Comic-Con 2017: Details on ‘Blade Runner 2049’ and how ‘DuckTales’ made a billionaire duck lovable

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San Diego Comic-Con 2017 has ended, but the news is still rolling in. Who walked away from the world’s largest pop culture party a big winner? And who just walked away? We’re rounding up the greatest moments (and cosplay) from this year’s Comic-Con.

‘Ready Player One’ cast on the time Steven Spielberg broke a million points on ‘Missile Command’ on the set of ‘E.T.’

Steven Spielberg presents "Ready Player One" to roaring crowds at Comic-Con 2017.
(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

At Comic-Con Steven Spielberg unveiled eye-popping footage from his upcoming “Ready Player One,” offering a first glimpse at the tale of a young gamer searching for the ultimate Easter egg in a virtual reality game packed with a brain-boggling array of pop cultural references.

Not that the Oscar-winning director needs to prove his gaming-nerd bona fides. During a visit to the L.A. Times studio “Ready Player One” author Ernest Cline revealed how the filmmaking legend earned his stripes decades ago.

“[Spielberg] used to have a little arcade at Amblin back in the ‘80s and he was obsessed with breaking a million points on ‘Missile Command,’” said Cline. The only problem? He had a movie to make. So what was a director hell bent on notching his high score to do?

Haul “Missile Command” out into the woods, hook it up to production generators on the set of “E.T. – the Extraterrestrial,” and keep playing, naturally.

“And there, out there in the forest, playing between setting up shots,” Cline said approvingly, “he broke a million points on ‘Missile Command.’”

That level of hardcore dedication and nerdery will be on full display in “Ready Player One,” co-scripted by Cline and Zak Penn, which stars Tye Sheridan as Wade Watts, a teenager in a ravaged future circa 2045, in which people escape their grim real lives by escaping into the virtual world of the “OASIS.”

When the creator of the OASIS dies, Wade adopts the avatar Parzival and embarks on an epic quest to win ownership of the realm, a la Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, by finding the aforementioned Easter egg.

The 2018 Warner Bros. release is primed to hit all the right retro-nostalgia buttons with “cameos” by iconic characters such as Gandalf, the Iron Giant, Duke Nukem, Freddy Krueger, the car from “Christine,” and the DeLorean from “Back to the Future.”

Joining Sheridan as Wade/Parzival are T.J. Miller as i-R0k, the world’s “first virtual hitman,” Olivia Cooke as Art3mis, an ally who drives the sleek red cycle from “Akira,” and Ben Mendelsohn as Nolan Sorrento, the nefarious head of a corrupt corporation known as IOI who’s also after the Easter egg.

Working with Penn and Cline to adapt the VFX-heavy “Ready Player One” to the big screen, Spielberg pushed to expand certain characters from the book into bigger roles, such as Miller’s i-R0k.

Miller, who arrived in cosplay dressed as Duckie from “Pretty in Pink,” shared another tale of nerdery from his director: What does Spielberg geek out over?

Billy Wilder’s Oscar-nominated 1957 drama “Witness for the Prosecution.”

“He’d been watching this movie over and over and over again for like a week, or weeks, because he’d become very obsessed with it,” recalled Miller. “We watched it and he’d ask us questions like, ‘Don’t you love that first tracking dolly shot when they first come into the courtroom?’ He just had the whole thing completely memorized and wanted to ask all about the little tiny things. That’s pretty nerdy.”

Watch the full L.A. Times interview with the cast and writers of “Ready Player One” – including Penn’s own “Jurassic Park” pinball high score story and Mendelsohn’s eerily accurate impersonation of the pterodactyl from “Joust.”

Cast of “Ready Player One” at Comic Con.


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‘Star Trek: Discovery’ cast excited for new series’ idealism in current political climate

The cast from Star Trek: Discovery chats with Sarah Rodman in the Los Angeles Times Video studio at Comic-Con.

“I was frozen,” said Anthony Rapp, when asked about the cast reaction to seeing the “Star Trek: Discovery” trailer for the first time at Comic-Con this past weekend. “It was overwhelming. It’s extraordinary.”

Rapp pretty much summed up the feelings of the entire crew from the USS Discovery, who stopped by the L.A. Times photo studio to chat about joining the proud “Star Trek” TV family, Sept. 24 on CBS All Access.

“I don’t know how to process it,” said Shazad Latif, about becoming a character in the beloved franchise as Lt. Ash Tyler in the series, which is set about 10 years before the original voyage of Capt. Kirk, Spock, Scotty and the gang.

James Frain, who will be playing a younger version of a character well known to fans, Spock’s father Sarek, says the show will continue the “Trek” tradition of being “about humanity’s endless thirst for knowledge.”

Mary Wiseman — who plays Cadet Tilly — contrasted this new “Trek” with the current crop of dystopian-focused media, “’Star Trek’ is so idealist because it could feel like the end of the world right now, America feels extremely divided. People can’t hear each other people can’t have compassion for each other… What ‘Star Trek’ [asks is], ‘What qualities are we going to have to have, and what ways are we going to have to think to move forward to a better future? Not just survive in a dystopian one.’ And I think those qualities are compassion, openheartedness, open-mindedness, respect for difference, teamwork, rigor, strength.”

Sonequa Martin-Green, who will lead the ensemble as First Officer Michael Burnham, was both giddy and humbled about joining the beloved franchise but admitted she had not previously been a Trekker. She remembers both the original series and “Next Generation” often on TV in her house, she wasn’t necessarily attentive. But Martin-Green feels like it is a testament to the franchise’s far-reaching impact that “Though I didn’t watch it, I feel it is a part of my upbringing.”

Sonequa Martin-Green from the television series "Star Trek Discovery" in the LA Times Comic-Con photo studio.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Doug Jones from the television series "Star Trek Discovery" in the LA Times Comic-Con photo studio.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Check out more images of the “Star Trek: Discovery” cast at the Times Comic-Con 2017 photo studio gallery >>>

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David Tennant says Scrooge is lovable in ‘DuckTales’ despite being a coin-diving billionaire

Toks Olagundoye, left, Danny Pudi, David Tennant, Kate Micucci, Beck Bennett and Ben Schwartz from "DuckTales" visit the L.A. Times photo studio.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

The fun was infectious when the new “DuckTales” stars David Tennant (Scrooge McDuck), Ben Schwartz (Dewey), Danny Pudi (Huey), Beck Bennett (Launchpad McQuack), Kate Micucci (Webby Vanderquack) and Toks Olagundoye (Mrs. Beakley) stopped by the L.A. Times studio during Comic-Con.

While a number of cast members have their own fond memories of the original show, it’s clear Schwartz was the biggest fan of the group. His fellow Duck-mates pointed to him immediately and unanimously as the one able to sing the infamous “Moon Theme” from the “DuckTales” Nintendo game.

But it’s not just fond memories and nostalgia that the new show is up against. There is also the likelihood of people who grew up watching the original “DuckTales” now having a different understanding (and opinion) about income inequality than they did when they were kids.

How do you create a billionaire for whom people want to root in 2017?

“I don’t think he worries about being lovable,” Tennant said of his Scrooge McDuck. “I think that’s probably the key to him, if there is a key to him, and who says I’ve got it right.”

His “DuckTales” family was quick to point out that he’s definitely got it right.

“I think you play him for what he is,” Tennant added. “He’s irascible and he can be tricky, and I think you love him in spite of that.”

As for whether this version of Scrooge hangs out with his fellow billionaires in some sort of exclusive setting, Tennant played it a little more coy.

“Probably,” he said. “I don’t want to give away any plot spoilers.”

Viewers will just have to wait and see whether this means they’ll get a glimpse of Duckburg’s version of Mar-a-Lago.

The new “DuckTales” premieres Aug. 12 on Disney XD.

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Lupita Nyong’o just won Comic-Con (three days later)

Lupita Nyong'o and Michael B. Jordan on the Marvel panel at San Diego Comic-Con on July 22, 2017.
Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan on the Marvel panel at San Diego Comic-Con on July 22, 2017.
(Richard Shotwell / Invision/Associated Press)

Radiant human and all-around delight Lupita Nyong’o shocked Twitter users Wednesday morning when she posted a video to her Twitter account asking, “Did you see me at Comic Con?”

In the video, a dancing, prancing individual dressed as a pink Power Ranger boogied through the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter and halls of the San Diego Convention Center.

Dancing to Kendrick Lamar‘s “i,” the disguised Power Ranger exalts at the back of the crowded Marvel booth (Nyong’o attended SDCC in promotion of the 2018 Marvel release “Black Panther”) and points, well, pointedly at a figurine of Maz Kanata, the character voiced by Nyong’o in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

The end of the video reveals that it was Nyong’o beneath the mask all along, perhaps the most successful celebrity SDCC disguise since Bryan Cranston wore a Bryan Cranston mask to the “Breaking Bad” panel in 2013.

Still, Nyong’o’s video makes it clear that no one had more fun secretly cosplaying at Comic-Con than she did.

