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The thing about going to Comic-Con is many people will tell you what to expect. They’ll tell you about the mythological long lines to get into Hall H, and that, unless you arrive 8 hours before, it’s impossible to get into. They’ll tell you about how people role play in costume – a past-time known as cosplay – and how some even take it to the extreme, talking in a Darth Vader voice to accompany their Darth Vader outfit. And they’ll tell you, you ain’t seen crazy yet, ’til you’ve seen someone stab someone else with a pen for cutting in front of them in the autograph line.
I experienced most of that – well, except for the pen-stabbing. Only I did get into Hall H after less than an hour’s worth of waiting (it was amazing) and I saw people role-play in groups, not just on their own. But most of all, I experienced fandom in all its glory. As a first-timer, my head was spinning trying to keep up with the explosion of pop culture that spilled out of the Convention Centre and onto the streets of downtown San Diego. I got to see what makes Comic-Con the magnet of weird, crazy, dedicated, enthusiastic cool-geek-nerds it is.
And these were some of the best parts:
- the awesome figures inside the exhibition hall, like the Gollum statue at The Lord of the Rings stand and the Lego-fied Incredible Hulk
- hearing the Twilight cast talk about their final film, and how the fans, in the words of Nikki Reed, have helped them grow so popular in “an age where it’s hard to hold anyone’s attention for longer than 10 minutes.”
- meeting The Walking Dead newcomer show-changers, Michonne, played by Danai Gurira, and the Governor, played by David Morrissey at the Q-and-A prison style breakfast.
- seeing 7 minutes of Elysium, ahead of the release next year in March. The giant space vehicle protruding from the Hard Rock Hotel as part of promotion for the film was an inspired move.
As I’ve learnt long time ago, I can’t be everywhere at one time (now that would be a superpower I’d like!), so you’ll find some other highlights that happened at Comic-Con 2012 here and here.
It’s one of the most anticipated movies talked about at this year’s Comic-Con, and on Friday we got to see a sneak preview of never-before-seen footage from Neill Blomkamp’s follow-up to District 9, Elysium. After getting a few words from Sharlto Copley, the breakout star of the 2009 film who once again teams up with Neill for this film, I ran over to the queue for the famed Hall H. This is Comic-Con – it’s all about the fans, so there are no press privileges here! Even for Hall H, the place to catch clips from movies and TV shows that have yet to be seen, and where the stars come to answer questions about their work. It seats about 6000 people but it’s so popular that you really aren’t guaranteed to get in, even after queuing for a while. I’ve heard crazy stories about Hall H, including one about someone who got stabbed (albeit with a pen) because someone sat in his seat. Like, I said, crazy.
Luckily though, I made it in, unharmed, inside to see sneak previews of footage from Total Recall, the reboot starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel, Looper with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt, and Elysium, with Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto. All the films look incredible, and I can’t wait to see them, but Elysium really seems as if it will be well worth the wait until next March when it comes out. It’s created out of Neill’s idea of a world where the planet has been so impoverished that the rich have moved onto their own one, where poverty and disease doesn’t exist. Matt Damon plays an action hero of sorts and Sharlto is a baddie, with a south of Joburg accent!
Sharlto’s become a pro at doing press interviews.
I also spoke to Jeffrey Dean Morgan about his latest movie, The Possession, about a young girl who buys an antique box at a yard sale, in which a dormant malicious ancient spirit lives. Mr Morgan is lovely in person, even if by his admission, he was hungover. He said he can’t wait to come back to Comic-Con with another comic-book adventure like Watchmen.
By 1:30pm on Day 1 of Comic-Con I already felt like one of the many zombies I saw walking the streets of downtown San Diego. I’ve done South by Southwest, Sundance and Cannes, but this is a whole new kind of festival experience for me. It’s a pop culture sensory overload every where you look, and I keep wanting to take a gazillion pictures to capture it all. And then my iPhone tells me I have no more memory space!
For many (especially those who arrived very, very early and waited for many, many hours), the highlight of the day was the Twilight cast taking to Hall H to talk about the last film in the hit franchise, Breaking Dawn Part 2, which releases in November. At a press con before, cast members like Ashley Greene and Peter Facinelli spoke about the whole process of saying goodbye to the series and how important the fans have been in an age where it’s difficult to attract someone’s attention for longer than 10 minutes. When author Stephanie Meyer was asked about why she thought Twilight became the phenomenon it has, she said she wasn’t quite sure, and was still surprised that it had. Taylor Lautner chimed in to say that the fans loved the series so much because of the characters she created, so all credit is due to Stephanie. I’d give some of that to his abs though – they deserve a little credit too.
The exhibition hall is massive, and I joined the sea of costumed and non-costumed people who walked around to see what was on offer. My inner 6-year old squealed when I saw the My Little Pony and She-Ra stands, but the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit ones delighted my adult self too.
There’s a lot of intrigue around the new film from South African born District 9 director Neill Blomkamp. A spaceship-like vehicle from Elysium sticks out of the Hard Rock Hotel, and on Friday Neill joins Jodie Foster, Matt Damon and Sharlto Copley at Comic-Con to reveal a little more about the sci-fi.
Managed to catch a preview screening of Hit and Run a joyride of an action thriller from Dax Shepard, starring himself, his girlfriend Kristen Bell, Tom Arnold and a dreadlocked Bradley Cooper. It was un expected load of fun and a great way to end the first day of wonderful Comic-Con madness.
* Comic-Con kicks off in San Diego tomorrow, but there’s been a sad start to the event – the cast of Twilight has sent its condolences to the family of a fan was killed on her way to wait in line for a panel.
* Spike Lee will direct a documentary about Michael Jackson and his 1987 album Bad.
* Channing Tatum is set to star in a biopic about daredevil Evil Knievel.
* Run DMC will reunite for their first gig since Jam Master Jay’s death in 2002.
* In case you missed it, The Killers released their new single off their forthcoming album, Battle Born, due out in September.