San Diego Comic-Con has once again come and gone, leaving us with a flurry of feelings and a lot of hotel restaurant bills for shrimp tacos. io9 was there to experience everything, giving you in-depth coverage on the ground and reporting on panels. There were plenty of highs, a few lows, and one thing that was so strange we’re not sure what to make of it!
This year of SDCC was kind of mixed. Marvel Studios and Star Trek delivered with big panels and even bigger news, while others like Watchmen and His Dark Materials fell short of getting audiences pumped for what’s to come. Then, there was that one trailer that, while not technically part of San Diego Comic-Con, ended up dominating the whole convention in a way that cannot be ignored. Whether that’s good or bad is, well, up to you.
Here are io9's winners and losers of Comic-Con 2019.
The Expanse Landed on New Ground
Passionate fans of The Expanse, who by all accounts played a big role in helping the show find a new home at Amazon Prime Video, were richly rewarded at this year’s Comic-Con. In 2018, the show had just been rescued from the cancellation pile, and it was way too soon to share anything about season four. But a year later, Amazon and The Expanse came through, dropping the first images in the lead-up to a teaser trailer and a clip, as well as the release date: December 13! While that’s still several months away, all the stunning new visuals as well as fun hints from the cast, showrunner, and writers about what’s to come provided ample assurance that the wait is going to be majorly worth it. - Cheryl Eddy
The Witcher looked...good??
Netflix’s The Witcher TV show has been on our minds for months, mostly because we weren’t sure what to make of it. After all, the first image teased a truly terrible wig on star Henry Cavill, one that’s almost become as ubiquitous to the franchise as the unicorn or bathtub. But we finally got the first trailer for The Witcher at San Diego Comic-Con…and it looks pretty badass. It’s dark and sexy. Cavill does all his own stunts. It’s got giant creepy spiders and a massive masquerade orgy. While the wig still doesn’t look perfect, the series has gotten our attention. Especially because, yes, season one will have a bathtub—a quintessential part of any Witcher adaptation. -Beth Elderkin
Horror Had a Hell of a Time
The biggest headlines belonged to Marvel and Star Trek, but horror fans who sought out Comic-Con’s darker corners also came away smiling. In addition to the news of two more Halloween movies coming in the rebooted continuity, the annual “ScareDiego” event turned its focus on It: Chapter Two, bringing out director Andy Muschietti and the adult Losers’ Club (including Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader) to share exclusive footage and behind-the-scenes tales. Guillermo del Toro headed up a fascinating Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark panel focusing on the practical special effects that will bring the iconic creatures—carefully modeled on the creepy drawings familiar to anyone who’s read the source material—to the big screen. TV series like Creepshow (coming to Shudder) and FX’s What We Do in the Shadows got lively panels that mixed star power with the macabre. Plus...Blade counts as horror, no? - Cheryl Eddy
Mahershala Ali and Natalie Portman’s surprise entrances
The whole Marvel Studios panel was one of the biggest highlights of Comic-Con but, frankly, almost all of the information was already out there. Almost. Marvel had several huge surprises up their sleeve including the return of Natalie Portman as Jane Foster who, in Thor: Love and Thunder, will finally take the mantle of the Mighty Thor. And then, pulling his best Steve Jobs, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige added “One More Thing,” which was the introduction of two0time Oscar-winner (and previous Marvel actor, albeit on Netflix) Mahershala Ali who will be playing the daywalking, vampire-killing Blade.
More than just being awesome surprises, decisions like these show that after 11 years, Marvel Studios is finally taking its considerable box office weight and using it for progressive, socially-conscious decisions, which seems to be a theme for everything the company announced at Comic-Con. And we’re here for it. -Germain Lussier
Star Trek going boldly
When I first realized CBS was going to combine most of its upcoming Star Trek projects into one panel I was a bit disappointed but when all was said and done, “Enter the Star Trek Universe” was a shining beacon of the con. Our first look at the animated Lower Decks was a delightful surprise and while we didn’t see or hear much on Discovery season three, the upcoming Short Treks look like a hell of a lot of fun with great guest stars.
The biggest highlight of all though was the Star Trek: Picard portion. James Whitbrook did an excellent breakdown of all we saw but it’s safe to say this one blew us away. That. Trailer. Was. Exhilarating. And hearing Patrick Stewart so enthused about returning to his iconic role was simply joyful. Plus, the little pop-up Picard museum was adorable! -Jill Pantozzi
Estelle and Rebecca Sugar’s joy
Steven Universe panels are always an exercise in agony and ecstasy because you can feel how much the cast and crew onstage want to share the amazing thing they’ve been working on with the thousands of rabid fans in the audience who want nothing more than to hear every last detail about what Steven and the gems are getting up to next. But the Crewniverse can only say so much, and fans usually only get just enough of a taste to leave them wanting more. This year’s panel was no exception, and because Steven’s next big adventure is a movie rather than a series of episodes, folks were treated to a more traditional trailer instead of straight-up footage.
