Aquaman, Marvel and Buffy: Comic-Con 2018's biggest winners and losers

DC seized the day with Aquaman and Shazam, while some fans hope that Buffy reboot is just a dream.

CNET staff
8 min read

We came. We saw. We documented cosplay. San Diego Comic-Con may be over, but there are still plenty of trailers, announcements, awards and hot takes to pore over. From DC and Marvel's unending rivalry, to the fan experiences filled to the brim with branding and freebies, our team on the ground saw it all. 

And now, it's time for us to reveal what we loved at the convention .. .and what should have been left on the drawing board months ago. Without further ado, these are this year's winners and losers of Comic-Con 2018.


Warners Bros. and DC

Outside of Wonder Woman, it's been a weird time for DC. Batman vs. Superman came out, it made a bunch of money, but the response wasn't great. Suicide Squad survived the critics and rolled in the dough. Justice League did better with critics than BvS... and vastly underperformed.

At Comic-Con this year, Warner Bros. and DC came with a mission: to prove the DC cinematic universe can stand up against Marvel . And as Stream Economy pointed out, DC at least succeeded in showing it's possible.

Aquaman's first trailer

We're still in the early stages of the Comic-Con trailer horse race, but so far Aquaman is the clear winner, with Warner Bros.' upload of the film's first trailer netting more than 18 million views. Fellow Warner Bros. trailers Shazam (7 million plus 9.6 million from a trending upload) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (7.2 million) are also at the front of the pack, alongside the trailer for Dragon Ball Super: Broly (6.2 million).

But as we saw from the reveal of the latest Battle Angel Alita trailer, there still could be more to come.

--Morgan Little

Watch this: Aquaman Comic-Con trailer brings Arthur Curry home for war

My Hero Academia

It may not have had a Hall H presence, but My Hero Academia drew in Hall H crowds. Its panel was among the most popular at Comic-Con this year, even if its announcements weren't exactly the most earth-shattering.

And it was impossible to miss its presence on the cosplay scene, with countless fans donning the series' iconic blue jumpsuits.

--Morgan Little

The Jack Ryan Experience

Prime Video took over a parking lot to train you to become a CIA operative just like Jack Ryan. In the training field portion of the experience, you jump out of helicopter, step lightly across a two-story-high board into a building filled with enemies trying to "shoot" you, and zip-line down to safety -- all while wearing a VR headset that transports you into Yemen. Once you've completed your training, you can put your newfound skills to good use in an escape room.

We can't stop telling people about this. It was the highlight of the con for some of us, and the rest just didn't try it!

--Caitlin Petrakovitz


Image's series Monstress dominated the Eisners, the Academy Awards of the comics industry. It took home five awards, leading with Best Writer Marjorie Liu (tied with Batman and Mister Miracle's Tom King), Best Continuing Series, Best Cover Artist (Sana Takeda), Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (Takeda) and Best Publication for Teens.

Liu's win is particularly noteworthy, as she's the first woman to ever win the Eisner for Best Writer. That's a big deal for an industry still dealing with plenty of less-than-desirable elements. And anything that raises the profile of a non-superhero comic from DC or Marvel is a step in the right direction.

--Morgan Little

Fans of all things spooky

On Hulu prepare to be scared by Stephen King's Castle Rock. On Syfy, George RR Martin's short space story Nightflyers is coming soon. And at the Universal panel, we got our first look at Glass, the third film in the M. Night Shyamalan universe.

I don't know. Scary movies are scary and I don't enjoy them. But brand it as a "psychological thriller" and I'm in. Castle Rock seems to avoid the jump scares in favor of some serious slow burns and reveals, and Nightflyers racks up its first kill just 4 minutes into the episode, which hopefully means action > scares.

--Caitlin Petrakovitz

Clone Wars fans

Star Wars: The Clone Wars fans would not have been faulted for thinking their show would never get a proper finale. The show was cancelled in 2013, and in the five years that followed Disney continued some of the remaining stories from The Clone Wars on the follow-up Star Wars Rebels cartoon, which recently wrapped.

But that changed this Comic-Con: In a bombshell moment for the fans, Disney revealed that Star Wars: The Clone Wars is making its return to televisions on an untitled Disney streaming service that's set to launch in 2019.

When the announcement dropped during the 10th anniversary panel for The Clone Wars, the ballroom went wild as fans attending expected only to get insight into how the show was made along with glimpses into what executive director Dave Filoni would have planned had production continued.

While it's unknown exactly when the 12 new episodes will come to the service, the show's revival was a boon to fans wanting to see more of Anakin, Ahsoka and the others, but it's also one of the first fully confirmed original shows Disney is now proclaiming as an exclusive for its Netflix competitor.

--Mike Sorrentino

Marvel animation

While the Marvel Cinematic Universe had zero announcements during this year's Comic-Con, Marvel Animation right now might be providing us a really good look at the MCU's future.

The new Marvel Rising: Initiation and the linked Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors series are bringing together younger heroes like Ms. Marvel, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Spider-Gwen (also known as Ghost Spider), Quake and Patriot. The new show provides a more hopeful take on teamwork and fighting crime, which is a welcome relief from the devastation seen in the MCU's current Infinity War status quo.

