Veterans of San Diego Comic-Con knows that the crowds, spectacle and jam-packed line-up of panels can make the whole experience seem overwhelming, exhausting … even impossible. For you first-time conventioneers, the key to surviving the weekend is to plan ahead and to diversify your schedule. Most of the big news coming out of the weekend – from “Preview Night” on July 19th to getaway day on Sunday the 23rd – will be happening in the Convention Center’s Hall H and Ballroom 20, where the blockbuster movie and big-time TV presentations are held. But anyone who wants to avoid camping out in lines overnight can still get into panels for lesser-known films and shows. Or you can spend time weaving through cosplayers among the vendor booths on the convention floor, or dig the various creative viral marketing gimmicks that tend to spread across several blocks of the city’s bustling Gaslamp Quarter.
Below is a fairly comprehensive list of what movies and TV projects will be presenting panels and taking to the streets at SDCC this year, from the already wildly popular to the new cult favorites you haven’t heard of yet. This is what attendees can seek out amid all the hubbub down by the Embarcadero – and what pop culture junkies around the world will be reading about throughout the Con.
Comic-Con’s emphasis has largely shifted over the past few years from movies to TV – after moving away from, y’know, comics. But there are still plenty of action-adventure, fantasy, science-fiction, horror, and superhero blockbusters-to-be that’ll be jostling for position in the ballrooms, conference halls and street-corners of San Diego.
There’s be no big Star Wars panel this year, which is a bit surprising given that The Last Jedi is coming soon and the “young Han Solo” movie following in 2018. Instead, for a nostalgic science-fiction rush, fans will have to look to Blade Runner 2049, which will be part of the Warner Bros. Hall H presentation. It’ll be sharing time with Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the dystopian video game novel Ready Player One, and the next two DC Comics films, Justice League and Aquaman. Spielberg is confirmed for the RPO Q&A; Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling will be on hand for Blade Runner. Meanwhile, Ben Affleck and Jason Momoa will be talking up their superhero pictures – and trying not to act too jealous toward fellow panelist Gal Gadot, who’ll still be riding high from the success of Wonder Woman.
That’s some heavy duty Hollywood firepower, packed into a single two-hour WB session. But for more Blade Runner 2049 fun, convention-goers can sneak away from the Center and seek out the film’s “multimedia experience,” set up in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Also, Warner Bros. isn’t limiting its SDCC presence to just one time-slot. The studio’s also holding a Wednesday night advance screening of the horror prequel Annabelle: Creation, as well as a sure-to-be-wacky panel for the upcoming The LEGO Ninjago Movie. The studio’s action picture Atomic Blonde (released via the Focus Features subsidiary, in conjunction with Netflix) will get its own showcase as part of a special tribute to “Women Who Kick Ass,” featuring the movie’s star Charlize Theron. And Warner’s DC Comics division will be active too, with a panel celebrating the 10th anniversary of DC Universe Animated Original Movies, another one about the release of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm on Blu-ray, and a preview screening of the brand-new Batman and Harley Quinn.
20th Century Fox will be limiting its Hall H presentation this year to an hour, and is expected to spend much of that time touting Kingsman: The Golden Circle; although it’s possible that upcoming “X-Men universe” movies like Deadpool 2 and New Mutants could be part of the discussion. The studio’s keeping its plans under wraps for now – like a superhero protecting a secret identity.
Marvel Studios will taking up over two hours of Hall H time to deliver one what will almost certainly be one of its typically free-wheeling and surprise-filled sales pitches. The exact participants are still classified, but almost a large portion of the program will likely cover the next two MCU movies, Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther. Beyond that, what gets announced and who walks onto the stage to the adoring roar of the crowd will be a mystery that’ll have to wait until late Saturday afternoon.
