2019 San Diego Comic-con Pop Culture Highlights

2019 San Diego Comic-Con 

Everybody can find a reason to go to San Diego in the third week of July every year. It started out with comic books; then action figures and memorabilia were added to the mix, and now 50 years in, every aspect of Pop Culture is represented. Anime, cosplay, toys, established and wannabe artist show off their wares, art, talents and latest projects. Television networks, Movie Studios and Gaming companies show off in “experiences” and “activations”.

Then, there are the parties…

I didn’t get to spend time at press events with the Riverdale (my guilty pleasure show) cast, but I did see and meet them at the WB’s Media Mixer party, at the Hard Rock Hotel’s FLOAT Rooftop Bar. Actors from Arrow, Supergirl, Flash, Supernatural, Black Lightning, Legends of Tomorrow and other WB shows were there, including Rahul Kohli from iZombie.

I caught Riverdale vixens Camila Mendes, Lili Reinhart and Madelaine Petsch in a pop-the-balloon carnival game. I won’t tell you who won, but they all got a WB prize.All of the stars were friendly and available for selfies and conversation (sorry, just media types for this event), but Brandon Routh, who first made his mark in the DC Universe in 2006’s Superman Returns, seemed to take more pictures of the mixer than any other celebrity. He’s currently in the CW’s Legends of Tomorrow as The Atom, and is rumored to reprise his role as Superman in the Crisis Crossover. #interesting

Ian Ziering was also there, letting us know that although the Sharknado film series is over, a new menace, Zombie Tidal Wave, was coming our way. I met with the cast and have to say they are very enthusiastic about the project, which includes director Anthony C. Ferrante, who also directed Sharknado.
Zombie Tidal Wave premieres August 17 on SYFY.

FLUXX Nightclub, although officially unaffiliated with SDCC, held three nights of themed parties – Ready Party One, The Nerdists’ Upside Down and The Awesome Mixer vol 2. They even had a red carpet outside. I went to Wednesday night’s party, RP1, and enjoyed the sounds of Back To The Future- themed band, The Flux Capacitors

Catwoman SDCC2019While most of the Official Parties were ‘press only’, The Nat Geo (Nerd Night) Party was a mix of music, education and fun, and was open to the public. Newly-rebooted Brain Games was represented, and with a giant shark dancing through the crowd, they showed a bit of the rivalry between Nat Geo’s Sharkfest and Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.

Comic-con 50th Anniversary Happenings:

To be clear, San Diego Comic-Con has literally hundreds of events, panels, cosplayers, photo-ops, signature sessions and general shenanigans. Our crew of seven (representing Pop Culture Madness and Age of the Nerd) could only attend and experience a fraction of the goings-on.

The FX Fearless Fandom Activation was a highlight for me, starting with What We Do In The Shadows experience. We spent a few hours having drinks in the vampire house, complete with a bar in their home, filled with things you’d expect in an old gothic lair, sharing drinks with the vampires from the FX Show, based on the film of the same name.

Who doesn’t want to share some time with some vampires who have lived together for hundreds of years? The character actors were in top form, and gave my friend Chicago Pete a new name – ‘Craig the virgin’. Craig will live with his new name forever.

FX also shared a bit of a haunted campground experience with American Horror Story: 1984. Expect the usual hi-jinx, with a little ‘camp’ this AHS season. It premieres September 18.

Amazon Prime promoted The Boys, Carnival Row, and The Expanse. They offered a sneak peak into the first two episodes of The Boys and on Saturday night, Amazon Prime Video turned the whole Experience area into the Carnival Row: Come As You Are Party. It was open to the public, and the event had food and open bar for hundreds of partygoers. Orlando Bloom, Travis Beacham, Tamzin Merchant and Cara Delevingne were there too.

I met with Dark Specter creator/ writer/ director/ star Bruce Nachsin. His character is The Dark Specter, bad guy on the streets, doting mommy’s boy at home. Dark Specter 2 has been the winner of “Best Short Film,” “Best Comedy” and “Best Fantasy” at several film festivals. Dark Specter is a dark comedy, and you can check it out here.
More on Bruce (and the Dark Specter)  later.

The Batman Universe was well-represented. Batwoman will be taking over crime-fighting duties for the missing Bruce Wayne/ Batman in Gotham, and premiering October 6th on the CW.

