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Five Revelations From Comic Con

CinemaBlend's Katey Rich reports back to us from her Comic Con adventure, which had Twilight-werewolves, Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man, and the return of James Cameron with Avatar.

Comic Con: It's not just for people dressed as Slave Leia and anime characters any more. In the last decade, the 40-year-old event  has gone from nerd haven to Hollywood extravaganza, hosting exclusive footage from upcoming blockbusters and panels where bewildered celebrities take the stage in front of 6,000 screaming fans. Between the excitable pre-teens on hand for New Moon and the fanboys dying to see James Cameron's new footage from Avatar, there wasn't a single section of the moviegoing public without something to look forward to at this year's Con.

But now that all the dust has settled in San Diego and the nerds are safely back in their basements, what are the real big stories? Anything that premieres in the convention center's enormous Hall H is bound to get a rousing round of applause, but you can olny really figure out the big hits in discussion with other convention-goers. Below are the top five movie events—from blockbusters to surprises—that I, a Comic Con newbie until this year, came out of San Diego itching to check out.

1. James Cameron is back, and Avatar looks stunning. Cameron hasn't made a feature film since 1997's Titanic, and for years his fans have been promised that Avatar, a sci-fi story set on a completely CGI alien planet, would be worth the wait. After 25 minutes of the film screened for a rapturous audience, that promise was more than fulfilled. It's not just that the visuals look terrific, or that the alien species Na'vi—created by capturing actor movement and transplanting it onto a CGI body—look as real and tactile as a human in makeup. I was most excited about the sense of story we got from the brief series of clips. It seems to be taking some pretty classical narrative tropes—the hero's journey and the Western—using them to tell a completely new story. After all, it was 30 long years ago that someone thought to tell a fantasy story in space, and every Friday at Comic Con is still dedicated to Star Wars. Maybe Cameron really has come up with something to get another generation of nerds that excited.

2. Indies steal the show. It's not just major studios who are on hand to court future moviegoers. One film without a distributor, Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass, and another from indie distributor Roadside Attractions, Mystery Team, had some of the best panels of the Con, precisely because half the audience had never heard of them before. After seeing a few short clips from Kick-Ass, the Hall H audience leapt to its feet in a spontaneous standing ovation, fans of the comic glad that Vaughn had gotten it right and the rest of us blown away by what we'd seen. The film, about teenagers who take it upon themselves to become superheroes, doesn't have a distributor for a very good reason—it features children, including 10-year-old Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz, who's currently doing the wise-child thing in 500 Days of Summer and rumored to be in the American remake of Let the Right One In), doing unspeakably violent things. But after the ecstatic response Kick-Ass received at Comic Con, it's hard to imagine a brave distributor won't take a chance on this one.

As for Mystery Team, the only thing better than the hilarious original short shown during their panel was the presence of the filmmakers and actors themselves, Comic Con newbies. The three stars (including former 30 Rock staffer with an upcoming role on NBC's Community, keep your eye out for Donald Glover), director and producer of the film are known collectively as Derrick Comedy, who made their name via YouTube videos while New York UCB-ers. Mystery Team, about three kid detectives who reach the age of 18 without learning anything about adult life, screened on Thursday night to a huge and enthusiastic crowd, and when I interviewed the group on Sunday, multiple fans stopped by to say hi. [Hopeful

3. Flynn lives! Though Disney announced that the 20-years-in-the-making Tron sequel would be called Tron: Legacy, and that was it. Luckily, they knew exactly how to keep the nerds happy: building a perfect replica of the 80s-era arcade featured in the first film, allowing visitors to play classic games like "Space Invaders" and "Donkey Kong," then walk behind the scenes to view a real lightcycle. I've never even seen Tron, but just as Disney planned, I rushed excitedly home to blog about it. Well played. 

4. Robert Downey Jr. Participating in two separate panels, Downey Jr. was like the patron saint of Comic Con, always ready with a quick quip and that dazzling smile. He showed up unannounced during the Warner Bros. panel to introduce an extended trailer for Sherlock Holmes, and when the cheers wouldn't die down, he cracked up and said "I love you guys. This is so fun." At Saturday's Iron Man 2 panel, director Jon Favreau kicked things off by introducing a crappy looking fake reel of clips from the recently wrapped film. Downey Jr. took the stage immediately after and chewed out Favreau, complaining he'd seen better footage in the editing room and, "This is bullshit." The crowd, again, went wild, and even wilder when the real footage began.

5. New Moon rising. They waited in line for the panel for over 24 hours. They had T-shirts featuring their favorite characters, and talked at length about the mythology behind the series. The most rabid fans at Comic Con weren't the typical Star Wars or Spider-Man geeks, but the Twilight girls. If we thought the screams were deafening when stars Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart took the stage for the Q&A, our eardrums were practically punctured when they screened a clip featuring Jacob removing his shirt to wipe away blood from Bella's face. Boys spent a lot of time complaining about how Twilight ruined Comic Con, given how much bigger and girlier the crowds were that Thursday. But for me, it felt great just to see girls join in the fun. The Twilight series will be back at Comic Con next year for Eclipse; I suggest the boys stock up on cootie medication before then.

Katey Rich
is the Managing Editor of, where she writes movie reviews and industry news daily. You can also follow her at



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