San Diego’s 2014 Comic-Con has officially ended. Technically, it ended a few days ago, but it’s still feeling fresh in my mind. What was, to me anyways, starting to feel like an overcrowded, smelly, and almost pointless yearly event finally took a turn for the better. This was one of the best cons in years for several reasons.
Less of a Crowd
This year’s Comic-Con felt less crowded. For the past two decades, Comic-con grew in more ways than one. What originally started in a single hotel with an attendance of 145 people eventually took over the entire San Diego Convention Center and the Four hotels surrounding it with over 130,000 people in attendance. Every attendee is given a schedule of when the cast of their favorite TV show or Movie, or author of their favorite book or comics, or even their favorite game developer will hold a panel. There are even classes on how to make costumes, draw comics, or getting into the movie, book, comic book industry.
Five to six years ago, you used to be able to walk into almost any room to see the newest trailer for that next Marvel movie, provided you didn’t mind sitting all the way in the back because the die-hard fans had camped out the night before just so that they could sit in the front. If you’re my age, that’s a lot of work with very little payout.
Needless to say, in the past three years alone, Marvel, DC, WB, and HBO have all released so much amazing content in the comic book/movie world that there was an overcrowding problem. Let’s just say that unless you were willing to camp for 24 hours in the Hall H line, the biggest room that could fit over 6,500 people, there was no way you could walk into the biggest panels of Comic-Con and watch all of the trailers that the rest of the world had yet to see. Last year alone, I spent 8 hours in line, sitting in heavily sweat soaked grass, holding my nose, hoping to see Robert Downey Jr and the cast of Iron Man 3, only to get to the front of the line and not get in. Was. Not. Worth. It.
This year was a lot different. I had an easy time getting into every panel I wanted to see, provided I got in line 30-60 minutes before it started. I even got to watch the pilot episodes for DC’s new television series “Flash” and “Gotham” with relative ease. But more on that later.
I have a few theories. First, Comic-con made it more difficult to counterfeit the badges that every attendee must wear in order to go in and out of the convention center. There are many out there who used to make copies of badges for their friends or claim a lost badge to get a second copy. I’m just assuming that is why San Diego’s convention center was extremely packed over the last several years.
It also helped that there weren’t as many major releases that people looked forward to this year. Compared to last year, that held panels for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Batman vs Superman, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Doctor Who’s 50 Anniversary, this year was a little lackluster in the movie department. Instead, there was a bigger focus on T.V. shows like Arrow, Community, Flash, Gotham, Constantine, Super Natural, Teen Wolf, and more.
Lastly, as one of my good friends succinctly put it, no more Twilight. Since the movies started coming out, amount of people who started to go to Comic-Con increased exponentially. Now that the saga is over, I’m gonna say all is right in this world.
Fun and Games
And because I was spending less time in lines, I had more time to explore the convention floor. Saturday was fun because there was more at stake.
The 501st Legion is a group of Stormtrooper cosplayers/Star Wars enthusiasts and they’ve been to Comic-Con since forever. This year, they set up a game called “Droid Hunt”, allowing attendees to relive one of the iconic moments from Mos Eisley in the Star Wars movie. Essentially, you, as a rebel sympathizer, are given a huge badge that you must wear prominently on display. Each badge has a ticket number that you can enter in a raffle, provided you don’t get caught. The 501st has their own members go on the prowl to catch anyone with a card. You have until 5:01 pm on Saturday to not get caught. Then you can enter your card into a raffle where you can win some really fun prizes.
I have to tell you, walking through the convention center was exhilarating. Every time I saw a stormtrooper, my stomach would knot up. I prayed that I wouldn’t get caught. I tried to act normal, and did my best to stay inconspicuous by sticking close to the nearest group of attendees. And it worked, right up until 4:45. My friend and I were sitting in one of the hallways, taking a break from the scene, looking over our badges when out of nowhere, a stormtrooper asked us to turn over the droids. We had been so careful until that moment. We were so confident that we’d be able to enter the raffle drawing, and our hubris got the best of us. Stupid Pilot Stormtrooper.
I was angry and annoyed, but most of all, I was laughing at the fact that we got caught. It was fun. We began planning our strategy for next year’s hunt and trust me, we will be ready.
Things to look forward to
DC is doing a lot of great things with their intellectual property. Currently, there are 3 new shows in production. The Flash, which will follow Barry Allen as he learns to control his new powers, take down all the people who were affected by the same lightning that gave him his power, and try and figure out who murdered his mother. The show reminded me of what DC did with Smallville during its first season. Also, there are plans for crossover episodes between Flash and Arrow, so be on the lookout.
Gotham on the other hand, is an origin story that follows Jim Gordon as he does his best to clean up the streets of Gotham, weed out the corrupt cops from within, and help young Bruce Wayne find his parents killers. The show also includes familiar characters like the Penguin, Carmine Falcone, Ivy, Selena Kyle, and a new villain, Fish Moody, played by Jada Pinkett Smith. Let me tell you, she is a force to be reckoned with.
I have to tell you, the presentation was nothing short of amazing. They pulled the curtains back from the main screen, revealing a super wide angle screen, giving the audience a 180 degree look. They created an intro for each show that used every inch of the screen. For example, when Gotham was shown, the extended screen showed an image of all the characters, side-by-side, and each time one of the characters made their first appearance, that image was highlighted. Needless to say, I was impressed and excited to see where the writers would take each show. Be on the lookout, folks. DC is not messing around.
This year, Comic-Con restored much of my faith in their organization. I was able to enjoy every panel I wanted to see, no more twi-hards ruining it for the rest of us, and overall, and I feel like I got more accomplished because of it. If you’re a nerd like me, and haven’t gone to comic-con yet, be on the lookout for the date when they will sell their tickets to the general public. You will not want to miss out on next year’s.