Netflix’s movie division will be indulging some mystery of its own, by holding a “surprise screening of an upcoming original film” on Thursday night. That will happen after an afternoon Hall H session where the streaming service will tout two of its higher-profile projects: the action-fantasy Bright, and the English-language adaptation of the grim Japanese manga Death Note. The later will be represented by stars Nat Wolff and Margaret Qualley and director Adam Wingard. The former boasts the kind of panel line-up that one would ordinarily expect from a major Hollywood studio, with director David Ayer and screenwriter Max Landis joined by stars Will Smith, Noomi Rapace and Joel Edgerton, all helping to introduce an alternate universe where fairy tale creatures coexist with humans. Anyone intrigued by the Bright panel can then head over to “the Netflix Experience” booth at the Hilton Gaslamp, which will be providing an “immersion” into the movie’s world.
Amazon Studios is going much more modest with its panel dedicated to the upcoming Todd Haynes-directed version of Brian Selznick’s YA bestseller Wonderstruck, offering a more intimate up-close-and-personal with the author, who’ll talk about the process of adaptation. Another smaller-scale film to keep an eye out for in San Diego is big-screen take on Derf Backderf’s terrific graphic novel My Friend Dahmer, which is about how Derf hung out with the notorious serial killer when they were high school classmates. And one of the more surprising Hall H dwellers this year is the gentle, strange indie comedy Brigsby Bear, which is brainchild of a handful of the quirkier Lonely Island and Saturday Night Live comedians. Kyle Mooney, Dave McCary and Beck Bennett are scheduled to appear, along with “very special guests” – which could mean cast-members Andy Samberg, Claire Danes and/or Mark Hamill.
There’s a lot riding on the long-awaited rollout of Star Trek: Discovery, which will be debuting on the Tiffany Network in September before becoming the crown jewel of its All Access streaming service. After production delays and some shuffling of the creative team, Trek devotees will be watching the Comic-Con panel closely to see if the early look at this prequel series – set before the Kirk/Spock era – will satisfy fans who’ve been waiting over a decade for the franchise to return to its original TV home.
If they weren’t fictional, the characters from CBS’s The Big Bang Theory would likely be camping out all night for the Star Trek panel. Instead, the actors who play them will be geeking out in Hall H, for a tribute to the hit sitcom’s 10th season. All the stars are scheduled to attend, along with the writers and producers; the network’s teasing a “special video presentation” which, knowing this show, could be anything from a congratulatory message from Stephen Hawking to a sick burn by Will Wheaton.
A fervent “save this show” campaign revived the action-packed time-travel adventure Timeless literally days after NBC had decided not to bring it back for a second season. Now, the fans who kept the series alive can celebrate with a panel where the cast and creators will look back on the first year’s highlights, while setting up a new chapter. (The next batch of episodes won’t be coming until 2018.) Con-goers can also venture into shadows of Midnight, Texas literally two days after the new show’s major players appear in San Diego. That panel’s set for the 22nd, and on the 24th, NBC will debut its adaptation of True Blood mastermind Charlaine Harris’s latest series of soapy supernatural novels.
Marvel’s Inhumans brings to the small screen a super-powered alien race that at one point was going to get its own movie in the MCU. Instead, the first two episodes of ABC’s show will be playing in IMAX theaters for two full weeks before the series commences on TV. While they await the debut, any members of the Mighty Marvel Marching Society who happen to be in Southern California will have the opportunity to see some early footage, and to meet the actors who’ll be playing Marvel’s strange family of out-of-this-world demigods.
Inhumans is the most-anticipated item ABC has to introduce this year, though fans of Once Upon a Time will be surely paying attention to what the team behind that show will have to say about the upcoming season, after its finale last spring seemed to wrap up multiple major storylines while pressing the plot reset button. Former Community star Yvette Nicole Brown (who voices The Little Mermaid‘s Ursula in Disney’s dense fairy tale homage) will be moderating the panel.
The original “Big 3″ networks don’t seem that interested lately in any kind of genre fare that doesn’t involve teams of rugged government agents, housed in high-tech headquarters and busting master-criminals – so leave it to the perennial upstart Fox to pick up the slack, loading its 2017–18 TV schedule with cartoons, superheroes, spaceships, demons and ghosts.
Since every network these days apparently gets a crack at its own Marvel project, the big Fox panel this year will be the one for The Gifted, a show from writer Matt Nix (best-known for Burn Notice) and director Bryan Singer, starring Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker as parents who connect with an underground mutant community when their own kids develop super-powers. It’s still unknown who from the series will appear, though given that the area around the Convention Center has reportedly been plastered with billboards promoting the series (and guiding attendees to a fake gene-testing service), it’s reasonable to expect that big-name talent will be in town.