We won’t be seeing Thomas and Martha Wayne lying in a puddle of blood in Gotham’s Crime Alley this year. We’ll learn about them, and the history of famed future butler Alfred Pennyworth, with an origin story taking place in a timeless ‘1962 London’ but with a 70s soundtrack. Pennyworth debuts on Epix on July 28.

The CW
(Green) Arrow will be saying goodbye with a shortened 10 episode season. Arrow star Stephen Amell expressed real disappointment, and had a touch of anger,  that co-star Emily Bett Rickards would not return for the final season. They’re still friends- he’s going to see her on Broadway, he told me. Arrow does have two episodes after Crisis on Infinite Earths, so who knows what will happen to the character.

The guys from Supernatural were left in a bit of a pickle at the end of last season (#14), when Chuck let loose all of the creatures Sam and Dean had previously defeated. I spoke with the crew, and will update details closer to air dates. The final season (#15) will have 20 episodes to wrap things up. Jack, played by Alexander Calvert, is back in the game.

Riverdale will honor Luke Perry in the season four premiere with guest star  Shannon Doherty.

Supergirl gets a new costume in Season 5.

The Legends of Tomorrow didn’t show for press events, but they will be in the Crisis Crossover. We expect Astra, the young girl Constantine accidentally sent to hell in the original NBC Constantine series, to be this season’s Big Bad. She’s not a little girl anymore, and having grown up in hell,  she’s not happy with John Constantine.

Crisis on Infinite Earths is the big crossover event for the CW this year, based on the 1985/1986 comic book maxi-series. Two Superman, Lynda Carter (as 70s TV Wonder Woman) and Burt Ward (60’s TV Robin), among others, will guest star and you can probably expect an iconic tribute shot based on one of these classic covers:

Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 Updates:
Thor: Love and Thunder – Valkyrie will return as the king of New Asgard and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman’s ) will become Lady Thor. Valkyrie actress Tessa Thompson said “As new king, she needs to find her queen,” during the panel, “That will be her first order of business. She has some ideas. Keep you posted.”  Taika Waititi will direct Thor 4, in theaters November 5, 2021. Chris Hemsworth will hopefully return as Thor with his adventure with the The Guardians of the Galaxy in 2022.

Marvel is adding it’s first film with a bit of horror with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, with a release date of May 7th, 2022. Scott Derrickson is back as director. Benedict Cumberbatch will return in the title role. Elisabeth Olsen will co-star as Scarlet Witch / Wanda Maximoff.

Asian fighting style will return with new MCU hero Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings with Simu Liu, Awkwafina and Tony Leung, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. In theaters February 12, 2021.

Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson, David Harbour, Florence Pugh, O-T Fagbenle, and Rachel Weisz. Directed by Cate Shortland will be in theaters May 1, 2020. Yes, she died in Endgame, so this will probably be set in the past.

The Eternals was announced, with a release date of November 6th, 2020. The primary cast of characters were introduced – Angelina Jolie as Thena, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Dong-seok Ma as Gilgamesh, Lia McHugh as Sprite, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari and Richard Madden as Ikaris.

Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali will appear in reboot of Marvel’s Blade (the half vampire). He also played Cornell ‘Cottonmouth’ Stokes in Netflix’s Luke Cage, which stings fans of the Netflix series a bit. Wesley Snipes, who played the character 1998-2004 is OK with it, so we should be too.

No official word on The X-men, Wolverine, Fantastic Four or Deadpool from Fox.

Prior streaming shows (on Netflix) Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders will likely be rebooted (if produced at all) in the far future, with different casts and production teams.

Disney+ News:
Disney+ (Disney Plus) will debut on November 12, 2019. Price will start out at a very affordable $5.99 per month.

Loki and WandaVision are set to drop on Disney+ in Spring, 2021. Details are scant for both shows.

Hawkeye, with Jeremy Renner, is an original series that will also introduce Kate Bishop, coming Fall, 2021.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, is a new series with Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, and Daniel Brühl, coming Fall, 2020.

2 MCU Rumors:
Welsh actor Taron Egerton, best known for his role as Elton John in Rocketman, will be the next Wolverine, according to comic book writer, Mark Millar. The rumor has been picking up some buzz…

The Fantastic Four may be introduced at the end of Marvel’s Phase Four.

