Wow. Two big Expos back to back, Comic-Con and D23. Have you recovered yet? I’m just barely here, holding on with espresso. Before we can get to the D23 stuff, that I can’t wait to tell you about, I’ve got important things to share from Comic-Con. Let’s dive in and get this situation under control!
DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO
Disney’s biggest push from the studios division, the division we think of when we think of “Disney,” at San Diego this year was “Once Upon a Time. “ This was evidenced by the two giant banners facing the convention center
In addition, a popular advertising idea has been to redecorate some of the pedicabs operated in downtown. It started with basic billboards installed and has developed into full on, architectural marvels and some of the pedicab drivers are also wearing costumes! Disney, like last year, rented some advertising spaces on multiple pedicabs and decorated in that way we’ve come to expect from Disney.
Supposedly, there was a third “Once Upon a Time” pedicab themed to Alice, but I never saw it.
Let’s continue on to the convention floor with one of the best things about Comic-Con, the cosplayers! I love the cosplayers here because the big guns come out and no one holds back. All of the top people in the cosplay scene save their best for San Diego. And I’m never disappointed.
The panels and presentations are where most of the big announcements are made during the convention. Here are some of the hottest panels and biggest announcements from the branches of the Disney company.
It is safe to say that, if you want to avoid spoilers, you shouldn’t read this section.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC
- What Happened at the Panel
- Executive Producer Jeph Loeb served as the moderator while the panel consisted of “S.H.I.E.L.D.” writers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Trancharoen, executive producer Jeffrey Bell, cast members Elizabeth Henstridge, Ian De Caestecker, Chloe Bennet, Brett Dalton, Ming-Na Wen, Clark Gregg, and executive producer and writer/director of the pilot Joss Whedon.
- After answering a few fan questions, they screened the ENTIRE FIRST EPISODE.
- After the screening, some more fan questions were answered.
- What We Learned
- Cobie Smulders will reprise her role as Agent Maria Hill from “The Avengers” as a guest star in the first episode.
- J. August Richards is playing Michael Peterson, an unemployed factory worker with superpowers that he gained from Extremis. Extremis was a major plot point in Iron Man 3. (Bleeding Cool offers an explanation of who Michael Peterson is in Marvel comic book history HERE. Spoiler: He’s not that interesting.)
- Whedon veteran Ron Glass, Shepard Book in “Firefly,” appears in the pilot as a doctor.
- Agent Coulson believes that his death was faked . Agent Hill says later in the episode, in reference to Coulson’s death, “He can never know” what really happened.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: Down the Rabbit Hole
- What Happened at the Panel
- The panel consisted of executive producers Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz, and Zach Estri and cast members Sophie Lowe, Michael Socha, Peter Godiot, Emma Rigby and Naveen Andrews.
- A 19 minute preview of the first episode was shown.
- Audience and moderator questions were answered.
- What We Learned
- Naveen Andrews has been cast as Jafar.
- Roger Daltrey will continue to voice the Caterpillar, John Lithgow voices the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat will be making his appearance.
- Sebastian Stan reprising his Mad Hatter role is not ruled out; he just needs to be available. (Sebastian Stan is very busy with the “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” movie.)
- The plan is to tell one complete story over the season. If ABC greenlights season 2, then they will tell another complete story in season 2. And so on and so forth.
Once Upon a Time: Off to Neverland!
- What Happened at the Panel
- The panel consisted of executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis and cast members Ginnifer Goodwin, Lana Parilla, Jennifer Morrison , Robert Carlyle, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue and Michael Raymond James.
- A recap of the last season was shown.
- Moderator questions were answered.
- A season 2 dvd special feature was shown, “Good Morning, Storybrooke.” You can watch it HERE.
- Audience questions were answered.
- A season 3 teaser trailer was shown.
- What We Learned
- There will be two installments of 11 back to back new episodes with a break between them.
- Tinkerbell and Ariel will appear this season.
Marvel Studios: Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- What Happened at the Panel
- Tom Hiddleston came out dressed as Loki and commanded the hall to kneel before him. Many did.
- “Thor: The Dark World” footage was shown followed by the trailer.
- Directors Anthony and Joe Russo with cast members Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Chris Evans, Frank Grillo, Scarlett Johansson, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson and Emily Van Camp came out on stage and spoke about “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
- “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” footage was shown.
- The cast of “Guardians of the Galaxy” came onstage including Karen Gillian, Djimon Honsou, Lee Pace, Benicio Del Toro, Dave Batista, Zoe Saldana, Michael Rooker and Chris Pratt as well as director James Gunn.
- Very early footage was shown from “Guardians of the Galaxy;” they’ve only been in production for 14 days.
- Joss Whedon came on stage to introduce a video clip.
- A teaser trailer for the new Avengers movie was shown.
- What We Learned
- The footage from “Thor: The Dark World” ended with Loki about to cut off Thor’s hand. The screen went to black right before the blade cut through.
- Emily Van Camp will play S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Sharon Carter in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
- The plot of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” will stick very close to the details of the Ed Brubaker comic book story of the same name.
