What worked and what flopped? What was amazing and what fell flat? We take a look at the best and worst from San Diego Comic Con 2017…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Another San Diego Comic Con is in the books and there was a lot to see this year from movies to television and everything else in between.
The biggest gathering of pop culture in the world not only unleashes a slew of new trailers that decorate the week in San Diego, but ‘A’ list celebrities fly in from around the world to make an appearance in front of thousands of fans at the annual event.
This year was no exception with a wide range of film and TV announcements as well as first looks at several highly anticipated movies and series that will debut in 2017 or 2018.
Today, we’ll take a look at the best — and worst — from San Diego Comic Con in 2017 because there was a lot to like, many things to love and a few things that just didn’t seem to work this year.
There were plenty of winners — like Netflix finally caving and making an appearance at San Diego Comic Con for the first time — and there were several losers like 21st Century FOX failing to offer any kind of footage or even a tease at any of their upcoming films such as ‘Deadpool 2’ or ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’.
With that said, let’s examine the 20 biggest winners and losers from San Diego Comic Con 2017…
WINNER: ‘Stranger Things’ Panel and New Trailer
‘Stranger Things’ didn’t make an appearance at San Diego Comic Con last year so the breakout Netflix series was one of the most highly anticipated activations in 2017 and the show delivered in a big way. The Saturday panel taking place in Hall H — a day typically reserved for big movie releases — went over huge with the 7,000 plus fans packed into the room. Almost the entire cast made an appearance, minus Winona Ryder who was absent, along with several new faces who will show up in season 2. Of course the best moment was the new season 2 trailer that featured the infamous voiceover from Vincent Price from the classic Michael Jackson track “Thriller” that was just a creative stroke of genius. It’s impossible to know if ‘Stranger Things’ season 2 will live up to the hype from season one, but the show is certainly doing everything right so far.
WINNER: Netflix Activation in the Gaslamp
As previously stated, Netflix had never really made a big splash at San Diego Comic Con previously, despite producing several shows that did appear at the annual convention. This time around, Netflix went all-in at Comic Con with several panels, a booth at the convention center and an activation across the street in the famous Gaslamp District. The Netflix activation was one of the biggest of the week with featured sets from the new Will Smith science fiction film ‘Bright’ as well as a full set up featuring ‘Stranger Things’. Props from the show decorated several rooms and there was even an exact replica of the Byers house, complete with the Christmas lights used when Will communicated with his mother from the Upside Down.
LOSER: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Trailer Repeat
Marvel rarely swings and misses at San Diego Comic Con but admittedly it was a little bit of a let down that the studio closed out its panel this year by showing the same “Avengers: Infinity War” trailer to the crowd after the exact footage was first showcased at the D23 convention two weeks earlier. Now that’s not to say the “Avengers: Infinity War” trailer wasn’t well received — the crowd went absolutely nuts and the footage was amazing. Still, Marvel didn’t bother to bring out any of the cast or even really give any sort of tease other than debuting the trailer and with that the panel came to an end. Perhaps this is Disney’s way to remind Comic Con attendees that there’s another convention that takes place in California where Marvel will make an even bigger splash from now on.
WINNER: The Defenders Pilot Screening
On Friday night in Hall H, ‘The Defenders’ closed out the day with a panel that included appearances from Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Finn Jones and the legendary Sigourney Weaver to promote their upcoming eight-episode event series that will debut on Netflix in August. Rather than just show a new trailer — which also debuted at the panel — Marvel television head Jeph Loeb surprised everybody in attendance by unveiling the entire first episode in the series. Considering the anticipation for this show, it was a bold move to put out the debut episode of ‘The Defenders’ a month out from the series hitting Netflix.
LOSER: Reggie Watts Moderating the ‘Westworld’ Panel
Reggie Watts is a very funny and engaging comedian and performer so let’s get that out of the way right now. That said, Watts was about as spunky as a corpse during his moderation duties for the “Westworld” panel on Saturday in Hall H. Watts started the panel by using a strange Southern accent before then spending the majority of his question and answer period talking to the show’s creators, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. There’s an art to playing moderator — Chris Hardwick and Patton Oswalt are the best of the best — but Watts just didn’t bring much energy whatsoever and it absolutely killed the mood for the crowd that was excited to welcome “Westworld” to Comic Con for the first time.
WINNER: ‘The Punisher’ Teaser Footage Revealed
In addition to ‘The Defenders’ debuting the first episode in the series, Jon Bernthal also made a surprise appearance at the panel to introduce footage from his new Netflix series ‘The Punisher’. The footage, which was only shown in Hall H that day and hasn’t been released otherwise, showed Frank Castle continuing his vigilante justice in places like rural Alabama and Juarez, Mexico as he took down biker gangs and drug cartels. It was clear that ‘The Punisher’ will not be the for the feint of heart but it’s nice to see Marvel is going to put some real creative muscle behind this series.
