How Marvel and Game of Thrones will make Comic-Con 2019 truly epic

Commentary: Next month's 50th anniversary of SDCC will be outstanding for two huge reasons.

Caitlin Petrakovitz Director of audience
Caitlin Petrakovitz studies the Marvel Cinematic Universe like it's a course in school, with an emphasis on the Infinity Saga years. As an audience expert, she rarely writes but when she does it's most certainly about Star Trek, Marvel, DC, Westworld, San Diego Comic-Con and great streaming properties. Or soccer, that's a thing she loves, too.
Caitlin Petrakovitz
5 min read

Seems legit.

Tania González/CNET

Comic-Con 2018 was huge and over the top, with more extreme experiences than I'd seen in the decade since I first started attending SDCC.

But on the news front, Comic-Con 2018 was sorta chill. No major breaks or announcements came until Saturday at the Warner Bros. panel. There was no big, crazy reveal Wednesday during preview night, no major stunners Thursday (though seeing the new Doctor on stage was wonderful), and Friday passed with little to get excited about.

Surprisingly it was DC that brought the fire: Details on its new streaming service, tons of new trailers and tidbits about new DC Extended Universe films that excited even this MCU fan.

Last year, the absence of a Saturday night Marvel Studios panel or a look at the final season of Game of Thrones was deeply felt. In 2018 in fact, both Disney and HBO took SDCC off, and that was a letdown. Especially considering all the rumors and slips were right: the final Game of Thrones season premiered and ended its run well before Comic-Con 2019.

But now, with reports indicating Marvel will be returning to San Diego after last year's hiatus, we can safely say the 50th Comic-Con is going to be anything but a snooze.

In an interview this week with ComicBook.com, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said we can expect Marvel to announce more on the future of the MCU after the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home, but was noncommittal on whether Marvel would officially hit SDCC. He definitely wasn't sharing what the studio would bring to Comic-Con or to its own D23 event in August:

"We've done it, I think, at least twice already where we've done both ... And if we do both this year we find a way to divvy it up or to do it to give a spin to make each one unique."

In the same interview, Feige also confirmed Nova is still on the table as a potential character, and he's definitely as interested as we are in Keanu joining the MCU... someday. Could the internet's boyfriend make an appearance at yet another cultural con this year?! (I would not know what to do with myself tbh.)


Could Nova be joining the MCU?

Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

Marvel, Avengers take a bow

At the opening of Avengers: Infinity War, Disney set a record of 117 days for the fastest gross to $1 billion, according to Box Office Mojo. With that milestone and with numerous financial records for both Black Panther and Infinity War, it came as a shock to many that the studio would forgo San Diego that year, especially with some big titles hitting theaters in 2019. 

But Avengers: Endgame has come (and will return) and may very well become the highest grossing movie ever soon, and Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still up in the air. There are so many ways for Marvel Studios to take over San Diego this year:

  • Farewell to the Avengers: After that death and those splits, we need some processing time.
  • The Avengers are dead. Long live the Avengers: A panel with new stars and an easy flip-side to the first suggestion.
  • Future of the MCU: We can be sure the MCU will continue, with multiple films planned each year from 2020 through 2022, with sequels for Doctor Strange and Black Panther coming plus Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
  • All Black Panther: Seriously, Marvel could just have a single Black Panther panel and we'd be there.
  • Women of Marvel: Very few people would be angry if Marvel finally went all in on inclusivity and used its panel time to announce every female superhero getting her own film, from Black Widow to Ms. Marvel to She-Hulk.

No DC in 2019

in 2018, without the Disney-owned studio, and arguably without Disney itself, Warner Bros. and DC crushed most of the weekend's news. By now, hopefully you've either heard about DC's new streaming service, witnessed people raging in Harley Quinn's cell at last year's con and maybe even subscribed to the service to catch Titans or the newly begun-and-cancelled Swamp Thing.

Yes, DC was easily the winner of Comic-Con last year, but we knew that going in, didn't we? Which is exactly what left little to the imagination.

2019 will be different

This year should be a complete reversal. Remember what I said before about Game of Thrones ending its run before next year's SDCC? Truth is, even though it has, there's just no way HBO won't show up in 2019. With reports coming in that Game of Thrones will return for a fan service final panel, there's very little chance we won't see HBO in SoCal next month. Here's how we could see the powerhouse series taking over San Diego Comic-Con:

  • Thank-you/goodbye panel in Hall H: Cast and creators thanking fans with "special footage" and loads of love.
  • Special-edition panel: First looks at the features of a "coming soon" mega-edition Blu-ray of the final season, or even a boxed set of the series.
  • The unveiling of the spin-offs: Trailers and special footage from at least the first of the 2020 spin-offs, as well as panels with the cast(s).
  • A "George R.R. Martin avoids writing by being on a panel" panel: Seriously dude, just please finish Winds of Winter. Please. Fans are literally begging.

As for Disney, it'll be coming in hot off Toy Story 4, and looking forward to Maleficent 2 and Frozen 2 this winter, 2020's live-action Jungle Cruise starring everyone's favorite action star, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The studio could also bring trailers or glimpses of its live-action slate of films, like Mulan.

Finally, the recent opening of Star Wars land at Disneyland and the upcoming Disney World version means the easiest Comic-Con option for Disney is showing off a sizzle reel from the opening, and using the opportunity to tease the end of an era, ahead of Star Wars Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker arriving in December.

I'm obviously already looking forward to Comic-Con's golden anniversary.

See you there!

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Note: This piece was originally published July 24, 2018, and has been updated with new Marvel and Game of Thrones info and speculation.