- Karen Gillian went bald to play Nebula in “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
- The new Avengers 2 title is, “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
EXHIBITORS AND VENDORS
The majority of attendees spend the majority of their time scoring the convention floor for photo ops, exclusive releases, and that very special collectible to take home. In addition, the spectacle of the floor is captivating, even if you’re not looking for anything in particular. You can, and I have, not been able to see the entire convention floor over the five days. Yes, it’s that big.
Here are the booths that I stumbled upon that feature some items you all might be interested in.
Overall, as much as Marvel, Disney, Lucasarts and Pixar had a presence, it was mostly due to its outside vendors.
“efx manufactures and markets extremely high quality, “screen accurate” limited edition prop replicas and collectibles from your favorite films, television, video games and other entertainment media.” – www.efxcollectibles.com
“From toys and games, to television programming, motion pictures, digital gaming and a comprehensive licensing program, Hasbro strives to delight its global customers with innovative play and entertainment experiences, in a variety of forms and formats, anytime and anywhere.” – www.hasbro.com
“Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of over 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing.” – www.marvel.com
Marvel has the luxury of not needing to attract the masses to their booth. Their approach is to do very simple, but very effective, minimalistic displays that make the fan boys/girls go nuts. This year, they displayed props from their major movie franchises, switching up the display every day. This included Thor’s hammer in addition to Heimdall’s sword and the book of Yggdrasil from the upcoming Thor movie, Captain American and his crew’s costumes from the upcoming movie, props from the upcoming “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie, and a Harley motorcycle from the same upcoming Captain America movie. As I couldn’t stake out the booth all weekend, I missed some of the displays. But don’t worry; Marvel’s official website can fill in what I missed.
I thought this poster for an upcoming animated show was pretty cheeky, playing off the upcoming S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show title.
“Mattel is the worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of toys and family products with more than $7 billion in sales.” – www.mattel.com
Mattel’s big push this year is their Max Steel line which has been developed into a television show reboot on Disney XD.
The highly anticipated, new Cars line, sans “Cars 2” branding, was on full display along with the new “Planes” line.
Profiles in History
“Profiles in History has established itself as the world’s largest auctioneer of original Hollywood memorabilia, having held some of the most prestigious and successful auctions of Hollywood memorabilia and owning virtually every Guinness Book record prices for original screen-used memorabilia. With an extensive network of dealers, collectors, and institutions, Profiles in History is proud to play an important role in the preservation of motion picture history.” – www.profilesinhistory.com
“In 1995, Sideshow Collectibles embarked on a mission of connecting people with their favorite characters and icons from the worlds of film, television, comic books and popular culture. Today, we are a specialty manufacturer and distributor of the most highly sought-after licensed and original collectible products, sustained by a passionate worldwide community that is committed to the lifestyle of collecting figural art.” – www.sideshowtoy.com
“Over the course of its 25-year history, Capcom has created some of the most iconic characters and franchises in gaming. From the ubiquitous Mega Man® and Street Fighter® franchises to the genre-defining Resident Evil® and Devil May Cry® series, Capcom has utilized its talent to create recognizable and entertaining games all over the world.” – www.capcom.com
As previously covered at WonderCon, at San Diego, Capcom was previewing the yet to be released “DuckTales: Remastered” video game. “Ducktales” was originally a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) release that was later ported to the Gameboy. Their display included a replica of Uncle Scrooge’s money bin for a photo op.
“Today, Disney Publishing Worldwide is a vibrant, growing business that creates, extends, and acquires content, bringing stories to life in a variety of formats. Across Core Publishing, Digital Publishing, Disney Learning, and Disney English, the business maintains a diverse portfolio that supports New York Times best-selling authors such as Mo Willems, Rick Riordan, and Melissa de la Cruz, as well as beloved Disney franchises, including Disney Princess, Disney·Pixar Cars, Disney Junior, and Marvel. – www.disneypublishing.com
Once Upon a Time
“This is Fairy Tale Land. It’s filled with magic, monsters and all of the characters we all know from stories growing up. It’s real, and so are the people in it. But unlike the “happily ever after” you may have heard about, their stories continued, and The Evil Queen cast a Dark Curse over the land….” – www.abc.go.com/shows/once-upon-a-time
ABC brought a pirate ship replica and led fans into the belly of the ship in small groups to receive branded pins.
“Gentle Giant Ltd. designs, develops, and manufactures three-dimensional representations of beloved characters from a variety of franchise properties with worldwide name recognition….” – www.gentlegiantltd.com
Fanboys and girls were gawking over the replicas of vintage Star Wars Kenner action figure reproductions.
“The LEGO Group is engaged in the development of children’s creativity through playing and learning. Based on the world-famous LEGO® brick, the company today provides toys, experiences and teaching materials for children in more than 130 countries.” – www.lego.com
THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE LUCASFILM BOOTH
And then there is the Lucasfilm booth. As regular attendees know, in previous years, the Lucasfilm booth has been one of the largest booths on the convention floor, featuring video game demos, big figures, Star Wars merchandise, and generally the best that Lucasfilm has to offer.
This year, a most curious thing happened. As regular MiceChat readers know, after Disney bought Lucasfilm in the fall of 2012, Disney laid off around 150 employees in the Lucasarts division, effectively closing the doors on that development studio forever.
