Comic-Con 2019 preview: The biggest movie and TV panels you won’t want to miss

It’s about that time. From July 17 through July 21, Comic-Con International descends on sunny southern California, filling San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter with superheroes, zombies, time travelers, starship pilots, and some of the biggest names in Hollywood.

So far, Comic-Con 2019 is shaping up to be a more subdued affair than in years past, with major studios and high-profile films like Sony and Wonder Woman 1984 respectively opting to skip the event. Still, it’s Comic-Con. One thing you can be sure of is that big names and even bigger surprises are bound to pop up over the long weekend. If you want to keep track of all of SDCC’s biggest movie and TV news, these are the panels that you need to follow.

Thursday, July 18

Terminator: Dark Fate (11:00 a.m.)

The Terminator franchise has received a few reboots over the past few years. Terminator: Dark Fate might be the one that finally sticks. Not only is James Cameron back in a creative role (he’s producing and helped come up with the story), but series star Linda Hamilton is returning, too. They’ll join an older Arnold Schwarzenegger, series newcomers Natalia Reyes and Mackenzie Davis, and Gabriel Luna as the newest Terminator for the start of a new trilogy that ignores everything after Terminator 2: Judgment Day. We don’t know who will be on hand for the Comic-Con panel, but the event’s official description promises a “footage presentation with talent and filmmakers.” A first look at a new Terminator saga? Yeah, we’ll wait in line for that.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (3:30 p.m.)

Despite all odds — those first two seasons were bad — the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first television series keeps chugging along. In fact, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. just gets better with age. While the show’s sixth season is still airing, a seventh has already been ordered, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Comic-Con panel should offer a few hints as to what’s in store. The MCU is a very different place after Endgame, and it’ll be interesting to see how S.H.I.E.L.D. deals with the fallout — or if it bothers to at all (season 6, which is set a year after Infinity War, has yet to even mention Thanos or The Snap, and is arguably the better for it).

His Dark Materials (4:45 p.m.)

Game of Thrones might be over, but HBO is far from done with epic fantasy — you can’t put that one back in the bottle. His Dark Materials, which stars Logan‘s Dafne Keen, former Professor X James McAvoy, Luther‘s Ruth Wilson, and Hamilton maestro Lin-Manuel Miranda, is set to bring Philip Pullman’s popular, heretical YA series to the small screen. The first trailer for His Dark Materials looks far more faithful to the source material than the disastrous 2007 feature film adaptation, and we’re sure to learn more during the show’s inaugural Comic-Con panel. At the very least, a release date would be nice.

Friday, July 19

Veronica Mars

Writing Avengers: Endgame (10 a.m.)

The most remarkable thing about Avengers: Endgame is that the film works at all, let alone that it’s actually really, really good. At San Diego Comic-Con, we’ll learn how. An hour before the Russo Brothers take the stage to dish on Endgame, co-writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely will discuss how they pulled off the most ambitious crossover event in cinematic history. Expect lots of behind-the-scenes anecdotes and production tidbits, and if we’re lucky, we might get a peek at what Marvel has in store going ahead, too. The movie may be called Endgame, but it probably planted a few seeds for the future, as well. Maybe Markus and McFeely will share what those are. Maybe.

A Conversation With the Russo Brothers (11 a.m.)

A few months after making Avengers: Endgame the biggest movie in history — or really close to it, anyway — directors Joe and Anthony Russo will hold court among the Comic-Con faithful in the San Diego Convention Center’s biggest venue, Hall H. The Russos aren’t officially signed on for any more Marvel projects, so expect this to be more of a retrospective than a place to find breaking news. Still, we wouldn’t mind hearing more about what’s next for the duo. Now that Thanos is out of the way, Hollywood is theirs for the taking.

Veronica Mars (11:30 a.m.)

Veronica Mars just won’t stay down. Seven years after the series’ third (and supposedly final) season, creator Rob Thomas crowdfunded a feature film sequel that debuted at South by Southwest. Now, half a decade later, the former teenage sleuth is back again thanks to Hulu, which is backing an eight-episode revival. Comic-Con attendees will be able to watch the first episode of Veronica Mars‘ fourth season, and while we don’t know who’ll be on hand for the following Q&A session, both Thomas and series star Kristen Bell feel like safe bets.

The Witcher (2:15 p.m.)

The Witcher’s story might have begun in a series of fantasy novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, but it was CD Projekt Red’s video games that turned him into a star. Now, Netflix wants to introduce Geralt of Rivera to the rest of the world. In The Witcher, former Superman Henry Cavill stars as a kind of medieval Ghostbuster in a world that’s as grim and ugly as Game of Thrones‘ Westeros, albeit with a few more monsters. Shoddy wigs aside, The Witcher‘s production stills look great, and we’re excited to learn more about what Netflix has in store. If we get to see our first glimpse of Geralt in action? Even better.

The Boys (3:30 p.m.)

If power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, then shouldn’t more superheroes be spoiled, abusive jerks? That’s the central conceit of The Boys, a depraved, boundary-pushing comic book satire created by Garth Ennis, the vile mind behind Preacher. The upcoming Amazon adaptation of the comic series stars Karl Urban as the leader of an antihero vigilante group, and he’ll be at Comic-Con to discuss the project alongside producers Seth Rogen and Eric Kripke (Supernatural, Timeless) and almost every other member of the star-studded cast.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (3:30 p.m.)

Tired of computer-generated action scenes? Then you’ll want to check out Netflix’s panel for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. Like the Jim Henson film that it’s based on, the streamer’s The Dark Crystal television series will use puppets, not CGI, to tell its epic story. Just don’t expect the Muppets. Dark Crystal is flat-out scary, and Netflix’s prequel series should be the same way. Come for the old-school effects, but stay for the dark and mysterious fantasy world and the all-star cast of voice actors, which include Sigourney Weaver, Mark Hamill, Helena Bonham Carter, Lena Headey, Natalie Dormer, Awkwafina, and so many more. If a few of those folks stop by The Dark Crystal‘s Comic-Con panel, too? Let’s just say, we wouldn’t be too surprised.

