Another year of San Diego Comic-Con is now in the books, and it brought everything you’d expect from a four-day celebration of geek culture. There were costumes, announcements, and incredible new trailers; there were exciting immersive experiences, and authors blending the worlds of film and gaming.
It was a lot to take in. So as we say goodbye and make our way home, we’re taking a brief look back. Here are our favorite things from the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con International.
Westworld: The Experience
The cast and creators of HBO’s Westworld came to Hall H to talk about the first season (and reveal absolutely nothing about the second), but it was outside the convention center that the show made the biggest impression. Westworld: The Experience was ostensibly a promotional brand activation, but it went far beyond what we’ve seen from these kinds of experiences in the past. It allowed guests to visit the offices of Delos, Inc., get evaluated by a specialist who determined whether they were a white hat or a black hat, and then sent them into a reproduction of the Mariposa Saloon to have cocktails and talk with a host.
What made it so memorable were the performers. Throughout the experience, guests interacted with some incredibly talented actors who had the mannerisms and vocal cadences of the show’s hosts down pat. It wasn’t just a promotion; it was a step into Westworld itself. —Bryan Bishop
Stranger Things season 2 trailer
Netflix’s Stranger Things came out of nowhere last year and blew audiences away with a potent mix of nostalgia and 1980s-style storytelling. As one might expect with a runaway cultural hit, expectations are pretty high for the coming second season. When the cast and creators went onstage at Hall H to discuss the show, they delivered what many had been waiting for: the first look at what will be coming this October.
Beginning with a callback to the Don Bluth arcade game Dragon’s Lair, the trailer then veers off into new territory, with the line between the Upside Down and the real world apparently thinner than ever. The use of Vincent Price’s voiceover from “Thriller” provides a wonderful bit of nostalgia, but it’s our feelings about the characters and the reappearance of Eleven that gave me the chills. —Bryan Bishop
I was also pretty pleased with the season 2 trailer, and I’ve been wondering if there is any way that the show’s second season will live up to the hype that’s surrounded what we’ve seen so far. I’m still not sure if season 2 will meet all of our expectations, but the trailer puts me in a cautiously optimistic mood for what’s to come in October. —Andrew Liptak
That time the Night King threatened the Game of Thrones cast
Audience questions are always an interesting part of Comic-Con panels. Sometimes you get interesting queries, sometimes you get marriage proposals, and sometimes you just get people gushing about how awesome they think a particular actor or filmmaker is.
And then there was this year’s Game of Thrones panel, where a dude dressed as the Night King stepped up to the microphone and quietly asked the cast if they were “looking forward to arising again as the Children of the Cold.” It was a bold move — only the cast couldn’t quite hear the question. The Night King then carefully repeated his query, which somewhat detracted from his menacing omnipotence. Then Liam Cunningham, who plays Davos Seaworth, drove the stake home by commenting that Mr. King’s voice made it sound like he was from LA’s San Fernando Valley.
“Hey, I’m from Philadelphia,” he protested. Because not even the Night King wants to be from The Valley. —Bryan Bishop
Avengers: Infinity War teaser
I’m cheating a little bit on this one. I actually wasn’t in Hall H when Marvel played the teaser for Avengers: Infinity War, but I was in the room when it premiered last weekend at D23. It was an amazing moment then, and I guarantee it was an amazing moment for everyone in Hall H who watched it. (I was sitting in the press room above the hall during the panel, and could feel the floor actually vibrate when the crowd cheered.)
Of course, with the teaser getting such an incredible reaction, you’re probably anxious to watch it yourself. Unfortunately you can’t: Marvel hasn’t released the clip online, making it a sad return to the era of Comic-Con-exclusive clips. Hopefully it gets posted soon, because there’s a fine line between exclusivity and just being obnoxious. —Bryan Bishop
The Blade Runner 2049 Experience
Across the street from the convention center Blade Runner 2049 had a massive tent that housed both a virtual reality experience called Replicant Pursuit, and an elaborate Blade Runner set featuring a Spinner, rain, smog, and a ton of live actors.