Other new Fox shows in the mix include Ghosted, which stars Craig Robinson and Adam Scott as paranormal investigators, and The Orville, a comic twist on Star Trek created by and starring Seth MacFarlane. Robinson and Scott are scheduled to appear on the former’s panel, while MacFarlane will be joined by his co-stars Adrianne Palicki, Scott Grimes and Penny Johnson Jerald (among others) for the latter’s session.
Speaking of MacFarlane: The cast of his long-running animated sitcom Family Guy will be holding court in Ballroom 20 this year, which is also where The Simpsons creator Matt Groening will offer a look at the new season alongside producers Al Jean and Matt Selman. And the funniest cast in animation – the Bob’s Burgers crew of H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, John Roberts, Kristen School and Larry Murphy – will be joining their boss Loren Bouchard in the Indigo Ballroom to riff about, honestly, whatever the hell they want.
Some older Fox shows will hosting their own panels, too: The Exorcist, Lucifer and Gotham. This is a trio with fervent fanbases, even if they don’t get the attention they did when they launched.
The fourth and final season of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s cult vampire series The Strain debuts a few days before Comic-Con, which should make the panel this year kind of a victory lap, celebrating the end of a horror epic that’s stayed admirably weird from start to finish. Hogan and producer Carlton Cuse will be there, along with stars Corey Stoll and David Bradley.
Speaking of the impressively strange, FX will be bringing Legion to the Con, teasing another round of trippy super-mutant adventures – without giving too much away about what happened to the show’s dangerously powerful telekinetic hero in the first season’s cliffhanger finale. Cast-members Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Jean Smart and Bill Irwin will be answering questions alongside mastermind Noah Hawley … who may have to remind the crowd beforehand not to ask him about his other brilliant FX hit, Fargo.
Lastly, while it’s been reassigned to sister channel FXX, the hilariously vulgar animated spy comedy Archer remains one of the Fox family’s finest achievements. The cast will undoubtedly have a lot to say both about last year’s experimental extended film noir dream sequence – and about whatever’s coming next in Season Nine.
Because the CW tends to renew nearly everything it airs, there’s not a lot of room for new shows from year to year – which should amp up the interest in Black Lightning, the latest superhero adventure produced by Greg Berlanti. Based on one of DC Comics’ lesser-known characters, the series stars Cress Williams as an ex-vigilante turned school principal, who is looking for ways to make a difference in his gang-ridden neighborhood without using his electricity-controlling powers. Williams will be in San Diego with his costars and producers Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil
Oddly, Black Lightning isn’t intended to be part of Berlanti’s “Arrowverse,” which means that for now we can’t expect any crossovers with Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow or Supergirl. All of those shows will be well-represented at Comic-Con, though, continuing what has now become a multi-year tradition of the CW bringing every major cast-member in their superhero franchises to the convention, to introduce fan-friendly “special video presentations” and to drop hints about the new seasons.
The network’s other comic book shows – the Berlanti-produced “Archie noir” reimagining Riverdale and the wildly entertaining sci-fi/horror procedural iZombie – will be following a similar CW pattern, offering Comic-Con exclusive video packages during star-studded panels. And so will The 100, The Originals and Supernatural. The advantage of of sticking with more or less the same slate is that your marketing team knows what their audience wants.
A conventioneer in San Diego could spend the entire weekend only trying to see every panel hosted by Syfy – and would likely still fall short. Pretty much everything the channel airs is classic Comic-Con fare, and the people behind those shows are more than happy to come out and meet their fans. It’d take up too much space to list everyone who’ll be in town repping Syfy’s returning series. But suffice to say that if you like 12 Monkeys, Blood Drive, Channel Zero, Dark Matter, The Expanse, The Magicians, Van Helsing, Wynonna Earp, Z Nation or any of the Sharknado movies, well … there will be a place to go to hear more about what’s in store.
