Twenty Movie Panels to See at Comic-Con 2013

Editor’s Note: this is the first of three consecutive Daily Lists to break down the San Diego Comic Con schedule for you. Today: movies. Tomorrow: TV. Thursday: comics. Yes, they still have those. -LYT


With subjects ranging from location scouting to Leonard Maltin, and varying in tone from Superman’s 75th anniversary to Spike & Mike’s animation fest, the movie-related panels at this year’s Comic-Con seem almost infinitely varied. The list below represents only a small portion of the movie events likely to raise the pulse and stir the soul of any red-blooded geek.

Dates, times and locations are not listed here; check the schedule for such specifics.

1. An Unofficial Sneak Peek of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug with


The gang at the Tolkien site, known as TORn for short, spend some time indulging in “[r]umors, spy reports, conjecture, inside info, debunking, and lively debate” about the next installment of the trilogy. Sounds like fun, but of course the most fanatically geeky Tolkien completists will have already attended a panel earlier that day…

2. Spotlight on Gene Deitch


If only because he was the creator of the Tom Terrific shorts for Captain Kangaroo, it would be right and proper to pay homage to the redoubtable Deitch. But not everyone knows that Deitch was the director of the first film version of The Hobbit, back in 1966, a twelve-minute compression, hastily made so that producer William Snyder could retain (and resell) the rights to the book. Despite the liberties taken with the yarn – Smaug is called “Slag,” for instance – it’s worth watching; it has a cool Jay Ward/William Steig look to it.

3. The Zero Theorem


Any new work from the brilliant if erratic Terry Gilliam is likely to be worth a peek, and a peek is what’s being offered of Gilliam’s upcoming film, from a script by Pat Rushin, about a computer scientist (Christoph Waltz) probing…nothing ambitious or anything, just the meaning of existence. Producers Zev Foreman and Dean Zanuck preview the Voltage Pictures release, along with Terry’s daughter Amy Gilliam.

4. Ender’s Game


It’s no surprise that Orson Scott Card isn’t scheduled to participate in the July 18 panel for the upcoming film of his popular 1977 novel, sort of a Starship Troopers for the nascent video-game generation. Card is a controversial figure; a staunch opponent of gay marriage (and, it seems, of being gay in general), he’s also been accused of basing his central character Ender Wiggin, a young military prodigy during a war between Earth and a race of insect invaders, on Adolf Hitler. The panel is slated to include the likes of producer Roberto Orci – who says he didn’t know about Card’s attitudes when he set out to make the movie – director/screenwriter Gavin Hood, and stars Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld and Asa Butterfield, all of whom are probably really hoping that none of this crap comes up. And probably in vain.

5. The Anatomy of Superhero Film Music: Bringing a Comic Book to Life


Since the days of “Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-NA! BATMAN!” or “Spiderman, Spiderman/Does whatever a spider can…” or the use of Rimsky-Korsakov’s wonderfully public domain “Flight of the Bumblebee” for The Green Hornet, superhero theme music has come a long way. Or so suggests this panel, anyway. Creating a superheroic score for the modern moviegoer is discussed by both composers and directors, among them Marco Beltrami and James Mangold of The Wolverine, Brian Tyler and Shane Black of Iron Man 3, and Henry “I’m not Hugh” Jackman and Matthew Vaughn of X-Men: First Class, among others.

6. Dreamworks Animation Filmmaker Focus


The studio’s racing-snail saga Turbo will already be in the multiplexes by the date of this panel. But that won’t stop director David Soren from talking it up. Also scheduled are Rob Minkoff and Dean DeBlois, to talk about Mr. Peabody & Sherman and How to Train Your Dragon 2, respectively.

7. Video Games to Movies: Is the Golden Age Upon Us?


The rhetorical question in the title raises the further question of whether, in the era after Pirates of the Caribbean and The Country Bears, we’ve missed acknowledging the Golden Age of Theme Park Attractions to Movies. A pity if so, but it would be surprising if this panel, which includes writer-director Kevin Tancharoen of the rebooted Mortal Kombat franchise, Adrian Askarieh of the Hitman and Kane & Lynch film projects and screenwriter C. Robert Cargill of the Deus Ex movie, didn’t conclude that yes, at least from their point of view, the Golden Age of Video Games to Movies is indeed about to be upon us.

8. The World’s End


It’s a decent bet that any collaboration between stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame will at least be good for a few laughs. Their newest concerns an alien invasion that occurs, inconveniently, in the midst of a pub crawl, which, coincidentally, is exactly what native San Diegans think is happening every July. Wright, Pegg and Frost are slated to appear at the panel.

9. Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!


Despite compelling calls on this very site for the end of the vogue for zombies, Comic-Con’s schedule suggests that reports of the subgenre’s demise, like reports of the demises of zombies themselves, may be premature. Day One offers Zombies in Pop Culture at 7 p.m., with author Max Brooks of The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z, among other mavens of the undead. Just an hour later that same evening, you can check out, no kidding, “Not Guilty Due to Zombification? Law and Forensic Psychiatry in a Zombie Apocalypse,” featuring the mock trial of former zombies who have been cured, now facing charges for their actions while dead. It could be a ratings bonanza for TruTV.

10. Veronica Mars


It’s a touching, heartwarming story: passionate supporters unite and, via Kickstarter, supply that struggling little indie house Warner Bros. with the necessary start-up funding for a movie version of the UPN’s Nancy Drew-meets-noir-style series (2004-2007). It could, perhaps, be seen as the online generation’s version of the fan-letter campaign that salvaged the original Star Trek for a third season back in the late ’60s. Scheduled to be present at the Mars panel are creator Rob Thomas and stars Kristen Bell, Enrico Colantoni, Ryan Hansen, Jason Dohring, Tina Majorino, Francis Capra, Percy Daggs III and others, along with a look at some footage and maybe some hint as to whether it was money well donated.

