For years, Comic-Con International in San Diego has been the preeminent geek/pop culture confab in the US. That all stopped in 2020, when Covid-19 forced organizers to cancel for the first time in five decades. Now, in 2022, they’re once again holding the event in the hallowed halls (Hall H, Ballroom 20) of the San Diego Convention Center. But the question remains: Can the event achieve its former glory?
Long before 2020, Comic-Con had begun to lose some of its luster. Or rather, it felt like an event in flux. After years of big Hollywood studios bulldozing through SDCC, pushing indie comics fans and retailers to the sidelines, those studios began turning down the heat on their convention presentations. (Or, in the case of Disney, saving some of their big reveals for their own events, like D23.) Streamers like Netflix swooped in to fill many voids, but the prevailing sense was that things were shifting—again.
This year’s event is scheduled to begin tonight, and a lot of eyes—fans’, studios’, journalists’—are watching. Perhaps those who keenly felt the absence of Comic-Con in the past few years will return with renewed enthusiasm; maybe everyone will have moved on, and the waning interest will have diminished even further. Regardless, event organizers and their presenters are going to give it their all in the hopes of reclaiming the hype.
“What hype?” you ask? Well, Marvel is back for sure. After a blockbuster presentation in 2019 during which the studio announced that it was rebooting Blade with Mahershala Ali, this year Marvel once again has its prime Saturday afternoon slot. The studio hasn’t said what it’s bringing, but fans will likely be on the lookout for news about Wakanda Forever, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, The Marvels, and other projects. Warner Bros. has already said it’s bringing Black Adam and the new Shazam movie. Also on the docket: Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, House of the Dragon, and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
In other words, heavy hitters with a lot of cred. If anything can bring the razzle-dazzle back to the convention it’s a bunch of Marvel projects and more Game of Thrones. The prevalence of sequels and reboots might feel like reheated leftovers, but after nearly three years of no Comic-Con, it also might feel like seeing friends after a long quarantine.
No matter what, we’ll be watching. WIRED will be liveblogging the event, and presumably many other outlets will be monitoring what happens in keen detail. Not to get overly dramatic, but the future of nerdom depends on it.