Don’t expect the Avengers to reassemble in Hall H at Comic-Con International in July.
The official word from Marvel Studios is that their team will sit out the Hollywood previews in the 6,000-seat hall, where fans, bloggers and journalists from around the world come to see filmmakers and stars introduce and promote their upcoming spectacle movies.
Last year, Marvel delivered a thunderclap moment by lining up the cast of “The Avengers” on stage — it was a surprise parade of stars that included Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans as well as director Joss Whedon. But with that movie now filming in New Mexico, the studio leaders decided that, as far as Hall H goes, it wasn’t prepared to compete with its own past and wild fan expectations.
“Go big or stay home,” is how one Marvel insider put it, and that logic is seemingly embraced by rival Warner Bros. with “Man of Steel,” the 2012 feature-film revival of Superman that is conspicuously absent (at least at this point) from the Hall H program. “The Dark Knight Rises,” Warner’s follow-up to its billion-dollar Batman film in 2009, is also M.I.A., but Gotham City filmmaker Christopher Nolan has never set foot in Hall H so this latest absence may add to his mystique, but it won’t shock anyone. The sci-fi epic “John Carter” is also a notable absentee in Hall H, but Disney is holding it back for a very specific reason — it will be a centerpiece (along with “The Lone Ranger“) at August’s D23 Expo, the Anaheim event that is being constructed as a Disney-dedicated rival convention.
Considering its corporate parentage, Marvel Studios might well be part of that D23 program in a big way too. The leadership at Marvel Studios is also quick to point out that sitting out Hall H is not synonymous with sitting out Comic-Con, which runs July 21-24; the studio will have a major presence on the convention showroom floor (one Marvel source cryptically said that the booth plan will be as attention-grabbing as last year’s Hall H panel), and there’s talk of a promotional event beyond the walls of the San Diego Convention Center, which might suggest a “Captain America: The First Avenger” promotion, premiere or special screenings.
Even without Marvel Studios, the Marvel universe will still be represented in Hall H — Sony’s Columbia Pictures will use Hall H to introduce next year’s Spider-Man revival and its cast, led by Andrew Garfield. (Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and Daredevil are prominent characters from the pages of Marvel Comics that were licensed for use by other Hollywood powers before Marvel Studios arrived on the scene with “Iron Man” in 2009.)
“Captain America: The First Avenger” opens nationwide July 22 as the second Marvel Studios release this year, joining “Thor.” If Marvel does stage a major off-site Comic-Con event for the film, it would join the previously announced “Cowboys & Aliens” premiere in San Diego and the growing D23 as signposts for a new Comic-Con trend — Hollywood’s search for a singular spotlight that keeps that special Comic-Con energy but shines beyond the shared stage in Hall H.
— Geoff Boucher
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