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We asked ‘Blade Runner’ director Denis Villeneuve: Is Deckard a replicant?

Director Denis Villeneuve talks about “Blade Runner 2049” at Comic Con.

Androids may or may not dream of electric sheep, but movies are living creatures, “Blade Runner 2049” director Denis Villeneuve said during his visit to the L.A. Times studio at Comic-Con.

“The movie’s alive. It has its own soul, its own personality,” said Villeneuve, who’s still in post wrangling the ambitious sci-fi sequel, which arrives three decades after Ridley Scott’s grimy-neon classic introduced Harrison Ford’s futuristic, replicant-hunting gumshoe Rick Deckard.

Along with Villeneuve, “Blade Runner 2049” is stacked with cinema icons. Ford reprises his famed role as Deckard, now long in hiding. And new blade runner played by Ryan Gosling, Officer K, is on his trail.

Original screenwriter Hampton Fancher returned to script the sequel with Michael Green, and as soon as Villeneuve landed the directing gig he brought on veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins (“The Shawshank Redemption”), whose lush and atmospheric lensing already has fans buzzing from the trailers alone.

“Blade Runner 2049” marks the first franchise outing for Villeneuve, who was Oscar-nominated for last year’s similarly ambitious sci-fi flick “Arrival.”

“The biggest challenge for me was to take someone else’s universe, someone else’s dream, to digest it and make it my own dream,” he told The Times (watch our full chat above). “For instance, one of the toughest [things] for me was to figure out where Harrison Ford’s character will be in the future.”

In order to conceive how Deckard would have spent the last three decades following the events of “Blade Runner,” Villeneuve went to the source.

“Right from the start, Harrison told me that he needed me to find him in the future,” he said. “And me, I deeply needed Harrison Ford. We talked a lot together and thought a lot about that for several months, to imagine what Deckard would be like.”

Even at Comic-Con, where Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. mounted a massive, immersive “Blade Runner 2049” fan experience, filled with props, fully constructed sets, incredibly believable character performers and an Oculus VR ride, Villeneuve found himself dodging The Question: Is Deckard a replicant?

“What interested me is the question itself,” he said, referring to author Philip K. Dick’s original novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” “The characters in the book sometimes doubt themselves, and they want to test themselves because they are unsure sometimes if they are natural or designed, if they are artificial beings or real human beings. And that doubt, in their paranoia, I think is more interesting than the answer.”

As for said answer, Villeneuve isn’t spilling, despite the fact that Ford and Scott have voiced their opinions on Deckard’s humanity — and fallen on opposite sides of the debate.

“It would put myself in danger because Harrison Ford strongly believes he’s human, and Ridley is convinced that Deckard is a replicant, so I don’t want to be in that war! They are still arguing about it.

He also played coy when it came to describing Gosling’s role, “but I will say that the part was written for him,” he added. “It was not my idea to offer the part to Ryan. Hampton Fancher thought about him when he wrote it … and when I read the screenplay, I just felt he was right.”

For now, chew on this thematic link between the “Blade Runner” flicks.

“[It is] a continuity of the reflection of what it is to be a human being, our relationship with memories and the importance of memories and the importance to the past,” Villeneuve said. “What we are taking from the past inside us to transform our destiny, it’s something that I feel is an extension of the first movie.”

“Blade Runner 2049” will premiere Oct. 6.

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‘Riverdale’ stars on Season 2 ‘ships, Toni Topaz, and the great debate: Should the show go supernatural?

The cast of "Riverdale" talk Season 2, dream 'ships and supernatural twists at Comic-Con.
(Jay Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

“Will ‘Riverdale’ go supernatural?” That’s the question fans can’t seem to stop asking — especially since the hit CW show seems perfectly set up to introduce zombies, a certain teenage witch and other otherworldly elements into its deliciously twisted take on the classic Archie comics.

When they stopped by the L.A. Times studio at Comic-Con, the cast members swore they weren’t just putting on their poker faces to avoid giving anything away.

“We don’t need to practice a poker face,” laughed Camila Mendes, who plays Veronica Lodge. What about zombies? “That’s not happening!”

Co-star Casey Cott sees the potential — even if it might not happen any time soon. “There is a very mythical element to our show that supernaturalism is possible — I think it is possible,” he said. “But right now it’s fun to have this thriller aspect.”

The cast of “Riverdale” talks about what to expect in season two at the L.A. Times Comic-Con studio.

The problem with going supernatural so soon, even if it’s what “Riverdale” fans crave?

“I think when it goes there, it doesn’t really come back,” said Cole Sprouse, who plays narrator and resident Riverdale amateur sleuth Jughead Jones. “I think it will break the world a little bit.”

“We have to ask ourselves, and the creative staff has to ask themselves if they ever do choose to include a supernatural element, how do they do it without destroying the universe that has already been built?”

He cautioned against fans “bullying” creators into writing the things they want to see, rather than trusting in the show’s vision. “The key to continuing to make an interesting kind of narrative for season 2,” said Sprouse, “is to stick to your guns.”

Bughead alert! Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhart bring "Riverdale" to Comic-Con —click for more photos from the L.A. Times studio
(Jay Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

After a whirlwind day at Comic-Con where they joined showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on the CW’s “Riverdale” panel to answer fan questions and drop a Season 2 trailer, the cast members were experts at keeping mum about the things fans are dying to know after that dramatic Season 1 finale.

They kept tight-lipped about Fred Andrews’ fate (“but Luke Perry is breathing in this world somewhere,” Madelaine Petsch offered) and went over their dream “Riverdale” ’ships.

“Nana Rose and Pop Tate!”

“Josie and Reggie!”

“Cheryl... with anyone?”

“Hot Dog and Jughead,” a pairing henceforth lovingly dubbed HotJug. Or would it be JugDog?”

“This is a spoiler,” said Sprouse. “Hot Dog does make a reappearance.”

"Riverdale"'s Camila Mendes and KJ Apa at Comic-Con 2017 — click for more photos from the Los Angeles Times studio
(Jay Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Another romantic pairing is already set to bring even more conflict to Riverdale when the new season debuts Oct. 11.

Torn between worlds, his friends and his new Southside family, Jughead will just keep getting sadder, lamented Sprouse.

Enter Toni Topaz, the bisexual Southside Serpent who will complicate Bughead’s romance even as Betty’s role at the center of a new mystery grows, according to Lili Reinhart.

“She becomes a kind of peer mentor for Jughead,” said Sprouse. “It’s not really certain whether she’s more of a siren welcoming Jughead to the worst side of himself, or if she’s an ally in a dark place. But she’s a cool character.”

Is Kevin going to survive his breakup? When will Veronica finally get to confront her father? Will growing tensions tear the Pussycats apart? And which “Riverdale” character should everyone really be worried about going dark in the new season?

The answer, the cast agreed, is Archie Andrews himself.

“I’ve been wanting Archie to go a bit darker,” said Apa. “When I first read that first episode of Season 2, it was what I needed.”


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The cast of ‘Preacher’ on the ways in which New Orleans plays a vital role in season 2

The stars of AMC’s supernatural drama “Preacher” stopped by the L.A. Times photo studio to chat about the new season currently in progress.

Some of the shooting took place in New Orleans, and Dominic Cooper (Jesse Custer), Graham McTavish (the Saint of Killers) and Joseph Gilgun (Cassidy) discussed what the distinctive atmosphere of the Crescent City added to the proceedings. (For Gilgun at least, a first timer to NOLA, it included cannabis and voodoo.)

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Watch one dedicated Comic-Con cosplayer transform into ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’s Nebula

Comic-Con cosplayer AmberSkies transforms herself into Nebula from "Guardians of the Galaxy."
(Mark Potts/Los Angeles Times)

Dedicated fans who dress up as their favorite Jedis, Wonder Women, Spider-Men, and anime characters (shout out to Ezra Miller!) help make the annual San Diego Comic-Con International a special place where fandoms from all universes come alive.

For third-grade teacher Amber Malinski (a.k.a. AmberSkies), the lure of cosplay was impossible to resist.

“Instead of just going to the Comic-Cons, I started to look around me and get jealous and go, ‘How come they get to dress up and I don’t?’ I could do that!’” she told The Times.

Malinski taught herself special effects makeup and costuming from watching YouTube videos, drawing from her favorite sci-fi and fantasy films.

Cosplaying truly is a labor of love for the whole family; Amber’s father, Randy Malinski, is her handler. The role of a handler is to assist the cosplayer with things like holding their bags or offering a straw when they’re thirsty -- so as not to smudge the intricately lined makeup on the character’s mouth.

They’re a father-daughter team, and Amber wouldn’t have it any other way: Dad was the person who “started her in art.”

Even within the cosplay community there’s no competition, she says, only mutual admiration: “At the end of the day, we’re all just adults playing pretend and dress up.”

This year Malinski came to Comic-Con with four different costumes -- one for each day.

She spent Thursday as Queenie from “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” Friday as Nebula from “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Saturday as Alan Rickman’s Doctor Lazarus from “Galaxy Quest,” and Sunday as Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince from “Wonder Woman.”

