The 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International is mere weeks away – and while official information is only now trickling out, a look at the schedule of 2015 – 2016 movie releases indicates that there could be some major reveals at SDCC ’14. From the ever-expanding DC and Marvel movie universes, to the return of beloved franchises like Star Wars and Jurassic Park, there are many geek-friendly genre films and TV shows building themselves up for big debuts – and what better time to make an impression than at Comic-Con?
NOTE: Very little in this preview is OFFICIALLY confirmed to be part of Comic-Con 2014; this is a list of hot properties that could likely (and probably should) have a presence at SDCC ’14 – ranked in order from lowest to highest levels of anticipation. In short: This is what we are HOPING to get out of our Comic-Con 2014 experience.
10. Fond Farewell to Middle-earth
Peter Jackson has brought the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth to life onscreen in two epic trilogies, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Holiday season 2014 will see the third and final Hobbit installment, Battle of the Five Armies, debut in theaters – ergo bringing an end to onscreen adventures in Middle-earth for the foreseeable future.
When can easily surmise that New Line and WB will be bringing footage (and likely props) from Battle of the Five Armies to the ‘Con this year – but in our book, that’s not enough. Jackson’s six-part Tolkien saga has been a milestone for many geeks (no matter which of the films you ultimately loved/hated) – but we can’t help but feel that a more grand ceremony is needed to commemorate this, quite possibly our last chance to celebrate the release of a Jackson Tolkien movie in the hallowed halls of Comic-Con.
A Middle-earth cosplay pageant, screening event (one or multiple installments of the movies), appearances by cast members past and present – all bookended with exclusive previews of Battle of the Five Armies. Now THAT would be a proper way to say goodbye to a geek culture favorite.
9. Welcome Back… to Jurassic Park
Jurassic World is coming to theaters in June 2015, so this is the one and only chance to have the film make an appearance at Comic-Con. We expect star Chris Pratt to already be in attendance as part of Marvel’s Comic-Con panel (more on that later), so having the funny and charming (and these days, ripped) actor help present a new vision of the Jurassic Park franchise seems like a no-brainer.
Besides having Pratt as a hype man, director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guranteed) and Co. simply need present fans with an official first look at some of the new dinosaurs teased in early marketing, and/or a virtual tour of the new Jurassic Park, a facility that is fully up and operational, some 22 years after the events of the first film.
We don’t even need to see any footage (we’re not greedy); some concept art and a virtual tour of Jurassic Park would be enough. Of course, if you DID want to really bring down the house, some teaser footage of a new massive and frightening dinosaur shaking the room with its roar would certainly do the trick!
8. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Tease
(Artwork by Tribute Design @ DeviantART)
Jennifer Lawrence has locked down the perfect movie career: Not only is she regularly starring in Oscar bait prestige films (Winter’s Bone, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle), she’s also locked down roles in two top-tier blockbuster geek franchises (as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, and Mystique in X-Men). With the JLAW phenomenon currently in full effect, Comic-Con would only benefit from having the first part of the final Hunger Games installment on had to present.
Besides the usual panel and footage screening, Mockingjay – Part 1 is the sort of film that is perfect for massive walk-through displays – either in the main hall of the convention or in the surrounding area of downtown San Diego. Mockingjay would also offer opportunity for stars like Julianne Moore – who aren’t necessarily ‘Con regulars – to soak up some love from an adoring crowd.
Given what a pop-culture fixation it is right now, if Mockingjay doesn’t have a legit presence at SDCC ’14, we have a feeling a lot of attendees are going to be disappointed.
7. The (Cinematic) World of Warcraft
Where does a movie about the World of Warcraft games belong if not at the greatest geek mecca on the planet? Director Duncan Jones earned serious sci-fi cred with his indie film Moon, and his plans for the Warcraft movie adaptation sound like they could please both hardcore fans and general audiences, by offering an epic fantasy adventure.
Warcraft also has the benefit of a pretty solid cast, including Ben Foster (X-Men 3), Paula Patton (Mission: Impossible IV), Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Dominic Cooper (Captain America) and Vikings star Travis Fimmel. That’s a pretty good lineup for an informative and fun panel explaining the characters and world of the film.
There is still a lot of extensive visual effects work needed before Warcraft‘s 2016 release, so we don’t expect to see much finished footage. However, at this stage, concept art of the characters, creatures and settings would be sufficient – with maybe some pre-viz or unfinished sequences to give fans an idea of Jones’ approach to fantasy action. Save the bigger reveals for SDCC ’15, when Warcraft has more polish on it.
