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The top 10 moments of San Diego Comic-Con 2023, ranked

For over five decades, San Diego Comic-Con has established itself as the biggest comic convention in North America. It’s grown so big that the major Hollywood studios and video game publishers have been coming to SDCC for over two decades. And while Comic-Con is no longer solely about the comics, it has taken on a larger role in pop culture. This is after all, where the cast of The Avengers first assembled, and where Marvel and DC have announced many movies over the years.

Because of the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, this year’s Comic-Con was not the star-studded affair that it normally is. But Hollywood still played a major role in the top 10 moments of San Diego Comic-Con 2023.

10. Max Animation previews Harley Quinn season 4

Harley Quinn goes full superhero in Harley Quinn season 4.
Max / Image via Max

The Max Animation panel bucked the trend of bringing new episodes by only offering a short preview of Harley Quinn season 4. Regardless, fans did get a chance to see Harley’s attempt to fit in with the Batman family, including her new superhero costume. At the same time, Harley’s girlfriend, Poison Ivy, is facing some resistance to her reign as the new leader of the Legion of Doom. The new season looks absolutely insane, which is just how we like it.

Max Animation also brought previews for the Adventure Time spinoff, Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake, and Young Love, the new series that was inspired by the Oscar-winning animated short, Hair Love.

9. The Venture Bros. take a bow

The Monarch, 24, Dr. Venture, Sgt. Hatred, and H.E.L.P.eR in The Venture Bros.: Radiant is the Blood of the Baboon Heart.
Warner Bros.

Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer, the duo behind The Venture Bros., had to skip this year’s Comic-Con due to the WGA strike. However, the new animated movie, The Venture Bros.: Radiant is the Blood of the Baboon Heart, gave the duo a chance to give the characters a fitting sendoff in this defacto series finale.

Even though the film’s title, Radiant is the Blood of the Baboon Heart, seems bizarre at first glance, the movie ultimately explains that choice while also resolving the show’s long-standing mysteries about the titular brothers, Hank and Dean Venture, as well as the connection between Dr. Venture and his maniacal rival, The Monarch. If this is really the end for the franchise, it went out with a bang.

8. Futurama takes flight

The Planet Express crew saves the day in "Futurama."
20th Century Animation

As The Venture Bros. said goodbye, Futurama said hello “after a brief 10-year hiatus.” While the show’s writers had to stay home, the show’s directors came out to San Diego with the season 11 premiere. It was such a joyous occasion that it was easy to overlook the fact that the cast and producers couldn’t share in the moment.

And fans at home won’t have to wait long to share the joy.  The first episode of Futurama season 11 premieres on Hulu today, July 24.

7. Spider-Man 2 hits Hall H

Peter and Miles perched next to each other in Marvel's Spider-Man 2.
Sony Interactive Entertainment / Sony Interactive Entertainment

In the absence of Marvel Studios and other studios, there was a gap in Hall H’s programming that just couldn’t be filled. However, that left an opportunity for Sony’s Spider-Man 2 preview to play in the biggest room at Comic-Con. And while it didn’t get a full house, fans got to see key members from the game’s creative team and four of the primary voice cast members: Yuri Lowenthal (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Nadji Jeter (Miles Morales/Spider-Man), Laura Bailey (Mary Jane Watson), and Tony Todd (Venom).

Sony also excited the crowd with a brand new story trailer for the game. If video game panels start becoming a Hall H tradition, this is a good way to start.

Marvel's Spider-Man 2 - Story Trailer | PS5 Games

6. The world premiere of Justice League: Warworld

Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman in Justice League: Warworld.
Warner Bros. Animation

Every year, DC premieres a new animated film at Comic-Con. This year’s selection, Justice League: Warworld, was a rare R-rated animated movie that forced the convention organizers to push back the start time to nearly 10:00 pm on Friday night. But despite the late start, it was extremely well-received by the crowd that stayed to watch it.