Several of these characters have an imminent future in theaters, such as Ghost Spider being in Sony's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and MCU head Kevin Feige already teasing that Ms. Marvel will happen in some way after her idol Carol Danvers makes her debut in 2019's Captain Marvel.

And this isn't the first time Marvel animation has become ahead of the movies, as Captain Marvel already plays a role on Disney's Avengers Assemble.

--Mike Sorrentino

Deadpool 2... despite being already released


Deadpool joins a revived ShowBiz Pizza robot band on the Comic-Con floor.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Thanks to the Avengers-sized hole left by Disney (Deadpool is still not an Avenger, fyi), Fox rolled out the red carpet (and toilet seat opaque covers) to promote Deadpool 2's upcoming home release. The studio screened the longer Deadpool 2: The Super Duper Cut to the press and fans at the Horton Grand Theatre, showed clips of the longer cut at a Hall H panel all about the film, revived the robot band from ShowBiz Pizza to create Deadpool's Super Duper Dance Party and took over a suite in the Hard Rock Hotel to create what it would be like to live with Deadpool and Blind Al.

That's a lot of maximum effort for a movie that's already out in theaters.

--Mike Sorrentino

Syfy, for shows and overall presence

The silly-spelled network wasn't just all over the shuttle buses. It was also on people's minds, whether they knew it or not. 

The Indigo Ballroom could've had a day of just Syfy shows, from the Russo brothers-led Deadly Class, the non-Arrowverse DC show Krypton and the ever-changing The Magicians, which is based on Lev Grossman's books and constantly reinventing itself. Those shows don't just appeal to built-in fanbases. Their diverse casting choices mean men and women of all nationalities take on lead roles in each series.


Syfy let fans sing karaoke on double-decker buses driving around Comic-Con, and on this trip the cast of Krypton joined in.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

The Syfy cable network also literally let fans into its Comic-Con headquarters -- this year and last year at The New Children's Museum -- to party late into the night for free, karaoke on double-decker buses that drove around the city or play a human claw machine. The network also decorated its branded swag, buses and trains in fan art too.

The closest approximation to this at Comic-Con came from Nerdist House and Skybound Entertainment, which also let fans join them at their broadcasting headquarters to hang out while Comic-Con's chaos unfolded. But Syfy undoubtedly provided the largest of these live network fan engagement activations.

--Caitlin Petrakovitz, Mike Sorrentino

Beyond Comic-Con: VR obstacle courses, escape rooms and more

See all photos


Marvel's live-action universes

Right as Comic-Con was kicking off, Disney announced it was severing ties with Guardians of the Galaxy director and writer James Gunn. The backlash to that decision mounted through the weekend, casting a shadow over everything Marvel had going on at the convention. Which, as it turns out, wasn't much. Marvel had said it wouldn't be announcing anything for its universe beforehand, so the lack of Avengers 4 details or Captain Marvel reveals wasn't a surprise. But there was still an MCU-sized hole in the convention's proceedings. It didn't help that Marvel executive Jeph Loeb raised eyebrows with his handling of an Iron Fist panel.

--Morgan Little

Anyone juggling streaming subscriptions

We get it, there's a ton of money to be made by creating your own walled garden. But the announced debut of DC Universe this year and its bevy of superhero-themed content was paired with the reveal of The Clone Wars' exclusivity to Disney's streaming service. That's on top of everything exclusive that Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll announced at Comic-Con or the preceding anime expo. And HBO didn't even show up this year. Things are manageable now, but in a few years, we could be in a weird situation where fandom is divided less by characters or universes, and more by subscriptions.

--Morgan Little

Charmed, Buffy reboots

Charmed and Buffy are beloved shows of the '90s and early 2000s. But this week's official announcements about Charmed's reboot for The CW and reports that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is getting remade quickly met hostility among their fan bases. (Disclosure: The CW is a joint venture between Warner Bros. and CBS, parent company of CNET.)

Fans can get possessive over their beloved television shows, so this response is understandable. But early reviews from various outlets that watched the Charmed pilot are decidedly mixed, so the battle is already going to be an uphill one for the upcoming fall show.

Buffy's possible reboot isn't yet official, but the news is being approached cautiously by fans. While Buffy creator Joss Whedon is said to be attached to the show as an executive producer along with Monica Owusu-Breen, TVGuide.com reports fan reactions ranging from elated to furious. As a Buffy fan, I'll wait to see what happens as long as Joss is attached.

--Mike Sorrentino

American Horror Story's fan activation

What's scarier than ghosts, ghouls, monsters and murderers? Augmented reality that simply doesn't work. AR and VR are becoming a staple of the Comic-Con experience, but that doesn't mean they're all worth experiencing.

What made the American Horror Story fan activation particularly noteworthy wasn't the standard "app crashes, needs to restart" suite of errors, but the missed opportunity. Looking at an unsettling taxidermy goat-human hybrid in real life is creepy. Looking at a digital version of said being superimposed on top of the real thing through an iPad isn't, even if its eyes (kinda) follow your movements.

--Morgan Little


It's finally ending. Enough said.

--Mike Sorrentino

All the best cosplay from Comic-Con 2018

See all photos

Comic-Con 2018: We went to America's epic entertainment geekfest, and bringing you all the latest. 

Everything we know about Aquaman: Now that a new trailer has dropped, here's what we know about the newest DCEU film coming in November.