The Hall H film presentations at Comic-Con International: San Diego are known for big moments like the first on-stage appearance of the Avengers cast, Tom Hiddleston’s infamous appearance as Loki, and this year’s drop-in by Johnny Depp as the Dark Wizard Grindelwald from the upcoming Fantastic Beats: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
But the big hall’s more modest upstairs sibling, Ballroom 20, also witnesses incredible Comic-Con moments, particularly for fans of TV. Though the barrier between the two venues is changing — The Walking Dead, Star Trek: Discovery, and Doctor Who were a few of the major Hall H TV attractions this year — Ballroom 20 is generally the TV-focused venue, with the CW shows, Big Bang Theory, and Amazon offering previews of their new and returning titles.
TV presentations are now spread between Hall H, Ballroom 20, Room 6A, and the Indigo Ballroom at the nearby Hilton Bayfront hotel among others, but no matter where the TV panels and presentations occur at Comic-Con, they have a different vibe than, say, the Warner Bros. Pictures presentation. While they still hype-up fans with the next new thing, they are also more intimate affairs with fans offering very vocal admiration.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best moments from Comic-Con’s comic book–tied television panels.
Doctor Who has a long-established connection to comics. In fact, Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker’s first comic book appearance is already scheduled to coincide with her arrival on television in the fall. Her debut in front of fans, however, occurred in Hall H during last Thursday’s Comic-Con panel, in which she and her co-stars faced 6,500 fans clapping to the beat of the show’s theme tune.
“It’s loud and amazing,” she said as she took her seat on stage, adding the welcome felt “like a hometown crowd.”
Because she was in a press room for most of the morning, she also said the panel was the “first moment to appreciate the cosplay and the T-shirts.”
When asked what she would cosplay as, Whittaker had an immediate response: Sloth from The Goonies. Played by John Matuszak, the third Fratelli brother with a misshapen face sports red suspenders and a Superman T-Shirt. Other than the make-up, it would be a fairly easy costume to pull off – particularly given its resemblance to Whittaker’s costume as the Doctor. She told Rotten Tomatoes earlier that day that The Goonies is one of her favorite films from childhood.
Like the rest of the hour-long panel, Whittaker’s choice of cosplay reflects what her interpretation of the Doctor is expected to be: unexpected and thoughtful.
The Walking Dead star Andrew Lincoln attended his last San Diego Comic-Con as Rick Grimes — as far as we can tell — as the actor confirmed that the upcoming ninth season of the AMC zombie series, which premieres October 7, will be his last. Co-star Norman Reedus led cast, creatives, and fans in a standing ovation for Lincoln. Read all of our coverage of the panel here.
On Saturdays at Comic-Con, Ballroom 20 is dominated by the stars of The CW’s Arrowverse. They often come with trailers and playful banter to get fans excited. But for Supergirl newcomer Jesse Rath, his first Comic-Con as the Arrowverse’s Brainiac 5 was an opportunity to prove he is far more of a prankster than his character could ever hope to be.
When producer Sarah Schechter was asked if it would be possible for Brainy to lend Alex (Chyler Leigh) his Legion flight ring so she and Kara (Melissa Benoist) could fly together, Rath immediately got up from his seat, took off his flight ring prop and handed it to Leigh. Both she and Benoist were flabbergasted by the sudden appearance of the prop.
“You have it!” exclaimed Benoist, who then asked if Rath stole it from the prop department.
“I did,” replied Rath.
While Benoist and co-stars Mehcad Brooks and David Harewood continued to laugh, Leigh held the ring in stunned silence until finally saying, “Look how satisfied you are with yourself.”
While Brainy would be reticent to steal the flight ring, Rath’s self-satisfaction about his mischief is a text-book trait of the character.
Saturday evening’s special preview of Syfy’s Deadly Class featured a lot of great interaction between the cast, crew, and potential fans. A young boy named Alex asked creator Rick Remender why he wanted to turn his comic book into a television show “other than for money.” But the best moment came a few questions later when a man dressed as Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine came up to the microphone. Before he could ask his question, star Benedict Wong asked if he could ask it in Klingon.
After pausing to consider the request, the fan asked (in English), “How does it feel to play older and powerful and someone everyone hates?”
Wong’s character, Master Lin, is the supposedly ancient headmaster of King’s Dominion, a boarding school for the scions of crime families and exceptional ne’er-do-wells.
Though not ancient himself, Wong said, “What I do carry is I work with the essence of Master Ling. He has a dedication to upholding the legacy of King’s Dominion. I just play what needs to be played. The viewer will judge.”
Before the fan could step away from the mic, Wong began to repeat his answer in a fairly good rendering of Klingon grunting, leading to the biggest laugh of the presentation.
Comic book legend Neil Gaiman is producer and showrunner on Amazon’s Good Omens, based on the book he co-authored with the late Terry Pratchett. As he put it, he had to become a producer to protect and extend the ideas he and Pratchett invented in the 1990 novel and their occasional conversations about a sequel.
But during Amazon’s presentation of upcoming programming last Friday, Gaiman was dismayed as the other showrunners on the panel – which included The Tick’s Ben Edlund, The Expanse’s Naren Shankar, Jack Ryan’s Carlton Cuse, Homecoming’s Sam Esmail, and Lore executive producer Gale Anne Hurd – all had footage to share from their respective shows and he did not. Before he could even suggest showing a video package for Good Omens, the voice of God (newly announced cast member Frances McDormand) boomed throughout Ballroom 20 to discourage him from misbehaving.
And just as God emphatically declared Gaiman could not show the clip, he said, “I can — I’m the showrunner!” The lights dimmed for a behind-the scenes look at the 2019 series.
The little bit of whimsy was, of course, reflective of the series, which will star David Tennant and Michael Sheen as a demon and an angel trying to prevent the end of the world. That whimsy also extended to casting McDormand as God.
“The way we cast Frances was the strangest way I ever cast anyone,” Gaiman said. “We knew it had to be a woman, [and] we wanted an American voice. Then out of the blue, I got an email from her asking if she could borrow my house in Scotland. I didn’t know her, but I wrote of course she can.”
He then mentioned the part, leading to her Comic-Con debut as the voice of the Almighty. But, as it happens, she has yet to stay at his house.
Wynonna Earp barely debuted its third season the night before the Comic-Con panel in the 1,000-seat Room 6A, leaving many to assume a fourth season renewal would be announced — if it was happening — much later in the year.
But during a sizzle reel screened at the Saturday evening panel, fans got confirmation of an upcoming Funko Pops line, and then the reel announced it had one more surprise: a 10-episode fourth season scheduled for 2019. It was a moment of joy and relief for fans — one they hoped for, but certainly did not expect. It was as much a surprise to the cast as it was the fans. When the lights came on, co-star Shamier Anderson ran around the room, returning to the stage to lead the crowd in a “Wynonna Earp, Season 4!” cheer.