THAT’S RIGHT, I SAID COMICS Issue #15 – San Diego Comic-Con 2010.
San Diego, CA
There was a stabbing incident at this past weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con, which I guess makes it the Altamont of Comic-Cons. Just remove the cultural significance, swap out the Hell’s Angels for Stormtroopers and Sticky Fingers for Weezer’s Pinkerton, and otherwise it’s the same damn thing.
Apparently, what happened was that there was a dispute over seating at a Cowboys & Aliens presentation. Cowboys & Aliens is the upcoming movie from Iron Man director John Favreau which will star Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, and Harrison Ford. Harrison Ford! That guy is like Mohammad when it comes to Comic-Con. You don’t fuck around with another man’s chair when the prophet is standing just a dozen yards away!
So the one fan stabbed the other fan near the eye with a pen. Unfortunately, the stabber was an African-American gentleman in a Harry Potter T-shirt, which is just going to be asshole ammunition for racist jocks worldwide.
Also, it doesn’t send a great message to Harrison Ford, who was attending his first Comic-Con and by all accounts really couldn’t be bothered. If Han Solo never shows his face in San Diego again, one hopes the Star Wars fans won’t hold it against the Harry Potter fans. Or hopefully they will, and unprecedented fanbase-warfare will erupt. What side will John Williams take?
That wasn’t the only controversial moment at Comic-Con this year. The "God Hates Fags" people, who are some of the worst human beings on the planet, stood outside the convention center all weekend, picketing God-Hates-Fags-knows-what. I don’t care enough about Fred Phelps and his godless lemming followers to even research the reasons for this picket, but I promise you this: if they’re opposed to superheroes, they’re fighting a losing battle.
The collected nerd response to this inexplicable hatred, however, was pretty fantastic.
There was also some controversy over Piranha 3-D, which has been one of my most awaited movies of the summer. Apparently the R-rated footage (of a piranha attack at a wet T-shirt contest, naturally) which director Alexandre Aja was planning to show at Comic-Con was rejected as “too graphic”, so, undeterred, he showed it at a theater nearby. Naturally, in this day and age a horror movie doesn’t get points for extreme gore alone, but as a fan of monster movies I’m glad to know that at least this one won’t arrive to theaters neutered.
Otherwise, 2010’s Comic-Con was business as usual, only multiplied. Tickets sold out four months ahead of time, and while this year’s attendance numbers haven’t been widely released, I guarantee you it was even bigger than last year’s record of 126,000. Comic-Con is no place for a claustrophobe. There’s got to be serious concerns about fire safety at this point. Hell, Eva Mendes was in attendance this year -- the friction caused by that alone has got to be a major bonfire risk.
Not that I’m complaining, but the presence of Eva Mendes does raise an increasingly noticeable trend. She was there, along with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg (who must have been more miserable than Harrison Ford), in order to promote this summer’s release of The Other Guys, a movie that looks hilarious but admittedly has nothing to do with comics. At least writer/director Adam McKay is considering directing the adaptation of The Boys, which gives him a link to Comic-Con. Other shows and movies were just there for what has become the biggest publicity platform around.
Really, what was Glee doing at Comic-Con -- to take just one incongruous example? I’d like to be take the optimistic side and say that the Comic-Con audience is becoming more diverse, and that most of the same people who love genre-movie stuff are equally excited about a bunch of high school kids singing songs from Rocky Horror Picture Show, but the more cynical reality continues to nag. A significant amount of movies and TV shows with either tenuous or non-existent ties to the world of comic books are increasingly in abundance in San Diego. Comic-Con is increasingly less about comics and more about the big promotion.
Even comic books aren’t strictly about comic books anymore. Comic books are more about movies. I can’t completely complain about this trend, seeing as how the younger me would have LOVED to have seen a Captain America movie. I do worry that many of the comic book properties that are being mined for movies and TV won’t translate, as I have opined in the past about such big-ticket items as the Green Lantern and Thor movies. On the other hand, the intense spotlight on comic book adaptations is yielding some interesting projects, such as The Walking Dead, an upcoming AMC television series about a zombie apocalypse, overseen by Frank Darabont, and Red (a.k.a. Retired & Extremely Dangerous, a story about elderly assassins from the mind of the great Warren Ellis that brought Helen Mirren to this year’s Comic-Con!)
So again, I’m conflicted. It seems perverse and cruel on an epic scale to import a parade of beautiful actresses to impress a population with heavy leanings in the Domino’s Pizza and Family Guy demographic (and I do mean heavy), but I guess as long as these guys keep lining up for it, I guess they’re fair game.
Then again, even as I stand apart from this target audience, so too am I a part of it. I mean, this works for me too. Which brings me to the biggest announcement out of San Diego in 2010. First of all, as has been rumored for quite a while, Joss Whedon officially confirmed that he is the director of the upcoming Avengers movie, which will unite all of Marvel’s movie characters (aside from Spider-Man). Further, the full line-up of the movie was announced, with the entire cast in person. Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man, Sam Jackson is Nick Fury, Chris Evans is Captain America, that tall blond fellow is Thor, Scarlett Johansson is the Black Widow (again: this), Jeremy Renner is Hawkeye, and Mark Ruffalo is now the Hulk.
Whoa! Never before have so many superlative acting talents come together in order to inevitably complain about how hot their costumes were. But seriously, folks. Even though I feel like that list could stand to gain a couple female characters (and under Whedon’s captaining, I suspect it will), it’s still hard to not feel some excitement over this epic undertaking. Though it’s a project fraught with pitfalls (what if the Captain America and Thor movies don’t hit?), it’s certainly ambitious and frankly unprecedented. If you are or ever have been a comic book geek, you’d have to be as emotionless as the Vision not to hope that this movie works out. It’s encouraging to know that so many smart and talented people are putting these movies together.
But it would be nice to see the ugly stepchild get some time in the spotlight. So as I wrote last year, “Let’s not get swept away by our hot new dance partner and forget the sweet girl-next-door who first brought us to the dance. Comic books still exist, as more than just an ocean of rawness to be desalinized by the Hollywood processing plant. Comic books are a lively and viable source of entertainment on their own.” Keep an eye on this column to read more about comic books that are worth talking about, reading, and supporting. You know I’ve got you covered on the movie news, but sometimes a guy needs some reading material with colors and pictures, so I’ll keep sharing about worthwhile comic books too.