WINNER: Kansas Performing During the ‘Supernatural’ Panel
‘Supernatural’ has been a staple of San Diego Comic Con for more than a decade as one of the longest running shows currently on television and the series still continues to pull in huge audiences every year during their panel on Sundays in Hall H. This year, ‘Supernatural’ pulled off another massive event by introducing the legendary band Kansas to play their hit song ‘Carry On My Wayward Son’, which also serves as the theme song for the series. It was a unique idea for a show that’s just about to enter its 13th season.
LOSER: No Kevin Smith in Hall H
Kevin Smith — along with Zachary Levi — has been adopted as the unofficial mascot of San Diego Comic Con because he’s not only a famous filmmaker but he’s also a huge fan of all the pop culture goodness that takes place during the four day convention. In fact, Smith’s presence is so well known that he was given a panel at Comic Con for several years where he gave one of his famous “spoken word” concerts, answering questions from fans and telling stories from his career. Sadly, the 2017 convention didn’t feature a panel from Smith and there was no real reason given why it didn’t happen. Smith is a fixture at Comic Con and while he was certainly busy with a slew of sold out shows for his podcasts as well as handling interviewing duties at the IMDBoat, his featured panel was definitely missed by all.
WINNER: ‘Justice League’ Panel and Presentation
Whether DC and Warner Bros. ever want to admit it, they are constantly competing with Marvel for attention when it comes to headlines about the latest films they are producing but it’s especially competitive during San Diego Comic Con. This year, the ‘Justice League’ was riding high after the rousing success of ‘Wonder Woman’ in theaters and the cast was all sorts of exuberant to hit the stage on Saturday morning. After the stars entered by walking through the crowd, a new trailer debuted with the first tease about the return of Superman and it seemed like DC found a way to have fun again after a very dour couple of years following less than spectacular reviews for ‘Man of Steel’, ‘Batman V. Superman’ and ‘Suicide Squad’.
LOSER: Hall H Lines Are Out of Control
This is more of an issue for the hundreds of thousands of fans who actually attend San Diego Comic Con but the lines to get into the panels in Hall H have gotten absolutely out of control in recent years. Comic Con attempted to address the problem with fans camping out for days to get into a particular set of panels by handing out wristbands and encouraging attendees to go home and come back the next morning to get entry into the building. Unfortunately this year, several people made fake wristbands, got into the hall and managed to shut out hundreds of folks who actually sacrificed hours upon hours waiting in line only to be barred from the building when it filled to capacity. Maybe there’s no perfect answer to solve this problem at Comic Con but you’d think vendors, studios and everybody else involved would want attendees out enjoying the convention and perhaps spending money rather that sitting in line for two or three days at a time. This is a call to those folks who organize and run Comic Con — please find a better solution for Hall H because no one should be forced to camp out for two days just for the chance to gain entry into the panels.
WINNER: Gal Gadot is DC’s Biggest Star Now
It’s clear that ‘Wonder Woman’ is the most well received film that Warner Bros. has produced since releasing a slate of DC related projects over the last few years. Now it’s also quite evident that Gal Gadot is the biggest star from that all-star lineup that includes Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill as well. Gadot was showered with applause when she was introduced and the crowd clung to her every word when she was on stage during the Warner Bros. panel.
WINNER: Jason Momoa Had a Blast in Hall H
If Gal Gadot is now DC’s biggest star, Jason Momoa is bringing the fun back into the extended universe because he looked like he was having more fun than anyone else in Hall H during the Warner Bros. presentation this past weekend. Momoa charged the stage like he was leading a Dothraki horde and he bursting with energy despite just flying in from Australia the day before. A lot has been said about the down mood that dampened ‘Batman V. Superman’ but there’s no chance Momoa won’t inject some serious energy with his first appearance in ‘Justice League’ and hopefully that will carry over into his own solo film ‘Aquaman’ due out next year.
LOSER: FOX Falls Flat in Panel with No Deadpool 2 or X-Men: Dark Phoenix
21st Century FOX decided to put its movie panel on a Thursday this year rather than a Saturday and perhaps the studio knew it wasn’t going to draw a massive crowd considering the offering they had for the Comic Con audience. The sequel to “Kingsman” was the featured panel but for a studio responsible for the ‘X-Men’ franchise, you’d think they’d want to promote upcoming films such as ‘Deadpool 2’ or ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’. Instead, FOX offered no teaser whatsoever for those movies and it was a huge missed opportunity. “Deadpool 2” will be one of the most highly anticipated films next year and even if there wasn’t footage to show, at least bring out the cast and crew to get Comic Con fans excited about what’s to come. Instead, FOX had a forgettable panel that no one was talking about.