6. Interstellar Hints
Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar has put out some pretty powerful trailers (see the latest one below) – but like all Nolan films, so much of it is still wrapped up in mystery.
We don’t expect anything too revealing (this is Nolan after all) – but if Paramount and Legendary pictures plan on showcasing anything else in their respective film slates, a nice clip or new trailer for Interstellar would certainly be a welcome addition.
Legendary pulled a similar move in 2012 by sneaking a Godzilla teaser into their Pacific Rim presentation, and with the studio already motivated by the need to promote Warcraft, a similar “surprise reveal” for Interstellar isn’t TOTALLY out of the question.
Just one glimpse at the actual “interstellarness” of it all would be exciting enough, as rumors about the film’s plot have kept many fans buzzing with curiosity about whether or not Nolan will truly deliver deep and inventive sci-fi in the vein of 2001.
5. Fox’s Marvel Movie Preview (X-Men & Fantastic Four)
Honestly, at this stage we have no idea how much traction a panel like this would get – but Fox DOES have some big plans to build their own section of the Marvel superhero universe, and there’s a lot of potential hype they could create with a well-executed presentation at Comic-Con 2014.
First up is The Fantastic Four reboot by Chronicle director Josh Trank – quite possibly THE most controversial superhero movie on the horizon. Early details point to a movie that will be a dramatic departure from the comic book source material – as personified in the casting of black actor Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle) as a new version of Johnny Storm/Human Torch. The Fantastic Four needs to start reversing the tsunami of bad buzz it’s drowning in – and some killer Comic-Con footage and/or concept art would certainly make the case for why a new, different, Fantastic Four can still be an awesome Fantastic Four.
We interviewed cast members Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller, and it was entertaining, to say the least. Get those two on a Comic-Con stage – hell, let the entire cast (including Jamie Bell, Kate Mara and Toby Kebbell) face the crowd with big smiles and enthusiasm for their project. (NOTE: It’s much harder for fanboys and girls to hate you to your face rather than behind your back. Especially if they sense that you’re passionate about the job.)
As an epilogue, have Fox’s Marvel Universe architect Simon Kinberg on hand to cover for controversy-riddled Bryan Singer, and end the panel with some quick teases and/or announcements for the next phase of the X-Men movies (Apocalypse concept art; new films like Wolverine 3 or X-Force; Channing Tatum’s Gambit and other new castings, etc.). After the success of Days of Future Past, fans are primed and ready for more X-Men movie action. A quick tease will be all they need to carry them over until a bigger panel for X-Men: Apocalypse next year.
4. Comic Book TV Show Previews
The 2014 – 2015 TV season will mark an unprecedented milestone for comic book fans, as no less than eight shows based on comic book properties will air during that time.
Comic-Con appearances by popular established shows like Arrow, The Walking Dead and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are nothing new; however, there will be a big freshman class of comic book shows this year, including The Flash and iZombie on The CW; Marvel’s Agent Carter spinoff on ABC; Marvel’s Netflix universe begins with a Daredevil TV series; there’s a Constantine TV reboot on NBC; and Fox has its Batman prequel series, Gotham.
We don’t expect to get all these TV panels in one place (they’ll be sectioned out according to popularity and/or studio), but during the course of the convention, we expect to get extensive looks at the new kids on the block, as well as panels for the returning shows that are filled with cast appearances and juicy teases about the new season.
With so much comic book TV on the way, hopefully the studios make a big impression at the convention. We’ll certainly be scrambling to cover it all for you.
UPDATE: (Confirmed: the The Flash and Gotham pilots WILL be shown at SDCC ’14)
3. Star Wars Universe Preview
With Star Wars poised for a new era of pop-culture dominance, one would think that Comic-Con (where the fires of Star Wars fandom have always burned bright) would be rewarded with the first major reveals from the new Star Wars Disney/LucasFilm universe. While that could very well be happening (fingers crossed), it’s not a guarantee: Disney has been known to brush of the ‘Con in favor of promoting its own D23 Expo – but that convention is not happening again until 2015, so Comic-Con is suddenly an attractive proposition for the studio.
SDCC would be a great place to unveil the very first teasers for J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars Episode VII – not to mention the official subtitle for the film, names of the characters being played by new cast members, and a general overview of the storyline.
(Artwork by HUSDESIGN)
A small-scale presentation could include concept art and character models; the deluxe package would include flying the cast and crew from the set to appear onstage. Having Luke (Mark Hamill), Leia (Carrie Fisher) and (a hobbled) Han Solo (Harrison Ford) on stage together again at the ‘Con? Can you say “geekgasm?”