11. Kick-Ass 2 and Riddick


Unnamed on the schedule, at this writing, are which specific cast members and filmmakers are slated to be on hand to talk Kick-Ass 2 at Universal’s panel. Unlikely to be among them, it seems, is Jim Carrey, who has disavowed the film, post-Sandy Hook, over its violence. The space opera Riddick isn’t shy about naming its panelists: star Vin Diesel is scheduled to talk it up, basso profundo, along with castmates Katee Sackhoff and Dave Bautista (who’s also in Guardians of the Galaxy, so he could show up again), and writer-director David Twohy.

12. Warner Archive Collection presents Attack of the Killer Bs


The Frozen Dead, The Green Slime and at least two disembodied-hand movies, The Beast with Five Fingers and Oliver Stone’s The Hand, will be among the many Warner Archives releases discussed by this panel, which is scheduled to include none other than Leonard Maltin. For many of us wheezing oldsters, movies of this kind and of these vintages are the very reason for horror-sci-fi-fantasy fandom.

13. Sony & Screen Gems


Star Andrew Garfield is scheduled to be present for a tease of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, along with costars Jamie Foxx (Electro) and Dane DeHaan (Harry Osborn), producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, and the director whose name just doesn’t get old, Marc Webb. Other previews include Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, with voice talent Anna Faris and Terry Crews and directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn scheduled, The Mortal Instrument: City of Bones with director Harald Zwart, star Lily Collins and author Cassandra Clare, among others, and the RoboCop remake with stars Joel Kinnaman, Abbie Cornish and Samuel L. Jackson and director Jose Padhila. Somebody tell Jackson that they’re tired of these motherfucking remakes…we’re sure the joke hasn’t gotten old to him yet.

14. Europa Report


The story a mission to one of Jupiter’s icy moons in search of extraterrestrial life, Sebasti?n Cordero’s highly-anticipated found-footage thriller reportedly is, in a sense, a sort of Destination Moon for the 21st-Century: an honest attempt at a hard-science sci-fi movie. Accordingly, the Comic-Con panel includes, along with director Cordero, producer Ben Browning and actress Karolina Wydra, such actual cosmos-minded scientists as Steve Vance, Kevin Hand, and the moderator, astronomer Dr. Phil Platt, who will offer their take on how the flick acquits itself from a scientific point of view.

15. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire


Just a few months after accepting an Oscar – in the sort of princessy dress one wears when one is pretty sure one’s going to win an Oscar – Jennifer Lawrence may descend in all her bow-wielding glory upon San Diego. Reportedly at least some of the cast will be present for the July 20 panel on Lionsgate’s second entry in the teenagers-killing-each-other dystopian franchise. Whoever is present, panel-goers are advised against wearing apples on their heads. Lionsgate has also announced that they’ll grant a peek at this panel at next year’s Australian-made fantasy I, Frankenstein, starring Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy and Miranda Otto. It’s an adaptation, from director Stewart Beattie, of Kevin Grevioux’s graphic novel about Mary Shelley’s Miltonic man-made monster and his involvement in an ongoing war between gargoyles and demons. The difference between those two factions must be like a Balkan enmity: unbridgeable from within, hair-splitting from without.

16. Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment: Superman’s 75th Anniversary Celebration


You’d think it would be held in Metropolis, not San Diego. Guests on the panel include TV’s original Jimmy Olsen Jack Larson, Tim Daly from Superman: The Animated Series and Molly Quinn, the voice of Supergirl from Superman: Unbound, among other authorities on matters Kryptonian.

17. Marvel Studios: Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier


The titles of these upcoming offerings don’t sound especially cheery, do they? Marvel honcho Kevin Feige, among others TBA, will be on hand to explain why you should be excited about them. And if you Stop Worrying and Love the Panel, Feige may reward you with some Dr. Strange, love.

18. Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures Preview Their Upcoming Lineups


It’s unclear from the posted schedule at this writing which, if any, of the stars and filmmakers will be present to plug these releases, and considering Legendary is rumored to be splitting from WB any day now, things could be tense behind the scenes. But there are some intriguing projects, including another reboot of Godzilla with a cast that includes, get this, Juliette Binoche and Elizabeth Olsen. It’s suggested that this one pits The Big Guy against other monsters in humanity’s defense. Also from Legendary is Seventh Son, a fantasy adventure with Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore and Ben Barnes. The previews from Warner include Alfonso Cuaron’s 3-D space thriller Gravity – which sounds like a variation on Ray Bradbury’s short story “Kaleidoscope” – 300: Rise of an Empire, and The LEGO Movie, a computer-animated adventure featuring an all-star voice cast ranging from Chris Pratt to Will Ferrell to Elizabeth Banks to Liam Neeson to Morgan Freeman.

19. At the Drive-In With Metallica


The title band is slated to appear at this preview of Metallica Through the Never, their upcoming IMAX 3D concert movie. Also scheduled are director Nimrod Antal and Dane DeHaan, who stars in this mix of narrative and concert footage, as a roadie on an epic and perilous urban errand. The likeliest bet: He’s been sent to a supermarket for a bag of prunes.

20. ComiKev 2013: Kevin Smith Uses His Mouth on You


The Clerks auteur takes the stage, as has become traditional at Comic-Con, on Saturday evening starting at 7:15 p.m. The posted schedule notes that this event, devoted to “a middle-aged man who hasn’t made a flick in years,” happens “[a]fter all the interesting and exciting movie panels are over.” So this would seem to be an appropriate point at which to end this list.