Comic-Con 2014 Preview: ‘Avengers,’ ‘Hobbit’ and more take over San Diego

Thousands gather to look at the latest in video games and comics, October 12, 2012 at the NY Comic Con held at Jarvis Center. Jose Rosado, 29, takes a photo of a character from "Gears Of War 2" on sale at the Gear exhibit. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Thousands gather to look at the latest in video games and comics, October 12, 2012 at the NY Comic Con held at Jarvis Center. Jose Rosado, 29, takes a photo of a character from “Gears Of War 2″ on sale at the Gear exhibit. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

The year’s biggest pop culture gathering, Comic-Con International, is taking place July 23-27 in San Diego. As the biggest names in Hollywood and the comic book industry descend upon the Gaslamp Quarter along with over 130,000 attendees, this annual four-day Mecca for passionate fans of the popular arts promises to bring huge surprise announcements for the most anticipated upcoming film and television events.

Kicking off Thursday’s festivities in Ballroom 20, the San Diego Convention Center’s second biggest presentation room that is traditionally reserved for television shows, is a panel nobody thought would happen. After being unceremoniously canceled by NBC, “Community” was revived by online juggernaut Yahoo! in an eleventh-hour surprise. The show’s panel this year, originally planned as a postmortem for the series, will likely contain even more surprises as the show makes its unlikely transition to the web.

Shows that are unlikely to be canceled any time soon, such as Comic-Con mainstays “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones,” will also be revealing new information about their upcoming seasons during their panels.

With the former set to reveal details of a spinoff series and the latter on the verge of revealing new cast members for the fifth season, both panels will likely be full of new information. Luckily for attendees (who can get in), the panels are back-to-back in the same room.

On the film side, there is no telling what surprises are in store for those who make the decision to wait for hours in line to get into Hall H, the Con’s biggest room. Paramount, 20th Century Fox, and Legendary all have panels scheduled this weekend with no description of what they will be bringing to the event. Studios rarely come to the event without big things to share; huge reveals in years past include the unexpected announcement of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and the unveiling of the full cast of “The Avengers.”

Therefore, do not be surprised if hotly anticipated films such as the reboots of “Terminator” and “Fantastic Four” have never before seen footage revealed at the event. Also not included in the program guide but likely to make an appearance is the future of Warner Brothers’ plans for the DC Universe. After revealing the existence of Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” sequel last year, expect to hear more on the future of the DC Universe.

If WB decides to keep mum about their upcoming superhero slate (which is unlikely), they will surely be making waves by showcasing footage of “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies,” as well as the revival of George Miller’s “Mad Max” and the upcoming Wachowski siblings’ sci-fi epic “Jupiter Ascending.”

Thousands gather to look at the latest in video games and comics, October 12, 2012 at the NY Comic Con held at Jarvis Center. Angela Clayton, of Long Island, spent months making her costume for the event. Her Napoleon character comes from Eiyuu Senki, a video game. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Thousands gather to look at the latest in video games and comics, October 12, 2012 at the NY Comic Con held at Jarvis Center. Angela Clayton, of Long Island, spent months making her costume for the event. Her Napoleon character comes from Eiyuu Senki, a video game. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Those presentations are bound to impress the more than 6,000 people who can fit into the gigantic auditorium, but will likely pale in comparison to the pièce de résistance, the Marvel Studios panel. Last week, Marvel announced release dates through the year 2019, so it is all but a given that more will be divulged about at least one of these five unannounced superhero films. Also on tap are the upcoming “Ant-Man” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which actor Mark Ruffalo leaked would feature an appearance by the entire cast during its presentation on Saturday night.

If this sounds like a lot, it is only a fraction of what this year’s Con has to offer. As it is every year, Comic-Con promises to provide sensory overload across every nook and cranny of downtown San Diego. While movies and television are the big tickets, anyone with an interest in video games, comic books, literature or anything that falls under the broad category of the popular arts should keep their eyes and ears open for breaking news this weekend.

 

Reach the reporter at zheltzel@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @zachheltzel