Live action at Comic-Con 2011

Fans in costumes at San Diego Comic-Con 2011
Justice League fans in costume

Continuing my look at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, as in recent years, movie and television adaptations dominated news from the genre entertainment convention. Although I read lots of print comic books and graphic novels, I have to admit that the show is an opportunity to get a glimpse of numerous upcoming projects.

In the past few years, flicks such as Watchmen, Sucker Punch, and Green Hornet were heavily promoted but did poorly at the box office, even though some critics and fans liked them. As a result, it’s no surprise that two of next year’s biggest superhero movies, The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers, didn’t have full panels at Comic-Con. Warner Brothers/DC and Disney/Marvel did release previews to coincide with the convention, however.

I read more DC Comics titles than Marvel ones, but I’m more excited by Joss Whedon’s Avengers team-up than the conclusion to Chris Nolan and Christian Bale’s dour Batman trilogy. After Captain America, I’m hoping for more four-color heroics rather than more angst in an era already dominated with real-world news of wars, natural and manmade disasters, economic recession, and political stalemate. I also think that the upcoming animated Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns are a better way of exorcising Frank Miller’s influential stories than turning them into live action.

Of the other comic book movies, I’m curious about Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, even though I don’t see a need for a reboot (still with Nicholas Cage) after the first film. I found it more entertaining than Ang Lee’s Hulk, which deserved a reboot, and not every superhero adaptation needs to be as seriously highbrow as The Dark Knight.

I had strong reservations after seeing the first still photos of lanky Andrew Garfield in costume for The Amazing Spider-Man, but the latest previews are more promising. It may be a bit soon for a restart of Sony’s franchise, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a fresh director and cast taking a crack at Peter Parker’s misadventures, and I like Emma Stone, who’ll be playing love interest Gwen Stacy.

Fright Night looks like an amusing horror/comedy remake, and Knights of Badassdom should appeal to fans of Your Highness and various live-action role-playing docudramas. I’m more interested in Aardman’s The Pirates! Band of Misfits than Arthur Christmas (technically animation, I know, but it’s fantasy/comedy of a sort).

We’ll see how closely Alien prequel Prometheus and Rise of the Planet of the Apes tie in with their respective science fiction/horror series. I’ll also be curious to see if the Total Recall remake is closer to Philip K. Dick’s writing than Paul Verhoven and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s version. I’ll likely skip the latest sequels for Final Destination, Jurassic Park, Twilight, and Underworld, but I might see The Raven (not to be confused with ABC’s Poe TV series).

Speaking of Twilight or Red Riding Hood, I’m not the target audience of teenage girls for Snow White and the Huntsman, The Hunger Games, and assorted Wizard of Oz features, anymore than I’m the audience of tween boys for the techno brawlers Transformers or Real Steel. On the other hand, I might see the similarly mythic Immortals and Wrath of the Titans.

I’ve always been more interested in science fiction than horror. Doctor Who and Torchwood: Miracle Day had a strong presence at this year’s Comic-Con, including the stars in attendance and many participants in a Doctor Who lookalike contest. I don’t yet have a Blu-Ray player, so I’ll have to wait for the extended version of the original Star Wars trilogy.

I’ve been enjoying the latest episodes of SyFy’s Warehouse 13, and I hope that Alphas, the latest attempt to deal with metahumans like NBC’s late, lamented Heroes, does better than its predecessors. I’d put Castle with slightly more realistic procedurals such as Leverage and White Collar, and stars Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic have some geek credits.

I’ll blog about animation, toys, and more separately.