What is SDCC? It's four days where comics, TV shows, movies, collectibles, anime series, games and much more are shown off by their creators and their stars, along with hundreds of dealers offering their wares to collectors and fans from all over the world. It, dear reader, is paradise for those of us with an unhealthy amount of t-shirts with comics characters on them.
SDCC is a thing of wonder and magic, in a world which is largely bereft of much magic at all, and even though this year's event didn't seem to have quite the punch of recent years (such as the moment at last year's event when the whole Avengers cast were brought out onstage, one by one, to ever more rapturous applause), it remains the dream location for people like us to visit. How many of us are there out there that have that “One day... I'll make it to SDCC” dream, eh? Millions. Everywhere. Ladies and gents, you;re not alone in that eternal craving to go to those hallowed halls (and pick up wads of free stuff alongside the masses of tat you don't need which you'll inevtiably buy because YOU'RE AT SDCC, DAMMIT.
Anyway, SDCC 2012 has been and gone, and it's time to go through the massive number of announcements, panels, trailers, posters and more and pick out the choice items to take note of. I would quite merrily cover every single item that has come to light at SDCC, but then this column would run as long as Stephen King's Dark Tower series and make even less sense. So, once more unto the breach, dear friends, as we dive into some of the chaos that is the San Diego Comic Con, and its luminous treasures.
DREDD SCREENING – IT KICKS ASS
The new Judge Dredd movie, DREDD, was screened to a hall full of appreciative fans at the con, and it's gone down really well with the SDCC crowd. While it has a lower budget than most blockbusters, it apparently delivers the goods in terms of fun and OTT 2000AD-style violence.
While the film has similarities with action flick The Raid (in that much of it takes place in one building), these are coincidental (the film was well into production when The Raid started screening), it is very much the Judge Dredd film we should have had all along. According to attendee reports, Karl Urban's Judge Dredd is note perfect, and indeed DOES NOT REMOVE THE HELMET.
I'm excited to see how the filmmakers have handled Olivia Thirlby's role as Cassandra Anderson, Dredd's rookie partner for the film, known to comics fans as Psi Judge Anderson. Judging (heh) from the reviews, this could well be 2012's surprise sci-fi ass-kicker.
Plus, the brand new JUDGE DREDD comic series debuts in November from IDW. Everyone's a winner. If anyone can do Dredd well for the overseas market, then it's IDW.
MARVEL'S NEXT WAVE OF FILMS REVEALED
The official titles and logos for the sequels to Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor were unveiled at SDCC, along with teaser logos for Iron Man 3, Edgar Wright's Ant Man and Guardians of The Galaxy, which also saw some superb production art unveiled as well. These films are going under the banner of 'Phase 2' of Marvel Studios' output.
The second Captain America film is entitled CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, which is sure to set a lot of comic geeks into a frenzy (The Winter Soldier storyline is one of the most important and iconic in Cap's history), while the second Thor movie has the more ambiguous title of THOR: THE DARK WORLD.
ANT MAN is set to go into production once Edgar Wright has completed the final instalment of the 'Blood and ice cream' trilogy with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (swoon - my heroes), namely THE WORLD'S END. Speaking of which, that film got a natty teaser poster unveiled too.
IRON MAN 3 – NEW SUIT
IRON MAN 3 got a standard logo unveiled, but it was the new suit of Iron Man armour on show at the event, with the previous suits behind it, which caused some controversy. The latest suit is almost entirely gold, with only small accents of red. It, well, it doesn't look great, to be honest. Judgement is reserved until the suit is seen in action, as this film does sound like it has a cracking plot and a satisfying new direction.
IRON MAN 3 – ROBERT DOWNEY JR. STEALS THE SHOW (AGAIN)
To introduce the first glimpse of footage from the third Iron Man movie, none other than Tony Stark himself, Robert Downey Jr (pretty much one and the same person, really), got a gargantuan response from the crowd as he danced down the aisles towards the stage to the tune of Luther Vandross' hit “Never Too Much” while wearing one of Iron Man's gloves and flashing the audience with the repulsor's light.
Once onstage he introduced the first ever showing of footage from the new movie, and it was a doozy. SPOILERS AHEAD: The early part of the footage sees lighthearted scenes in while Tony tries out new tech for the suits and a scene with John Favreau's Happy Hogan.
Then amidst the quick shots of various set-pieces and quieter scenes (War Machine! Pepper Potts! Badassery!), there's footage of Tony narrowly escaping his giant house in one of the Iron Man suits while the place is completely destroyed, accompanied by a voiceover from The Mandarin and a big reveal of Sir Ben Kingsley in full Mandarin gear, sat on a throne, no less. It sounds fantastic, and looks set to be a far more rounded film than Iron Man 2.
In other Marvel movie news, David Slade isn't directing the DAREDEVIL reboot after all, while Josh Trank has been officially attached to the new version of THE FANTASTIC FOUR.
MAN OF STEEL: TEASER TRAILER AND POSTER
The new Superman movie, directed by Zack "Box office poison" Snyder and starring Henry Cavill as the most iconic superhero ever, got its teaser trailer shown and its first poster revealed over the weekend at SDCC.