“It all stems from a love of art and paying tribute to characters that have influenced you in one way or another,” she said.

The painstaking process of transforming into the blue-skinned Nebula of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” began early Friday morning at Comic-Con. To Malinski, becoming Nebula, the part-cyborg warrior played by actress Karen Gillan in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” was worth the extra effort.

“Not to say that I’m a raging, space alien serial killer or anything like that,” she said and laughed. “I love Karen Gillan and I loved this little unknown Nebula character as soon as she came on screen for the first time.”

“I knew everyone was going to pay attention to the big Guardians. What about the little Guardians? What about those interesting characters in the background? That’s how I fell in love with Nebula.”

Below, watch Malinski as she transforms into Nebula and steps out in full cosplay at Comic-Con.

Get more L.A. Times coverage from Comic-Con 2017

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‘Silver & Black’ director Gina Prince-Bythewood discusses landing the ‘Spider-Man’ spinoff

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood.
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times )

“There’s this really idiotic belief that women don’t have the desire to do these kind of films,” said Gina Prince-Bythewood to a captivated audience at Comic-Con. “These kinds of films” being superhero franchises.

But the “Beyond the Lights” director is on a mission to break that belief. Prince-Bythewood recently signed on to direct Sony Pictures’ next superhero flick and spinoff from the new “Spider-Man” franchise “Silver & Black,” featuring the comic book characters Silver Sable and Black Cat.

Prince-Blythewood had assembled along with directors Tina Mabry (“Dear White People”), Rosemary Rodriguez (“Jessica Jones”), Victoria Mahoney (“Gypsy”), Aurora Guerrero (“Queen Sugar”) and Angela Robinson (“Professor Marston and the Wonder Women”) as well as Women in Film L.A. executive director Kirsten Schaffer for the “Women Rocking Hollywood: Female Directors Changing the Faces of Film and Television” panel on Saturday.

Though Prince-Blythewood couldn’t say much about her next, top-secret film, she was able to talk about the process of getting hired for the job.

“I had my next film ready and set up to go and I get a call about [‘Silver & Black’],” she said.

Despite originally declining, Prince-Blythewood recircled the project after learning who the characters were. She was only 10 pages into the script when she changed her mind.

“I was just so excited about these two women and the story that I’d able to tell and the world I’d be able to play in. I went in and talk to the producers,” Prince-Blythewood said. “It’s not always this quick but [I had] an innate feeling that I was the right person for it and I really had to believe it.”

It was during these talks when Prince-Blythewood envisioned her film as a “a very grounded story in this fantastic world of Marvel.”

“Silver & Black” is not Prince-Blythewood’s first venture into the superhero world. She also directed the pilot of the upcoming TV series “Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger.” The director explained that while she loved being a part of Marvel’s venture into the young adult world with “Cloak & Dagger,” a large reason she took part in the show was because of her son.

“Four years ago now, [my younger son and I] were sitting watching something and he turned to me and asked ‘how come we never get to see black superheroes?’” Prince-Bythewood said. “And that stuck with me.… That got me into the world.”

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The finest freakouts, reveals and moments at Comic-Con 2017

That’s a wrap on San Diego Comic-Con!

But before you pack away your cape for the next convention, let’s take a minute and reflect on the great moments that can happen only at this gigantic festival of pop culture. Did you catch Wonder Woman using her powers for love? Or Jason Momoa telling everyone Superman is dead? Or how about the resurrection of what is arguably the greatest science-fiction series in the universe, “Stargate?”

Here are the can’t-miss moments from Comic-Con 2017:

Gal Gadot comforts a little Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman returned to Comic-Con, presumably to take several victory laps around Hall H and then spike her tiara. But actress Gal Gadot was calm, collected and appeared to be humbled by the outpouring of love from fans. Cut to the “Justice League” autograph signing/fan meet-and-greet. A young Wonder Woman fan (complete with adorable T-shirt cape) got a little emotional while talking to the Amazonian princess.

In response, Gadot held her hand and assured the wee warrior that it was OK. And Ezra Miller (the Flash) even offered the fan a spot on the “Justice League” when she was ready.

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Glitter bombs away! ‘Thor,’ ‘Stranger Things’ and more celebrity boomerangs from the L.A. Times studio at Comic-Con

Mehcad Brooks, left, the cast of "Stranger Things" and Cate Blanchett get goofy at the 2017 L.A. Times Comic-Con studio.
(Jay Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

From “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Stranger Things “ to “Preacher” and “Supergirl,” all of your favorite film and television stars stopped by the 2017 L.A. Times studio at Comic-Con to have a little boomerang fun.

Check out more photos and gifs from the annual pop culture bonanza on today’s L.A. Times Instagram story.

Celebrity guests at the 2017 L.A. Times Comic-Con photo studio had a good time with confetti, silly glasses, and other props in our Boomerang Booth.

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The greatest cosplay of Comic-Con 2017

Gender swaps, genre mash-ups and “punk” versions of your favorite Batman characters, the cosplay creativity on display at this year’s Comic-Con was truly worthy of being labeled “epic.”

Take a video look back at some of the greatest cosplay on display from Comic-Con 2017.


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Everything you want to know about ‘Black Lightning,’ ‘Supergirl,’ ‘Arrow,’ ‘Flash’ and the rest of the CW lineup

Cress Williams, Christine Adams, Nafessa Williams and China Anne McClain from the television series "Black Lightning."
Cress Williams, Christine Adams, Nafessa Williams and China Anne McClain from the television series “Black Lightning.”
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

The traditional CW block of Comic-Con panels added a new show this year. “Black Lightning” joined “Supergirl,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” “The Flash” and “Arrow” for a three-plus-hour extravaganza touting the network’s super-heroic TV slate.

The new kid on the block, “Black Lightning” brought a level of social awareness to the proceedings that most of the fantastical other shows didn’t particularly touch on (this year, at least). The show is grounded in family and community, specifically black families and black communities, and according to the showrunners it will not shy away from addressing the concerns that are current.

“Yes there’s a problem with police brutality and we will get into that. There’s also a problem with us killing each other,” said Salim Akil, one of the executive producers of the series alongside Mara Brock Akil. They were joined on the panel by lead actor Cress Williams, who plays the titular character, and his TV daughters China Anne McClain (playing Jennifer Pierce) and Nafessa Williams (Anissa Pierce), and his TV ex-wife Christine Adams (Lynn Pierce).

“Black Lightning” follows Jefferson Pierce (Black Lightning’s real-life persona), who is a man wrestling with a secret. He has the superhuman power to control electricity but gave it up for his family and others. But when his family is threatened he’ll have to don the suit and use his powers again. Fun side note, his daughter (McClain) exhibits special powers as well.

“What’s going to make this so fun for the writers and others is that this is going to come from an authentic black male voice,” Salim said. “I think this character will give back to the culture. Black culture specifically, but American culture.”

“The biggest challenge was accepting that this black man was running around town in this suit. That’s the easiest way to get shot,” Salim said as the audience laughed. “[The show] is about balancing out when he uses his powers [and] how he uses his powers and why.”

Another “Black Lightning” surprise was the announcement that James Remar and Damon Gupton would be joining the cast.

Salim’s closing remarks circled back to representation, and the desire to give little kids the opportunity to choose between being Batman or Black Lightning for Halloween -- highlighting the fact there should be a choice.

Here’s a breakdown for the rest of the CW panel:


(Jevon Phillips / Los Angeles Times)

- Katie McGrath (Lena Luthor) is now a series regular, and her character immediately makes an enemy of a powerful person.

- We will get to see Martian Manhunter’s father.

- Supergirl’s sister Alex popped the question to her girlfriend at the end of last season. Exec Jessica Queller is happy that they get to portray a relationship that is “emotional, modern and honors the love between these two women.”

- Melissa Benoist wants a puppy on the show. David Harewood wants the Martian to get drunk and sing karaoke.

“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”

- Last season the Legends were the only game in time, so to speak, but now Rip Hunter will head a group that can help fix time alongside the heroes..

- Neal McDonough’s Damien Darkh will return.

- A new character, Zari, joins the cast. She’s a hacker from the future played by Tala Ashe who will butt heads with the positivity of Ray (Brandon Routh).

- There will be a character called Fireshine. It’s a “Freaky Friday” situation for the Firestorm duo where Victor Gabler will most likely be the physical manifestation of the hero instead of Franz Drameh.

- There have been conversations with Matt Ryan about Constantine coming on the show.

- They are having an ‘80s episode in which they investigate Ray Palmer’s childhood.

“The Flash”

Tom Cavanagh, Grant Gustin and Candice Patton on the "Flash" panel.
(Jevon Phillips / Los Angeles times)

There was a sneak peek of exclusive footage from Season 4. The whole cast was once again present for the panel. Exec Todd Helbing, Keiynan Lonsdale, Jessie L. Martin, Candice Patton, Grant Gustin, Tom Cavanaugh, Danielle Panabaker and the always-popular Carlos Valdes.