The big Syfy news this year will be about the network’s newest programs. Edgy comics writer Grant Morrison is scheduled to be at the panel for Happy!, an adaptation of his graphic novel about a drunken, violent thug (played by Chris Meloni) who begins taking the advice of a cheerful imaginary horse (voiced by SNL‘s Bobby Moynihan). A powerhouse cast that includes Vincent D’Onofrio, Kim Coates and Meat Loaf will show footage from their supernatural thriller Ghost Wars. And by the end of the convention, expect to hear a lot of chatter about
Krypton, a fresh spin on the Superman mythology which looks back at the Man of Steel’s home planet nearly a hundred years before Kal-El was born.
Cartoon Network/Adult Swim
It’s not quite right to refer to Young Justice as a Cartoon Network show anymore, since the new version of the sophisticated teen superhero series (which now has the word “Outsiders” appended to it) has been relocated to a still-in-the-planning-stages DC-branded streaming service. But since the producers are promising more of a look back at their first two seasons in their panel, it still counts as one in the CN column – and will be a nice complement to the presentations for Justice League Action and Teen Titans Go!, both of which will feature much of their voice casts. (The TTG! gang will also be screening a new quadruple-length episode.)
Other Cartoon Network favorites making a Comic-Con appearance: Steven Universe and Ben 10. Fans of the former should also be interested in two new CN shows being introduced at the convention: OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes (a video game and manga-inspired bit of futuristic whimsy about a kid training to fight evil) and Unikitty! (a LEGO Movie spin-off about a cutesy feline with a whisker-thin temper). Voice acting maestro Tara Strong – the woman behind Bubbles in the original Powerpuff Girls, Raven in Teen Titans, Ben Tennyson in Ben 10, Twilight Sparkle in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Harley Quinn in Justice League Action – will be playing Unikitty. You can expect her to be sitting in on seemingly every animated show’s panel this year.
Shifting from daytime to late night, Adult Swim shows will be well-represented in 2017, with Mike Tyson himself promoting Mike Tyson Mysteries and the Robot Chicken team pushing their upcoming Walking Dead special with the help of TWD‘s Robert Kirkman and Scott M. Gimple. The main event, however, will be the preview of the new of Rick & Morty, featuring executive producer Dan Harmon, writer Ryan Ridley and voice actors Sarah Chalke and Chris Parnell. Any cartoon that mixes speculative science and flippant nihilism as well as R&M does is prime Comic-Con material.
Disney’s business relationship with Marvel Comics means that it has as much new MCU product to show off as any other outlet, although the XD channel is going to be fairly restrained with its promotion. It’s putting together one panel for “Marvel Animation” in general (focusing on Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers Assemble and whatever might be covertly in the works), and one for its newest series Marvel’s Spider-Man (which will include the world premiere of a cartoon intended to bring the web-slinger into line with its latest movie incarnation).
In keeping with the space-saver theme, Disney XD will be hosting a combined panel for Star vs. the Forces of Evil and Milo Murphy’s Law, and another for Pickle and Peanut and Future Worm. The network’s saving its biggest push for DuckTales, a revival of the Eighties syndicated cartoon, which now has David Tennant as the voice of Scrooge McDuck, Danny Pudi as Huey, Ben Schwartz as Dewey, Kate Micucci as Webby Vanderquack and Beck Bennett as Launchpad McQuack. All of the above-mentioned voice-cast are scheduled to appear, either to solve a mystery or rewrite history. It’s a duck-blur!
Netflix dropped the first season of Stranger Things a week before last year’s Comic-Con, and while the show did some viral marketing over that weekend – primarily in the form of “Have You Seen This Child?” posters around town – that’s nothing compared to what’s planned for 2017. The cast and creators will be addressing the massive crowds in Hall H and revealing some fresh Season Two footage, while at “the Netflix Experience” booth at the Hilton Gaslamp, guests can take a virtual tour of “the Upside Down.” Given that the rest of the world is going to have to wait until October to see anything, every new piece of info will undoubtedly be as precious and tasty as an Eggo waffle.