The well-edited teaser trailer featured a joint voiceover from Kevin Costner (Pa Kent) and Russell Crowe (Superman's biological father, the Kryptonian Jor-El), over footage of the young Clark in Smallville, brief glimpses of Supes in the new costume, even briefer glimpses of the action on show, and standard teaser fare, really. It sounds like a chunk of the film is (YAAAWWWWWNN) an origin story before zipping forward to the present day and Superman's long-awaited rematch with General Zod and his hordes. I really hope the origin stuff only shows up in flashback. WE KNOW WHERE HE'S FROM, OKAY? Ten seasons of Smallville must have had their effect by now - can't we just get on with him having a scrap with Darkseid?
The teaser poster features a close-up of Henry as Superman, with a glimpse of the stylized new costume (which still looks far too dark). I really hope this film turns out well, but with DC's track record over the past decade, I'll need some convincing. I really hope the most iconic superhero of all time doesn't fizzle out into nothing again, as he did with SUPERMAN RETURNS (Brandon Routh was cool, but NOTHING HAPPENED WHATSOEVER in that film. MAN OF STEEL must be better than that, anyway...)
DEADPOOL GAME TRAILER GOES “PEW PEW PEW”
The trailer for a DEADPOOL video game has set fans alight at SDCC and online with anticipation for the first solo game adventure for the 'Merc With A Mouth', and it's hilarious. I don't play contemporary games (I'm more of a retro games geek), but this game trailer is brilliant.
The game looks a huge amount of fun, and the dialogue from Deadpool is absolutely perfect for the character. I particularly like the 'Pew! Pew! Pew!' and 'Suck it, Wolverine' moments. Whoever's involved in putting the game together deserves some serious kudos, as it does look like Deadpool the way Deadpool SHOULD be done.
The ten-year anniversary reunion of the cast of Firefly/Serenity was a big crowd draw, with Joss Whedon declaring “These are the best meat puppets I've ever controlled.” Charming, Joss!
GODZILLA TEASER POSTER AND FOOTAGE
A (rather dull) teaser poster and some (rather inconclusive) footage surfaced at SDCC for the new GODZILLA movie. The footage hints at more monsters and lots of mayhem, as well as a more 'traditional' Godzilla creature this time round. It can't be worse than that dismal 1998 film, can it?
TV TREATS TEASED
New seasons of Fringe, True Blood, Young Justice, Teen Titans GO!, Tron: Uprising and more were previewed, while some awesome concept art for the CG animated series BEWARE THE BATMAN was shown too. Of course, there were masses of panels throughout the event for TV fans, including The Walking Dead, Dexter, Game of Thrones, Community loads more which would make the average fanboy/girl dribble with joy. However, the focus was very much on the big movie announcements.
SDCC 2012 COMICS ROUNDUP
And what of the comics themselves? The films based on comic book properties may be taking all of the glory at the event now, but the source material those characters came from is still growing and evolving. Here's a look at some of the comic book announcements from the event. After all, it's still about comics, isn't it? Slightly?
NEW SANDMAN MINISERIES: Neil Gaiman announced he's returning to his SANDMAN universe for a brand new prequel miniseries, due to to arrive from DC Vertigo next year. Brilliant! This is certainly a title which is going to sell like mad. Here's hoping it matches the quality of the earlier run. Mind you, it's Gaiman, so I'm sure it will. The series will feature art from JH Williams.
STRANGERS IN PARADISE: Terry Moore is writing a prose novel to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his gorgeous, impossibly beautiful comic book series. Just the mention of the title alone is enough to set many readers' hearts fluttering.
MY LITTLE PONY: IDW and Hasbro have wised-up to the potential cash cow (cash horse?) on their hands with the current wave of nostalgia for 80s toys and will be publishing a new series of comics based on the rubbery little monstrosities.
NEW TRANSFORMERS TITLES: Two new Transformers titles are to be added to the IDW stable, namely TRANSFORMERS: FALL OF CYBERTRON and TRANSFORMERS PRIME – RAGE OF THE DINOBOTS.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: A new series of zombie comics is on its way from possibly the goriest, most violent publisher around right now, namely the always-cheerful-and-never-controversial-honest-mate AVATAR PRESS.
EVIL ERNIE: Previously published by CHAOS! Comics, the undead metalhead will be resurrected again in a new series from DYNAMITE.
RED SHE-HULK: Betty Ross gets another chance at a solo series from Marvel. Here's hoping the humour and tone of earlier series are still there this time out.
ULTIMATE COMICS IRON MAN: Iron Man is getting the Ultimate Universe treatment from Marvel in the shape of a new ongoing series, the first story of which is to feature legendary villain the Mandarin, who's showing up in Iron Man 3.
These are just some of the highlights of an event which continues to dominate the geek calendar, not to mention gauge the response to upcoming releases. In that sense, SDCC shapes the industry we love, and that's because people like us make it so. People like you and me. The fans. That's what SDCC is really about – a place where we can gang up on the world and indulge in everything that makes popular culture wonderful.
Maybe I'll see you at SDCC one day.
Now that would be awesome.