Even if there isn’t much of Episode VII to present at this ‘Con (we expect a bigger panel in 2015), Disney/Lucas still have the upcoming Star Wars: Rebels animated series to promote. A screening of the pilot episode could do well to sate fans’ thirst for official new Star Wars material.
…And, if they confirm the lineup of spin-off films on the way – specifically the ones being directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) and Josh Trank (The Fantastic Four) – that’ll be a big headline for the Comic-Con press core to run with.
Either way you cut it, there are high hopes that SDCC14 will transport us back to a galaxy far, far, away.
2. Marvel Universe Preview
Marvel Studios has been owning SDCC since their superhero movie universe began, famously bringing down the house in 2010 when all of their Avengers appeared onstage for the first time together. Since that time Marvel has maintained a presence at SDCC, but some years (2012) have definitely been better than others (2011). This year, however, we once again expect the Marvel panel to be a big deal, for two very important reasons: 1. Avengers: Age of Ultron and 2. The studio’s Phase 3 lineup.
Avengers 2 has been shooting for a couple of months now. That’s enough time for director Joss Whedon to have put together a nice sizzle reel – one that highlights what new characters Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Vision (Paul Bettany) or the titular villain, Ultron (James Spader), actually look like in action onscreen. Bringing the cast (with the new additions) back onstage may not have the effect it initially did in 2010 – but it would be far from a snooze fest, that’s for sure. (Spader and Downey Jr. on the same stage? Yes please!)
After that, it’s time to look ahead to Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As in past years, we expect to see that iconic black screen stamped with official logos for upcoming new Marvel films. It’ll start with Ant-Man after Avengers 2 in 2015, and follow to the confirmed 2016 release date for Captain America 3, as well as an expected 2016 release date (plus casting?) for Doctor Strange. The rest of Phase 3, however, is something of a question – one that SDCC ’14 can answer.
In 2017 there will need to be a sequel film (Thor 3? New Hulk movie? Guardians of the Galaxy 2?) – plus a new property that has yet to be announced (Inhumans? Black Panther? Something else?). Personally, we’re excited to get firm answers about the 2017 lineup – as well as confirming whether or not Avengers 3 will be in 2018 (if not, Phase 3 could have more films than phases 1 & 2).
As if all of THAT wasn’t enough, Marvel still has to promote Guardians of the Galaxy (a secret screening would be nice), as well as their upcoming slate of TV projects, which include Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2, its sister series Agent Carter and the four superhero shows on Netflix, which begin with Daredevil in 2015 (SDCC costume reveal?).
As the MCU continues to expand, so will its many Comic-Con obligations…
1. DC Movie Universe (Finally) Revealed
Comic-Con 2013 was won by DC Comics and Warner Bros., who dropped the mega-bomb that the Batman V Superman movie was happening. It’s been quite a year between that announcement and this year’s ‘Con, and rumors point to DC/WB having quietly gotten a lot of ducks in a row in order to debut the official DC Movie Universe at Comic-Con 2014.
Ben Affleck is Batman; Fast & Furious star Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman; Jesse Eisenberg is Lex Luthor, Ray Fisher is Cyborg – those four casting announcements alone were enough to keep the DCMU a hot topic of debate over the course of a year. Unofficially, it seems like Jason Mamoa is Aquaman; other iconic DC heroes may have been cast as well; and a leaked production timeline points to no less than three DC movies a year for the next two years – including a Justice League team-up. We expect Comic-Con 2014 to put an end to the rumors and give us an official picture of what Marvel’s ‘Coke V Pepsi’ franchise rival will look like.
Beyond Batman V Superman and Justice League – and that all-important Wonder Woman costume reveal – there was a lot on the supposed DC movie release schedule that we’re curious about.
Not to be too dramatic, but for DC/WB it’s either go BIG or go home at Comic-Con 2014. There have been SO MANY rumors (and left-field castings) that at this point, in order to describe the state of the fanbase, I would have to quote the new HBO show, The Leftovers: “…People aren’t ready to feel better. They’re ready to ****ing explode.”
Whether they explode with elation or nerd-rage depends largely on what happens at SDCC ’14. Either way, this is our most anticipated event of the convention, for sure.
That wraps it up for our hopes and expectations for the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con. Stay tuned throughout the month of July, as announcements, panel confirmations and a whole lot of promotional preview material will all be debuting online, before the convention kicks off on July 24th.
(Header Image by HUSDESIGN)