San Diego Comic-Con has only recently become one of the most important news events in pop culture. For decades, though, it’s been one of the best places for fans to gather and get excited about the big pop culture events coming up.
Throughout its long history, Comic-Con has had many great moments and panels. Ultimately, though, these are the panels that rise above the rest as the best in Comic-Con history.
Tron: Legacy drops a surprise trailer
The 2008 Disney panel ended with a trailer for Race to Witch Mountain, just as everyone expected. Just when attendees assumed the panel was over, however, a teaser for the long-awaited sequel began rolling. The teaser was actually created as a proof of concept to sell Disney on the film, but it was so effective that it became a tantalizing teaser for fans at the end of Disney’s panel.
As part of the promotion for Cowboys and Aliens, the plan had long been for Harrison Ford to be escorted to the Hall H stage in handcuffs — the joke was that Ford was to be dragged on stage for the panel. After an episode of violence erupted in Hall H, however, with a man who ended up being stabbed in the eye with a pen, Ford’s antics on stage read much differently. Fortunately, it was just what the doctor ordered to ease the tension in Hall H, even if the movie he was there to promote ended up not living up to expectations.
Ryan Reynolds’ time as the Green Lantern didn’t turn out so well, but there was a time when there was still a lot of excitement surrounding his casting. Before everyone was disappointed with the final product, however, Reynolds got to have a sweet moment with a young boy who asked him how it felt to recite the Green Lantern oath.
Reynolds then proceeded to recite the oath by heart and the boy who asked the question was visibly moved by his recitation. He showed off his child-sized Green Lantern ring, and Ryan Reynolds then showed off his movie prop lookalike.
Marvel’s 2016 panel featured the first footage of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Brie Larson’s debut as a member of MCU, but the panel is best remembered today for the introduction of the Ravagers, who came from the bottom of the room and proceeded to taunt the panel moderator.
They then took to the podium and proceeded to answer fan questions in character. It was a hugely entertaining installment and something that Marvel has become so great at since dominating Comic-Con.
Before the cinematic universe was a twinkle in anyone’s eye, there was Iron Manwhich debuted with a 4-minute trailer exclusively for those gathered in Hall H. The audience in attendance was clearly captivated by the trailer and suddenly it seemed clear that something different was going on around Iron Man.
It would be the start of an entire universe, and the rapt attention the crowds paid to that shot hinted at what was to come, even if they didn’t know for sure.
In 2008 and James Cameron, and Dusk fans eagerly awaited new movies, and panels for those movies were scheduled to be held back to back. The panels were switched so that Twilight: New Moon will come first, partly so Cameron devotees won’t be forced out of Hall H, but Dusk fans just waiting for their panel to start.
Cameron showed the first 25 minutes of the film in Hall H, so of the two panels, Avatar one certainly had a more lasting legacy.
Tom Hiddleston clearly enjoyed his time as the trickster god Loki, and that was perhaps never more true than in 2013, when he appeared on Marvel’s panel as the character. Giving a speech similar to the one he had given The AvengersHiddleston demanded that the audience in Hall H bow before him if they wanted to see what Marvel had in store for them.
It was an exciting moment that is still talked about today. Other panels would try to replicate it in the years to come, but none could match Hiddleston’s dedication to the endeavor.
Joss Whedon’s legacy in pop culture is undeniable, even if he isn’t the universally beloved figure he once was. The cloud of accusations against Whedon certainly hung over the panel where he sat with fellow geek JJ Abrams, but it’s hard to deny that the chance to hear the two discuss their fandom history was a rare treat.
They talked about the first meeting when Abrams was working Felicity and Whedon on Buffyand some news came out of the panel: Abrams confirmed that he is working on a Star Trek sequel, and Whedon said he would direct The Avengers.
Comic-Con panels can sometimes break news, but most of the time fans are speculating what will happen, at least to some extent. Legendary’s 2012 panel was somewhat unusual as they completely surprised the audience with the announcement that Garrett Edwards would be working on a reboot of the Godzilla franchise. What’s more, they already had a teaser trailer, which they proceeded to show not once, but twice.
After Man of Steel debuted, many were curious if DC planned to create their own version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is already in place by 2013. Although Man of Steel just hit theaters, director Zack Snyder took the stage to announce that Batman’s fight with Superman would be included in Man of Steel continuation.
Snyder didn’t even need footage to accompany the announcement. All it had was a logo and that was all the fans needed to lose their minds.