- Jesse L. Martin was happy he got to work with Victor Garber on the musical episode. “As a New York kid, that means a lot.”

- The Thinker is the new big bad for this season, and will be played by Neil Sanderlands from “The 100.”

- Gypsy’s (Jessica Camacho) father will be showing up, and he’ll be played by Danny Trejo.


- Responding to the inquiry of why the island was blown up, producer Wendy Mericle said: “We’re good at blowing things up. That’s what we do.”

- Exec producer Marc Guggenheim: “We are going to see a different Oliver Queen. The last five years have really changed him.”

- Stephen Amell on his character’s changes: “To start on episode 116 and be able to do fun, new stuff has been great.”

- Katie Cassidy, who played Black Canary, on returning: “So excited to be back. It feels like I never left. It’s been pretty easy getting back in the swing of things.”

- There will be a super group of villains, including one played by Michael Emerson, though we don’t know who he is or who they’ll be.

- Amell has apparently mentioned that he’d like to see a “Supernatural”-”Arrow” crossover, so a member of the audience asked him how that could possibly happen.

- The character Richard Dragon will be among the villains this year as well.

- One of the first questions from the audience centered on the identity of the mysterious “vigilante” from last season. The only reveal from Guggenheim was that the character is someone we already know.

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Harley Quinn celebrates 25 years at Comic-Con

It’s been 25 years of cartwheels, giant mallets and saying “MISTAH JAY!” Harley Quinn turns 25 this year, and at San Diego Comic-Con the already exceedingly popular character was celebrated.

Cosplayers gathered to share their love Harleen Quinzel (her real name) and explain why they find themselves attracted to such a complicated character.

More are Harley:

Who is Harley Quinn? How ‘Suicide Squad’s’ pigtailed antihero went from sidekick to Margot Robbie superstar

Harley Quinn and the Joker’s bonkers ‘Suicide Squad’ costumes are full of insane details

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Best Cosplay of 2017 Comic-Con: ‘Goldfinger’ cosplay comes with Bond’s romper

Destiny Sotello and Steve Stewart of Los Angeles.
( K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The cosplay game has stepped up at San Diego’s Comic-Con extravaganza. Shout out to the “Goldfinger” cosplay for going all the way with the short, blue romper Sean Connery sported in the Bond flick.

Here are a few favorites from our gallery roundup.

Alina Bartolini of Tijuana is Raven at Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday.
Alina Bartolini of Tijuana is Raven at Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday.
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
Steamroller Jim is a vacationing Batman at Comic-Con in San Diego.
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
Vana Ellison of Las Vegas in costume as the dragon Smaug from "The Hobbit."
Vana Ellison of Las Vegas in costume as the dragon Smaug from “The Hobbit.”
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)


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Fun with Melissa Benoist in our L.A. Times studio

Fun having Melissa Benoist stop by our LA Times studio

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When you get Naomi Watts, Kyle MacLachlan and Tim Roth in a room with confetti

When you get #NaomiWatts @Kyle_MacLachlan and #TimRoth in a room w confetti! #twinpeeks #sdcc

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L.A. Times photo studio at Comic-Con 2017

Rachel House, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Taika Waititi, Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, and Karl Urban, from the film "Thor: Ragnarok
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Taika Waititi and Jeff Goldblum from the film "Thor: Ragnarok."
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
K.J. Apa, a.k.a. Archie Andrews from "Riverdale."
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)


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The Doctor and Bill will be reunited in the ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas special

Pearl Mackie has one last “Doctor Who” hurrah left.

A trailer for the upcoming “Doctor Who” Christmas special debuted at the show’s Hall H presentation at Comic-Con on Sunday, and the audience cheered as the familiar companion appeared during the final moments of the video.

While exactly how Bill will make her return is unknown, the upcoming special “Twice Upon A Time” will also feature Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor, David Bradley as the First Doctor and will also feature writer-actor Mark Gatiss.

Unfortunately, the reveal was bittersweet. During the presentation, Mackie confirmed that the Christmas special is, for now, the last fans will see of Bill.

Of course, Mackie is not the only person departing the series. The 10th season marks the last for both Capaldi and showrunner Steven Moffat.

Starting next season the Time Lord will be played by Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall will take the reins of the series.

“I think Jodie’s going to be amazing. I spoke to her the other day, and she’s so full of excitement and so full of passion about the show,” said Capaldi.

“It’s really, really thrilling to know that it’s in the hands of somebody who cares for it so deeply and is going to do really really exciting things with it,” said Capaldi. “She’s a great choice.”

Moffat then added his thoughts about how the news of Whittaker’s casting has been received.

“There is so many press articles about a backlash among the ‘Doctor Who’ fandom against the casting of a female Doctor. There has been no backlash at all,” said Moffat.

“The story of the moment is that the notion of the conservative ‘Doctor Who’ fandom has utterly embraced that change completely,” Moffatt continued. “Eighty percent approval on social media, not that I check these things obsessively.”

“So many people [are] wanting to pretend there is a problem. There isn’t,” added Moffat. “In fact it strikes me that ‘Doctor Who’ fans are more excited about the idea of a brilliant actress playing the part than the fact that she’s a woman.”

“It’s been incredibly progressive and enlightened and that’s what’s really happened. I wish that every single journalist that’s writing the alternative will shut the [heck] up. It’s not true,” Moffat concluded.

(Whether Moffat was aware that fifth Doctor actor Peter Davidson lamented Whittaker’s casting as a loss of a role model for boys during an appearance earlier during Comic-Con is unknown.)

In addition to Capaldi, Mackie, Moffat and Gatiss the panel featured Matt Lucas (Nardole), Michelle Gomez (Missy).

The presentation also included a Capaldi highlight reel to look back at his time as the Doctor. Watch the clip below.

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Watch Kansas surprise ‘Supernatural’ fans with a live performance at Comic-Con

“Supernatural” fans celebrated the soon-to-be 13th season of their series with a surprise live performance from the rock band Kansas.

Kansas performed the “Supernatural” staple song “Carry On My Wayward Son” for an elated audience right before the “Supernatural” panel kicked off San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall H.

Because at Comic-Con, Kansas opens for “Supernatural.”

For those not in the know, “Supernatural” played “Carry On My Wayward Son” in the finale of its first season, and the song has reappeared in every season finale following.

After the performance series actors Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins and executive producers Robert Singer and Andrew Dabb took the stage for their traditional panel.

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Tom King explains what a Batman-Catwoman marriage would look like -- and what Mister Miracle is escaping

Batman proposed to Catwoman recently. You may have heard.

Late in his Sunday morning spotlight panel at Comic-Con, the writer who scripted that moment, Tom King, answered a fan’s question about what that marriage would look like.

“I’m married to the best woman who ever lived, and she guides me through everything,” the now double Eisner Award-winning King said. “She sees how messed up I am, and she loves that part of [me]. And I see how messed up she is, and I love that part of her. Because of that, we can live together and be happy. So I think that’s how it would work.”

Robust applause followed.

It was a rollicking (albeit maybe too early) hour in which King rewarded readers with insights into his work on “Batman,” “The Vision” and the upcoming “Mister Miracle” -- and dropped good-humored f-bombs in equal measure.

King understands that the 10 a.m. Sunday comics creator spotlight panel is for the dedicated readers, those bookish souls who have read even his most obscure work and can appreciate a joke about how Steve Ditko handles things being stolen from him.

He also understands that Saturday night celebrations at Comic-Con International extend close to dawn Sunday, that breakfast may consist of a sugar-and-butter covered pretzel and a Diet Pepsi.

After wondering aloud whether the few people sitting in the very back of the room were Russian agents (King is a former CIA officer), he took a poll of how late people had been up, and found only one attendee who, like him, had been going until at least 4 a.m.

“Were you just sitting around complaining about your editors?” King asked the man to laughs. “Yeah, that’s a comic book party.”

King displayed the two Eisner Awards he had won Friday -- the limited series prize for “The Vision” with artist Gabriel H. Walta at Marvel and the short story honor for his dog story “Good Boy” with artist David Finch in “Batman” Annual No. 1. He spun the balls on the upper parts of the trophies.

“Can’t spin the Academy Award,” he quipped. “Take that, Meryl Streep.”

Turning to “Mister Miracle,” he said the new series will open and close with words the character’s creator, the legendary Jack Kirby, used in the original run, with a new comic in between, “as a sort of tribute to the king of comics and it’s also to show that what the whole series is about is taking these huge, expansive Kirby concepts that he put in that seems like it’s an epic about space, and it’s actually an epic about the human soul.”

For the uninitiated: Mister Miracle, who debuted in 1971 as part of the Kirby-created-written-and-drawn Fourth World at DC Comics, is the son of the chief of the New Gods, Izaya, and was traded in a diplomatic deal to the evil Darkseid in exchange for one of his heirs. On Darkseid’s planet Apokolips, Mister Miracle rebels, falls in love with future wife Big Barda, and escapes. Escaping may be what Mister Miracle does best. (Hey, his other name is Scott Free.)