Pennyworth (4:30 p.m.)

We’re not sure that anybody really needs a show about Batman’s butler before he becomes Batman’s butler, but Warner Bros. and Epix are giving us one anyway. Like Gotham and Joker, Pennyworth serves as a prequel to the Caped Crusader’s more famous adventures, starring Jack Bannon as Alfred and Ben Aldridge as Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s doomed father. Pennyworth is an odd project, but we’d be lying if we said we weren’t curious. Maybe the upcoming Comic-Con presentation will prove the world needs Alfred’s origin story after all.

Carnival Row (4:45 p.m.)

Comic-Con International tends to focus on established franchises and well-known brands, so it’s always nice when something different gets a spotlight — and Carnival Row certainly is different. The Amazon Prime series, which stars Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne, is described as a neo-noir set in a city where magical creatures are fleeing the homeland, leading to a refugee crisis. Part fantasy yarn, part murder mystery, and part political satire? That’s awfully ambitious, and hopefully, Amazon’s Comic-Con panel will explain exactly how Carnival Row will pull everything together.

Game of Thrones (5:30 p.m.)

Originally, Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who just scored an Emmy nomination for writing that finale, were supposed to appear before the Comic-Con crowd for what was either going to be a victory lap or a public trial. Well, guess what? Two days before Game of Thrones‘ final SDCC panel, the Thrones Twitter account announced that Benioff and Weiss wouldn’t be there after all. Series stars including Maisie Williams, Raleigh Ritchie, Liam Cunningham, Isaac. H. Wright, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau will still show up, and we’re sure they’ll be as charming as ever, but without the Game-masters themselves in this house, the Q&A section of this panel suddenly got a lot less interesting.

Saturday, July 20

Westworld season 2

Enter the Star Trek Universe (11:30 a.m.)

Paramount is all-in on Star Trek these days — gotta get people to subscribe to CBS All Access somehow — and San Diego is the place to be if you want to know more about what’s coming to TV’s premiere sci-fi franchise. Learn what’s ahead for the third season of Star Trek: Discovery. Get your first glimpse at Lower Decks, the adult animated comedy set on one of the least important ships in Starfleet’s armada. Most importantly, learn what Picard, the eagerly awaited sequel to Star Trek: The Next Generation will be about. Oh, and did we mention that Sir Patrick Stewart himself is going to be there, in the flesh? Forget the other stuff. That makes SDCC’s Star Trek panel worth checking out all on its own.

The Expanse (1 p.m.)

Why even bother canceling shows any more? Like so many other programs these days, The Expanse — the best science fiction show that nobody’s watching — was axed by Syfy in 2018, only for a streaming service Amazon Prime to swoop in and give it a second chance. Let’s hope it sticks. With its mix of political scheming and high-stakes action, The Expanse is basically Game of Thrones in space. If that piques your interest, check this panel out. The Expanse should have some big surprises in store.

Westworld (1:15 p.m.)

Westworld has changed. While the first two seasons of the show centered on a robot uprising in the world’s worst theme park, the trailer for season three looks like it’s set in the “real world,” where Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul struggles to navigate a Blade Runner-esque techno dystopia — until he runs into one very familiar face. Westworld won’t be back on HBO until 2020, but the Comic-Con presentation should help with the wait. Just don’t expect the assembled cast to give too much away. Westworld producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy like their secrets, and this panel is probably going to be full of teases but very few actual answers.

Snowpiercer (3:00 p.m.)

Snowpiercer, the TV adaptation of Bong Joon-ho’s sci-fi feature, has been in development since 2015, with filming beginning in 2017. However, some behind-the-scenes turmoil, including a massive reshoot of the pilot, have kept Snowpiercer off the air until at least 2020, when it is expected to hit TBS. By this point, the cast and crew must be eager to share what they’ve been working on for the past few years — and at Comic-Con International, they’ll finally get their chance.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (4 p.m.)

If you’re a certain age, you probably scared yourself silly reading Alvin Schwartz’s macabre short story collections, especially if you stopped to linger on Stephen Gammell’s moody illustrations. If not, you’re in for a treat. With horror master Guillermo del Toro producing — and leading the Comic-Con panel — Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has the potential to be the rare family film that’ll legitimately frighten kids and adults alike. If you can’t wait for the film’s August premiere, the SDCC panel should be enough to tide you over — assuming that you’re not too chicken to show up.

Marvel Studios (5:15 p.m.)

This is the big one. Spider-Man: Far From Home wrapped up Marvel Studios’ Phase Three, and while we have some educated guesses, we don’t know for sure what’s coming next. At Comic-Con International, that’ll change. In true Marvel fashion, all of the guests (aside from Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige, who’s moderating the panel) are still a secret, but Marvel has Hall H, the San Diego Convention Center’s biggest venue, booked for a solid hour and a half. Expect lots of news, lots of familiar faces, a few newcomers, and many, many surprises.

What We Do in the Shadows (6 p.m.)

Hot on the heels of its second-season renewal, one of the best new comedies of 2019 is headed to Comic-Con for what should be one of the convention’s best events. Like the film of the same name, What We Do in the Shadows succeeds in its mockumentary format about mediocre vampires living in Staten Island because of its cast’s chemistry. All four main vampires (plus Harvey Guillén, who plays the scene-stealing familiar Guillermo) will be in San Diego for the panel. You won’t learn many secrets or spoilers at the session — What We Do in the Shadows isn’t that kind of show — but do expect to laugh. A lot.

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