was had by all.
Michael Crider: Much Chuck Love
As one of Screen Rant’s Comic-Con newbies, trying to distill a weekend’s worth of incredible experiences down into a few paltry sentences is more difficult than any of the work we actually did in San Diego. As far as geeky occurrences go, I suppose nothing tops the Game of Thrones panel, wherein bestselling author George R.R. Martin asked actor Jason Momoa who would win in a battle between his roles of Khal Drogo and the upcoming Conan the Barbarian. Seeing a respected novelist and TV writer ask such a fanboy question in the face of star power, even when they’re playing the roles that he wrote, shows that the Comic-Con attendees and the celebrities they come to see aren’t that different (at least in some ways).
But for sheer emotional impact, nothing beats Chuck leading man Zachary Levi’s heartfelt thank-you to the Chuck fans at the panel. Levi had to stop after recounting his joy at the work he’d done and the incredible support that’s kept Chuck on the air thus far – he broke into tears from the sheer gratitude for the fans, and the disappointment that the series will come to a close this season. It’s hard to explain if you weren’t there, but his excitement for Chuck and for Comic-Con was palpable, and his sincerity was unquestionable. Like many of the actors, writers and producers at the Con, Levi is a fan, too, and never was this made more clear than at that moment.
So there you have it, the good, the bad, and the ugly of Comic-Con 2011. While we’re happy to be catching up on sleep right now, there’s no doubt that we miss our friends, favorite celebrities and all the movie goodness we can only get at the ‘Con each year. In fact, we’re already stocking up on No-Doze in anticipation of Comic-Con 2012. Hopefully we’ll see YOU there.
Photo Sources: DJ Favreau Photo courtesy of Closet Geek 1; Hugh Jackman photo courtesy of Disney; Spielberg photo courtesy of Movieline; Soderburgh/Carano header courtesy of Collider, Andrew Garfield photo from AceShowBiz.