San Diego Comic-Con 2015: The Aftermath

San_Diego_Comic-Con_International_logo.svgAnother year, another Comic-Con International come and gone. I have yet to attend it myself but it’s still a major intellectual attraction for anyone with interests like mine. It seems like this year’s Con was a really good one, with a lot of great material showcased and some truly awesome-sounding experiences to be had. But not having been there myself, I’m going to have to limit my reactions to what news and media was put out there for the non-attendee masses, which I’ll do after the jump.

No News Is Boring News: What made this year’s SDCC something of a letdown for me as a housebound observer is that there wasn’t much actual NEWS to come out of the convention. The sort of announcements that in years’ past might have been convention highlights — like Ben Affleck officially directing a solo Batman film, or Phil Lord & Chris Miller signing on for a Young Han Solo movie, or most of the All-New, All-Different Marvel lineup — came out before the convention itself. And while it sounds like plenty of movies showcased great footage (Deadpool, X-men: Apocalypse, Warcraft, Krampus) most of them haven’t released said footage online. While in some cases this makes sense it’s still a bummer to hear about such great footage and not be able to see it.

Twist-600x890Joss Whedon’s Twist: Following the awesomeness of Age of Ultron and his subsequent departure from Marvel, I’ve been desperate to see what Joss Whedon will do next, and this weekend we finally found out. Whedon announced a comic-book miniseries Twist, which he described as a “female Victorian Batman” and if you aren’t already excited I dunno what to do for you. There’s currently no word on who will be handling the art (given Whedon’s A-list status I would assume an equally-A-list artist wouldn’t be hard to come by) but the concept alone has me sold. Should be a nice little story from Whedon before we get to whatever his next film or TV project will be, though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see Whedon make Twist itself as a movie. But considering his track record in comics I’m sure I will enjoy the hell out of Twist as is.

milestonecomics-debutMilestone’s Return: I feel like a bit of a phony for mentioning this, as I’ve never read any of the classic Milestone books like Static Shock, but I do still appreciate what this news represents. For those unaware, Milestone was an independent comic book publisher (that had a distribution deal through DC Comics) founded in the ‘90s by prominent black comic book creators in an attempt to bring more diversity to the comics landscape. Now Milestone is returning officially to DC, with many of the original founders like Denys Cowan and Reginald Hudlin teaming up with some of DC’s biggest guns like Geoff Johns and Jim Lee to relaunch these characters for the modern audience. It’s not too surprising given DC’s concentrated efforts to be more diverse lately, but nevertheless a very encouraging move that should bring seasoned and distinct perspectives to a whole new readership.

Into The Badlands: When you think of AMC nowadays you tend to think of a collection of serialized dramas featuring white male antiheroes, running the gamut from “brilliant” to “plodding”. I don’t think AMC has ever had a show like Into The Badlands, which is a good sign for both the network and the show. I’d heard a little about this show before, but only in passing; I watched the trailer on a whim yesterday and it blew me away. While it certainly has a relatively limited budget (Game of Thrones, this is not), that is more than made up for by some killer old-school kung fu fight sequences and a fascinating-looking world and mythology. It certainly stands out from the usual cable drama fare, and to me has a ton of potential that I’m excited to investigate come the fall.

Batman vs Superman: Alright, now that we’ve gotten our first REAL look at the next chapter of Zack Snyder’s DC Quadrilogy, we can ALMOST sound informed about it. There are certainly a lot of components here that I find cool or intriguing, many of them involving Batman. In particular there’s the scene of a be-goggled and trenchcoated Bats fighting off a group of Superman-badged soldiers, and the shot of an uncostumed Bruce Wayne running headlong into a cloud of debris to help bystanders. It’s also good to see that Snyder & co are building directly on the most controversial parts of Man of Steel and making the debate about that movie part of the thematic conversation. However there are so many disparate elements at play that I could still easily see this thing being a total mess as a narrative, which is what matters most. I still remain invested in this thing, because I like Snyder and there is an impressive audacity to what they’re showing, but this trailer didn’t fully sell me on Batman vs Superman.

Suicide Squad: THIS, on the other hand… hoo boy. While the trailer is cut in an intentionally-chaotic fashion, it certainly feels to me like there’s a more focused story at play here, which is already a leg up on its bigger brother. And Suicide Squad seems to be even darker than Batman vs Superman, but thankfully without being moody. This film looks weird and twisted and off-putting, almost hypnotic in its perverse aesthetic. Getting David Ayer to tell this story could be a stroke of genius; the ugly, mean machismo that defines his work is a perfect fit for a story about black-ops supervillains in the dark underbelly of the world of Superman and Batman. Though for all of Ayer’s macho swagger, it seems to me like the focal point for the film is going to be Harley Quinn, which could potentially backfire but is also a risk well-worth taking. It certainly seems like Margot Robbie is up to the task, as if there was any doubt. And yknow what, I like this first glimpse of Leto’s Joker, as small as it is. It’s certainly a unique take on the character, and after the iconic performance by Heath Ledger that is exactly what they need, and damn if he didn’t pull off the laugh.

Star Wars: But ultimately, beyond the dark days of DC and the fun comic book revelations, there was nothing that could overshadow Star Wars. It sounds like the Force Awakens panel was one for the ages, replete with Harrison Ford being legitimately excited to be there and a free concert down the street (a mic-drop if I ever saw one). And then there was the behind-the-scenes video, yet another perfect promotional piece from Lucasfilm that played to the audience and gave us plenty to enjoy without revealing anything of value. Between the little glimpses of new details and moments and the heartfelt enthusiasm for the universe and the film, the video struck me right in my happy place. And ultimately, that enthusiasm which can be felt in everything related to Force Awakens is why I’m so confident in the film itself. I feel as if there is as much love being put into this film as I have felt for Star Wars in my life, the sort of love that respects and celebrates what came before while not being afraid to explore something new… and what more could I really ask for in a return to the galaxy far, far away?

So that’s that for this year’s San Diego Comic-Con! Now to make a concentrated effort not to seem like a corporate shill while still being true to my passions. Tally-ho!

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