SDCC ’10: The top five Comic-Con moments

By Todd Gilchrist

While as a critic and entertainment reporter I generally try not to succumb to the nostalgia of “it was better before x,” I would argue that this year’s San Diego Comic-Con was overall not quite as fulfilling as in past years. Although the studios brought their A-game with some spectacular presentations, screenings, and previews, there weren’t a whole lot of surprises throughout the four-day event, at least as far as movies were concerned, while the most highly-anticipated titles mostly reconfirmed what their fans already knew – namely, that they would be great.

At the same time, this year boasted a number of unexpected pleasures – not formal surprises from filmmakers or studios, mind you, but the sorts of introductions, shared moments, and all around fan celebrations that make Comic-Con such a haven for fantasy and sci-fi fans of all ages, shapes and sizes. As such, I compiled a list of my personal favorite moments from the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con.

5. Tron: Legacy – For the world’s biggest Tron fan (that’s me), this one had a VIP-section reservation on this list since the day it was announced. But the combination of some amazing footage (some six minutes of epic visual splendor) with a blanket of Tron-related events (a recreated Flynn’s Arcade that featured two parties and appearances from various cast and crew members) made Disney’s continuing campaign to turn the movie into this year’s Avatar a resounding success.

4. Sucker Punch – Just as every Comic-Con has to have a heavyweight champion, it also has to have a surprise contender, and Zack Snyder’s forthcoming fantasy film was the breakout star of Hall H. Snyder, appearing in person with cast members Vanessa Hudgens, Jena Malone, Carla Gugino, Jamie Chung, and Emily Browning, screened about four minutes of the most schizophrenically exciting footage the attendees would see all weekend.

3. Red – Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, and Mary-Louise Parker appeared humble and appreciative as they took the stage to promote Robert Schwentke’s retired-hit man comedy (you know, that old thing), and they introduced a new trailer that was just about the coolest thing anyone would want to see, at least if you are generally unconcerned with the laws of physics when it comes to thrill rides (Willis stepping out of a spinning car to casually mow down his pursuers is the stuff that action-movie boners are made of). In fact, the only bad thing about the footage and the panel is that it may have given too much away, although you can bet that I’ll be first in line when the film comes out to make sure.

2. Cowboys & Aliens – There are few filmmakers who can work the Comic-Con crowd better than Jon Favreau, and he almost outdid himself this year (given the success of Iron Man, I say “almost”) with a short but promising preview of his next project. Bringing Harrison Ford to the stage in handcuffs to sit next to co-stars Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde and Sam Rockwell, Favreau screened five minutes of footage that really did live up to his description of the film, which he said was sort of a combination of classic western iconography a la John Ford and Sergio Leone, combined with a mysterious sci-fi tone reminiscent of Close Encounters.

1. Green Lantern – The footage for Green Lantern was admittedly underwhelming, if only because there was so little of it (although to be fair, the film’s so effects-heavy that it’s hard to imagine that they have a whole lot of completed material at this point). But I don’t think I’ve ever seen something as adorable as the little boy who asked star Ryan Reynolds what it was like to recite the Green Lantern oath. Reynolds responded by reciting it for the boy, who then held up his own Lantern ring. It was genuinely one of the sweetest moments in Comic-Con fan history, and a powerful reminder that even amidst the spectacle and marketing and super-muscular selling that is going on nonstop at the convention, the entire experience is really about people being excited about stuff that they love – whether they’re five years old, or just have the enthusiasm and passion of one.


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