Last year, many fans were disappointed that Marvel Studios decided not to bring anything new to San Diego Comic Con. Fortunately for every comics nerd and movie enthusiast who made the trek out to San Diego this year, Marvel Studios made it up to us tenfold, bringing cast from five upcoming films, clips from four of them, and a giant casting announcement.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and panel host extraordinaire Chris Hardwick started the panel off with a bang, introducing Black Pantherdirector Ryan Coogler and star Chadwick Boseman. Following Boseman, Coogler introduced Lupita Nyong’o as Dora Milaje warrior Nakia, Michael B. Jordan as supervillain Erik Killmonger, and Danai Gurira as Dora Milaje leader Okoye. The cast briefly discussed bringing the world of Wakanda to the silver screen, expressing an excitement and anticipation for fans to get a glimpse into Black Panther’s world. Black Panther has not started filming yet and will be in theaters February 16, 2018.
Then Feige told the audience that Thor: Ragnarok, the third installment in the Thor franchise, is currently filming in New Zealand, but they brought footage of what Thor was doing during the events of the last Marvel Studios film, Captain America: Civil War. The clip showed Thor spending some down time getting to know the common people in Australia, living with a roommate, and trying to communicate with Steve Rogers and Tony Stark via email. Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner made a cameo, having brunch with Thor and fending off Stark’s invitation to join his side in Civil War. The clip was rife with quirky comedy, a staple of director Taika Waititi, and showcased star Chris Hemsworth’s comedic chops. Thor: Ragnarok will be in theaters November 3, 2017.
Next, Marvel Studios got fans into the mystic mood by pumping out smoke from the walls and center of the 6500 capacity Hall H and projecting mystic symbols onto the smoke and screens. This provided a truly awesome, immersive introduction of Dr. Strange star, Benedict Cumberbatch, who appeared on stage in a flash of light, as if by magic. Cumberbatch was then joined by co-stars Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, and Mads Mikkelsen, as well as director Scott Derrickson.
McAdams described her character, Christine Palmer, as Strange’s connection to the “real world” and revealed that their characters are co-workers at the hospital who have something of a history together. Swinton addressed her casting as the Ancient One, explaining the idea that the Ancient One is merely a title that anyone could hold. Ejiofor described his character, Baron Karl Mordo, as a mentor figure to Strange. Mordo has been through the same training Strange goes through in the film, and he provides help and support. Benedict Wong, who plays Wong in the film, explained that his version of the character is much different than the subservient caricature that appears in early Dr. Strange comics. The film’s Wong will be more of a drill sergeant and trainer to Strange. Mikkelsen opened up about his character, Kaecilius, revealing that he doesn’t see him as a villain as much as a man with strong beliefs.
Derrickson then introduced a clip from the film, as well as the second trailer for Dr. Strange. The clip was a short scene depicting the first meeting of Stephen Strange and the Ancient One, showing that Strange is on a quest to heal his injured hands, seeking out experimental treatments that could not be performed under government oversight. He underestimates the Ancient One, mistaking an older man for the Ancient One before meeting Swinton’s character. Strange then gets a crash course in the world of the spirit, separated from his body and flying through a trippy rollercoaster of dimensions before crash landing back at the feet of the Ancient One and begging to be taught. Dr. Strange will be in theaters November 4, 2016.
Feige then introduced another character that made his debut in Civil War, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. Holland was joined by Spider-Man: Homecoming director Jon Watts, and co-stars Laura Harrier, Zendaya, Tony Revolori, and Jacob Batalon. The young cast expressed great excitement for the film, which had only begun filming ten days prior, and Watts promised that Spider-Man: Homecoming will primarily be a high school movie. Watts also introduced a teaser trailer that followed Peter Parker through a normal school day, giving a glimpse at Harrier’s, Batalon’s and Zendaya’s characters, as well as a sneak peak at the film’s villain, the Vulture. The clip was very bright and stylized, promising a fun movie with light-hearted laughs, vibrant characters, and a menacing villain. Spider-Man: Homecoming is currently filming and will be in theaters July 7, 2017.
Finally, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was invited to the stage, followed by a number of fully costumed Ravagers, darting through the audience aisles and taking over the stage with lots of jeering and banter. The Ravagers, including Kraglin played by James’ brother Sean Gunn, filled in the seats on stage, pretending to be Guardians stars and causing a general commotion until Gunn presented a clip that showed just what happens to the Ravagers in upcoming sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2. In the clip, the Ravagers have captured Yondu, Rocket, and baby Groot. Yondu sends the adorable and tiny Groot to retrieve his new head fin, a weapon that will help them escape, to hilarious results. Finally, the fin is retrieved and Yondu uses his whistle-controlled dart to take out every single Ravager as he, Rocket and Groot walk themselves out of their prison cell.
Gunn then introduced Guardians stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and Karen Gillan, as well as new cast members Pom Klementieff and Elizabeth Debicki. The cast was joined by the Ravagers’ leader himself, Michael Rooker, dressed in full costume as Yondu, as well as another new cast member, Kurt Russell. Pratt stated that Star-Lord will be dealing with the results of saving the galaxy, trying to become a more mature leader of his team, but failing. Saldana said Gamora becomes resigned to her fate of dealing with the immaturity of her teammates and Bautista said Drax will only become more confused at the metaphors flying around him. Gillan, who attended the first Guardians panel three years ago with a shaved head, was happy to be able to keep her hair this time around because she thought she looked like a long baby with no hair. Klementieff revealed that her character Mantis spent most of her life with Russell’s character and Debicki introduced her character Ayesha as the leader of an alien race that enlists the Guardians’ help to less than favorable results.
Additionally, Feige made the announcement that Disney’s California Adventure theme park would be getting a Guardians of the Galaxy themed ride. The current Tower of Terror attraction will be converted into Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout, which will open in 2017.
Finally, Gunn introduced the first trailer for Guardians: Vol 2, which promises another fun space adventure romp. In the trailer, the easy banter between the Guardians team is showcased as they go on missions together and meet Debicki’s Ayesha. Nebula and Mantis are shown very briefly, but the trailer reveals Kurt Russell’s character as Ego the Living Planet, who introduces himself to Star-Lord as his father. The trailer evokes the same irreverent joy as the first Guardians film and promises to bring the action and the laughs just as hard the second time around. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 will be in theaters May 5, 2017.
Before the end of the panel, Feige invited all of the Marvel Studios cast back out onto stage for one huge group photo, including the newest addition to the family, Brie Larson, who was announced to portray Captain Marvel. With that final announcement, the panel came to an end and fans were given baseball caps with Marvel Studios’ new logo embroidered on them.