In back-to-back panels, “Once Upon a Time” and its spinoff “Once Upon a Time: Wonderland” filled the Ballroom 20 venue at Comic-Con International with a mix of attendees that included the curious and the devoted.
In “Wonderland,” the crowd got to see the first 19 minutes of the show, which established that our new Alice is actually being held in a mental institution for spouting off crazy tales of smoking caterpillars, talking bunnies and edible things that make you shrink or grow. Though beaten down by the system, this Alice is no shrinking violet. At the first mention that her true love, the genie Cyrus, is alive, Alice goes into serious action a la Gina Carano as the Knave of Hearts just stands by. He and Alice don’t want to go back to Wonderland for varying reasons.
The panel consisted of Sophie Lowe (Alice), Peter Gediot (Cyrus), Michael Soca (Knave of Hearts), Emma Rigby (the Red Queen), and show creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. There was a surpise addition as David Naveen from “Lost” joined the cast on stage to announce that he will be the new Jafar (yep, the villain from “Aladdin”). The casting marks another “Lost” connection with Kitsis and Horowitz (Jorge Garcia was in the last season of “Once Upon a Time”). Everyone’s back stories will be explained in the 13-episode season, including a connection between the Knave of Hearts and the Enchanted Forest of the other “Once Upon a Time” series. Horowitz and Kitsis said that the format for “Wonderland” would be to have one self-contained story for the duration of the season, then see what happens from there.
A few questions from the audience stood out. One, from a little boy, asked if the March Hare and the Door Mouse would be making an appearance. Kitsis said there’s a chance. Another question was asked about the possible inclusion of prominent LGBTQ characters in the show. Horowitz and Kitsis said they were fine with it but would only do it “if it was just expressing love, not as a gimmick.”
With Kitsis and Horowitz as the bridge, the panel transitioned to the original “Once Upon a Time” cast. Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Robert Carlyle, Emile de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue and Michael Raymond James talked about Season 3 and the big trip to Neverland. We’ll get to meet a not so cute and chipper Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, and whoever is pulling the strings in Neverland — a being that even the dark lord Rumpelstiltskin fears.
Moderated by Will Keck from TV Guide, everyone on the large panel received screams when introduced, with possibly the largest ovation reserved for Captain Hook and the Evil Queen. The panel didn’t reveal much in the way of Season 3 spoilers, instead focusing on the journey that some of the cast members make to Neverland: the wet boats, the green screen, and Captain Colin getting a complete change in personality when the leather jacket goes on — from lovable to lecherous in seconds!
Keck received famous lines from fans on Twitter and made everyone say theirs, which seemed a little awkward, but the crowd seemed to like it. The amiable cast enjoyed the fact that two audience members came up to the mic dressed as Rumpelstiltskin and Belle, which might have been the highlight of the audience questions.
As the cast departed, they left us with one more tease. In a clip, we get to see Ariel, the “Little Mermaid” herself, steal a fork from Grumpy. Though it was only a glimpse, the crowd went wild.
– Jevon Phillips
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