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.Link
Fans dressed as pirates pose together before the fan sneak peek screening of Starz' "Black Sails" during Comic-Con. (Matt Sayles / Invision for STARZ / Associated Press)Link
Atmosphere at the Into The Further "Insidious: Chapter 2" Comic-Con 2013 party. (Robert Benson/Getty Images for Film District)Link
David Boyd of the band New Politics performs at MTV2's Party in the Park on day 2 of Comic-Con International. (John Shearer/Invision for MTV2/AP Images)Link
Actors Yvonne Strahovski, Jennifer Carpenter, and Michael C. Hall applaud onstage at Showtime's "Dexter" panel. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)Link
Actors Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger attend the "Escape Plan" screening and red carpet during Comic-Con International 2013 at Reading Cinemas Gaslamp in San Diego, California. (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Summit Entertainment)Link
Writer/actor Simon Pegg, actor Bill Paxton and director/writer Edgar Wright attend IGN and Focus Features Comic-Con 2013 party presented by "The World's End" at Float at Hard Rock Hotel San Diego. (Jerod Harris/Getty Images for IGN Entertainment)Link
From left, actors Max Carver, Tyler Hoechlin, Charlie Carver, Dylan O'Brien, Daniel Sharman, Tyler Posey, Crystal Reed, Holland Roden and writer Jeff Davis attend the "Teen Wolf" panel. (John Shearer/Invision for MTV/Associated Press)Link
Actors Asa Butterfield and Hailee Steinfeld, director Gavin Hood, producer Roberto Arci and actor Harrison Ford speak onstage at the "Enders Game" and "Divergent" panels during Comic-Con International 2013. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)Link
Viking shield maidens Xan Rogers and Saeri Far at the entrance to the Viking Interactive. (Kirk McKoy/ Los Angeles Times)Link
The History Channel's "Vikings" tells the tale of the lives and adventures of the warriors. The show brought to Comic-Con the Vikings Interactive Experience with a mini Viking boat race. (right) Boat 2 with Rachel Moore of San Diego (front seat) and Lottie Aston from England, jumped their lane and nosed out boat 1 with Cynthia Loza (front) and Araceli Castro (both from San Diego). (Kirk McKoy/ Los Angeles Times)Link
Gillian Anderson, left, David Duchovny, center, and Chris Carter attend the "The X Files" 20th anniversary panel on day 2 of Comic-Con International. (Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)Link
Carlos and Daniel Cano from Ventura 59First Legion wear storm trooper costumes on the preview and credentialing day of Comic-Con at the San Diego Convention Center. (Kirk McKoy/ Los Angeles Times)Link
Bersain Gutierrez of San Diego wears a Superman costume and holds up the world on the preview and credentialing day of Comic-Con at the San Diego Convention Center. (Kirk McKoy/ Los Angeles Times)Link
Jean Griffith in her Ewok costume on the preview and credentialing day of Comic-Con at the San Diego Convention Center. (Kirk McKoy/ Los Angeles Times)Link
Cory Pacione, left, of New Brunswick, Canada, and Nick Murray of Maine push in a model of R2D2 for their company Fanwraps at Comic-Con at the San Diego Convention Center. Comic-Con officially begins Thursday. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)Link
Dale Williams waits in line for credentials for Comic-Con at the San Diego Convention Center. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)Link
Dressed as Alvin of "Alvin and the Chipmunks," Alvin Revilas waits at the back of the line for his credentials. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)Link
Spider-Man fan Mark Bellemare of Meriden, Conn., displays the beginning work of a tattoo on his thigh while waiting in line. Wednesday is a preview day and the first day to pick up credentials. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)Link
Workers carry metal tubing outside of the San Diego Convention Center as Comic-Con begins. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)Link
Comic-Con attendees wait in line. The temperature was expected to reach a comfortable 78 degrees. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)Link
Trilainna Stantoon of San Diego waits in line at Comic-Con at the San Diego Convention Center. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)Link
Richard and Anna Reyes, with son Parker, 5, and daughter Makaila, 4, head for the line. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)Link
Travis McGraw of Escondido lays on the ground while waiting in line. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)Link
From left, Jan Mulleneaux and Jason Mulleneaux of Phoenix, Ariz.; Mark Bellemare of Meriden, Conn.; Jesse Bellmare of Soothington, Conn.; Hillary Williams of Phoenix; and Steven Melleneaux of Phoenix wait in line for credentials. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)Link
Glance at this year’s lineup for Comic-Con International, the massive pop culture confab that draws roughly 130,000 fans to San Diego every July, and you’ll see plenty of familiar heroes — Spider-Man, Doctor Who, “Hunger Games” warrior Katniss Everdeen.
Also on the roster? Metallica, the cast of “How I Met Your Mother” and world cinema auteur Wong Kar Wai.
