Marvel, DC, and More at SDCC 2016

Note: This article was originally written in July, and a number of the movies referenced have since been released. The author’s views may have been subject to change with the surfacing of new information.

San Diego Comic-Con 2016: July 20th-July 24th

Another summer has come and gone, and with it another Comic Convention in San Diego. This year’s convention was full of laughs, goofs, and spoofs, as well as plenty of news and trailers for upcoming movies.

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DC:

First, there’s the new Suicide Squad (2016) trailer. We got better looks at the characters, as well as the first look at the actual story they’re going to be part of. There seems to be some kind of magic-y goings-on. They seem to be keeping the plot a surprise, in stark contrast to Batman v Superman (2016), the trailers for which spoiled pretty much the entire movie. The way it looks now, Suicide Squad is shaping up to be a must-see.

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Next on the bill for DC is one of their biggest names, who’s never gotten her own mainstream blockbuster until now: Wonder Woman! The trailer for the 2017 follow-up to her appearance in Batman v Superman gives us a peek at Diana’s character, who we’ve so far only glimpsed through the eyes of Bruce Wayne. Much like Captain America: the First Avenger (2011), this is going to be a period piece set during a World War, but  this time during the less popular of the two (the Terminator to FDR’s T2: Judgement Day, if you follow my meaning).

The trailer, alongside that of Justice League (2017), highlights one important change compared to BvS compared and the latter DC Cinematic Universe: there’s humor in them. One of BvS’ greater flaws was that it was utterly devoid of comic relief, something that actually makes the characters less engaging and therefore the drama less interesting. Fortunately, it looks like both Wonder Woman (2017) and Justice League feature a decent amount of quips and jokes, not too much that they’ll look silly *coughBatmanandRobincough* but not so little that they’ll feel grittier than ultra-fine sandpaper.

As the first entry in the current trend of comic book movies to star a female lead, Wonder Woman is especially facing pressure to succeed. Fortunately, thanks to some new talent at the studio (including author and creative director at DC Geoff Johns) taking control, Wonder Woman could well be the saving grace of the DCCU.

Speaking of the new Justice League trailer, quite a lot of my comments about it are shared with Wonder Woman, so this one will be quick. Batfleck looks as good as, if not better than, he did in BvS. He showcases good chemistry with Wonder Woman in this trailer, which mainly focuses on him trying to make friends, by almost killing a teenager and taunting Khal Drogo. Again, there’s a good amount of entertaining dialogue. Bruce and Diana’s relationship looks like it’ll be at the forefront (of Part One at least) and be rich with enjoyable banter. Aquaman continues to look awesome, unlike the campy, Silver Age-y Aquaman most of us are familiar with. As it stands, I can’t say for certain whether this will be the best superhero ensemble movie of 2018, but I have hope for a movie that will blow Dawn of Justice out of the water. Please, Geoff, let this be good.

Not content with setting up only one cinematic Batman universe, DC and WB animations are brewing up a sequel to 2014’s LEGO Movie, to star Will Arnett reprising his role as Batman. The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) also features Michael Cera as Robin, a very Silver Age-inspired Dick Grayson that one would be forgiven for thinking was Carrie Kelley. Following up such a surprising hit as the LEGO Movie won’t be easy, but the writers seem to be giving it their all in terms of clever jokes about the subject matter. Only time will tell whether this sequel is a Dark Knight (2008) or a Batman and Robin (1997), but much like the rest of DC’s lineup, things are looking hopeful.

 

Marvel:

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At this point, I’m sure most of you are thinking “alright, enough about DC already! Let’s get to the comic book movies that have proved they’re worth watching!” Marvel Studios unveiled both a slick new logo and a new trailer for Doctor Strange (2016) starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Giving us a better look at the characters and the visuals–which both look amazing–it only confirms that everyone will be going to see this movie. We’ve gotten some great memorable moments, including everyone’s new wifi password (next time someone doesn’t give your their password, try “shamballa”. You’re welcome.) but not so many that the whole film is spoiled by the trailer (looking at you, Dawn of Justice) Once again balancing action, theming, and humor, the new Doctor Strange trailer is one I’m looking forward to seeing before every action movie for the next few months.

Marvel revealed news for some of their other upcoming films as well, but more trailers have yet to be released. Captain Marvel (2019) is going to star Brie Larson, of last year’s Oscar-winning Room (2015), as the title character. This will mark Marvel’s first female-led blockbuster, and will follow her appearance in Avengers: Infinity War (2018). Several cast members were announced for Black Panther, including 12 Years a Slave (2013) star Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan, whose previous superhero work shall remain unmentioned.

Also revealed in the MCU were cast members for Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), the film set to prove that Sony can play nice with their IPs if they’re desperate enough. Michael Keaton, of Batman (1989) and Birdman (2014), will be playing the Vulture, the film’s antagonist. Perhaps the most exciting news is the announcement of Childish Gambino himself, Donald Glover, joining the cast. While this is a great casting choice, it’s also an interesting choice based on Glover’s history with the character. Way back in the day when the last time Spidey got rebooted, there was a rumor that he was to play the web slinger, the first black actor in comics or film to adopt the identity.

Naturally, this ended up being false and we got Andrew Garfield, who was pretty good (though not good enough to save the series). However, the push for a black Spidey inspired Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli to create one–Miles Morales of the Ultimate universe, which the MCU is now primarily based upon. Glover even voiced him in one of the cartoons. Whether this means we’ll get a meta joke of a character or a full-on Miles Morales Spider-Man has yet to be determined, but my hopes are high, as yours should be.

 

Miscellaneous:

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Did you know that sometimes movies aren’t based on comic books? I know, I didn’t either. But sometimes they’re original. Or in this case, based on a movie (which raises the question of why it’s at Comic Con, but I digress). Kong: Skull Island (2017) got its first trailer at SDCC, and so far it looks amazing. Kong is back, and bigger than ever (even accounting for the last time he fought Godzilla). The trailer built up both his power and size, culminating in a shot showing off just how huge he really is against a fleet of helicopters. This Kong won’t be climbing the Empire State Building. He’ll be picking it up and smashing it into some other monster’s face. The star-studded cast includes Samuel L Jackson, Brie Larson (I got to write about her twice!), Tom Hiddleston, and John Goodman. With a sequel already on the way, featuring a rematch with Godzilla, one can only hope Kong: Skull Island will be a kaiju-sized hit.

San Diego Comic Con has given us plenty of reasons to look forward to the future, including many we just couldn’t fit into this article. The future of movies and comics is looking bright, especially with more news from New York’s Comic Con coming next month. We’ll keep you updated on all the juicy details, so make sure to pick up November’s issue.

For more info on upcoming superhero films, click here.