Given that I’d been expecting a simple walk past some props, I was caught off guard by the second part of the experience. That’s when a police officer came up, demanded to know if I was a replicant, and then hauled me off for a scan to see if I was lying. Much like the Westworld experience, Blade Runner used live actors to put me inside the world of the movie. I questioned, I bartered, I made plans to get a woman off-world in exchange for tracking down a rogue Nexus 8. I did everything but take a Voight-Kampff test, which I’m sure I would have passed… right? —Bryan Bishop
Sessions: The Legion Mixed Reality Experience
The use of live actors was a theme throughout many of the installations that surrounded Comic-Con, but only one combined them with a Microsoft HoloLens. Sessions: The Legion Mixed Reality Experience actually put visitors in the shoes of Dan Stevens’ David Haller. I stepped into a lab, where I was asked some questions by an attendant as it became clear that I’d forgotten some rather traumatic recent events. Then, thanks to the HoloLens headset, I was able to manipulate digital items around the room in what was presented as emerging telekinetic abilities. Then things took a turn for the worse, and I suddenly found myself in the middle of a situation that felt threateningly real.
It was a creative mix of actors and technology, even if the field of view of the HoloLens did prevent the experience from being as fully immersive as I would have liked. As a network, FX has always tried to push the boundaries with its Comic-Con exhibits, and this year was no different. —Bryan Bishop
The Expanse Escape Room
I make no secret of the fact that I’m a fan of James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse series and its adaptation for Syfy. The channel had a noticeable presence at the convention this year, with a huge panel in the Indigo Ballroom that was packed with fans of the show. The network didn’t reveal too much about The Expanse’s upcoming third season, which just went into production a week ago, but it did debut a crowd-pleasing sizzler recap of the last two seasons, and hinted that the next season will bring war to the solar system.
What was really fun, though, was the escape room that Alcon Entertainment set up for the show. Located to the much larger Blade Runner experience, it was a clever puzzle: groups of players would shuffle into the airlock of a spaceship, where they found that the air and power had gone out. The goal was to turn the controls back on and get into the airlock, where they then had to figure out a passcode to get off the ship. The game had an extra level of complexity: you were competing against another team, and the goal was to escape before they figured out their puzzle. It was a fun, immersive experience that captured the feel of the world. —Andrew Liptak
Costumes and cosplay
It’s a cliche, but the plethora of costumes on display throughout Comic-Con easily make the entry to the convention worth it. Fan-favorite characters from major franchises were well represented, ranging from Star Wars and Star Trek to Deadpool and Wonder Woman. But there were also plenty of costumes from properties that aren’t quite as big. We saw cosplayers dressed as characters from Stargate SG-1, Farscape, The Fifth Element, and quite a few more — and that’s all before you even get to the variety of characters pulled directly from comic books.
But more impressive than just the variety of costumes was the variety of craft on display. Exquisitely detailed costumes that had clearly taken months to assemble were being worn right alongside costumes picked up from a local store or thrown together with garments from the cosplayer’s own wardrobe. The convention was a showcase of talent, creativity, and passion, providing awesome sights to behold every time I stepped onto the show floor. —Andrew Liptak
Richard Browning’s jetpack
One of the real highlights this year was a small panel called “The State of Iron Man Tech.” It brought inventor Richard Browning and a panel of specialists together to talk about real-world attempts to create jetpack technology, and how close we were to the kind of things we saw in the film Iron Man. It was a cool, informative panel about the real work that’s being done to build actual jetpacks or enhance space suits with much-needed upgrades.
The really cool part, however, was that Browning actually demonstrated his jetpack. An hour after the panel at the convention, he suited up, turned it on, and flew down a street toward a group of reporters, kicking up superheated air and grit as he flew past. It was a spectacular demonstration that looks like something out of one of Marvel’s movies. —Andrew Liptak
The return of the Stargate franchise
I often hear from fans about their love of Star Trek, and how it was a show that they religiously watched during their formative years. Stargate SG-1 was that for me, and I’ve missed the franchise since it went off the air. During this year’s 20th anniversary retrospective, MGM announced that Stargate would return this fall in the form of a digital-first show on a new, dedicated Stargate website. It remains to be seen how the show will turn out, but it’s exciting to see that there’s interest in keeping the franchise alive in one form or another. —Andrew Liptak