Though the trailer is definitely packed with excitement, what really stood out about it was “True Kinda Love,” the new song sung by Estelle and Zach Callison, that came along with it and was immediately available for streaming. The moment the trailer finished playing, you could already hear people humming the melody and half-glancing at their phones in search of its lyrics, because it’s a legitimate bop of a song, but before anyone had a chance to really let it sink in, Estelle and Rebecca Sugar figured they might as well perform the song live for everyone. Glimpses of an upcoming movie are great and all, but seeing Estelle and Sugar singing in front of you? That’s just gold. -Charles Pulliam-Moore
Game of Thrones’ battle
Before the doors opened at Comic-Con 2019, Game of Thrones was off to a rocky start. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss dropped out of their Hall H panel for “production and scheduling conflicts” and then, on the panel itself, star Conleth Hill offhandedly accused the media of having it in for the show while the cast took exactly zero questions from the audience in a panel that was specifically billed as a Q&A.
Look, yes, there is some hate for the final episodes of Game of Thrones, but isn’t it better to address it head-on instead of run away from it? Even if the cast and crew aren’t doing that, it sure felt like it. Even Seth Rogen pointed out the error of their ways on the Preacher panel following Thrones. -Germain Lussier
Watchmen...watching and waiting
Despite the fact that Watchmen is one of the shows HBO’s banking on drawing audiences to the network (and the new HBO Max service) in the post-Game of Thrones era, the series had a surprisingly lackluster presence at Comic-Con this year. While the newest trailer looks absolutely fantastic, none of the cast and crew paneled, and the only real Watchmen presence at the event was a strange activation, with long lines, that easily could have been mistaken for an automated bathroom. You could look at the show’s lack of a presence as HBO attempting to make some sort of commentary about the celebration of consumerism that Comic-Con technically is, but that’s a rather hollow argument given that the series was still in on the game (in a small capacity), tweeting at fans furiously all weekend, and its very existence makes it part of the machine it would have been critiquing.-Charles Pulliam-Moore
Comic-Con’s big anniversary
San Diego Comic-Con celebrated its 50th anniversary with more of a whimper than a bang. Apart from a retro-style logo and a few lesser-attended panels about previous decades of SDCC, there was very little fanfare about what should be a major milestone for the comic convention. It was especially disappointing because this was supposed to be the year to get fans excited about the Comic-Con Museum. The museum, which is still in early development, had a paltry presence on the show floor. Most of their promotions were offsite in Balboa Park, which is way too far for most con attendees to get to. We wanted 2019 to feel like a celebration of something extraordinary, but instead, it felt like just another year. -Beth Elderkin
Arrow went out with a whimper
The cornerstone of the CW’s revitalized superseries, Arrow, is set to end its run this year so we expected them to go big at SDCC. Instead...they brought out Legends of Tomorrow’s Brandon Routh who stole their spotlight (even if it was for a very cool reason!). Considering where they usually are in production by this time of year, the CW shows don’t have a ton of new footage to show off so the final Arrow teaser we got was pretty lackluster too. The other big missing piece was recently exited star Emily Bett Rickards. Though she left at the end of last season, it felt wrong for her not to be there for the sendoff.
Much like a surly cat who truly doesn’t give two shits what you thought you were meant to be paying attention to, the first trailer for Tom Hopper’s live-action Cats dropped a day early in the midst of San Diego Comic-Con last week, prompting everyone to stop what they were doing and take a look. By now, you’ve seen the memes and gotten the general sense that most people were bemusedly alarmed by their first looks at Jennifer Hudson, Dame Judy Dench, and Jason Derulo as anthropomorphic cats.
Cats was a polarizing musical long before someone decided to cast Bombalurina, and so in a way, the intensely negative reactions that poured out online in the wake of the first trailer were fitting. Here’s the thing: it’s Cats. Cats has always been kind of weird and uncomfortable—it’s the reason why some folks bristle when others mention it as being one of their favorite musicals. Cats wouldn’t be Cats if it didn’t look like it crawled out of the uncanny nexus between furrydom and interactive theater, and like it or not, there’s no chance in hell the studio’s going to try to change much about the movie at this point.-Charles Pulliam-Moore
For more, make sure you’re following us on our new Instagram @io9dotcom.