Special report from Comic-Con: Days 3, 4 & 5

Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool in a publicity image released by Twentieth Century Fox.

Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool in a publicity image released by Twentieth Century Fox.

SAN DIEGO – The city sidewalks were packed with pedestrians, the restaurants were packed with patrons, and the convention center was packed with pop-culture activity. Many comic book dealers reported strong sales, third party grading firm CGC reported record submissions, and the networks and big studios did their best to get fans talking about their productions over the last three days of the 2015 edition of Comic-Con International: San Diego.

The convention’s strategy to expand the flow of foot traffic to the outlying hotels, thereby alleviating some of the congestion in the convention center, seems to be working. It’s not that it wasn’t crowded – it definitely was – but many of the places normally jammed up were not quite as bad this time. The show still has a potentially very serious problem at the crosswalks leading from the convention center to Fifth Avenue, but the improvements are noticeable.

Friday – Day 3

Given the press build-up, it’s no surprise that talk of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens dominated the third day of Comic-Con International: San Diego. With original cast members Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill joining newcomers Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega on stage in the San Diego Convention Center’s Hall H, fans were predictably excited.

The late arrival of Harrison Ford, though, brought the panel’s audience to a standing ovation. Ford came on stage more than two-thirds of the way through the event and effect on the fans was just what a script writer would have ordered. It was the 72-year-old actor’s first public appearance since his much-publicized March 2015 plane crash.

Ford’s presence notwithstanding, the talk of Comic-Con to that point was the video package director J.J. Abrams put together for the event. More a behind-the-scenes look than an actual trailer, the 3-minute, 40-second video offered those in attendance (and shortly thereafter, those online) a peek at the production, the characters, and some of the practical effects of the production.

It contained visual hints as to plot points, but most viewers came away talking more about the atmosphere it suggested rather than any specific story angles.

“Showing the cast and crew working on the set, and showing practical effects rather than the CGI effects, it just felt like Star Wars,” one professional covering the convention said.

Abrams told the audience the film was presently in the editing process ahead of its release, which is scheduled for December of this year.

Saturday – Day 4

Not to suggest for a moment that it’s in Star Wars’ league, but Twentieth Century Fox’s panel for Deadpool was definitely a lightning-rod moment for the convention. After it, the conversation at least temporarily switched to the bombastic Marvel Comics mutant.

The character of Deadpool, created in comics by artist Rob Liefeld and writer Fabian Nicieza in New Mutants #98, first appeared in films in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where he was played by Ryan Reynolds. For whatever reason, the character’s mouth was sewn shut in that version, which is pretty much the exact opposite of the character.

This time, Reynolds will again portray Deadpool, but in the much more raucous, flippant, overly destructive, foul-mouthed mode the character’s fans have been expecting since the concept of a Deadpool film was teased years ago.

Reynolds appeared at the panel with director Tim Miller and some of the film’s co-stars, including TJ Miller, Gina Carano and Morena Baccarin. They showed – twice, by audience demand – an uncensored trailer for the film and got precisely the reactions they were looking for.

Producer-director Brian Singer’s upcoming X-Men movie, X-Men: Apocalypse, was next in line for the hype treatment. The panel included previous cast members Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence joined by Oscar Isaac (Apocalypse), Olivia Munn (Psylocke) and Sophie Turner (Jean Gray), among others.

X-Men: Apocalypse is set in 1983, 10 years after X-Men: Days of Future Past, the most recent film in the series.

Sunday – Day 5

While it took a nosedive at the end of the original series, producer-creator Tim Kring’s original NBC series Heroes was a huge hit in its day. Now Kring is back with a 13-part series called Heroes Reborn. Returning stars Jack Coleman and Greg Grunberg, and newcomers Zachary Levi, Robbie Kay, Kiki Sukezane, Ryan Guzman, Gatlin Green, Judith Shekoni, Danika Yarosh, Rya Kihlstedt and Henry Zebrowski were on hand for the panel with Kring.

They showed a three-and-a-half minute trailer for event series presently scheduled to debut on NBC on September 24.

The trailer sets up the story for the series. People with enhanced abilities have been blamed for a terrorist incident, and in uncovering the mystery a number of familiar characters from the first series will return, including Masi Oka’s Hiro.


Crowds continue to flock to all sections of the dealers’ hall at Comic-Con International: San Diego. Photo by Michael Solof.

Crowds continue to flock to all sections of the dealers’ hall at Comic-Con International: San Diego. Photo by Michael Solof.