Geekapalooza

Comic-Con 2011: Spider Man, True Blood, Twilight & More Photos

After years as Hollywood’s reigning nerd fest, Comic-Con’s buzz is dwindling. Plus, this year’s picks.

Every summer for the past 40 years, nerds and those worshipped by them have flocked to San Diego for Comic-Con. The four-day event, which kicks off Thursday, brings vampire fanatics, anime lovers, hard-core gamers, and sci-fi diehards together to let their freak flags fly high. It’s become the time when A-list celebrities and big-name filmmakers meet the fans who’ve made them successful—this year, Steven Spielberg makes his debut with Tintin, Twihards get their first look at The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1, and former Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to her geeky kingdom. But after all of these years, is Comic-Con losing its luster? The New York Times reported that movie studios are reassessing their investment in the festival, with Warner Bros., Disney, and DreamWorks not screening films at this year’s conference. Nevertheless, Universal is hosting its world premiere of Cowboys & Aliens at Comic-Con. “That’s where it all started, and I want to give back,” director Jon Favreau told the Los Angeles Times. Find out what else is in store at Comic-Con 2011.

Andrew Cooper / Summit Entertainment

<i>The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1</i>

Noting gets a vampire lover’s cold heart racing like Twilight. To generate excitement for the final films in the series, Summit Entertainment is hosting a panel to promote Breaking Dawn: Part 1, featuring a Q&A session with some of the cast members and director Bill Condon and the unveiling of exclusive footage from the new film to the cavernous Hall H, traditionally reserved for Comic-Con’s big movie panels over the years. It’s only fitting that the crew and unconfirmed members of the cast—many are hoping for its leading trio Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner—finish where they started. Comic-Con 2008 was the first time the Twilight cast appeared together in public and the appearance helped create momentum for the series that hasn’t slowed yet. But the beginning of the end it upon us—Breaking Dawn: Part 1 hits theaters on Nov. 18 of this year.

Thursday; 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.; Hall H

The CW

<i>The Ringer</i>

Buffy’s back! The TV’s former Vampire Slayer Sarah Michelle Gellar makes her second ever trip to Comic-Con this year to promote her new CW show, Ringer. Comic-Con attendees of this panel will get a glimpse of this noir thriller about identity-swapping twins caught up in murder, mobsters, and mayhem. And in case you miss the duality memo, there are plenty of mirrors at every corner to drive the notion home. In addition to Gellar, Ioan Gruffudd, Nestor Carbonell (of Lost fame as eternally youthful Richard) and Kristoffer Polaha will be joined by executive producers. After the sneak peak, fans have the opportunity for a Q&A and we suspect many will still have lots of Buffy- and Lost-related questions to pose.

Thursday; 1:45-2:45 p.m.; Ballroom 20

<i>Locke & Key</i>

Fox may have decided to pass on the pilot of Locke & Key, based on a comic book series by Stephen King’s son Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, but many are anxious to know why. Writer and executive producer Josh Friedman will be on hand for a screening of the entire pilot—that those who have seen have loved—and then, he’ll discuss the aborted series, the mystery-filled comic, and what's coming up in Clockworks, its latest installment released Wednesday. Given industry buzz about the strength of the pilot, fans are already lining up to see the show no one else may ever see.

Friday; 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Ballroom 8 and Friday; 9:15 p.m.; Room 6DE

Krista Kennell / Sipa via AP Images; Jennifer Graylock / AP Photo

<i>Game of Thrones</i>

After the success of the first season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, this panel is destined one of the hottest tickets in town. Attendees will likely camp out all day in Ballroom 20 for the chance to see series leads Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Jason Momoa, and Lena Headey in action, as well as executive producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff. And if that wasn’t enough, the panel will be moderated by the novels’ author, George R.R. Martin, who has just released the fifth book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance With Dragons. San Diegans should beware—Comic-Con goers may start to act like direwolves and wildlings to get into this event.

Thursday; 3-4 p.m.; Ballroom 20

<i>The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn</i>

Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin is already creating a lot of chatter—and it doesn’t even make its big screen debut until December 2011. Besides the director and stars (Billy Elliott’s Jamie Bell and James Bond himself, Daniel Craig), much of the buzz surrounds the movie’s use of motion capture technology to animate the characters—it’s a technique that has been successful, as in the case of 2009’s Avatar, but in many instances, it leaves a film’s characters looking eerily blank and devoid of life, a side effect known as the uncanny valley. But that will all be revealed on the morning of July 22, when Spielberg will be making his first ever Comic-Con appearance to promote Tintin. Though he previously appeared at the conference via video, to promote the fourth Indiana Jones film, this will be his in-the-flesh debut and Comic-Con is rewarding him: Spielberg will be presented with  one of the conference’s Inkpot Awards, which honor guests and also members of Comic-Con’s committee and Board of Directors.

Friday; 11:00 a.m.; Hall H

<i>The Walking Dead</i>

AMC’s zombie drama The Walking Dead is set to return this fall for a second season and Comic-Con attendees will get a glimpse at what’s in store for the ragtag group of zombie apocalypse survivors with a sneak peek of the sophomore season. Considering The Walking Dead’s first season’s finale left many frustrated—and brought in a record-breaking audience—this is certainly another hot ticket at Comic-Con. Cast members Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, and Jeffrey DeMunn will be on hand, as well as creator Frank Darabont, executive producers Gale Anne Hurd and Robert Kirkman (who created The Walking Dead comic book series) and makeup artist/producer Greg Nicotero. They’re sure to get an earful from fans.

