Way back in 2008, my first year attending SDCC, I was covering what I thought to be a rather innocuous Disney panel. Keep in mind, this is years before Disney had Marvel and LucasFilm in their stable. Out of nowhere, the lights went out and a bizarre video started playing on the screen, and just as we realized who Jeff Bridges was really playing... Tron: Legacy was announced. No one saw that coming, at all, and when that logo was flashed on the screen (at the time, they were going with Tr2n), it created the kind of euphoric bedlam that both studios and fans alike crave, and is one of the reasons San Diego Comic-Con gets bigger and bigger every year.
With SDCC 2014 just a few weeks away, we were pondering what dirty little tricks the studios have up their sleeves, which secret will cause the 7,000 nerds in Hall H to lose their shit. Of course, the official schedule hasn't even been released yet, but that hardly matters, since the best moments at the Con won't be found in that handy little guidebook they give you with your badge every year. With that in mind, we thought we'd dig deep through the highly-anticipated movies and TV shows coming out in the next year (or two) to see if we can determine what the big surprises of SDCC 2014 will be.
1 Footage or Images of Original Cast Members in Costume for Star Wars 7
If we finally saw Mark Hamill or Carrie Fisher in their new costumes for Star Wars: Episode VII, it would be an event talked about for ages among this crowd. And imagine if they showed up in person? Harrison Ford is currently recovering from his on-set injury, and its not even clear how much footage he has in the can. So odds of seeing him in some for, be it in a photo or on stage, in San Diego are slim to none. (But never tell us the odds!) Still, this trio of icons are so revered to this crowd! They could have retired after the original trilogy and still be held in high esteem, because their characters have meant so much to so many people, and let's not forget...Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope ws first introduced at Comic-Con, so what better way than to bring it all the way back home?
Of course, it also wouldn't hurt if Disney gave us any sort of clarification on who this new crop of cast members (John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong'o, Max von Sydow, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie and Andy Serkis) are actually playing, or anything at all related to Star Wars: Episode VII. Even a video from the set with director J.J. Abrams and the cast would surely be a welcomed gesture from this production that has been shrouded in secrecy since Day One.
2First Look at Lex Luthor and Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman
After Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice director Zack Snyder gave fans our first look at Ben Affleck as the new Batman on the set this May, many assumed that we would be seeing Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman and Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor shortly thereafter. Sadly, that did not happen, leaving fans clamoring for a first look at these iconic characters. Since shooting is still ongoing, it seems unlikely that any footage will be revealed, or that any cast members will be there in person, leaving these photo reveals as practically the only viable option for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to have a presence at Comic-Con, one year after the very announcement of the movie itself rocked Hall H to its core.
This will naturally happen during Warner Bros.' massive panel, where they normally roll out three or four different movies over a 90-minute or two-hour block. That panel will likely include The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies, Jupiter Ascending, Mad Max: Fury Road and possibly San Andreas or Entourage. With such a potentially-packed panel, it wouldn't shock me if the studio managed to sneak in quick glimpses of Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor at the end of their panel, possibly starting a tradition of literally last-minute superhero details emerging as the presentation comes to a close.
3 Marvel Solidifies Plans for Phase 3 And Beyond
It certainly is an exciting time to be a Marvel Studios fan, as they are riding high on a wave of critical and commercial success of Phase Two blockbusters Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with Guardians of the Galaxy coming up next month and Avengers: Age of Ultron currently in production. While it remains to be seen if any Avengers: Age of Ultron footage will be shown, Marvel certainly can excite their fans in another way, by clarifying what the remaining movies in Marvel Phase Three are.
Ant-Man, Captain America 3 and Doctor Strange have already been confirmed for Phase Three, but there is already speculation that this phase could have more movies than both Phase One and Phase Two, which had five movies apiece. Thor 3 and The Avengers 3 will certainly have to be a part of Phase Three, and there has been talk of Black Panther coming into the mix as well. Marvel mastermind Kevin Feige revealed in August that the studio has their slate planned out up until the year 2021. Hopefully he plans on sharing some of that information with the fans in San Diego later this month.
