Highlights from 2014 San Diego Comic Con

The past few days have been a haze of “fandemonium”, freak-outs and fun. That’s San Diego Comic Con for you! It was my second time at the famed popular culture fest, and here are a few of my highlights:

* Spending time with the cast of The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead panel at Hall H boasted a spoiler-heavy, gasp-inducing trailer for Season 5, which is due to air in October. At a press breakfast, Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Steven Yeun and other members of the cast talked as much as they could without giving too much away, as usual, about what’s coming. Aside from The Walking Dead experience that was set up at Comic Con, there was also a mock ‘Terminus’ set up across the street from the Convention Centre, playing on the would-be cannibals who are set to feature prominently in the next season. The first time I came to Comic Con, it was Gurira’s first time too – and seeing how comfortably she fits in, joking with Lincoln and co, now is great. She says the number one question they get asked is if there’ll be any kind of romantic hook-up between her character and his. The laughter that accompanies the answer suggests not, but it still remains a series where even beloved characters can die, and nothing is out of the question.

A Norman Reedus-taken selfie


* Mad Max: Fury Road footage and poster reveal

The ‘H’ in Hall H at Comic Con could stand for ‘hallowed’, ‘hard-as-hell-to-get-into’, ‘hopeless’ and yet ‘hopeful’ too. You can spend your entire Comic Con experience queuing to get into the hall, but you’ll be rewarded with seeing exclusive footage before anyone else, and have the very-slim, yet still possible, chance of asking one of the big-name stars a question. For the rest of us journalists, there’s real-time Twitter, followed by the press line where we have the chance to interview the some of the cast and filmmakers. But I was pretty bummed not to be inside Hall H for the video message from Charlize Theron, on set in South Africa, talking about her dream come true in working with George Miller on Mad Max: Fury Road. The trailer looks insane – and I want to blow up the Imperator Furiosa poster and put it somewhere I can see it every morning to start my day on a kick-ass note.


* The camaraderie of the Avengers 2: Age of Ultron cast

While interviewing Jeremy Renner about the sequel, Cobie Smulders and Samuel L Jackson popped up behind him…”We saw you had all the women here interviewing you, so we wanted to join in,” joked Smulders, referring to myself and the three women next to me who had formed a little pack to pool our interview questions. As they started talking Mark Ruffalo joined in too, joking about how he just did an interview for 45 minutes and he hadn’t got the chance to move down the press line. Similarly, during Chris Evans’ interview, Robert Downey Jr snuck on up behind him, and the two ended up hugging and laughing like the rockstars they are. It felt genuine, as they testify it is, and it was also endearing and too-cool to witness. Saturday belonged to Marvel – well, the whole of Comic Con did – as people spent all their time trying to get into that panel, during which Josh Brolin raised his Infinity Gauntlet-hand as Thanos, and Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Peyton Reed talked about Ant-Man, which begins filming in 2 and a half weeks’ time in Atlanta.

A sneaky snap during the Avengers interview on the press line (with apologies to Jeremy Renner who was chopped off).
A sneaky snap during the Avengers interview on the press line (with apologies to Jeremy Renner who was chopped off).

* Teaser Art  for Neill Blomkamp’s Chappie in the foyer of the Hard Rock Hotel

At Comic Con in 2012, a giant Elysium spaceship protruded from the Hard Rock Hotel, in front of the San Diego Convention Centre. This year, Neill Blomkamp’s latest film, Chappie, took over the elevators, doodles of figures with ‘N’ and ‘Y’ holding hands, and ‘Daddy’ and ‘Mommy’ written above them – hinting at the role Die Antwoord’s Ninja and Yolandi might be playing in the South African filmmaker’s next film, which also stars Hugh Jackman and Dev Patel.

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* The marvels of Cosplay

Yes, the actors, writers, illustrators, authors, show-runners and filmmakers get all the attention at Comic Con, but, as most attendees will tell you, it’s the fans who dress up that end up becoming the true stars of the event. The effort, attention to detail and pure passion that goes into creating a costume to wear is remarkable. Some are really intricate, and you wonder how the person wearing the outfit doesn’t faint on the spot in the San Diego-heat, while others work simply because the person just has an uncanny resemblance to the character they’re portraying.

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