WINNER: ‘Black Panther’ Panel and New Footage
‘Black Panther’ may not be the most well known property at Marvel but the film stands to be one of the breakout hits of 2018. Led by director Ryan Coogler, ‘Black Panther’ was met with a raucous reaction from the crowd at Comic Con with new footage showing off the secretive nation of Wakanda and a slew of stars who make up the cast for the upcoming film. There was everything to love about ‘Black Panther’ because this film truly stole the show during Marvel’s 90-minute panel.
WINNER: ‘Westworld’: The Experience
People were camping out overnight just for a shot at this unique showcase at Comic Con with HBO debuting ‘Westworld’ for the first time in 2017. The experience only allowed for 120 people per day but for the people who had the chance to enter ‘Westworld’, this turned out to be a once in a lifetime trip into the popular HBO series. From an introduction into the park as well as being fitted for a cowboy hat (that you were allowed to keep), this was a very unique and very well produced activation from HBO.
LOSER: ‘American Horror Story’ Nowhere to Be Found
For the second year in a row, ‘American Horror Story’ didn’t make an appearance at San Diego Comic Con outside of an exhibition set up near the Hilton Bayfront Hotel alongside several other FX series and a late Thursday night reveal of the title for the seventh season of the show. ‘American Horror Story’ has only actually made two past appearances at Comic Con, but both panels were very well received. Perhaps due to the secrecy surrounding the show, creator Ryan Murphy would rather not reveal anything at a show like Comic Con but it would still seem like a perfect time to show off the cast and maybe even just debut one of those infamous creepy teasers that come out ahead of a new season.
WINNER: Marvel Reveals New Casting for ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ Plus Details on ‘Captain Marvel’
In one of the most brilliant skits during Comic Con, Marvel kicked off its panel on Saturday night with a vignette featuring Paul Rudd and Michael Pena giving a quick history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe starting with ‘Iron Man’ and going all the way to the upcoming films including ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’. It all led to the revelation that Michelle Pfeiffer was joining the Marvel Universe to play Janet Van Dyne aka the original Wasp in the upcoming ‘Ant-Man’ sequel. Add to that, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige then came out on stage and revealed all new details for “Captain Marvel” including that it would take place in the early 1990’s, it would feature a Nick Fury with two eyes and the film would introduce the alien race known as the Skrulls for the first time ever.
WINNER: The CW Continues to Dazzle at Comic Con
Typically Saturday at San Diego Comic Con is reserved for the slate of upcoming films being shown inside Hall H, but in another part of the convention center, The CW has continued to rule the television side of things with an impressive run of new and returning series. This year was no exception as the first footage was shown for ‘The Flash’, ‘Supergirl’ and ‘Riverdale’ along with the pilot screening for ‘Black Lightning’, which doesn’t even debut until 2018. San Diego Comic Con is an event built around superheroes and there’s no network that does that better than the CW.
LOSER: ‘Game of Thrones’ Comes Up Short Again
Make no mistake, ‘Game of Thrones’ is always one of the most talked about parts of San Diego Comic Con each and every year, but the panels inside Hall H on Friday every year have really started to fall short. This year was particularly tough considering ‘Game of Thrones’ season 7 had just debuted days before Comic Con kicked off so obviously the panel couldn’t reveal much about what was coming up over the next few weeks, but with only two seasons to go it still seemed like a less than spectacular effort from HBO and company. Add to that, show starts like Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage have been nowhere to be found at Comic Con for several years. Perhaps with the final season of the show coming soon, ‘Game of Thrones’ might go out with one last epic bang at Comic Con but 2017 didn’t deliver much unfortunately.
WINNER: ‘Twin Peaks’ Debuts at San Diego Comic Con
After more than 25 years away from television, ‘Twin Peaks’ finally returned with a new season on Showtime this year and for the first time ever the cult classic series finally landed at San Diego Comic Con. An impressive mix of old and new cast members decorated the stage with ‘Lost’ co-creator Damon Lindelof serving as moderator while wearing a t-shirt that read “Damn Fine Coffee”. Comic Con has done a wonderful job bringing together casts for past reunions including “Firefly” a few years ago as well as “Aliens” in 2016. This time, ‘Twin Peaks’ wasn’t just a reunion but a celebration of the show’s return — and still it was a perfect piece of nostalgia for fans of the David Lynch series who first fell in love with his haunting show back in the early 1990’s. As an added bonus, ‘Twin Peaks’ even screened episode 11 of the series on Friday night before the show actually aired on Sunday on Showtime.