Comic-Con: has corporate marketing killed good, honest fandom?

14 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bernie Sanders Fanatics Invade Comic-Con, Try to Drown Out Christian Radicals.

A few days ago, when the Star Wars braintrust announced they were developing a movie about the young adventures of Han Solo, my colleague Mike Ryan tweeted, “What makes Han Solo work is that he is played by an actor who thinks Star Wars is stupid.” Ryan meant that as a note for the filmmakers who already have the tall order of casting a young Han Solo, but it was a reminder of something that true fans have known for decades: Even though the space-set franchise made him famous, Harrison Ford has never really given two shits about Star Wars. After three days of nonstop panels at San Diego’s waterfront convention center, five movies distinguished themselves as the clear winners of Comic-Con 2015. 1.Amid the A-list movie stars and cosplayers were many supporters of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders—and they stood in stark contrast to the strident Christian activists.SAN DIEGO — For now, it may be just a hobby, but for the costumed fans at the Comic-Con pop culture expo this past weekend, dressing up can be a first step toward an entertainment career.Like a power-hungry supervillain, Hollywood long ago conquered Comic-Con International, turning what was once a local meet-up for San Diego’s comic book cognoscenti into a full-on marketing blitz for big-budget sci-fi, fantasy and superhero movies.

Sifting through the hype the day after the proceedings, The Hollywood Reporter tallied up the biggest beneficiaries of the Hall H crowd: While no new trailer was shown, Harrison Ford’s first public appearance had the crowd on their feet. When over 130,000 souls descended upon Comic-Con over the weekend in San Diego in search of Batman, Superman, and Han Solo, they were greeted by an unlikely face: Bernie Sanders. While some big-name studios sat out this year’s convention, including Marvel, Paramount and Sony, others were happy to fill the void with capes, lightsabers and the Murricane himself. The behind-the-scenes featurette had plenty of clips to pore over (including a flamethrower-wielding Stormtrooper), but the never-been-done-before kicker was having the entire Hall H, more than 6,500 people, file out to a nearby park for a surprise free Star Wars music concert by the San Diego Symphony where everyone walked away with a glowing lightsaber. Each day of the four-day pop culture confab, congoers trudging across the train tracks separating downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp district from the massive Convention Center passed by Sanders himself—well, in the form of a cardboard cut-out. “I’m sure he would love Comic-Con.

Thousands of fans, and some celebrities, too, elaborately disguise themselves as their favorite characters from comic books, movies, TV, video games and anime. What did he have against Han? “He was not so interesting to me,” Ford would explain in one interview, adding in another, “He’s certainly a much less interesting character than Indiana Jones,” before concluding, “He’s dumb as a stump.” Message received! Ryan Reynolds got superhero redemption with the definitely R-rated reel of Deadpool, perhaps the best received film trailer at the Con for its mix of humor, foul-mouthed attitude and cool action. He likes being with people,” said Mike Thaller, a member of the local San Diego For Bernie Sanders 2016. “And where else can you meet 130,000 people at once but Comic-Con?

According to data compiled by ListenFirstMedia, Batman v Superman had the most overall activity on social media platforms, nearly doubling Comic-Con runner-up The Walking Dead. (Game of Thrones did not release a trailer or feature during its panel, but HBO did put out an audition video. Bill Murray made his Comic-Con debut in memorable fashion Thursday, taking the stage to promote his upcoming music-themed comedy “Rock the Kasbah” in a character-appropriate outfit of aviator shades, floral-print bandanna and wide-collared shirt. The film stars Ryan Reynolds as Marvel’s Merc with a Mouth, and oh was he mouthy in what is sure to be a red-band trailer, slated to be released to the general public in three weeks. Cardboard Bernie was flanked by a small but passionate group of stumpers preaching the Bernie gospel to anyone who would listen, including a Princess Leia cosplayer.

Celebrities can enjoy the festival in anonymity by wearing a mask like so many other fans — just like Daniel Radcliffe did when he secretly dressed as Spider-Man last year. Murray, who plays a washed-up rock tour manager stranded in Afghanistan, had the convention crowd eating ouf of the palm of his hand as he discussed such diverse subjects as his breakfast (bagels and tequila), his experience shooting “Kasbah” in Morocco, the Confederate flag controversy, his famous role in “Ghostbusters” and Miley Cyrus. Abrams–directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that didn’t necessarily augur a new affection for the franchise: After all, Ford is at the stage of his career where he’s appearing in Expendables sequels and Blake Lively movies. Reynolds called the film (and its R-rating) “a miracle.” And director Tim Miller said he was shocked at how much freedom the studio gave him. “They didn’t question anything we did even though they should have.” Judging by the Comic-Con audience’s feverish response, it’s safe to say Fox doesn’t have much to worry about. 2.

Kermit and company were the talk of the Con following a panel that featured producers, “muppeteers” and their counterparts previewing both the Bill Prady comedy as well as Miss Piggy’s show within the show. To connect with the geek masses, they even created a poster of Sanders as Doc Brown from Back to the Future, whom he resembles so closely many a meme has been wrought from the likeness.

