I was fortunate enough to journey to Nerdvana once again, the hallowed halls of San Diego Comic-Con International, and was in attendance at the show-of-shows, the Saturday Hall H block of programming. So I saw with my own eyes the battle between Warner Bros./DC and Marvel Studios for the adoration of fans and to be the top trender on social media.
After literally 24 hours of waiting (camping) out on line, not just to get in the hall, but to get prime seats, Warner Bros. kicked off the day with a panel moderated by The Nerdist himself, Chris Hardwick. He introduced Man of Steel, [Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice](movie:711870) and Justice League director Zack Snyder who had something special for the fans. We were warned to put away our recording devices, the lights dimmed, and concept art from Batman v Superman dazzled us on wall-sized screens that dominated nearly 2/3rds of the room space. Following that, we were shown a clip that, by now, you've either already read about in complete detail or watched the leaked footage of before WB swooped in and removed it. The lights came up and so did the crowd, surging to their feet in thunderous applause. But that wasn't all. Snyder had more up his sleeve. He invited Ben Affleck (Batman) and Henry Cavill (Superman) to join him on stage. Followed soon after by Gal Gadot ([Wonder Woman](movie:45787)).
While the Trinity grouped together on stage, waving and posing for photos, the first image of Gadot in full costume appeared on the enormous screens surrounding us. The crowd went ballistic. DC's new power team left the stage. And the truth started to sink into my sleep deprived brain. I too got caught up in the excitement of the panel. But nothing of substance really happened. The footage shown, as cool as it was, was mostly CG-rendered, basically a video game cut scene, more than likely made just for the con and probably never to see the light of day in the film. That exclusive image of Wonder Woman? It was officially released on the internet within minutes of the panel ending for all the world to see. And DC's Trinity, well, they didn't say a single word. No secrets from the set. No hellos. No thank yous. Snyder joked he didn't let them speak for fear of the fans asking questions. But isn't that the point of the casts and crews coming to Comic Con? To interact with the fans?
Hours later, after a couple of good panels, and a couple of opportunities to catch a nap, Marvel took the stage to close out the day, again moderated by Hardwick. You can always expect a big show from Marvel, and after their Ant-Man panel, the audience was not disappointed. Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), who is Tony Stark in real life danced out on stage to the accompaniment of Michael Jackson's Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough, with a suitcase of roses, to introduce the rest of the cast of Avengers: Age of Ultron, handing roses to his female costars. Familiar faces like Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk) and Chris Evans (Captain America) were joined by new castmates James Spader (Ultron), Paul Bettany (Vision), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Quicksilver) and Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch).
Unfortunately beloved Avengers and [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](movie:293035) director Joss Whedon was ill and couldn't attend, but the cast was joined on stage with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige and actually talked about the film. And besides a wonderful retrospective of Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, actual Age of Ultron footage was shown. Featuring a full scene, followed by the quick cuts of a trailer, the crowd literally lost their mind (it's important to note here that though there's various descriptions of the footage all over the internet, not a single drop of footage has leaked yet). To top it off, Josh Brolin, newly minted as the Mad Titan Thanos, strutted on to stage weilding an Infinity Gauntlet! Thousands of nerds went forth into the night buzzing with excitement for what they had just seen.
In the days since, we've learned that DC trended bigger on social media, being declared the winner of Comic Con. In the opinion of someone who was there, as awesome as that footage was, and as cool as seeing DC's big three on stage together for the first time, nothing of true substance was given to the fans. The biggest win of that panel, and what probably was the subject of everyone's tweets and posts was the Wonder Woman reveal. Marvel brought out nearly the entire cast (Scarlet Johansson was the only one not physically there, but had a prerecorded message for the fans), actually spoke to their fan base, and showed amazing footage that will actually be in the film. Now granted, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is still two years out, as opposed to Avengers which is coming out in ten short months. I'm positive next year's WB/DC panel is going to blow everyone's socks off. But for 2014, continuing a tradition of great panels, Marvel, once again was the champion of SDCC!
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