Veterans of Comic-Con, which begins Thursday at the San Diego Convention Center, have come to expect a certain amount of eclecticism from the programming, and this year again offers a mix of projects from across the entertainment spectrum — some of them straying further afield from the gathering’s fantastic roots than others.
“Why does anybody go to Comic-Con? It’s just a magnet for films that have this kind of [audience],” said Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, who will travel to San Diego with his bandmates to promote the new film, “Metallica Through the Never.” “We’re pretty psyched about it.”
As the event has grown from its modest origins — Comic-Con began as an intimate gathering in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel in 1970 — it has evolved into an important marketing platform for Hollywood, an opportunity for studios and networks to bring an increasingly broad range of movies and series directly to an enthusiastic audience amid a carnival-like atmosphere.
During the four official days of Comic-Con (Wednesday evening is preview night), life-size Lego displays, throngs of people dressed in elaborate costumes and massive posters, billboards and bus ads for movies and TV shows overwhelm downtown San Diego, and this year, even more activities will spring up outside the convention center.
History channel’s show “Vikings” will offer themed boat rides; fans can “encounter” Godzilla at a special live event designed to tout the 2014 monster reboot; the fearless can attempt to run a zombie-laden “The Walking Dead” obstacle course in the city’s Petco Park. Weezer and Metallica will play concerts over the weekend at events timed to but not directly affiliated with Comic-Con.
Inside the halls and ballrooms that will host the majority of the programming, television is likely to grab most of the headlines, though such movies as Marvel’s comic book sequels, “Thor: The Dark World” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” are among the film projects expected to draw massive crowds to Comic-Con’s marquee arena, the 6,500 seat Hall H, on Saturday. (Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman: Overture,” which sees the prolific writer return to his seminal comic book with a new miniseries from Vertigo that launches in October, arguably stands as the biggest story in that corner of the convention universe.)
Hall H will host presentations from top genre series including HBO’s lavish fantasy “Game of Thrones” and AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” “Doctor Who” will take the stage Sunday with a special BBC America panel featuring stars Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman, along with lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat and writer-executive producer Mark Gatiss discussing the show and the upcoming anniversary special, “An Adventure in Space and Time,” marking “Doctor Who’s” 50-year legacy.
Showtime’s serial killer drama “Dexter,” now in its final season, will bid farewell to its fan base in its final Comic-Con appearance in Hall H on Thursday. “Dexter” star Michael C. Hall credits the convention with helping cultivate the series’ loyal following.
“It does have a cultishness to its fan base, in that the people who like it really like it,” Hall said. “I think the show came on the air just when that convention was really becoming the launching pad that it now is and not just a comic book convention. While [‘Dexter’s’] not based on a graphic novel or a comic book, it feels like it might be…. He is Batman-esque.”
A raft of other established series — “Breaking Bad,” “True Blood,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Revolution,” “The Following,” “Community,” “Sons of Anarchy” and “Arrow,” among others — will send stars to appear before the Comic-Con audience. So too will new shows including Joss Whedon’s “Avengers”-inspired “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
“You see more television at Comic-Con probably because there are lots more genre-related shows,” said David Glanzer, director of marketing and public relations for Comic-Con. “You have ‘Grimm,’ you have ‘Once Upon a Time,’ you have any number of things that have fan-favorite actors also. I think television is taking advantage of a great opportunity to connect with those fans who actually watch those shows.”
New films expected to draw interest include “Divergent,” Neil Burger’s future-set adventure starring Shailene Woodley; “Gravity,” the first feature in seven years from “Children of Men” director Alfonso Cuarón; and “The World’s End,” the apocalyptic English comedy from director Edgar Wright, which reteams him with his “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
“Ender’s Game” will also get a Hall H airing — the Nov. 1 sci-fi adaptation recently has been the subject of some controversy sparked by anti-gay marriage remarks made by novelist Orson Scott Card — as will two smaller independent films, “Europa Report” and Terry Gilliam’s “Zero Theorem.” Those movies perhaps owe their main-stage appearances in part to the absence of two major studios.
Paramount will not attend Comic-Con, and Disney will have a reduced role, with only its Marvel movies making the trek. The latter studio has its own convention on the horizon, the biannual D23, which is set to take place Aug. 9-11 in Anaheim.
As for filmmakers who’ll be venturing to San Diego for the first time, Wong will be touting his latest, “The Grandmaster,” about the man who trained Bruce Lee, while director James Mangold will take the Hall H stage on Saturday to promote “The Wolverine,” which sees Hugh Jackman reprise his “X-Men” role in the Japan-set tale that opens July 26.
Speaking by phone from London this week, Mangold admitted he wasn’t entirely certain what to expect during Fox’s panel. When it was suggested that he might feel like a rock star were he to stand side by side with Jackman in front of cheering, adoring fans, Mangold chuckled.
“Or,” he said, “it will be like I’m standing next to a rock star.”
Times staff writer Noelene Clark contributed to this report.
– Gina McIntyre | @LATherocomplex
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