Even if you've never set foot in the San Diego Convention Center for Comic-Con, you likely know that there are always a healthy number of surprises that aren't listed on the already-massive schedule. Last year, Warner Bros. dropped perhaps one of the biggest bombs in Con history, by simply unveiling a logo, the merging of Batman and Superman's iconic symbols that let everyone know the forthcoming Man of Steel sequel was, in fact, something much, much greater: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Marvel did the same thing last year as well, with Joss Whedon announcing that the Marvel's The Avengers sequel will be titled Avengers: Age of Ultron, thus revealing the main villain in the same breath.
Way back in 2008, my first year attending SDCC, I was covering what I thought to be a rather innocuous Disney panel. Keep in mind, this is years before Disney had Marvel and LucasFilm in their stable. Out of nowhere, the lights went out and a bizarre video started playing on the screen, and just as we realized who Jeff Bridges was really playing... Tron: Legacy was announced. No one saw that coming, at all, and when that logo was flashed on the screen (at the time, they were going with Tr2n), it created the kind of euphoric bedlam that both studios and fans alike crave, and is one of the reasons San Diego Comic-Con gets bigger and bigger every year.
With SDCC 2014 just a few weeks away, we were pondering what dirty little tricks the studios have up their sleeves, which secret will cause the 7,000 nerds in Hall H to lose their shit. Of course, the official schedule hasn't even been released yet, but that hardly matters, since the best moments at the Con won't be found in that handy little guidebook they give you with your badge every year. With that in mind, we thought we'd dig deep through the highly-anticipated movies and TV shows coming out in the next year (or two) to see if we can determine what the big surprises of SDCC 2014 will be.
First Look at Lex Luthor and Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman
After Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice director Zack Snyder gave fans our first look at Ben Affleck as the new Batman on the set this May, many assumed that we would be seeing Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman and Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor shortly thereafter. Sadly, that did not happen, leaving fans clamoring for a first look at these iconic characters. Since shooting is still ongoing, it seems unlikely that any footage will be revealed, or that any cast members will be there in person, leaving these photo reveals as practically the only viable option for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to have a presence at Comic-Con, one year after the very announcement of the movie itself rocked Hall H to its core.
This will naturally happen during Warner Bros.' massive panel, where they normally roll out three or four different movies over a 90-minute or two-hour block. That panel will likely include The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies, Jupiter Ascending, Mad Max: Fury Road and possibly San Andreas or Entourage. With such a potentially-packed panel, it wouldn't shock me if the studio managed to sneak in quick glimpses of Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor at the end of their panel, possibly starting a tradition of literally last-minute superhero details emerging as the presentation comes to a close.
Marvel Solidifies Plans for Phase 3 And Beyond
It certainly is an exciting time to be a Marvel Studios fan, as they are riding high on a wave of critical and commercial success of Phase Two blockbusters Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with Guardians of the Galaxy coming up next month and Avengers: Age of Ultron currently in production. While it remains to be seen if any Avengers: Age of Ultron footage will be shown, Marvel certainly can excite their fans in another way, by clarifying what the remaining movies in Marvel Phase Three are.
Ant-Man, Captain America 3 and Doctor Strange have already been confirmed for Phase Three, but there is already speculation that this phase could have more movies than both Phase One and Phase Two, which had five movies apiece. Thor 3 and The Avengers 3 will certainly have to be a part of Phase Three, and there has been talk of Black Panther coming into the mix as well. Marvel mastermind Kevin Feige revealed in August that the studio has their slate planned out up until the year 2021. Hopefully he plans on sharing some of that information with the fans in San Diego later this month.
First Look at Crimson Peak
Director Guillermo del Toro is currently in post-production on Crimson Peak, but the filmmaker is such a beloved presence at Comic-Con that I would hope he shows up with the first look at his haunted house thriller. Little is known about the story, except that it revolves around an author who discovers a terrifying secret about her husband, with an all-star cast that includes Charlie Hunnam, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska.
Universal doesn't have any major superhero franchises to flaunt or rely on, so I would expect them to pull out those proverbial big guns by giving fans a very early look at Crimson Peak, which doesn't hit theaters until October 2015, to build as much buzz as possible. The mere mention of Guillermo del Toro alone is probably enough to pack Hall H to capacity, so, while we may not get a full trailer, it's certainly possible that some footage may be shown.
Since we're feeling so generous, we decided to include two bonus surprises, one of which would put this year's Comic-Con light years above the rest.
That One Project/Announcement No One Sees Coming
Sure, this doesn't happen every year, but after the overwhelming reaction to Batman v Superman last year and Tron: Legacy in 2008, I don't see why a massive reveal like those shouldn't happen annually. Now, I'm not talking about actors who weren't on the official schedule "surprisingly" popping up, because that happens practically every day at SDCC. Do you think a project will be announced this year that will totally catch you surprise? Here are a few possible suggestions to throw out into the ether, just for shits and giggles. How about Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law abruptly showing up to announce Sherlock Holmes 3? Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass reveal their return to the Jason Bourne franchise? The possibilities are endless!
Disney Shows Fans the "Crawl" for Star Wars: Episode VII
If this actually happened, it would be one of the biggest bombshells in the annals of the Con, bar none. Hell, they even have an entire DAY devoted to Star Wars (Friday), every year, just to celebrate the iconic franchise, and given the immense hunger for any sort of new information regarding Star Wars: Episode VII, it would probably even be one of the most bootlegged/downloaded videos of all time. Disney/LucasFilm surely wouldn't be crazy enough to show their most rabid fans the opening crawl for Star Wars: Episode VII, would they? Even if they don't, I think they should strongly consider it.
When you really think about it, the iconic crawl, which has been shown before every Star Wars movie, is nothing but a glorified synopsis being beamed out into space, giving fans just a tiny bit of background information before diving into the story. The crawl never features any spoilers, or footage even, just words that have an indescribable amount of value to any Star Wars fan young or old, especially words that give us the first true details of the story that many have been waiting more than 30 years for.
It's worth noting as well that Disney is not holding its annual D23 Expo this year, making Comic-Con the prime venue for such a reveal, or the previoiusly-mentioned "surprise" of cast members appearing in person. However, I think the fans would still be even more surprised to see that crawl than to see the entire cast on the Hall H stage themselves.
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What would you like to happen at this year's Comic Con?