More Comic-con news, information and updates HERE

I can’t just leave without a piece of interesting trivia…

I spoke with famed film composer Christopher Young, known for his scores for iconic horror films including Hellraiser, Drag Me to Hell, The Grudge, Pet Sematary (2019) and others. More on him (and other production people) later. Chris’s first paid gig was the trailer for 1984’s The Philadelphia Experiment. He told me he never saw the movie. He didn’t miss much.

First Week of July, 1982 – Best Week Ever For Movies?

The first week of July, 1982 had an amazing selection of films if you wanted to go to the movies…

No major movies came out between July 1 and July 8 in 1982, mainly because they didn’t need to; May and June of 1982 had some of the most popular and influential films of all time.

10. Annie (released 6/18, starring Aileen Quinn) This was based on the Broadway Show, that was based on the 1924 (through 2010) comic strip Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray, which was based on the 1885 poem, “Little Orphant Annie” by James Whitcomb Riley. A version of Annie (starring Alicia Morton) was made for television in 1999. Another film version was released in 2014, starring Quvenzhané Wallis.

There were also Annie films in 1918, 1932 and 1938. Each of the films and the Broadway show ended on a more positive note than the final comic strip, printed on June 13, 2010. In the comic strip, her father-figure, Daddy Warbucks, thought Annie was dead, while Annie was trapped in the hands of a pirate in Guatemala.
#ambiguousending 

 

9. Firefox (released June 18, 1982) Produced, Directed and Starring Clint Eastwood. Based on the 1977 novel by Craig Thomas.
#primeclinteastwood

8. Blade Runner (released 6/25) directed by Ridley Scott,, was the first totally cool sci-fi thriller. The style is NEO-NOIR. Every serious modern science fiction film is compared to this. It based on ideas and concepts from Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? In 2017, Blade Runner 2049 was released as a sequel.

7. The Thing (released 6/25) Based on 1938 novella “Who Goes There?” I’m still not sure if I want to call it SCI-FI or HORROR. It was an all male cast except for a computer voiced by Adrienne Barbeau. (spoiler ahead) The end features Kurt Russell and Keith David as the last survivors of an alien that possesses and kills people in Antarctica. Either of the them could be the alien. They face each other TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS. Fade to black.
#ambiguousending

6. The Road Warrior: Mad Max (released 5/21) It was the sequel to 1979’s Mad Max, still starring Mel Gibson, and, along with the first film, was one of the first to show a post-apocalyptic Earth in a fairly realistic way. Of course there were more sequels: 
Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).

5. Conan The Barbarian (released 5/14) Conan first appeared in Weird Tales (December 1932), and lived during the “Hyborian Age” – after Atlantis fell, but before any known civilizations, some 10 to 25 thousand years ago. This movie gave us Arnold Schwarzenegger AND James Earl Jones. The Soundtrack, by Basil Poledouris is literally my favorite soundtrack ever for a mainstream movie.

4. Poltergeist (6/4) This was the first modern PG horror franchise, written by Steven Spielberg. Most modern horror film franchises are rated R.

3. Star Trek II The Wrath of Kahn (released 6/4) Another 1982 sequel, for both the first film series and from a 1967 episode of the TV show called ‘The Space Seed’. They used Kahn again in 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. Arguably the best film in the franchise.

2. Rocky 3 (released 5/28) Rocky 3 was right in the middle of the Rocky franchise and some say it was one of the best sequels of all time, I’d call Rocky 3 the Godfather 2 of Rocky Sequels. Rocky IV was the only film the series to earn more at the box office.

1. E.T The Extra-Terrestrial (released 6/11) Stephen Spielberg’s Biggest Movie. And it was probably sold the most licensed character items for lunchboxes, toys and bed sheets throughout the 80s. The film also introduced us the Drew Barrymore. #ETphonehome

Grease II came out a few weeks earlier, on June 11, but was out OUT of theaters by July 2nd for some reason, so it did not make the list.

Later in July, several other movies were released:

July 9
Tron

July 16
The Secret of NIMH (wide release)
Six Pack
Raiders of the Lost Ark (Re-issue)
Young Doctors in Love

July 23
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
The World According to Garp

July 30
An Officer and a Gentleman
Night Shift
Zapped!

August 13 presented us with:
Friday the 13th Part III
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Pink Floyd: The Wall
Star Wars (Re-issue)

And August 20 gave us The Beastmaster, which will one day get it’s own story here. 

All in all, a 1982 was a great summer movie year!