Comic-Con: Studios go all out in a week of big surprises

July 22, 2013 | 7:00 a.m.
Actor Ian McKellen, actress Halle Berry and actress Anna Paquin speak at the 20th Century Fox "X-Men: Days of Future Past" panel during Comic-Con.

Actor Ian McKellen, actress Halle Berry and actress Anna Paquin speak at the 20th Century Fox “X-Men: Days of Future Past” panel during Comic-Con. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO — Batman and Superman joined forces, Wolverine reunited with an entire team of X-Men, and “Avengers” villain Loki commanded the 6,500 audience members assembled in the San Diego Convention Center’s Hall H to worship him as a god as the rapturous crowd cheered wildly — just business as usual at the pop culture expo known as Comic-Con International.

Word of a sequel to the summer’s Zack Snyder-directed Superman movie “Man of Steel,” which is set for release in 2015 and will feature Batman among its cast of characters, was perhaps the biggest news to emerge from the four-day celebration of film, television, video games and comic books that attracts about 130,000 visitors to the city’s downtown — many clad in colorful costumes.

One of the most powerful draws for those fans is the opportunity to see exclusive trailers and first-look footage and to interact with their favorite stars and filmmakers during unscripted Q&As at various panel sessions. While Saturday’s “Superman/Batman” announcement elicited applause, cheers and outright screaming, it was hardly the only project to bring the crowd to its feet.

To promote 2014′s “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” the film’s sprawling cast — Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Michael Fassbender, Halle Berry, James McAvoy, Evan Peters, Shawn Ashmore and Omar Sy, along with director Bryan Singer, writer-producer Simon Kinberg and producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Hutch Parker — all made the journey to San Diego to appear together on the Hall H stage Saturday.

Actor Tom Hiddleston speaks onstage at Marvel Studios "Thor: The Dark World" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" during Comic-Con International 2013.

Actor Tom Hiddleston speaks onstage at Marvel Studios “Thor: The Dark World” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” during Comic-Con International 2013. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Marvel Studios pulled out all the stops for its Hall H panel presentation the same day, including an introduction by English actor Tom Hiddleston in full Loki costume, an unannounced discussion with the entire cast of the upcoming film “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and an appearance from “The Avengers” director Joss Whedon, who unveiled the sequel’s title: “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

“It was fun, it was amazing,” Hiddleston said about his appearance Sunday.

“Loki’s kind of been taken to the hearts of the home team. To go out there in costume, adrenaline was coursing through my body in a way that I haven’t had in a while. I went to drama school to train as a stage actor, but at six-and-a-half thousand strong, that’s the biggest gig I’ve ever played for sure.”

Popular series including “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones” and “Doctor Who” also took their turns in the Hall H spotlight, while in the world of comic books, Neil Gaiman’s return to his seminal comic “Sandman” was the talk of San Diego, where the DC/Vertigo myth-and-literature-rich dark fantasy epic’s 25th anniversary was celebrated on the cover of the official souvenir book every attendee receives and on one of the convention’s official T-shirts.

Of returning to “Sandman,” Gaiman said, “The characters are still there, and the characters sound like themselves, and they’re as much fun as they ever were — and occasionally as irritating as they ever were.”

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The seventh annual Zombie Walk at Comic-Con boasts more than 500 zombies infiltrating thousands of the living in San Diego's Gaslamp District. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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The Grim Reaper joins the ranks of the undead during the seventh annual Zombie walk at Comic-Con. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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The seventh annual Zombie Walk at Comic-Con boasts more than 500 zombies infiltrating thousands of the living in San Diego's Gaslamp District. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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The seventh annual Zombie Walk at Comic-Con boasts more than 500 zombies infiltrating thousands of the living in San Diego's Gaslamp District. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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The seventh annual Zombie Walk at Comic-Con boasts more than 500 zombies infiltrating thousands of the living in San Diego's Gaslamp District. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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Beth Jones tries to eat brains on a stick, held by Raymond Nori. (Kirk McKoy/ Los Angeles Times)

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The seventh annual Zombie Walk at Comic-Con boasts more than 500 zombies infiltrating thousands of the living in San Diego's Gaslamp District. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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The seventh annual Zombie Walk at Comic-Con boasts more than 500 zombies infiltrating thousands of the living in San Diego's Gaslamp District. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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Ryan Vuletich, left, adds a little theatrical blood to brother Mark Vuletich's eye before joining the Zombie Walk. (Kirk McKoy/ Los Angeles Times)

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The seventh annual Zombie Walk at Comic-Con boasts more than 500 zombies infiltrating thousands of the living in San Diego's Gaslamp District. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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Andrea Albanez, left, Julia Albanez, Laurianna Carrillo, Laurissa Portillo and Maya Portillo. (Kirk McKoy/ Los Angeles Times)

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Giorgio Famiglietti takes a bite out of fellow zombie Jazmine Puentes. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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Zombie hunter Tanya Blevins, right, captured Cody Blevins, left, and Kyle Donavan. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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The seventh annual Zombie Walk at Comic-Con boasts more than 500 zombies infiltrating thousands of the living in San Diego's Gaslamp District. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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Zombie hunter Tanya Blevins captures Cody Blevins, left, and Kyle Donavan. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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The seventh annual Zombie Walk at Comic-Con boasts more than 500 zombies infiltrating thousands of the living in San Diego's Gaslamp District. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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The seventh annual Zombie Walk at Comic-Con boasts more than 500 zombies infiltrating thousands of the living in San Diego's Gaslamp District. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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The seventh annual Zombie Walk at Comic-Con boasts more than 500 zombies infiltrating thousands of the living in San Diego's Gaslamp District. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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The seventh annual Zombie Walk at Comic-Con boasts more than 500 zombies infiltrating thousands of the living in San Diego's Gaslamp District. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Outside the convention center, the city’s Gaslamp Quarter hummed with activity as attendees dressed as Klingons and Stormtroopers and Wonder Women made their way to the bars and restaurants that line the streets.

It was also the site Saturday of the annual Zombie Walk, a Halloween-like procession of more than 500 people marching in gruesome makeup and undead costumes of their own making.

On Sunday morning, the scene was largely more subdued, yet a small cluster of onlookers gathered in front of the Hard Rock Hotel as a man dressed as a police officer attempted to corral a zombie in what appeared to be a bit of impromptu “Walking Dead”-performance art.

Elsewhere Saturday, three San Diego teenagers were the first in line outside the convention center for Sunday’s “Doctor Who” panel presentation, celebrating the sci-fi adventure series’ 50th anniversary. Carson McCalley, 17; Lilly Petersen, 18; and Erin Serfass, 17, camped out for 24 hours to ensure front-row seats.

Comic-Con and the BBC presentation have become a summer tradition for the trio, and they were well prepared, wearing homemade “Doctor Who” costumes and toting pillows, sleeping bags, Girl Scout cookies and a Doctor Who Monopoly board game to get them through the night.

“You talk to elderly people who love it just as much as teenagers who are willing to camp out for it,” Petersen said. “It must be something special if so many different people can come together.”

– Gina McIntyre and Noelene Clark

Times staff writer Blake Hennon contributed to this report.

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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