Netflix has a hand full of aces to play at SDCC, thanks to its association with two reliable Con favorites. Joel Hodgson and his cohorts at Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return will keep basking in the praise that’s greeted the show’s long-gestating revival. Meanwhile, Marvel’s The Defenders will give Hall H denizens a look at what happens when Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist team up for a superhero team series. Stars Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter and Finn Jones will be there to celebrate the August 18th premiere of something comics devotees have been anticipating for years.
Those three panels alone would be enough, but Netflix will also be presenting Castlevania, Voltron: Legendary Defender, and Buddy Thunderstruck, a trio of very different animated series designed to appeal to their own niche audiences – and thus getting their own individual time-slots for clips and questions.
Not to be outdone by its streaming rival, Amazon will be in San Diego with one of the year’s most anticipated new shows: the latest adaptation of Ben Edlund’s delightfully odd superhero spoof The Tick, which has already inspired a beloved 1994 cartoon and a short-lived (but equally adored) live-action sitcom. This new take casts Peter Serafinowicz as the burly, blue-clad, antenna-sporting super-oaf. Edlund and Serafinowicz will be at the center of a panel that’ll include the world premiere screening and appearances by supporting cast-members Jackie Earle Haley and Michael Cerveris. Similar to “the Netflix experience” booth in the Gaslamp Quarter, The Tick will have also a multi-room replica of the show’s set for fans to explore. Just look for the 20-foot animatronic Tick head. (No kidding.)
Amazon also has a pair of kid-friendly animated series that’ll be looking to impress the crowd at the Con: Niko and the Sword of Light is an anime-style serialized adventure about a blade-wielding boy on a quest, while Danger & Eggs features the voice of Saturday Night Live‘s Aidy Bryant as a headstrong youngster named D.D. Danger who relies on a brainy talking egg to supply inventions for her kooky capers. Both panels will be showing significant chunks of footage from these new ‘toons, followed by Q&As with the casts. The ubiquitous Chris Hardwick is moderating the Danger session, while SpongeBob‘s voice Tom Kenny will be introducing the audience to Niko.
Turner’s two main channels will be showcasing a handful of returning shows, including TNT’s post-apocalyptic seafaring military drama The Last Ship and two offbeat TBS sitcoms: the wry alien abduction saga People of Earth (which will be screening its Season Two premiere), and Seth MacFarlane’s surreal animated satire American Dad!
American Dad! will actually have two big Comic-Con spotlights. It’ll be sharing a panel with MacFarlane’s Fox cartoon Family Guy; and it’ll be part of a special program previewing clips from TBS’s latest efforts in animation, which include comedian Carson Mell’s absurdist character study Tarantula, the science-fiction riff Final Space and Regular Show creator J.G. Quintel quirky domestic comedy Close Enough.
Thanks to a revised production schedule, this will be the first year that Game of Thrones comes to Comic-Con while the current season is on the air, rather than after the finale. The Season Seven premiere will air a few days before Hall H hosts some fan-favorite cast members (including Gwendoline Christie and Sophie Turner) for what is bound to be a rousing hour of vague comments about episodes and events that fans haven’t yet seen.
There’s also likely to be a lot of hemming and hawing at the Westworld panel, as HBO’s fabulous puzzle of a series teases another season of mysterious amusement park shenanigans that viewers will soon be racing to the Internet to decode. Even if the creators won’t say much in San Diego, they’ll at least be sitting alongside a dazzling line-up of cast-members, including Ed Harris, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Evan Rachel Wood and Jeffrey Wright. Steering the conversation will be eccentric comedian/musician Reggie Watts – a man who may himself be a robot.
After a promising first season, the ultra-violent metaphysical comedy Preacher has really come into its own in year two, which means the show has earned its prime Hall H panel placement. Just like in 2016, AMC will be trotting out its latest hit’s A-list roster, with producer Seth Rogen, original comic book writer Garth Ennis, recent Oscar nominee Ruth Negga and her co-stars Dominic Cooper, Joe Gilgun and Graham McTavish all set to anchor what’s sure to be an especially swear-y session.