4Gotham Reveals The Joker
Back in May, Gotham creator Bruno Heller confirmed that The Joker, who he called "the crown jewel of Batman villains," will be popping up on the series at some point. It was never said when, but the creator/executive producer did say that his debut, "will be handled with great care and a lot of thought." Of course, that was the last we heard about The Joker's inclusion in the highly-anticipated Fox series Gotham, but wouldn't using the massive stage that is Comic-Con be the perfect way to reveal who will play the future Joker?
Even if Bruno Heller isn't quite ready to reveal who The Joker will be played by, it would be nice to learn how he may fit into the over-arching story of Gotham, which is already populated with a number of "future" villains such as Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin (Robin Taylor), Edward Nygma/ The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) and Ivy Pepper/Poison Ivy (Clare Foley), not to mention the inclusion of new criminal Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith). Or, even, how the show balances the origin stories of these criminal elements with the main story line of James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) investigating the death of Bruce Wayne's (David Mazouz) parents.
While Gotham won't have a traditional panel at the Con, Warner Bros. Television announced that the show will have its world premiere of the pilot episode at SDCC, along with special appearances by cast members and producers. Could one of these special appearances be the man who will follow in Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger's footsteps? We'll find out in just a few short weeks.
5 Marvel and Netflix Reveal Who Is Playing Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones
Marvel and Netflix teamed up in November to announce four new live-action superhero series, Marvel's Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, which will lead into the mini-series The Defenders. Marvel's Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada confirmed in April that all four shows will debut on Netflix simultaneously, sometime in 2015. However, while Marvel's Daredevil has been adding a slew of cast members as of late, including Charlie Cox (Matt Murdock/Daredevil), Vincent D'Onofrio (Wilson Fisk/Kingpin), Elden Henson (Foggy Nelson) and Rosario Dawson, not a single actor has been confirmed for the other three shows. If they still do plan on launching all four shows at the same time, Comic-Con seems to be the perfect place to announce who is playing Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones.
We reported in February that production will begin this summer, but the last time I checked, you usually need actors to start shooting. I think that either one of two scenarios will happen in San Diego later this month. One, Netflix announces main cast members for Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, and that production will start this fall, or, two, Marvel/Netflix decide to push back their timetable a bit. Either way, it's been far too long since we've heard anything about three of these four shows, which I suspect may be rectified at SDCC.
6The Sinister Six Lineup/Casting Is Confirmed
During the end credits of Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man 2, fans with the Shazam app were able to download a number of images which seemingly confirmed The Sinister Six spin-off lineup, Rhino (Paul Giamatti), Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan), Doctor Octopus, Kraven, Vulture and Mysterio. However, a report from April revealed that the lineup may be changed before production is scheduled to begin in January. While it hasn't been confirmed if Drew Goddard has completed the screenplay or not, it is certainly within the realm of possibilities that, at the very least, The Sinister Six lineup will be announced.
If production is still set to begin in January, it's also possible that casting is already under way for the remaining villains, assuming that Paul Giamatti and Dane DeHaan will reprise their roles as Rhino and Green Goblin. There was also a report that surfaced last month which hinted that Sony was unhappy with The Amazing Spider-Man 2's performance, and that the studio is considering moving The Sinister Six to the summer of 2016, while pushing The Amazing Spider-Man 3 to 2017. Naturally, that hasn't been confirmed, but perhaps Sony is waiting until the Con to clarify their plans for the expanded Spider-Man universe.
7 Warner Bros. Unveils the First Mad Max: Fury Road Trailer
Although it wasn't widely reported by many other outlets, director George Miller revealed in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly that he will debut the first footage from Mad Max: Fury Road at Comic-Con, but he also said that the teaser trailer would debut "in the near future." But, if fans aren't expecting the teaser trailer, it would be quite surprising if they showed it, right? Flawed logic, perhaps, but regardless, this presentation may end up being the talk of the Con, if all goes well, simply because this has been in the works for so damn long.
It isn't ultimately clear yet if stars Tom Hardy or Charlize Theron will make the trek to San Diego alongside George Miller, or what exactly will be shown. However, the explosive photos released last week have certainly piqued the curiosity of fans who have waited years upon years for this movie to finally see the light of day.