Six years ago, Ryan Reynolds’ portrayal of the comic book antihero Deadpool in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” left many fans with a bad taste in their mouths. Which is why it was such a surprise yesterday when Ford was the final guest to take the stage at Comic-Con’s big Force Awakens panel, and instead of seeming ill at ease or like he’d rather be anywhere else, Ford spoke movingly about his participation in Star Wars and seemed to have turned a significant corner in his appreciation for it. “It should have felt ridiculous!” Ford barked, when asked about returning to the franchise. “Here I was, doing something I did so long ago.” I could feel the fans around me steeling themselves.

Alas, the group left Doc Bernie at home and attempted to capture the zeitgeist with a Mad Max-themed Bernie graphic. “It didn’t go over that well,” Thaller sighed. The judges are Hollywood and Broadway professionals, and many entrants are entertainment hopefuls. “I would love to make a career out of this,” said self-taught artist Jose Davalos, 20, who traveled from Jalisco, Mexico, to show off his “Hades from Disney’s ‘Hercules'” costume, which featured a screen-worthy, hand-sculpted silicone mask. They did however issue 1,500 Bernie stickers and posters along with Sanders’ 12-point plan—although it’s worth noting that anyone will take just about anything handed to them while slogging through the crowds at Comic-Con. Costume designer Joe Kucharski, who moderated a Costume Designers Guild panel and served as a judge of the Masquerade Ball, said the event is a realistic showcase for emerging artists. Reynolds finally got some redemption at Comic-Con on Saturday when he unveiled a violent, profane teaser video for “Deadpool,” the spinoff movie that will return the character to his familiar roots.

Costume design pros say the skills cosplayers need to create their characters are often the same ones professionals use to help make TV and film characters come to life. “A lot of things that people are doing at Comic-Con are actually what’s being done professionally,” said Jared Marantz, who helped create the superhero suits for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” ”People here are making fake armor out of foam. Abrams-produced drama at the end of his Person of Interest panel as the footage dazzled the crowd and quickly made the series, which doesn’t debut until 2016, one of next year’s most anticipated panels. (At press time, the unreleased footage had yet to leak online.) Warcraft, Legendary’s adaptation based on the popular video game, has been coming to the Con in some form since 2013 and the response has always been a collective shrug. Well, professionals do that all the time.” Scooti Harper, who hand-stitched every stripe on her Victorian corset-and-bustle gown, said she hopes to become “a seamstress in the costume industry.” “That’s the ultimate goal for me,” said the 26-year-old, who belonged to the “Women of the Haunted Mansion” ensemble that won best in show at the ball.

This year was no different, with the response to the footage being, “It would make a nice video game.” While their film counterparts skipped the confab this year, ABC pushed out Agent Carter and Agents of SHIELD with a ho-hum session moderated by exec producer Jeph Loeb. And I was proud and grateful to once again be involved.” The panel also featured an appearance by a trio of new villains, a demonstration of remarkable puppetry, and a three-minute behind-the-scenes video. But sooner or later we’ll get him.” Meanwhile, the contingent of Christian activists that descend on Comic-Con with signs and bullhorns every year to save the geeks seemed bigger than usual.

The Masquerade is also a place for aspiring directors: Katie Forman, 29, who conceived of and directed the winning sketch, said she was driven by the performance aspect of the event and brought friends talented in fashion on board. A&E took note with a savvy viral stunt, sending its own army of Satanic proselytizers into the Gaslamp armed with signs promoting the upcoming antichrist series Damien. A notorious cinephile, Tarantino revealed that iconic composer Ennio Morricone (“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” “Once Upon a Time in the West”) will score “The Hateful Eight.” The filmmaker also reaffirmed his commitment to the use of traditional film in an increasingly digital world.

With Marvel Studios nowhere to be found, this year’s Comic-Con didn’t feature a direct showdown between the Disney-owned blockbuster factory and crosstown rival Warner Bros., which is ramping up its own cinematic universe based on DC Comics characters. At one point in Hall H, Hamill brought up the chemistry between Luke and Leia, which began as an almost-romantic connection before the two discovered they were siblings and Leia ended up with Han. “When you find that the only woman you fell head over heels for is your sister, it tells you something,” laughed Hamill. “That must have been quite the traumatic experience, you know, because we were both after her.” He gestured to Ford, who responded by reaching over and rubbing Hamill’s shoulder as consolation. “How many times do I have to say I’m sorry?” said Ford, bringing the house down. And while you might have expected the unreformed Ford to hop on a plane immediately at the conclusion of his Comic-Con panel, the newly evangelized Star Wars fan actually stuck around, accompanying his cast to a concert of John Williams music from the franchise a few hours later. From flame, Damien will rise!” Richard, a stoic octogenarian from South Dakota with the yellow sign-bearers—LA-based Bible Distribution League—was holding down the most heavily trafficked post in the crossing when I approached him Sunday. “It shows this world is coming to an end real fast,” he said of Damien and its Comic-Con street team. “It’ll be fire and brimstone. Trailers for the two DC-based movies (both of which are due next year) indicated a much darker, grittier tone than anything seen so far in Marvel’s own offerings (“Iron Man,” “Captain America,” “The Avengers”).