The new title, which King calls “the best, most ambitious thing I’ve ever written,” is drawn by his “Sheriff of Babylon” collaborator Mitch Gerads and will be out Aug. 9.

King said it is influenced by a string of events that included a panic attack as he was taking over “Batman” after Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s bestselling run, his beloved grandmother’s death on the same day, and how the world has “gone crazy” since: the Patriots’ comeback Super Bowl victory, the Cubs’ World Series win and Donald Trump’s election.

“It’s about the feeling of being trapped and about trying to escape that,” he said. “It’s about a man and a woman. It’s about Scott and Barda, and them trying to find love in the midst of hell…. Mister Miracle is the son of God, but unlike Jesus he wasn’t given to the people, he was given to the devil…. He went to that hell and met the love of his life and he escaped it, but that pain of his childhood is still in him, and it’s the trap he’s trying to escape from…. Plus, there are jokes.”

King has an exclusive contract with DC. Asked what characters he might want to write if he returned to Marvel, he said: “The long, philosophical answer is that I don’t care…. A character is not about what that character is, it’s about what you bring to it and what the fans bring to it and what the passion of the two of us or billion of us together can bring to it. I was assigned ‘The Omega Men.’ I was assigned ‘Vision.’ I was given ‘Mister Miracle.’ You find what’s in it that appeals to you. That’s the long, philosophical answer.

“The short answer?” he continued, “It would be the Fantastic Four.”

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Watch Jeff Goldblum achieve peak Goldblum-talking-mode on the ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Comic-Con panel

Saturday at Comic-Con, Jeff Goldblum joined his “Thor: Ragnarok” castmates to preview the Nov. 3 space adventure for 6,500 screaming fans in Hall H.

A rollicking panel ensued led by director Taika Waititi, who joked that most of his actors never learned their lines.

Tom Hiddleston caught the crowd up on what Loki’s been up to since seizing Asgard’s throne at the end of “Thor: The Dark World. “Loki has devoted most of his efforts to narcissistic self-glorification,” he said. “Not so much on good governance.”

They brought a sneak peek at a scene in which Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is captured and brought to the gilded-disco domain of the Grandmaster, the gaming-obsessed Elder ruler of Sakaar who pits his latest acquisition — Thor — in a gladiator battle to the death... against his own Avengers teammate, the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).

In one wonderfully sublime moment onstage, the entire room fell silent as Goldblum went into peak Goldblum mode to describe his character. Even Cate Blanchett, who plays Hela, the self-professed Goddess of Death, sat rapt as he entranced the crowd.

Behold: Your moment of Goldblum.

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A ‘Runaways’ reunion at Marvel’s Cup o’ Joe with a new creative team -- plus Quesada takes questions on Captain America

“The Runaways” has been missing from Marvel’s lineup since 2009.

Now, with a Hulu TV adaptation on the way, writer Rainbow Rowell and artist Kris Anka have been entrusted with bringing the young superteam home to comics readers.

Rowell, who will be making her Marvel debut with the Sept. 13 release of No. 1, was brought on board, editor Nick Lowe said at the publisher’s Cup o’ Joe panel Saturday afternoon, after he read her young adult novel “Eleanor & Park” and contacted her to see if she would be interested in writing comics. She told him her favorite characters were the Runaways. Anka (“Captain Marvel”) has established himself as a go-to artist at the publisher.

Created by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Adrian Alphona and debuting in 2003, the acclaimed Runaways started as a group of teens who saw each other once a year when their parents gathered -- and discovered their folks were supervillains. Surviving members -- including the witch Nico, alien Karolina, super-strong Molly, son of mad scientists Chase and his telepathically linked dinosaur Old Lace -- will reunite in the series.

Rowell said it “just felt wrong” that they weren’t already in a book together and that the appeal in writing the characters is that “the Runaways mess up constantly; they try to do the right thing, but it’s just a series of screw-ups. They hurt each other’s feelings, they say the wrong thing. They find themselves in bad situations. But they try so hard. And they talk a lot.”

Anka recalled being a freshman in high school when the original series debuted. “I’m from L.A.,” he said, “I grew up with people like this. I approached it as these are all people I grew up with and I end up meeting them again after a long time.”

The creative team said they quickly fell into rapport about characters it felt like they knew personally. But Rowell had a head start -- she scripted six issues before Anka signed on. The artist said he was all in before he was allowed to start drawing pages -- “spending weeks building Pinterest wardrobes for everyone.”

Rowell has since tailored edits on the scripts for Anka -- “basically people just start taking off their shirts.” (Hey, as Anka’s Twitter bio says, “dang draws great abs.”)

In the grab-bag panel’s question-and-answer session, the final fan query was about what Marvel had learned from the sharp criticism over having Captain America revealed as a Hydra agent -- a story still playing out in the “Secret Empire” event -- and what they would do differently.

Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, the panel’s host, fielded that one.

“We would not have done anything differently,” he said. “We have a great story, we know exactly how it ends, and we cannot let the Internet dictate our creative [decisions].... The kind of outcry we’re getting, it comes in earlier than ever before…. Do you really think that this is where Marvel … is going to go with the character? No, of course not. We have a story to tell…. That’s the beauty of these characters: You throw them to the point where you think, ‘Oh my God, they’re broken forever’ and then you realize, ‘Wow, look at that turn.”

Quesada compared the recent firestorm to anger at what “Civil War” did with Tony Stark before the resolution. Lowe chimed in that it was the same with “Superior Spider-Man” (killing Peter Parker incited death threats to writer Dan Slott; the series with Doctor Octopus’ mind in Peter’s body was a hit, and, y’know, Peter eventually returned).

“We can’t be reactive,” Quesada said. “We just have to tell our stories.”

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Real politicians explain how government would pay for all those cities Thor, Spider-Man, and the X-Men destroy

Comic-Con is, at its root, an escapist event for fans and obsessives of pop culture. This year it made room for public policy wonks as well.

While that sounds a bit like an uncomfortable intrusion of the real world in a weekend built on fantasy, it’s also a tidy reflection of 2017 given the always-on state of politics. In a lively panel Saturday morning in room 29AB called “Who Cleans Up the Mess?” a collection of politicians and civil servants looked at how civic life would rebuild if the dazzling (but dangerous) superhero battles seen in blockbusters year after year came to life. And given the good-sized crowd it drew, fans were ready to listen.

“I can’t believe anyone showed up to this panel. That’s a good sign of who we are as people,” said San Diego Councilman David Alvarez, who was one of six city and state officials weighing in on government’s role in the aftermath of not-so-natural disasters.

Moderated by activist/blogger Rena Marrocco, the bulk of the conversation took place after watching clips of some particularly destructive superhero scenes, including Magneto relocating the Golden Gate Bridge in “X Men: The Last Stand,” and the Avengers laying waste to a city center in the first installment of that franchise.

Former California State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher referenced his military training in first restoring communications, order and human needs in crisis areas. And California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones looked at the potential for a homeowner’s recovery.

“The problem with this one is you have a government actor, right? Captain America. Insurance is not going to cover it,” he said as laughter filled the room. “And then you’ve got a deity, Thor. There’s an act of god exclusion. If this becomes the norm, we’ve got to change the law to stop insurance companies from putting these exclusions in there.”

Portions of the panel focused on the real-world policy in place to address disasters closer to home. California State Treasurer (and gubernatorial candidate) John Chiang used the “X-Men” footage as a jumpingoff point to talk about the need for infrastructure repair, and a scene of Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man damaging high-rises while trying to stop a runaway train spurred talk of the need for more affordable housing. But the tone quickly turned more playful.

“Within minutes of this happening, Gov. Jerry Brown would say, ‘This is why we need high speed rail,’” joked Fletcher, who sported a Wonder Woman T-shirt. “President Trump would have tweeted, he would’ve blamed Obama. The rest of us here we would’ve tried to figure out what to do.”

Other topics included the limited capabilities of FEMA at least in the earliest moments after a disaster, and the levels of cooperation required among government agencies to rebuild. After talk of other recovery efforts after the San Francisco earthquake of 1989, Marrocco posed the question of who or what was the greatest real-world supervillain. The room erupted in laughter.

“Did you say who? Because that’s a really easy one,” replied Jones. But the conversation quickly turned to climate change with the response of Esther Sanchez, councilwoman from nearby Oceanside. Fletcher, who recently announced a run for supervisor in San Diego County, brought that idea into focus.

“The convention center you’re in has pumps in the basement, to pump the water out from rising seawater,” he said, and murmur of surprise ran through the crowd. In a blockbuster-worthy twist, the villain was with us all along.

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Ryan Coogler explains why Kendrick Lamar is the perfect sound for ‘Black Panther’

Director Ryan Coogler and stars Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong'o present Marvel's "Black Panther" at Comic-Con.
(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

After making a historic splash on the Hall H stage last year, the “Black Panther” squad returned to Comic-Con with dazzling new footage that brought the room to its feet and left the 6,500-strong audience with one song buzzing in their heads.

