San Diego Comic-Con is over, and it’s time to pick winners and losers in terms of the wealth of content teased, revealed and explored during the massive four-day event.
I composed this list after 25 hours or so of Con’ing. There’s going to be a lot missing because I am just one person, and I believe that it is absolutely ridiculous that people spend half a day in line just to watch one panel.
But I was able to check out quite a lot, so hopefully this breakdown of The Good, The Bad and The Meh will help you decide on what shows, movies and video games you want to home in on in the next year.
“Stranger Things” – The latest trailer had everything we want: ’80s music, the modern “Stand By Me” crew and a creeping darkness overtaking our mortal realm.
Oh, and Eleven. I am glad they didn’t tease out her disappearance. Of the many, many Netflix shows here at Comic-Con, “Stranger Things” is king.
The art –Comics, collectibles and video games may get most of the love on the showroom floor, but I was floored by some of the standalone artwork found in between the flashy booths. I have a soft spot for the mashups – art that combines two particular series or pieces of fandom – of which there were many.
On the high end was comic book artist Alex Ross, who had a collection of stunning superhero and “Star Wars” pieces.
The Acme Archive had everything from affordable “Futurama,” “Bob’s Burger’s” and “Archer” prints to massive “Star Wars” paintings.
And if you want an indie recommendation, I enjoyed Albert Nguyen’s booth. He does “Star Wars” (yes, nearly every artist does) versions of famous paintings, such as a Luke Skywalker version of Napoleon Crossing the Alps.
“Middle-Earth: Shadow of War” – I was able to test out the new “Lord of the Rings” game, and I enjoyed my time with it. I would recommend it to any fans of Tolkien or action role-playing games.
The sieges, a new feature, are difficult and complicated. But I can tell that mastering the many elements of the siege system will pay off in a rewarding way.
A word of warning: I did notice some choppy animation in the gameplay and cutscenes. And that was while playing on the new Xbox One X, which isn’t out until November, and a 4K TV. The game isn’t out until Oct. 10, so there’s time to iron those out.
“Future Man” – Hulu’s “Terminator 2” meets “The Last Starfighter” comedy series about a seasoned gamer called upon to save humanity may seem to tread familiar waters, but the blend of comedy and sci-fi may work.
This was one of the few panels I took in this weekend, and I liked what star Josh Hutcherson and director Seth Rogen had to say. It seems funny, and the streaming service will allow them to get away with things a network wouldn’t.
I trust Rogen not to throw his name behind something that isn’t funny. He hasn’t let me down so far in my young life.
The toys – I wrote a separate article solely about the collectibles available at Comic-Con, but it’s worth repeating here that there were some awesome toys on display. My favorite was probably the Todd McFarlane “Rick & Morty” stuff.
“Bright” – Someone please explain this to me. “Uh, yeah. Hey guys. Netflix here. You know that great film ‘End of Watch?’ Well, we remade it with Will Smith and a bunch of Tolkien-inspired creatures – orcs, elves and such. We even got the ‘End of Watch’ director, who also directed ‘Suicide Squad.’ Any questions?”
I wasn’t at the panel, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it went down like that. I mean – wow. Just wow. This looks awful.
“Marvel’s Inhumans” – I get that Disney is going to squeeze the life out of every comic series in its possession until it hits a wall.
Please let this be that wall. With seemingly dozens of “X-Men” films, series and miniseries going on, why also release the redheaded stepchild of “X-Men?” I did not see a single interesting thing in the series’ new trailer.
“Ready Player One” – This panel was the buzz of Comic-Con on Saturday. I heard a lot of people trashing it. It either wasn’t close enough to the book, which they loved, or it just looked like a way to insert a lot of cheap gaming references to substitute for a coherent plot.
Anything with Stephen Spielberg’s name attached to it is a big deal, but I’m not anywhere close to sold on this project. Yes, I like that The Iron Giant was in the trailer. But as someone who doesn’t know the book, I can only go off the trailer. And the trailer didn’t really tell me anything about what’s going on. It was just a lot of special effects.
“Marvel’s The Defenders” – I’m glad Sigourney Weaver is getting work, but there’s no point in rounding up the stars of four Netflix series to squeeze out a fifth.
Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are good characters. Their shows are well-done. Iron Fist is a bad character, and his show is terrible. Why not just let the three be good and the one be bad? I feel like “The Defenders” may drag down three characters I enjoy.
“The Justice League” – Wonder Woman is fantastic. I saw a dozen of them this weekend, and I was thrilled to hear the worst-kept sequel secret on earth confirmed. Gal Gadot is the future of the DC Universe.
But this is an ensemble movie. Jason Momoa looks like a solid Aquaman, but I am not entirely sold on any of the other characters. The latest trailer only shows us action and hints at Superman’s return. Gadot may carry this film, but I am just not sure yet.
“The Orville” – The other comedy king named Seth, of the house MacFarlane, is also putting together a sci-fi mashup for Fox called “The Orville.” It is basically a funny version of “Star Trek” in which MacFarlane plays the captain of a starship 400 years in the future.
I went to this panel. The trailer is funny, and the cast had many insightful things to say. I was a little worried by a few things.
First, it looked like the non-space scenes were shot in a current Los Angeles office building. While the ship looks great, imagine Captain Kirk and his crew beaming down to a dentist’s office. It doesn’t really work.
Second, I am not sure whether MacFarlane and Adrianne Palicki will have any on-screen chemistry whatsoever. The “Family Guy” creator has carved out a decent little live-action niche as the awkward guy who somehow lands the beautiful girl, but his character and Palicki’s are supposed to be an ex-couple leading a starship. I am not sure it will work, based on what I saw in the trailer and in their panel.