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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Comic-Con Roundup

Written by Jon Williams

Last week, the annual event that is Comic-Con International took place in San Diego, California. The four-day extravaganza allows fans, celebrities, and creators to come together in a celebration that generally centres on science fiction and fantasy but branches out to encompass all aspects of pop culture. As happens each year, there was plenty of news and buzz to come out of the many panels and presentations that made up this year’s convention.

Marvel is the biggest name in movies right now, and coming off the success of the blockbusters Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far from Home, there wasn’t much of a blueprint for where the franchise would go for “Phase Four” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That is no longer the case, as Marvel used Comic-Con as a platform to announce its slate for 2020 – 2021. In theatres, first up is the previously announced Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson along with David Harbour and Rachel Weisz. Then fans can look forward to The Eternals, a superhero ensemble that will include stars such as Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, and Richard Madden, in 2020. The following year will kick off with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, featuring a martial arts hero that has been a part of Marvel Comics since 1973 but has not yet made it onto the screen. Then comes Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, with Benedict Cumberbatch reprising his role from the 2017 film in what is being teased as Marvel’s first horror movie. Finally, there will be Thor: Love and Thunder, directed by Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi and with Natalie Portman returning to the franchise to become the goddess of thunder. And for television, there’s even more Marvel news. Familiar Avengers characters will come to the small screen in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan), WandaVision (Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), while What If…? will be an animated series that featuring Jeffrey Wright and a number of familiar voices as it explores alternate realities.

Marvel wasn’t the only beloved franchise to make waves at Comic-Con. Patrick Stewart’s return as the beloved character Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation was announced last year, but a new trailer provided the first extended look at the new series (simply titled Picard). The trailer contained some surprises, such as the return of other fan-favourite characters Data (played by Brent Spiner) and Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), while the panel revealed that Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis would also be appearing in the show in their familiar roles from The Next Generation. While that was the biggest news, the panel also covered the upcoming third season of the acclaimed Star Trek: Discovery, as well as the upcoming series Lower Decks. Expected to premiere in 2020, the show will focus on lower-ranking officers on a non-vital starship, and will be the first Star Trek in animated form since The Animated Series furthered the adventures of the original crew from 1973 – 1975.

Horror had quite a presence at this year’s SDCC. The biggest release was probably the new trailer for It: Chapter 2, which comes to theatres on September 6. It’s the sequel to the 2017 blockbuster that became the highest-grossing horror movie of all time, and it picks up (more or less) 27 years after the first film left off. Both movies are based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, which is frequently cited as one of his best. Staying in the King family, it was announced that the show NOS4A2 (based on a novel by Joe Hill, King’s son) had been renewed for a second season. Hill also discussed the upcoming shows Locke & Key, adapted from a series of comics he created with artist Gabriel Rodriguez, and Creepshow, which is based on the 1982 movie written by King and directed by George Romero. That show will be produced by Greg Nicotero, who is most famous for The Walking Dead, which offered plenty of details for the original show and the spinoff Fear the Walking Dead, as well as a new show yet to come. There was also an interactive exhibit promoting the new season of American Horror Story and a trailer for Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

And still there’s more. Tom Cruise showed up to surprise the crowd with a trailer for Top Gun: Maverick, the long-awaited sequel to the high-flying 1986 hit. There was also a trailer for Cats, the upcoming movie version of the Andrew Lloyd Webster musical that will star Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, and Judi Dench, to name just a few. There was also a look at Terminator: Dark Fate, which will welcome James Cameron and Edward Furlong back to the franchise and pick up following Terminator 2, with the intervening installments being considered part of a different timeline. For TV, there was plenty of info on new shows The Dark Crystal, His Dark Materials, and Snowpiercer, as well as new seasons of Westworld, The Expanse, Rick and Morty, Preacher, and more.

Those are just the highlights of the shows, movies, and more that presented at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, and you can bet your patrons will be looking for all of these titles and their related media. Let us know what you’re looking forward to, and stay tuned to Midwest Tape for news on these and other exciting releases as they approach.