X-Men: Apocalypse: Bryan Singer’s sequel to X-Men: Days of Future Past is only five weeks into filming, but that didn’t stop the director from bringing a trailer to Comic-Con’s biggest stage. The recent graduate approached Mussenden and offered her portfolio, then went off to enjoy the convention. “She contacted me three days later and said, ‘Do you remember me?'” Nedavniaya recalled. “They were about to start pre-production on ‘Prince Caspian’ … and she asked me if I wanted to illustrate for her. The big questions are whether die-hard fans and casual moviegoers will embrace screen superheroes with a harder edge, and whether the glut of comic book-based movies will lead to diminishing returns. In recent years, could you have imagined the withering glare Ford would have given you if you’d suggested he so much as hold a cheesy toy lightsaber? The film’s star-studded cast reunited for the panel, and X-Men newcomers Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones’ Sansa), Lana Condor, Olivia Munn and others offered insight into their characters, along with veterans like Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy.

After two years of offering rare and limited glimpses at the closely-guarded project, Snyder once again took to Hall H to shine a spotlight on the movie, unveiling a first trailer that gave fans a nice long look at Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne, a peek at Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and a hint of a possible Joker appearance. Stars Affleck, Gadot, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons and Holly Hunter joined Snyder on stage, and Affleck shared some advice he got from previous Batman actor Christian Bale. I go back to DC’s iconic character Superman, created in 1938 as a superhuman alien protector that gives hope to the world while saving its people from peril. “And that’s what Jesus Christ did,” he says. “He is the greatest superhero, because he’s actually alive. He walked the earth like you and me.” Jeff does, on occasion, watch movies. “I just watched a fascinating documentary about the Harry Potter series,” he enthused. “It told about what Harry Potter is about and how it’s teaching little children how to cast spells and is indoctrinating children into playing with demons.” Ten broomsticks’ length away from Jeff stands Douglas, a campus preacher who usually rocks his “Don’t Be Comic-Conned: Your Life Is Not Fiction, Get Right With Jesus” sign at the annual confab.

Honorable mentions include a steamy moment between James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe during the presentation for Victor Frankenstein; a surprise appearance by Bill Murray, in character for Rock the Kasbah; Guillermo del Toro’s colorful preview of his upcoming Tom Hiddleston-starring gothic romance Crimson Peak; and The Hunger Games’ farewell to Comic-Con. I explain to him the drama and dragon-filled world of Westeros. “It doesn’t sound like I’m missing much,” he laughs. “I remember Superman from when I was a kid. I think if a person needs escape in fantasy, or escape in anything, it shows that there’s something wrong with their life.” According to Douglas, the nerd populace at Comic-Con tends to react particularly strongly to his argument that the Big Bang Theory is scientifically unsound. “I say, okay, well what produced that? Decades ago as a student at Orange Coast College, he says, he overheard a cabal of professors plotting the gay agenda. “Their solution to the overpopulation problem was to encourage homosexuality,” he said. “I feel like they were totally successful.” That’s precisely the hot-button issue Isidro Mendoza is shouting about as a crowd gathers nearby—half of them incensed, the rest watching to see what happens.

Here, whether or not he realizes it, he’s technically cosplaying: Pacing next to an 8-foot-tall Holy Bible prop, he’s dressed in army fatigues and a combat helmet, armed with his most powerful weapon: a bullhorn. The self-described ‘Soldier for Christ’ is dressed for battle today, but he likes to mix it up. “Sometimes when I go to UCLA I put on a doctor’s outfit.

Sometimes I change it up and wear an orange prison jumpsuit,” he says. “It all comes down to the same thing: We’re all sick.” On his bullhorn, encircled by opponents ranging from a guy in a Deadpool suit to a feisty and visibly upset tween girl, Mendoza is hands-down the most aggressive Christian on the block yelling accusations into the crowd with a hostile theatricality. “I’m not familiar with hardly any of them,” he says of the hundreds of comics, movies, and television shows marketed this year at Comic-Con. “But I know what’s going on. That’s what Satan loves. [A comic book] might seem insignificant but there’s power behind it, there are spirits.” One of Mendoza’s big targets is the celebrity machine; he’s the second proselytizer to name drop Lady Gaga to me as an example of Hollywood’s most corrupt influencers. (Coincidentally, right after Glee creator Ryan Murphy dropped a Gaga shout-out during Sunday’s American Horror Story panel.) “These actors and the movie industry will blatantly say they sold their soul to the Devil.

What about socially progressive pop properties like The X-Men, which has long been one of comicdom’s more obvious LGBT parallels and outed superhero Iceman in April? “They’re using these actors, these gimmicks, to get into the mind of the human race and say [same sex marriage] is okay. The Bible warns of that: False teachers in the last days.” He points to Gaga’s pride anthem “Born This Way” and “Bruce Jenner, which just had a sex transplant [sic]. Stationed next to a porta potty transformed into a promotional installation for Lionsgate’s sci-fi sequel Insurgent, the young rabbis repping the local Chabad were offering mitzvahs to passersby and hosted a Shabbos dinner for weary congoers. “As you know, Comic-Con was started by a Jew.

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