This time it wasn’t Run the Jewels, whose “Legend Has It” soundtracked the first trailer for “Black Panther” earlier this summer.

Director Ryan Coogler and his stars debuted an extended fight scene set in a casino before the reel segued into a montage set to Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA” -- the perfect track to mirror T’Challa’s journey from Wakandan king to superhero.

The lyrics, after all, are uniquely suited to “Black Panther”: “I got, I got, I got, I got / Loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA ...”

“He comes from a long lineage of kings, of royalty,” Chadwick Boseman said of his onscreen alter ego, still energized from the panel’s rapturous reception moments later. “You’re talking about a world that would exist if the Egyptians were never conquered, if Sumeria was never conquered and was allowed to progress -- that’s what Wakanda is.”

“As soon as I heard it on his album for the first time I said, ‘They should use that song,’” Boseman added. “I just thought it would fit. I didn’t know if they’d do it or not, but I thought it was perfect.”

Coogler, also a K-Dot fan, concurred.

“The lyrics are amazing -- a lot of Kendrick’s are,” said Coogler, who also co-wrote “Black Panther” with Joe Robert Cole. “It’s actually oddly literal for our trailer’s purposes -- and I think a lot of the cultural things we’re dealing with in Wakanda are in the zeitgeist in the African American community.”

The footage that wowed the Comic-Con crowd, which Marvel Studios honcho Kevin Feige promised won’t yet be seen anywhere else, opens on T’Challa a.k.a. Black Panther and his right-hand operatives Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and Okoye (Danai Gurira).

The trio infiltrates a sumptuously appointed casino on the trail of Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), where they’re promptly engaged in hand-to-hand combat.

Boseman effortlessly leaps up and across the room in a single bound. Gurira dazzles while wielding a long staff; at one point, she snatches her wig off and hurls it at an enemy.

Nyong’o, too, shows off a fighting style of her own in the film, but the most glorious moment might be the sight of her kicking a man in the face with action heroine precision.

“Black Panther” opens Feb. 16, 2018.

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New SyFy series “Krypton” showcases Superman’s grandpa and will include Hawkwoman and Adam Strange

"Krypton" producers Damian Kindler and Cameron Welsh flank star Cameron Cuffe in the LA Times photo studio at Comic-Con July 22, 2017
(Jay Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

To the relief of people in the audience at the debut Comic-Con panel for the new Syfy series “Krypton,” the creators revealed that they didn’t totally disconnect from the current DC Universe.

DC Entertainment’s Geoff Johns moderated the Indigo Ballroom panel Saturday, which included Cameron Cuffe, who stars as Superman’s grandfather Seg-El, and executive producers Cameron Welsh and Damian Kindler.

The presentation opened with a sneak peek at footage from the show, which premieres in 2018. It highlighted the Romeo-and-Juliet situation in which Seg-El finds himself due to a romantic relationship with a woman from the House of Zod, a name Superman fans know well.

In the narration, Superman’s grandpa tells Kal-El (aka Superman) that he’s about to learn more about his history, and not just about the planet’s demise: “Ours is a story of sacrifice and triumph.”

It was clear that Cuffe knew his character, the lore surrounding it, the back story of Superman in the comics and just comics in general.

“These are my people. I was, am, just like you,” he said gesturing to the crowd, recounting meeting Johns prior to his involvement in “Krypton” because the writer signed a copy of “Teen Titans” for him.

Johns revealed two characters who would be making appearances on “Krypton”: Adam Strange and Hawkwoman. (She may not be the Hawkwoman comics fans are used to, but her ties to the planet Thanagar and Strange’s ties to the planet Rann will be what gets them on Krypton.)

The series revolves around a nefarious plot to erase or affect the legacy of Superman by going back into the past on Krypton. Johns recounted that at the start of the show someone from Earth relays the message to Seg-El that he must thwart this plan.

The show, Johns said, “will answer the question of how the [the iconic Superman ‘S’] symbol comes to mean everything that it means today.”

The show will include familiar places like Kandor and the Fortress of Solitude, and will feature a number of other heroes and villains that the panel didn’t want to spoil, but they did spill that Brainiac and Doomsday will make an appearance.

Although set in the past, the producers said “Krypton” needed to connect to the present day DC universe because it changes the stakes when viewers know it could affect what they know to be canon in the world of Superman.

Asked how he felt, as a fan, to be stepping into this role, Cuffe said, “To be the origin of the symbol to my favorite character, it means everything to me.”

Ultimately, said Kindler, “We want to make a show where the DC fan says ‘They got it right.’ ”

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Ezra Miller went to all his ‘Justice League’ Comic-Con obligations dressed as anime character Edward Elric

Ezra Miller is the Flash for Warner Bros.’ next big superhero production, “Justice League.” So naturally, he was on hand at Comic-Con to rally the geek troops for their premiere in November.

However, Miller isn’t just any old celebrity putting in the basic due diligence at the comic book convention. Miller came to play.

He came to cos-play.

Because Miller is a human treasure that all the world should enjoy, he showed up to all his “Justice League” appearances dressed as anime character Edward Elric.

“Ed” is a popular anime and manga character from “Fullmetal Alchemist” created by Hiromu Arakawa. He has long, blond hair and a braid that drapes over his shoulder, and for one beautiful day, so did Miller.

The idea that someone had to explain to Miller’s co-star Ben Affleck who Ed Elric is and what this wig was all about is a gift that keeps on giving.

This isn’t the first time Miller has arrived to Comic-Con in in costume. In 2016 he wore a pretty spectacular “Lord of the Rings” ensemble.

For all of us, Miller, please keep on shining.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
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‘Star Trek: Discovery’ panel reveals new family connections

The cast and creators of “Star Trek: Discovery” came armed with plenty of treats for fans who made it out to the show’s spotlight presentation on Saturday at Comic-Con. In addition to debuting a brand new trailer, the cast shared some details about the show that had yet to be revealed.

The “Discovery” cast members in attendance included Sonequa Martin-Green, Jason Isaacs, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Mary Wiseman, Anthony Rapp and James Frain. The actors were joined by producers Alex Kurtzman, Gretchen J. Berg, Aaron Harberts, Heather Kadin and Akiva Goldsman in the panel moderated by Rainn Wilson, who will play classic “Trek” character Harry Mudd.

Martin-Green, who plays the show’s lead, First Officer Michael Burnham, proved she was cut out for everything Starfleet represents very early during the event when she was asked to address the backlash against “Discovery’s” open push for diversity.

“‘Star Trek’ has always been [a champion] of diversity and of universality and of unity. I truly believe it’s one of the main reasons why it is so important to so many people still to this day,” said Martin-Green. “And if you say you love the legacy of ‘Star Trek’ but you don’t love that, then you’ve missed it.

“I encourage you to join with us,” Martin-Green continued, offering an olive branch to the detractors. “Come on the journey with us. Hopefully, it will help you learn something about yourself and the people around you because that’s what our story does.”

But what excited “Star Trek” fans the most were the details revealed by the cast and creators.

It turns out Martin-Green’s Michael is not just Sarek’s protege in the show -- their relationship is much more familial.

“I was basically committed to [Capt. Georgiou] through my surrogate dad, Sarek,” said Martin-Green when asked about how Michael came to serve under Michelle Yeoh’s character. “That’s a little bit of a reveal.”

“I was raised on Vulcan by him and Amanda [Grayson] after the murder of my parents,” Martin-Green said.

Speaking of relationships, Rapp announced his character, the first openly gay character in a “Star Trek” television series, will indeed have a romantic interest.

“Wilson Cruz will be playing my love interest. My partner,” Rapp revealed. “We’re both officers on the ship.” Rapp also shared that Cruz’s character is a fellow scientist.

Finally, fans also learned that they might want to spend some time before the “Star Trek: Discovery” premiere brushing up on their Klingon. The warrior-species will be speaking actual Klingon so those without proficiency should be prepared to read subtitles.

As a bonus, here is footage of Jones, who plays Saru, the tall Kelpian, demonstrating his character’s unique strut. Lt. Saru is not only extremely tall, he has hooves.

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Cate Blanchett goes FULL villain in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ trailer

Taika Waititi and the rest of the “Thor: Ragnarok” crew debuted a brand new trailer to the denizens of Hall H. In it the mighty Cate Blanchett takes center stage as does her equally fabulous evil headdress. This is Marvel’s new villain Hela.

But of course, no “Thor” story is really complete without the Asgardian’s brother Loki. Tom Hiddleston himself shared that Loki has spent the last four years ruling Asgard (as Odin) -- though not doing a very good job of it.

As for “Ragnarok” specifics, Hiddleston reminded the audience that Loki is still the God of Mischief but declined to share any more, urging fans to wait for the film to find out where his ultimate allegiances may lie.

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‘Captain Marvel’ will take place in the 1990s

President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige announced a bit of “Captain Marvel” news on the Hall H Marvel panel at Comic-Con.