Friday; 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Ballroom 20

<i>The Amazing Spider-Man </i>

Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 3-D reboot starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker won’t hit theaters until this time next year, but fans of the superhero franchise will get a taste of what’s to come at Comic-Con. The cast and crew are scheduled to discuss the film for the first time in public since it underwent an overhaul not unlike that of its Broadway counterpart. Longtime star Tobey Maguire and director Sam Raimi are out for this installment, but director Marc Webb says the audience appetite is still there. Sony has already launched a contest amongst fans, and the winner will be flown out to San Diego to meet with the cast, including Garfield and Emma Stone, who went back to her blond roots to play Gwen Stacy. Clearly, they are catering to Spider-Man’s built-in fanatical audience. “I’m really excited to connect with the fans,” Webb told Screen Rant. “I think it’s a great way to announce the new qualities that we’re putting out there and just connect with the audience in a way that we haven’t before.”

Friday; 4:00 p.m.; Hall H

<i>True Blood</i>

Always one of the convention's most popular offerings, True Blood returns to Comic-Con again in the middle of its fourth season, bringing what appears to be just about everyone in the cast down to San Diego: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Ryan Kwanen, Sam Trammell, Rutina Wesley, Nelsan Ellis, Deborah Ann Woll, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Joe Manganiello, and Kevin Alejandro, as well as series creator Alan Ball. Meanwhile, Alexander Skarsgard, who plays brooding vampire sheriff Eric Northman and who was absent from the con last year, will be attending this year; HBO confirmed via Twitter. Teaser trailers, spoilers, and bawdiness are the norm at this insanely popular annual panel.

Friday; 5:30-6:30 p.m.; Ballroom 20

Michael Lavine / FOX

<i>Terra Nova</i>

Fox's highly anticipated—and coincidentally massively delayed—time-travel drama will be teased to audiences at Comic-Con a few months ahead of its premiere this fall. Terra Nova producers Rene Echevarria and Brannon Braga and series star Stephen Lang (of Avatar) will be on hand to unveil footage of the super-expensive drama about an ordinary family venturing to prehistoric Earth as a part of a massive expedition to save the human race from executive producers Peter Chernin and Steven Spielberg. While Spielberg will be making his Comic-Con debut this year to promote Tintin, it would be a major surprise if he were to drop by for this sneak peek and panel. Lang’s first time at Comic-Con was for Avatar and he has some advice for Spielberg and other first-timers. “Be honest, direct and loud. It’s helpful to be funny, if you can,” Lang told The Hollywood Reporter. “These folks are so passionate; they’re like sports fans can be about their team.”

Saturday; 11 a.m.-12 p.m.; Ballroom 20

Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images; Krista Kennell, Sipa Press / AP Photo

<i>Twixt</i>

Francis Ford Coppola (right) will return to Comic-Con for the first time since 1991 to promote his new film Twixt. The “gothic indie” movie, as Entertainment Weekly described it, stars Val Kilmer and Elle Fanning and centers on a murder mystery—Kilmer’s character, a horror novelist, is prompted by ghostly visions to investigate Fanning’s character’s murder. Coppola told EW that Twixt’s story was inspired by the eerie writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe and those creepy undertones are already shining through. The Comic-Con event will feature the director and musician Dan Deacon (left) and will “involve the audience in a dress rehearsal of the completely unique and innovate way they plan on performing it,” according to the schedule. It will also include a Q&A, in which attendees may want to ask, “What exactly is this dress rehearsal for a movie viewing?”

Saturday; 11:45 a.m.; Hall H

Getty Images

<i>Snow White and the Huntsman</i>

When it comes to fanboys and fangirls, Kristen Stewart is gold. Adding to the recent flux on big screen fairytale adaptations, Universal Pictures will present Snow White and the Huntsmen, starring Stewart, Oscar winner Charlize Theron (who is also in Ridley Scott’s highly-anticipated Alien prequel Prometheus), Chris Hemsworth, and among the seven dwarfs are Eddie Izzard and Deadwood’s Ian McShane. In this version, the Huntsman (Hemsworth) is ordered to take Snow White (Stewart) into the woods to be killed, but winds up helping her defeat the Evil Queen (Theron). Though the studio hasn’t been specific, the “stars and filmmakers” of this twist on the epic fairytale are scheduled to appear at Comic-Con to discuss their roles. We’d imagine the Twilight starlet will make her rounds.

Saturday; 3:30 p.m.; Hall H

Timothy White / Universal Studios

<i>Cowboys and Aliens</i>

Though this sci-fi western is set to be released nationwide in two weeks, 2,000 lucky fans will be among the first to see Cowboys and Aliens at its world premiere Comic-Con. The film, set in Arizona in 1873, stars Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, and Sam Rockwell during an alien invasion. Director Jon Favreau is excited to share the film with his loyal fans. “I feel like they’ve come out for me, they’ve supported me,” he told the Los Angeles Times …  “That’s where it all started, and I want to give back. They should have the opportunity to see it first.”

Saturday; 8:00 p.m.; San Diego Civic Theatre

<i>Dr. Who</i>

Doctor Who stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan make their first Comic-Con appearance with this panel at Hall H. But with movie studios backing away from Comic-Con in droves, it falls to TV panels to fill the 6500-seat room on the final day of the convention this year. Smith and Gillan will be on hand along with Who producers and writers to tease audiences with details from the back half of the current sixth season. Expect lots of cheering, a teaser trailer, and likely some fans dressed up as Cybermen or Daleks.

Sunday; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; Hall H