Lucasarts was the interactive media arm of Lucasflim focusing mainly on computer and console gaming. Lucasarts has a rich history in its industry, is beloved by fans, and pioneered many technical aspects and genres of gaming. Important titles in their catalog, in addition to numerous Star Wars games, include “Maniac Mansion,” “Sam and Max: Freelance Police,” “The Secret of Monkey Island,” “The Dig,” and “Loom.”
So when Comic-Con announced that Lucasfilm was going to be exhibiting at Comic-Con this year, fans immediately began speculating as to what in the world that booth was going to consist of. Disney will have owned the company for less than a year, they JUST laid off 150 employees, major game releases were canceled with the layoffs, and Disney had announced the next Star Wars project appearing in 2015, way too early in development for a big Comic Con push. So what were they going to do?
Well, essentially, they subleased the booth. Yes, the Lucasfilm Comic-Con booth consisted of entirely third party vendors.
As you can see in the pictures below, on the surface, it looks like the same old booth.
In fact, the first time I walked by it, I didn’t even notice a difference. But once I took a closer look, I noticed that popular geekwear line Her Universe had a whole section at the front of the Lucasfilm booth carved out just for them. And the same went for Hallmark. So I wondered, is Disney attempting to give their licensees some prestige? That seems….un-Disney like. But then, I further noticed that Her Universe and Hallmark weren’t limiting their merchandise to just Star Wars. Hallmark had DC and Marvel product; Her Universe also displayed Star Trek and Doctor Who merchandise.
I started to REALLY look at the displays and came to the realization, while making it to the back of the booth towards the less impressive displays, that Lucasfilm had filled their booth with outside vendors. There were no displays from Lucasfilm themselves.
As you can see, the level of detail in the booths varies DRAMATICALLY between the vendors as does the quality of the products presented. On the surface, it seemed impressive and expansive. But once you dug in, it became a messy hodge-podge of products thrown into shared space.
So what happened? I think Disney inherited this already paid for booth space when they bought Lucasfilm. I think they laid off most of the people who designed and staffed the booth when they shut down Lucasarts. And with the speed at which Disney moves on new projects and initiatives (MOLASSES), they had no idea what to do with the booth. And I think they didn’t want to forfeit the space because either A) they already paid for it, B) they thought it would be a black mark on their record to not do a booth, or C) they didn’t want to lose their seniority in the selection process for booth space. According to multiple vendors I spoke to, there is a multi-year waiting list for new vendors for San Diego Comic-Con.
You should know, dear reader, the above is simply my best guess based on my own knowledge base and the information I heard while at the convention that weekend. I had the privilege of spending a large part of my time that weekend with a former employee of Lucasarts. He told me that his contacts who managed NOT to lose their job in the layoff told him that Lucasfilm proper didn’t send a single Lucasfilm employee to work the booth at Comic-Con. All of the employees at the booth were from other divisions in the Disney company.
On a non-Comic-Con related note, my source also told me that George Lucas is BEYOND pissed off about how Disney gutted his company and staff. I’m told that Lucas signed a gag order as a part of the sale paperwork. Supposedly, he is just waiting until the gag order is up to publicly rail about what Disney has done. But again, that’s just what I’m told.
MY FAVORITE FIND: IT’S A TRAP!
Readers, I’m toying with the idea of an ongoing feature called “My Favorite Find.” Even if I don’t write a full article about every convention I go to, as I go to many, I think it might be interesting to feature my favorite Disney related product, booth, etc., that I find at each convention. Let me know what you think in the comments!
For San Diego Comic-Con, choosing my favorite was a no-brainer. When I saw this book, I literally stood in front of the booth and laughed like a crazy woman for at least a full five minutes. If you like repetitive, sardonic humor, this book is for you.
Paul Friedrich had a booth in the Small Press area featuring his work as a writer and artist. In addition to a great print of Batman riding a unicorn saying, “Giddy up,” (that almost came home with me too), he had a book entitled, Admiral Ackbar’s Guide to Everything. The first page says, “It’s a trap!” and moves on to a day in the life of Admiral Ackbar as he declares the name of every object and situation he comes in contact with. “It’s a door!” “It’s a baby!” “It’s a frappe!” “It’s a long way down!” The reader is surprised every once in a while with a few more, “It’s a trap!” thrown in for good measure. I’m sure you can imagine, the illustrations make the book that much better.
I bought a copy for me, a copy for MiceChat Administrator Monorail Man (who loves to tell me “It’s a trap!” every time we ride Star Tours), and convinced another MiceChatter to buy the book too.
If you are a fan of Admiral Ackbar, or Star Wars humor in general, this is a must for your library.
You can buy and look at Friedrich’s work at www.etsy.com/shop/ilovepaul. He doesn’t appear to have any copies of the book for sale right now. But I’m sure if you contact him and tell him MiceChat sent you, he’d be happy to sell you a copy.
Well, folks….from one convention to another. I will soon share my notes from the D23 Expo, covering all things from the Marvel universe and will be sure to compare notes with what was presented at Comic-Con.
Until next time, EXCELSIOR!