The first woman-lead superhero film from Marvel, starring Brie Larson in the title role, will be set in the 1990s. And that means, “Nick Fury will have TWO eyes,” Feige explained, “Because this film is set in the early 1990s. The villains will be the first MU appearance of the Skrulls.”

Yes, that’s right the Skrulls are entering this already pretty well-populated, superhero world. And that’s double confirmation that Samuel L. Jackson will be in “Captain Marvel.”

Also joining Jackson is Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost, Walton Goggins as Sonny Butch, Randall Park as Agent Jimmy Woo and Laurence Fishburne as Dr. Bill Foster.

“It’s a prequel.” Feige added.

Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck will helm the MCU standalone.

“Captain Marvel” will hit theaters on March 8, 2019.

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New ‘Westworld’ trailer offers a peek at bloody times ahead

HBO’s sci-fi western “Westworld” won’t be returning until 2018, but that didn’t stop the premium cable provider from treating San Diego Comic-Con fans to a glimpse of what’s to come.

And what does the future hold for the android hosts of Westworld? Blood, mostly. Lots and lots of blood.

The trailer begins with a close-up the show’s famous player piano, lurching into action playing a blood-smeared copy of Sammy Davis Jr. classic “I’ve Gotta Be Me.”

From there, things were mostly a bloodbath. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) was on horseback, teeth bared, firing a shotgun and mowing down humans, while Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) looked befuddled by the corpse of a dead tiger. And, of course, a bloodied -- but not beaten -- Man in Black (Ed Harris) smirked his way into the future.

It’s not much to go on, but given that the second season has only been filming for a week (!) it’s not too shabby.

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Ben Affleck squashes Batman exit rumors, and Jason Momoa spills all the ‘Justice League’ goss

Actors Jason Momoa, left and Ben Affleck speak at Comic-Con.
Actors Jason Momoa, left and Ben Affleck speak at Comic-Con.
(Richard Shotwell / Invision/Associated Press)

Contrary to recent fanboy-panicking reports, the Batfleck will stay in the picture. At least, according to Ben Affleck.

On Warner Bros.’ Comic-Con panel Saturday, the “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” star made sure to address the elephant in the room -- a very, very large room packed with 6,500 eager fans.

A day ago, a Hollywood Reporter article cited a source claiming that Warner Bros. is angling to push Affleck out of his Batman role in its massive DC Extended Universe franchise.

“Let me be very clear,” he said, leading off the “Justice League” panel in Hall H with so much emphasis he dropped three f-bombs in the process. “I am the luckiest guy in the world. Batman is the coolest (…) character in any universe – DC, Marvel – and I’m so thrilled to do it.”

“It’s (...) amazing. I still can’t believe after two films… we have this history with this great studio,” he said. “Kevin Tsujihara and Sue Kroll and Toby Emmerich said to me, ‘We want you to be our Batman.’”

Affleck also raved about director Matt Reeves, who replaced him at the helm of the highly anticipated standalone film “The Batman.”

“I would be a (…) ape on the ground for Matt Reeves, never mind being Batman! I’m really blown away and excited. It’s a great time in the DC universe.”

Whether Affleck’s assurances put the DCEU fandom at ease remains to be seen.

Joining Affleck on the Hall H dais were “Justice League” co-stars Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Ray Fisher (Cyborg) and Ezra Miller (The Flash).

The squad played an action-packed “Justice League” trailer for the capacity crowd and briefly addressed the exit of director Zack Snyder, who handed the reins of finishing the film after a family tragedy to “Avengers” director Joss Whedon.

“Joss is a great guy and Zack picked a great guy to come in and finish up for him,” said Fisher.

The actors described the thrill of suiting up as a full team for the first time on the “Justice League” set.

“It was very much a high geek-level moment, it was just electrifying,” said Affleck. “It was incredible.”

“I kept trying to touch everyone and they had to tell me, ‘Stop! Stop!’ It looked so cool and real,” said Miller, who threw gentle shade to DC rivals Marvel. The DC Comics world is “the first comic universe… are there other comic houses?”

Gadot thanked fans for embracing her “Wonder Woman” this summer, making the first female superhero movie a box office topper.

“This character is just so incredible,” she said. “She stands for everything that is good, for love and compassion and truth and justice and peace. There is nothing not to love about her.”

But it was Momoa who stole the show from the very start, making a rock star entrance from the back of the room, trident in hand.

And when one fan inquired about Henry Cavill -- whose dearly departed Superman is mourned heavily in the trailer -- Momoa pulled no punches.

“Son, I don’t know if your parents showed you the last movie but Superman’s DEAD.”

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Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo discuss Batman vs. ‘his nightmare versions of himself’

The dynamic duo of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo have reunited to put Batman through more hell -- and to poke some fun at each other.

Before getting down to the nitty-gritty of their Bat-crazy DC Comics event “Dark Nights: Metal,” which launches next month, the fan-favorite personalities behind a bestselling 2011-2016 run on “Batman” did some impersonations.

Introduced as Capullo by DC co-publisher Dan DiDio, Snyder walked onstage in a custom bald cap with dark sunglasses and a fake mustache attached, and proceeded to talk about what an awesome writer and collaborator Scott Snyder is.

The real Capullo entered, pulled off his pal’s mask, and sat down to do his high-pitched impersonation of Snyder: “This is really the most meaningful story … that I’ve ever written, even though I say that about every other project,” he said to a large room of laughing fans.

(Blake Hennon / Los Angeles Times)

“That’s his voice for both me and his wife,” Snyder said.

“You’re my comics wife,” Capullo replied.

Then it was time for serious business. Very serious, if you’re Bruce Wayne.

In “Metal,” Batman and his fellow heroes will have to face the Dark Nights -- characters Snyder called “Bruce’s nightmare versions of himself.” The new villains are from worlds in the new Dark Multiverse where “anything you fear becomes material and real,” the writer said. The Batmen of the Dark Multiverse have made choices that went horribly wrong.

Capullo’s fearsome, metallic designs for six of the Dark Nights were shown on a screen by the stage.

“They really are pretty Gwar,” Snyder quipped.

The seventh character’s look is being kept secret for now, but an ominous name was given: The Batman Who Laughs. Keep in mind that the Joker was in part inspired by Conrad Veidt’s disfigured clown character in the 1928 silent horror film “The Man Who Laughs.”

Among the projects revealed in the presentation: Jeff Lemire’s return to DC Comics to write “The Terrifics,” one of the Dark Matter crop of titles that spin out of “Metal”; the team will feature Mr. Terrific, Metamorpho, Phantom Girl and Plastic Man. The Canadian graphic novelist entered to cheers. He said he’d also be doing a series titled “Hawkman Found” with artist Bryan Hitch.

In the question-and-answer session, a grade-school reader named Christopher said to Lemire, “You may have not noticed, but Plastic Man’s suit is white [in the art for ‘The Terrifics’]. That’s kind of like how his son’s suit is, Offspring …”

“I did notice that,” Lemire said to laughs. “And that’s a very good clue as to some things that are going to happen in the book.”

The insightful young reader got his own round of applause.

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Video: Shannon Purser crashes the “Stranger Things” panel to question Barb’s fate

Shannon Purser asks the “Stranger Things” question we’ve all been wondering about.

Internet folk hero Shannon Purser, better known as Barb from “Stranger Things,” dropped by Hall H on Saturday afternoon to ask the panelists what we’ve all been wondering: Will Barb return for Season 2?

Watch above to learn Barb’s fate and whether or not fans will ever see #JusticeForBarb.

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‘Stranger Things 2’ trailer doubles down on nostalgia bait

If you liked “Stranger Things,” chances are you are also a fan of kids riding bikes, Dungeons & Dragons, Rubik’s Cube, scraped knees, and all things adorably ‘80s.

Netflix knows this and they’ve pumped up the nostalgia bait for the next season of “Stranger Things,” courtesy of one Vincent Price’s voiceover from “Thriller” and the “Dragon’s Lair” video game.

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Vader Trump Cosplay wants to ‘Make the Death Star Great Again’

(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

James Cherry of Redlands is cosplaying as Darth Trump. Note the lightsaber golf club.

(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)


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James Van Der Beek totally thinks Diplo would survive the zombie apocalypse

Diplo... or James Van Der Beek? Photographed at the L.A. Times' Comic-Con studio on July 21, 2017.
(Jay Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Somehow we never noticed what an uncanny resemblance electronic music megastar DJ Diplo bears to actor James Van Der Beek, yes, the erstwhile Dawson Leery. But some things you can’t unsee.

Van Der Beek plays the celebrity DJ -- at least, a mythic, Instagram-happy, slightly dim version of Diplo -- on the new Viceland series “What Would Diplo Do?” premiering Aug. 3.

It might, in fact, turn out to be one of the Great Roles that Van Der Beek was born to play. He not only plays Diplo, but he also writes on the show and serves as executive producer (the real Diplo is also an executive producer).

He stopped by the L.A. Times Comic-Con studio to discuss the artistic hunger that drove him to portray one Thomas Wesley Pentz, how he prepared for the role, and if learning how to let the beat drop is, in fact, an art unto itself.