On Friday, Hall H will host back-to-back panels for AMC’s The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, stretching from the late morning to the early afternoon. Now that the “Who did Negan bludgeon?” mystery has been resolved, the 2017 Dead session should be more forthcoming about what we can look forward to in the fall – although it will surely be followed by a Q&A where fans will hold the writers’ feet to the fire over its last season. Creator Robert Kirkman is also behind AMC’s new docuseries Secret History of Comics, which will have its own standalone panel, in one of the smaller venues.
There may be some Orphan Black cosplay on the convention floor this year, but with the Canadian fave coming to an end, BBC America’s presence will be reduced to panels for its two still-thriving British series: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and Doctor Who. The good news for anglophiles is that both shows will be stationed in Hall H, and will be bringing out stars Elijah Wood and Peter Capaldi (among others) to help fill the big room. Is it possible that San Diego will be the place where Who honcho Steven Moffat announces who’s going to replace Capaldi as the “13th Doctor” next year? To the TARDIS!
Curiously, USA hasn’t put together a panel for its buzzy cyber-thriller Mr. Robot, although brave souls who cross over the railroad tracks to the Gaslamp Quarter will find a pop-up “E Corp’s Bank of E” on 4th Street, dispensing credit cards loaded with fake digital currency. Meanwhile, back in the Convention Center, fans can look back on the recently completed second season of Colony and look ahead to a third year of the all-too-relevant dystopian drama about humanity’s collaboration with invading alien overlords. And while it may not seem like a typical Comic-Con show, the cast and creators of the long-running procedural Psych will be talking about their new reunion movie, airing in December.
The former ABC Family has lately been expanding its millennial audience by airing fantasy/adventure shows designed to appeal to folks who grew up reading novels about angsty monsters and defiant warriors. Two of those will have panels at this year’s con: Shadowhunters (an adaptation of the bestselling The Mortal Instruments, currently in its second season of demon-slaying teen drama), and Stitchers (now in its third season of psychic crime-solving).
It’s also worth noting the two new Freeform series that don’t have panels: the recently announced Marvel Comics Universe additions Cloak and Dagger and New Warriors. Perhaps both are too fresh to have any footage to show, or anything to talk about. That said, it’s not inconceivable that the channel will sneak some sort of preview of its Marvel plans into its two preexisting slots.
One of the unlikeliest additions to this year’s Comic-Con is Showtime’s unapologetically arty Twin Peaks revival, which will be celebrated with a signing on the convention floor, a special advance screening of the new season’s 11th episode and a big Hall H panel featuring most of the show’s main cast (including Kyle MacLachlan and Naomi Watts), moderated by Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. Its major presence at an event like this suggests once again that the parameters of “geek culture” keep expanding beyond “anything with swords, spaceships, or super-heroes.” (See also: the panel where hip millennial comedians Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer will talk about their decidedly non-nerdy Comedy Central sensation Broad City.)
For those seeking more familiar SDCC product, Hulu is bringing Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson and Eliza Coupe to talk about the upcoming science-fiction comedy Future Man, about a gaming-addicted janitor who gets recruited by a shadowy organization to become a time-traveling adventurer. And the awkwardly named Audience network will be joining in the summer of Stephen King by previewing Mr. Mercedes, starring Brendan Gleeson as a detective who bends the law to bring down a psychopath who seems obsessed with him.
Other cable channels that’ll be promoting and celebrating established fantasy series include Starz (which’ll have the creative talent and smoldering cast of the time-hopping romance Outlander back at the con, after taking last year off), History (back with Vikings), and MTV (bidding a final farewell to the long-running lycanthropy melodrama Teen Wolf, before its last 10 episodes begin airing July 30th). And the folks behind the Nineties animated hits Hey Arnold! and Rocko’s Modern Life will be setting up their upcoming Nickelodeon specials. Because what’s better than a trip down memory lane that ends with new memories?
…and the reunions
For years now, nostalgia-fests have been a staple of the convention, bringing back stars of fan-favorite movies and TV shows to soak up applause and wax rhapsodic about the good old days. The 2017 SDCC has several of these, including panels dedicated dedicated to television classics both old (CBS’s groundbreaking serialized crime series Wiseguy) and new (Syfy’s era-defining hit Battlestar Galactica). This year also features a special salute to the late Adam West, who remained a friend to the con-going community from his Batman days to the end of his life.