Marvel, Sony and Paramount won’t be at San Diego Comic-Con this year. Marvel – the foremost maker of comic book movies – passing is significant enough, but the homes of Spider-Man, Transformers and Star Trek passing adds to the absence. The Variety report quotes an anonymous film executive saying that “the film cycles just didn’t allow it,” which may be accurate (depending on the studio), but seems suspect considering that the comic book/geek property film cycle is “365 days a year.”
The real culprit is most likely Marvel’s taking announcements into its own hands. The studio is able to pull global attention away from crushing candy with ease, so they don’t really need the six-figure-expense platform Comic-Con offers. After 7 years, they have graduated and no longer need to walk the stage.
Granted, this isn’t such a big deal. For one, Comic-Con shed its comic book roots in favor of broad pop culture mecca status a long time ago. For two, Warners and DC will be present, so its Justice League team can own the spotlight and bring the appropriate amount of classic comic book pages to life in Hall H. With just one movie, there will be almost a dozen superheroes on stage.
There’s also Fox, who will most likely show off more X-Men and maybe a late-game push for Fantastic Four. Plus, with Marvel leaving a stage empty, it offers more room for Disney to shine with a Star Wars presentation which will undoubtedly endanger the structural integrity of the convention center’s capacity for screaming.
That’s not to mention Universal (Crimson Peak? Jem and the Holograms? Warcraft?); Lionsgate (The Last Witch Hunter? The Hunger Games (no question mark needed)); and non-comic stuff from Warners (Man from UNCLE? Pan?), among others.
Still, you can see the lack of comic book properties clearly. Marvel’s decision to ignore Comic-Con’s largest stage and, to a less extent, the other studios’ same decision, solidifies the culture change of the event. It’s evolved so far beyond comic book culture that now Marvel won’t even be involved at its most conspicuous stage. While at one point all the non-comic stuff was anchored by Iron Man, now we have no choice but to view Comic-Con for what it’s become: Popular Things We’ve Heard Of-Con or Things That Might Be of Tangential Interest to Comic Book Fans-Con.
That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a good thing because the Con allows a safe space for fans of all kinds of a media a place to be as passionate as they want to be. That shouldn’t only extend to comic book readers.
At the same time, I’ve borne witness to Marvel’s power in Hall H. As perhaps the only studio that really understood how to make a presentation sing, they have almost always been the fireworks show of the weekend. Without them, either another studio will emerge as the new star, or Hall H won’t reach the right crescendo.
Just kidding. The Force Awakens is going to level the place.