2011 San Diego Comic Con Recap

For those of you out there who've never attended San Diego Comic Con, it's best to understand one thing in regards to new and information flooding out of the convention center - it can get, shall we say, a little blown out of proportion. For example, "strong buzz" is a very relative term. To the denizens of Comic Con, it can literally mean everything from huge, earth-shaking, industry-changing announcements to, well..

A guy who dressed as a hybrid of Wolverine and Boba Fett.

Exactly. So, moving on...

Here's a quick recap of the news and events that will probably matter once the last freebie T-shirt has long since been handed out.

Marvel Officially Unveils The Avengers
Of course, we've known for a while who was going to be making up Marvel's cinematic superteam - Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Chris Evans (Captain America), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk) - but Comic Con gave us our first glimpse of the team together. It also gave fans their first real look at Hawkeye (he was glimpsed only briefly, and most from behind, in the Thor movie) and the redesigned Hulk (Ruffalo is the third actor to play troubled Dr. Bruce Banner). With Cap having a strong opening weekend, this is officially the Dark Knight's biggest competition next year.

"Darkest Hour" Revamps the Alien Invasion Movie

Amid all the reboots, revamps, and adaptations, it's easy to forget that Comic Con can also be about invention. Like "District 9" a few years back, it looks like another foreign-set alien movie is going to push the envelope. "The Darkest Hour," directed by relative newcomer Chris Gorak (if he's known at all, it's for being the art director on "Fight Club") and produced by Timur Bekmambetov (Russian for "Guillermo Del Toro"), this Moscow-set thriller starring Emile Hirsch not only takes place after an alien invasion has already happened, it's doing its damnedest to bring us aliens we've never seen before. In this case, they are largely invisible, energy-based creatures. Tough to imagine, sure, but we applaud anything that isn't scaly lizard men (check out the cool concept art).

Snow White of the Rings
Next year is the year of competing Snow White projects, and at the same time Entertainment Weekly debuted the first look at Tarsem Singh's version (Lily Collins, looking very Grimm's fairy tale), Universal unveiled Rupert Sanders' effort. And it is, to say the least, markedly different. Starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, and Charlize Theron, "Snow White and the Huntsman" beings us an armor-clad Snow looking less like a fainting damsel and more like a warrior poised to cleft magical apples in twain. It's a unique way to go, so we'll just have to see how it plays.

Marvel Set to Conquer TV
They've been rocking the box office, so Marvel Studios has now turned its all-powerful gaze to the small screen so that they can show up rival DC Comics in yet another medium ("Wonder Woman," we hardly knew ye). Slated for production are the live-action series "Aka Jessica Jones" (a superhero detective yarn based on the Brian Michael Bendis comic "Alias"), "Cloak and Dagger" (a pair of superpowered runaways living on the streets of New York), Mockingbird (a coming of age story about  young college student recruited by the government organization S.H.I.E.L.D.), and another go-round for The Hulk. There's also a huge slate of animated projects, including a new "Ultimate Spider-Man" series.

"Knights of Badassdom" Is the Newest Best Trailer
A lot of big movies were strutting around Comic Con, but this little under-the-radar effort from director Joe Lynch won the weekend with its hilariously over-the-top trailer. From the opening narration ("In a world…within our world…they'd created a world….unlike any other world…") to the crazy horror/action to the fortuitous casting ("Knights" not only stars "True Blood" star Ryan Kwanten, it cast Peter Dinklage before "Game of Thrones" made him a big player), it's a cult classic waiting to happen. Definitely one we're keeping an eye on. The trailer is slightly NSFW, so watch it HERE.

Francis Ford Coppola Returns
The last time the "Godfather" godfather hit Comic Con, it was to promote his take on "Dracula." This time, he was presenting his complicated ghost story "Twixt." From what we can gather (even people who saw the footage were confused), it's a slightly campy, slightly moody story about a hack writer (Val Kilmer) who starts researching the death of a girl for a novel. He also takes long walks conversing with ghosts (like the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe). The movie is partially in 3D -onscreen cues tell you to put the glasses on - and Coppola wants to "travel" with the film presenting it with live music and other performances. It's a head-scratcher, for sure.

First Look at "Haywire"
For a man who claims to have retired, director Steven Soderbergh sure knows how to get people's attention. His new movie, "Haywire" was aimed right at the Comic Con crowd, and it hit its target. This fast-paced, "Bourne Identity"-style action thriller stars MMA pin-up Gina Carano (fanboys have already lined up based on that casting alone) and a jaw-dropping supporting cast that includes Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, and Michael Douglas in a pear tree. If not for "Knights," it would be the trailer of Comic Con.

Robert Rodriguez is Busy
When you are, essentially, your own movie studio, you can pile on the projects as you see fit. Director/Cinematographer/Editor/Composer/FX Director/Caterer Rodriguez is doing just that, grinding out grindhouse tributes faster than you can say, "but even Tarantino has moved on." Next up on the slate are not one, but two "Machete" sequels (titled, of course, "Machete Kills" and "Machete Kills Again"), a "Sin City" sequel, and an innovative approach to a new "Heavy Metal" film. The original "Heavy Metal," based on the adult-targeted comic book magazine, was a collection of animated shorts set to a hard rock soundtrack - this time around, Rodriguez claims he's going to ask fans and amateur animators to submit shorts that may end up comprising at least part of the finished film. Stay tuned.

Andrew Garfield Makes Up For Rhys Ifans
After a belligerent Ifans was cited for pushing a security guard and allegedly acting like a drunken ass, his "Amazing Spider-Man" co-stars had to go above and beyond to win the crowd back. And they did, thanks to star Andrew Garfield's costumed love letter.

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