However, the big news came at the end of the film, when Warner Bros. Animation announced two movies for 2024: Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths and Watchmen.

5. Amazon Studios drops a surprise episode of Invincible season 2

Atom Eve in a promo poster for Invincible.
Amazon Studios

Amazon Studios had one of the best surprises of Comic-Con during the Invincible season 2 panel. Co-creator Robert Kirkman revealed that the show’s creative team had made a special episode, Invincible: Atom Eve, which depicts the origin of Samantha Wilkins/Atom Eve. While Gillian Jacobs voices Atom Eve on the show, Jazlyn Ione and Aria Kane portrayed the younger versions of Eve in this episode. And it also has to be said that this special had some of the best superhero action we’ve seen in years. It’s that good.

Invincible: Atom Eve had its own screening at Comic-Con before Prime Video released it online. But fans will have to wait until November 3 for Invincible season 2 to officially begin.

4. Babylon 5 comes home to Comic-Con

Warner Bros. Animation

During Babylon 5‘s initial run in the late ’90s, series creator J. Michael Straczynski was a frequent guest, and he almost always brought a new episode of the show to premiere at Comic-Con. After a four-year absence from SDCC, Straczynski was openly emotional following the world premiere screening of his new animated movie, Babylon 5: The Road Home.

Several Babylon 5 cast members have passed away since the series ended in 1998, and Straczynski spoke about how the film gave him a chance to say goodbye to his friends within the context of his fictional universe. The Road Home also leaves the door open for more Babylon 5 stories in an unexpected way without violating the continuity of the original show. That’s a pretty big accomplishment in its own right.

3. The Hellfire Gala

The cover of Marvel's Hellfire Gala 2023,
Marvel Comics

In Marvel’s X-Men comics, the Hellfire Gala is essentially the Met Gala for superheroes. And for the most part, the fashions are ridiculously silly. But the reason the Hellfire Gala makes it so high on this year’s list is that it is one of the rare comic book events to take on a life of its own without the benefit of a film or a TV show to back it up. And at Comic-Con, Marvel and cosplayers brought the Hellfire Gala to life with some inventive takes on the costumes.

unkowingly picked one pose for the night and committed #HellfireGala #UGoGirl

— mother sheikest (@darksheikftf) July 24, 2023

From the Green Carpet. #HellfireGala #sdcc

— Pat Loika (He/him) I SDCC (@patloika) July 23, 2023

Aiyyo this gotta be the hardest cosplay out of the #HellfireGala.

— TASK the Ol’ Nerdy Bastard #BLM #StopAsianHate (@UpToTASK) July 23, 2023

2. The Walking Dead keeps on walking

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live SDCC Teaser Trailer | ft. Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira

It’s true that The Walking Dead isn’t the crossover hit that it used to be, but the franchise is far from over. At Comic-Con, The Walking Dead Universe panel once again attracted a big crowd for the new teaser for The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, the new miniseries that will bring Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira back as Rick and Michonne. In the flagship series, Rick was believed to be dead by his friends and family. But in reality, he was taken by an unknown faction and spirited away. Michonne got wind of Rick’s survival, and she has been searching for her lover ever since. Their reunion will finally happen in 2024.

As for the rest of the shows, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon and The Walking Dead: Dead City were both renewed for second seasons. Daryl Dixon will premiere on Sunday, September 10. And the remaining episodes of Fear the Walking Dead season 8 will premiere later this fall.

1. Star Trek ruled the Comic-Con galaxy

Jack Quaid and Tawny Newsome in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

Star Trek is one of the few franchises that still has conventions devoted solely to its many shows. So it should be no surprise that Paramount+ ruled the roost at Comic-Con with the premiere of the crossover episode between Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and the animated series, Star Trek: Lower Decks. Additionally, there was a trailer for Lower Decks season 4 and an extended preview for Star Trek: Discovery season 5. In the absence of stars from the series, these advance looks went a long way toward sending fans home happy.

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Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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