8 Universal Pictures Debuts the First Fast & Furious 7 Trailer
The lucrative Fast & Furious franchise has never had an official presence at Comic-Con before, but I wouldn't be surprised if it made its debut this year, heading into the release of Fast & Furious 7 next April. The sequel has faced several daunting challenges in the wake of Paul Walker's tragic death in November, with production now just starting to wind down, as hinted from Dwayne Johnson's photo from his last day on the set earlier this week.
While this franchise isn't steeped in comic book, fantasy or horror lore like a vast majority of the other titles that will be present this year, I'd be willing to bet that this crowd would be itching to see the first footage, for either one last glimpse at the late Paul Walker, or to see how this story will honor the legacy of the actor and the beloved character he portrayed, Brian O'Connor. Besides, it's entirely possible that Vin Diesel will be in town anyway to promote Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel (even though it debuts a week after the Con), making it feasible for him to pop by and introduce the trailer.
If this does happen, this will likely be a part of Universal's massive Hall H presentation, which will likely include Dracula Untold, Ouija, Seventh Son and possibly the next surprise...
9 First Look at Crimson Peak
Director Guillermo del Toro is currently in post-production on Crimson Peak, but the filmmaker is such a beloved presence at Comic-Con that I would hope he shows up with the first look at his haunted house thriller. Little is known about the story, except that it revolves around an author who discovers a terrifying secret about her husband, with an all-star cast that includes Charlie Hunnam, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska.
Universal doesn't have any major superhero franchises to flaunt or rely on, so I would expect them to pull out those proverbial big guns by giving fans a very early look at Crimson Peak, which doesn't hit theaters until October 2015, to build as much buzz as possible. The mere mention of Guillermo del Toro alone is probably enough to pack Hall H to capacity, so, while we may not get a full trailer, it's certainly possible that some footage may be shown.
Since we're feeling so generous, we decided to include two bonus surprises, one of which would put this year's Comic-Con light years above the rest.
10 That One Project/Announcement No One Sees Coming
Sure, this doesn't happen every year, but after the overwhelming reaction to Batman v Superman last year and Tron: Legacy in 2008, I don't see why a massive reveal like those shouldn't happen annually. Now, I'm not talking about actors who weren't on the official schedule "surprisingly" popping up, because that happens practically every day at SDCC. Do you think a project will be announced this year that will totally catch you surprise? Here are a few possible suggestions to throw out into the ether, just for shits and giggles. How about Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law abruptly showing up to announce Sherlock Holmes 3? Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass reveal their return to the Jason Bourne franchise? The possibilities are endless!
11 Disney Shows Fans the "Crawl" for Star Wars: Episode VII
If this actually happened, it would be one of the biggest bombshells in the annals of the Con, bar none. Hell, they even have an entire DAY devoted to Star Wars (Friday), every year, just to celebrate the iconic franchise, and given the immense hunger for any sort of new information regarding Star Wars: Episode VII, it would probably even be one of the most bootlegged/downloaded videos of all time. Disney/LucasFilm surely wouldn't be crazy enough to show their most rabid fans the opening crawl for Star Wars: Episode VII, would they? Even if they don't, I think they should strongly consider it.
When you really think about it, the iconic crawl, which has been shown before every Star Wars movie, is nothing but a glorified synopsis being beamed out into space, giving fans just a tiny bit of background information before diving into the story. The crawl never features any spoilers, or footage even, just words that have an indescribable amount of value to any Star Wars fan young or old, especially words that give us the first true details of the story that many have been waiting more than 30 years for.
It's worth noting as well that Disney is not holding its annual D23 Expo this year, making Comic-Con the prime venue for such a reveal, or the previoiusly-mentioned "surprise" of cast members appearing in person. However, I think the fans would still be even more surprised to see that crawl than to see the entire cast on the Hall H stage themselves.
Naturally, it's possible that some of these potential surprises will be listed in the official schedule for San Diego Comic-Con 2014 when it is announced, but even if they are, always remember that you never know who will pop up on stage at any time, during any panel, big or small. It's also possible that I'm completely wrong and none of this will happen at all. Think you can do better? Do you have any own to add? Let us know what your own ideas for potential Comic-Con 2014 surprises may be.