Also: How Diplo would survive the zombie apocalypse. And radioactive spiders. And more. We are at Comic-Con, after all...what would Diplo do?

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‘Riverdale’ drops Season 2 trailer and some tantalizing tidbits at Comic-Con

“Riverdale” is going even darker for Season 2.

The first season ended with a bang — literally — so fans were understandably bursting at the seams in anticipation of learning anything from the upcoming season.

Of course, instead of providing any immediate answers, the show’s Comic-Con presentation Saturday kicked off with a blooper reel. But that video was immediately followed with a trailer teasing “Riverdale” Season 2.

Then, “Riverdale” showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, cast members KJ Apa (Archie), Lili Reinhart (Betty), Camila Mendes (Veronica), Cole Sprouse (Jughead), Madelaine Petsch (Cheryl), Ashleigh Murray (Josie), Asha Bromfield (Melody), Hayley Law (Valerie), Casey Cott (Kevin) and executive producer Sarah Schechter took the stage to spill some secrets about the upcoming season.

Here are some highlights:

  • Fans will learn the fate of Fred Andrews by the end of the first episode.
  • No relationship is safe. Plenty of new characters are on the way to shake things up. This includes Toni Topaz, who becomes Jughead’s guide to everything Southside Serpents. She will be played by Vanessa Morgan.
  • It seems like trouble is on the way for the couple fans have dubbed “Bughead” (Betty and Jughead), but there could be bit of a twist. In the comics, Toni is an established bisexual character, and Aguirre-Sacasa confirmed that her sexual orientation will remain intact for the series. The panelists remained mum on the possibility of who exactly Toni’s romantic interest may be.
  • Also on the way? A love interest from Veronica’s past. Mendes described this ex-boyfriend as a “bad boy.”
  • Aguirre-Sacasa also implied that they are still looking for ways to bring Sabrina Spellman, a.k.a. the Teenage Witch, into the “Riverdale” fold before being cut off by Schechter. “I love horror stuff and I love dreams and jump scares and stuff like that, so we’re always looking for ways to put [the supernatural] into ‘Riverdale,’ ” Aguirre-Sacasa said.

Watch the “Riverdale” blooper reel and Season 2 trailer above.

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‘Justice League’ trailer brings back Wonder Woman and delivers a mighty Aquaman hair flip

Since its debut last month, “Wonder Woman” has grossed over $770 million worldwide -- so Warner Bros. knows what it has in Gal Gadot’s beloved superhero.

It stands to reason, then, that Wonder Woman is featured prominently in a new “Justice League” teaser that debuted at Comic-Con on Saturday. The film, which hits theaters Nov. 17, was directed by Zack Snyder and features all of the most popular characters in the DC universe: Batman (Ben Affleck), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and the Flash (Ezra Miller).

So far, there’s no Superman to be seen, as the character played by Henry Cavill was killed off in “Batman v Superman.” But Cavill was spied on the London set of “Justice League,” so don’t count him out just yet.

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Denis Villeneuve on ‘Blade Runner 2049’: I didn’t want anybody else to mess it up

Harrison Ford appears onstage for "Blade Runner 2049" at Comic-Con.
(Jen Yamato / Los Angeles Times)

The “Blade Runner 2049” portion of Saturday morning’s Warner Bros. panel at Comic-Con kicked off with a Jared Leto hologram following a timeline of the entire history of the “Blade Runner” universe unfurled on wraparound screens in Hall H.

Veteran “Blade Runner” actor Harrison Ford joined newcomer Ryan Gosling and director Denis Villeneuve during the presentation, alongside Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Lennie James and Mackenzie Davis. Writers Hampton Fancher and Michael Green also joined the cast onstage.

Villeneuve was transparent with what drove his interest in continuing the “Blade Runner” mythology, explaining that he did it “because I didn’t want anybody else to ... it up.”

In a delightful turn of events, Ford also seemed willing to open himself up to questions from the audience.

When asked by an audience member whether his intent was to reboot every great film he’d been in, a reference to Ford’s appearance in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “The Force Awakens” and “Blade Runner 2049” in recent years, Ford gamely answered, “You bet your ... it is.”

When asked the lingering question of the possibility that his character Rick Deckard is a replicant, though, Ford pulled no punches.

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” the legendary actor snorted.

As for Gosling, he’s still struggling to believe the film is happening.

“I’m not sure this isn’t a giant episode of ‘Punk’d,’ ” the “La La Land” star marveled.

Audience members were treated to a new clip from the upcoming film, scheduled for release Oct. 6, featuring Gosling’s character walking through a hall of replicants.

The panel also featured the latest trailer for the film, released July 17. Check it out below.

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‘Ready Player One’ trailer debuts, and Spielberg says Iron Giant is ‘real major player’ in film

Steven Spielberg unveiled a first-look at his “Ready Player One” in Hall H Saturday, and the filmmaker promised that the Iron Giant is a “real major player” in the sci-fi adaptation.

Based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel about a teenager on the hunt for valuable treasure in a virtual reality game, the movie stars newcomer Tye Sheridan in the lead role.

Spielberg called the film’s world “a flash future that is awaiting all of us whether we like it or not.”

“This movie is going to expose so many people to the concept of virtual reality, and I think it’s going to change the speed of adoption,” said Cline.

The Iron Giant -- an old animated character -- will feature prominently in the film, and the trailer reveals plenty of other pop culture references too, including Freddy Krueger and the “Back to the Future” DeLorean. Check it out above.

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Gal Gadot is here and Comic-Con is losing its mind

“GAL GADOT #SDCC2017 OMGJDJD” says it all. But if that weren’t enough, check out the accompanying video capturing crowd reaction to Diana of Themyscira herself walking among the common folk.

Gal Gadot, a.k.a. Wonder Woman, has arrived at San Diego Comic-Con, on her way to the Warner Bros. panel currently in progress in Hall H.

Expect updates for Gadot’s upcoming film “Justice League” imminently.

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Wayne Brady pops in at the Oscars of comics to take them to ‘Level Next.’ See all the Eisner Award winners

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

At the Eisner Awards on Friday night, actor-comedian-singer-TV host Wayne Brady took the stage as a surprise guest, announcing he is working to add “comics creator” to his list of professions with a new publishing imprint to be called Level Next.

Among the winners, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ sci-fi epic “Saga” continued its award-winning ways with four prizes: continuing series, writer, cover artist and penciller/inker.

And Wonder Woman had a big night during a ceremony that celebrated diversity, with wins for a recent Jill Thompson book and a posthumous honor for the warrior princess’ first artist.

Thompson dedicated the new graphic album prize to “every girl who might see Wonder Woman for the first time ... and [she] inspires them to be stronger, or inspires them to do something that might be difficult, or something they may have been told that they’re not supposed to do — because there is nothing that they’re not supposed to do because they’re supposed to do everything.”

See a complete list of winners and more photos from the show here.

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Peek at Episode 1 of ‘Marvel’s The Defenders’ reveals fighting, lawyering, drinking and an intimidating Sigourney Weaver

Charlie Cox (Daredevil) and Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones) at the "Marvel's The Defenders" panel at Comic-Con on Friday night.
(Al Powers / Associated Press)

If there was one takeaway from the surprise Hall H screening of the first episode of “Marvel’s The Defenders,” it’s that fans of the four previous Netflix series approve. There was plenty of applause throughout the episode.

While no specific spoilers will be included below, those wanting to avoid any impressions from the episode should stop reading here.

The initial episode serves as a quick refresher on where each hero’s solo story left off, while planting seeds about how all the characters will very much exist in the same world.

While watching every single episode of “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist” isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for understanding the show, being familiar with each character will be helpful. And there is definitely some nuance that will be missed by brand new viewers.

Respectively, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is still a blind attorney with heightened senses, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is still rough edges and whiskey, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is still an (ex-)con with principles and Danny Rand (Finn Jones) still has a glowing fist.

Because “The Defenders” is an eight-episode series, this first installment is not in any rush to bring the characters together. But rest assured, there is forward progress in the narratives for each soon-to-be Defender.

As fans of the previous Marvel Netflix shows have probably come to expect, the episode includes fighting, lawyering, drinking, destruction of property, and, yes, even a little bit of physical loving.

The first episode also introduces viewers to Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver), whose attitude and appearance (she’s usually wrapped in white) are more than intimidating. She seems thoughtful and calculating and is clearly no stranger to wielding power. Maybe not superpowers, though at this point in the series it’s tough to say. But she has a plan, and she’s going to see it through. She is also acquainted with a very familiar face.

Familiar faces actually appear throughout the episode, which is why those who have watched the previous shows will have an enhanced (and probably positive, if the cheering is anything to go by) overall viewing experience.

Finally, if every episode of “The Defenders” ends in a similar way to this pilot, fans may end up binge-watching the show without being able to help themselves.

“Marvel’s The Defenders” will be released Aug. 18.

(Warning: Graphic language)

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