One of the biggest pop culture events in the world kicks off this week as Comic-Con International in San Diego arrives in Southern California for another year.
The largest event of its kind on the West Coast and an annual celebration of comic books, movies, television, gaming, and all manner of geekery, San Diego Comic-Con 2017 (as it’s more commonly known) has become the preferred venue for movie studios and networks to show off their biggest upcoming projects to eager fans. Prior years have seen Marvel’s live-action Avengers assemble publicly for the very first time, had The Dark Knight (or rather, Heath Ledger’s Joker) go viral, and ignited excitement for lower-profile projects like Mad Max: Fury Road that set them on the path to becoming blockbusters.
So what can we look forward to this year?
Although the studios and networks attending San Diego Comic-Con 2017 try to keep their biggest surprises a mystery, it’s not too difficult to speculate on what some of the upcoming show’s most major moments might be.
Here are ten things we’re hoping to see at San Diego Comic-Con 2017.
Avengers: Infinity War footage
Disney has made a habit of debuting their Marvel Studios movie footage during their biennial D23 Expo convention on the years when that event is held, leaving Marvel’s presence at Comic-Con feeling a little diminished in those years. However, D23 was held before San Diego Comic-Con this year. According to various reports, there was some pretty fantastic footage from the next Marvel crossover event that was shown during D23’s Marvel Studios panel, and now there’s a good chance everyone in San Diego might get to see that footage, too. Judging by various accounts of the footage, things don’t look good for Marvel’s heroes when they finally tangle with Thanos.
What’s next for Stranger Things
We’re finally starting to get more information about the second season of Stranger Things, but the timing of San Diego Comic-Con 2017 offers a great opportunity for Netflix to make a big deal about one of its most popular shows on one of the biggest stages in the world for geek-friendly projects like this. Along with meeting the new additions to the cast of Stranger Things Season 2, we might get another peek at that “Shadow Beast” and the current state of things in Hawkins, Indiana. And hey, what are the odds of Barb (Shannon Purser) making a surprise appearance?
The worlds of Blade Runner 2049 and Ready Player One
Warner Bros. Pictures has its big movie panel scheduled for its traditional Saturday morning slot, but this year the superhero offerings from the studio might get overshadowed by two highly anticipated sci-fi projects. Ridley Scott’s return to the world of Blade Runner appears to be taking painstaking measures to recreate the iconic cyberpunk atmosphere of the beloved 1982 film, and some smart decisions regarding what the studio shows off could easily take Blade Runner 2049 to the next level as far as word-of-mouth buzz.
On the flip side, we have yet to see any official footage from Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s bestselling novel Ready Player One, but given all of the wild, 1980s nostalgia-driven material in the book, there’s reason to believe the right piece of footage could give this project the convention’s must-see moment. One shot of Parzival riding around in his DeLorean with KITT’s red scanner and the Ghostbusters logo on the side, and you’ll be able to hear the squealing in San Diego from across the country.
Game of Thrones and what lies beyond (or before)
With the current season of Game of Thrones airing now, HBO would be wise not too spoil anything by looking too far ahead in the show’s narrative, but that doesn’t mean the hit show’s panel is likely to disappoint fans. With the recent announcement of several spinoff series set in George R.R. Martin’s world of swords, dragons, and cutthroat political machinations, there’s ample opportunity to tease what might lay beyond the current conflicts in Westeros.
A brief preview of what the rest of the season holds in store for the characters is also likely, and then there’s the matter of the touring Game of Thrones exhibit that was announced a little while ago. Basically, there’s a lot of Game of Thrones on the horizon that HBO will almost certainly mine for its Comic-Con event, which also provides a nice opportunity to say a final farewell to some of the characters we’ve lost — and those we’re likely to lose before the season’s over.
The Defenders, assembled
The premiere of The Defenders crossover series on Netflix is right around the corner, so we’re almost certain to see some fresh footage from that project. The trailers released so far haven’t revealed a lot about the events that bring Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist together, so it will be interesting to see what else we learn from the panel. Sigourney Weaver’s villain in the series is also a mystery at this point, and we know little about her beyond her name. How can she pose that much of a threat to the four characters? Fans want to know (sans spoilers, of course).
Discovering more about Star Trek: Discovery
The next iteration of the Star Trek franchise for television has been a polarizing topic, with the series’ cast, content, and setting within the larger franchise timeline generating no small amount of debate among both casual and hardcore fans (and that doesn’t even include its placement on subscription-based CBS All Access service). San Diego Comic-Con 2017 offers a good opportunity to right the starship’s course with Star Trek: Discovery and gets fans onboard the new series with an exciting presentation and (hopefully) more footage.
Wonder Woman and her Justice League sidekicks
To suggest that the successive disappointments that were the first the three entries in Warner Bros. Pictures’ live-action superhero universe (Man of Steel, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad) had tempered expectations for the studio’s Comic-Con panel would be an understatement. After all, there’s only so many times you can get an audience hyped up for Superman and Batman with stylized trailers, only to let them down with the final product. Wonder Woman changed all that, though, and now we’re in the position of looking forward to what’s next for the live-action DC Comics movie-verse.
It will be interesting to see whether the studio puts Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman front and center during the superhero portion of their presentation, as her film’s critical and commercial success has made her the torch-bearer for WB’s “DC Extended Universe.” We’re also hoping to finally get a look at Steppenwolf, the villain of Justice League, and possibly some footage from Aquaman that suggests the success of Wonder Woman wasn’t an isolated event.
More reasons to get excited about Bright
There are a lot of intriguing elements at play in Bright, the movie that Netflix spent more than $90 million to acquire, making it the most expensive original movie the company has produced. It has a weird premise involving a world where humans and magical fantasy creatures like faeries, elves, and orcs co-exist. It has a stellar cast with Will Smith as a human cop, Joel Edgerton (Loving, The Gift) as his orc partner, and Prometheus actress Noomi Rapace in an unidentified role. It’s also directed by the immensely talented David Ayer (End of Watch, Fury) from a script by Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis. It has all the makings of a fascinating film, so we’re hoping that Comic-Con brings something to get sincerely, legitimately excited about with Bright. It’s the sort of movie that’s a great fit for the Comic-Con crowd, after all.
The Punisher, we presume?
Jon Bernthal’s Punisher character was the standout in the second season of Daredevil, and it wasn’t a big surprise when Netflix announced plans to give him his own series. Filming on the first season finished back in April, so there’s reason to believe we’ll get our first good look at the show during Comic-Con. Can a trailer be in our future? With the series expected to premiere on Netflix later this year, that’s very real possibility — and one we’re excited about.
Something crazy from Deadpool 2
Ryan Reynolds has done an impressive job of keeping excitement high for the Deadpool sequel since, well… the closing scene in the first movie. Given his affinity for ridiculously self-aware, irreverent stunts to promote the big-screen adventures of Deadpool, we’re hoping to see something of that caliber occur during Comic-Con — possibly with the first teaser for the film. Oh, and Reynolds and the Deadpool team get bonus points if Josh Brolin’s character, Cable, gets involved in their antics. (He has to be there for Avengers: Infinity War anyway, so why not?)
Comic-Con International in San Diego begins Thursday, July 20, and runs through Sunday, July 23. Check back for more coverage of the convention on Digital Trends.