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Commentary TV and Movies

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

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

cosplay-comic-con-2018

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. It was the first year I didn't feel like I missed anything major and, dare I say, the first year I felt a little bored.

I wouldn't say I felt calmer this year, but 2018 did feel slower and more chill than before with no major news or announcements coming until Saturday during 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.

I swear it's not that I've grown bored with Comic-Con. This year produced my two favorite activations *ever* and that was no small feat: Taco Bell's pop-up brought out the big guns and Amazon Prime Video's Jack Ryan experience took participants to Yemen.

DC brought a ton of info to San Diego, too, including details on its new streaming service, tons of new trailers and tidbits about new DC Extended Universe films that excited even this MCU fan.

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But this summer, the absence of a Saturday night Marvel Studios panel or a look at the final season of Game of Thrones was deeply felt. In fact, both Disney and HBO took SDCC off this year, and that was a letdown. Especially considering that all the rumors and slips point to the final GoT season premiering in spring 2019, the show could very well end its run before Comic-Con 2019.

At the opening of Avengers: Infinity War in April, 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 this year, especially with some big titles hitting theaters before next year's SDCC.

Without the Disney-owned studio, and arguably without Disney itself, Warner Bros. and DC crushed most of the weekend's news. By now I'm willing to bet you've either heard about DC's new streaming service, watched at least one trailer for Aquaman, Shazam, Titans or the CW shows, or witnessed people raging in Harley Quinn's cell.

But what other news do you recall from San Diego this year? Arguably the biggest entertainment story of the weekend, the firing of Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, didn't even come out of Comic-Con. 

Yes, DC was easily the winner of the weekend, but we knew that going in, didn't we?

Which is exactly what left little to the imagination. 

Why 2019 will be different

Next year will be a complete reversal. For starters, it will be the 50th anniversary of Comic-Con. If that's not a reason for Disney, Marvel and HBO to reappear, nothing is.

Remember what I said before about Game of Thrones ending its run before next year's SDCC? Truth is, even if it does, there's just no way HBO won't show up in 2019. With the news coming that it will premiere in the "first half of 2019," and that just one spin-off is moving forward, I think there's very little chance we won't see HBO in SoCal next year. Here's how we could see the powerhouse series: 

  • Thank-you/goodbye panel: 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).

As for Disney, it'll be hot off Toy Story 4 (currently scheduled for June 2019), and looking forward to the 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 or Maleficent 2. 

Finally, there's the opening of Star Wars theme park planned for next summer at both of Disney's US parks, leaving it with the easiest option of showing off a sizzle reel from the opening, and perhaps using the opportunity to tease the end of an era, ahead of Star Wars: Episode 9 arriving in December 2019.

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Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

Then there's Marvel Studios.

It will be the Marvel Cinematic Universe's 11th year, and right smack at the beginning of Phase 4, there's little question the powerhouse will come be back to San Diego next year. There are so many ways for it to arrive:

  • Farewell to the Avengers: We're all pretty sure the Avengers who died aren't likely to remain dead. Given all the rumors about the next movie, it would be a treat for fans to give those handing off the Avengers title a chance to say goodbye.
  • The Avengers are dead. Long live the Avengers: Panel with the new stars and an easy flip-side to the first suggestion.
  • Future of the MCU: We can't be sure the Avengers will continue in any incarnation past next year's (still untitled, in case you forgot) Avengers 4. But we can be sure the MCU will continue, with three films already planned each year from 2020 through 2022, including Spider-Man: Far from Home, sequels for Doctor Strange and Black Panther, and a third Guardians of the Galaxy
  • All Black Panther: Seriously, Marvel could just have a single Black Panther panel, whether Chadwick Boseman survives or not, and it would be *packed* -- especially if he doesn't survive and we get a chance to see Shuri step up.
  • 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.

All in all, Comic-Con 2018 was a bit disappointing, with predictable moves from Warner Bros. and DC. That doesn't mean it wasn't fun, but I'm obviously already looking forward to Comic-Con's golden anniversary next year.

See you there!

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This piece was originally published July 24, and has been updated with new Game of Thrones info.