By Jevon Phillips and Denise Martin, Los Angeles Times Staff writers
Secret’s out: Gwyneth and Robert know it. Hollywood knows it. And now everyone else knows it too. The comic collectors, fanboys and costumed wannabes are the tastemakers. And starting Thursday, they’ll descend on San Diego for Comic-Con.
Look at the the success of “Iron Man,” no doubt helped to its hundred-millions by last year’s showing at the Con. It’s a pop culture paradise, and we’ve picked the must-see items and events from this year’s gathering. (Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times)
Choose a side now -- we’re Team Edward all the way! -- because “Twilight” stars Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart will be on hand to dazzle fangirls, preview exclusive footage from the upcoming teen vampire romance movie and, with any luck, explain what was up with that Entertainment Weekly cover. (Peter Sorel / Summit Entertainment)
Every year, Sideshow has one of the best booth presentations on the floor. They lay out things months in advance, and even print a little map to let you know where and what everything is. Even if figures are not your thing, there are great representations of shows or movies depicting regular people (the Godfather figure is great) and the not so regular (the Balrog from “Lord of the Rings” is pretty cool). Take a quick stroll around the booth and you’ll find something you like, though whether you buy it is up to you. (Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times)
“The Wolf Man”
Universal Pictures will be revealing footage of “The Wolf Man,” starring Benicio del Toro as the tragic Lawrence Talbot, followed by a panel with special effects artist Rick Baker -- Look at that face! We’re already scared -- and an appearance by a very special guest. (Truly, that’s a hint in and of itself.) (Frank Ockenfels / Universal Pictures)
If you don’t know about this comic book and its influence on contemporary comics, then you should brush up. If you don’t know about the movie, and haven’t seen the awe-inspiring trailer in front of “The Dark Knight” -- who am I kidding? With a $158-million opening, that was the best promo the movie could’ve gotten. The characters, such as Comedian here, and stars (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) will become more known as it approaches, but get in on it now! (Clay Enos / DC Comics)
Always a draw, people-watchers will have their fill at Comic-Con. The stories are true: There are Wookies and wizards and school girls galore. But these made-up marvels are the ones being courted. For the wannabes who indulge in cosplay and dress up, their fervor, devotion and savvy can drive a project’s popularity. Freaks? Only in the sense that it takes freaky skill to customize a life-like Predator costume in your uncle’s basement just from rewinding the movie. The ones who are dedicated but don’t take it too seriously are great fun.
And we’re not even talking about the participants in the Masquerade. (Denis Poroy / Associated Press)
Another recipient of the “I’m-premiering-before-'The Dark Knight’” crown, but truthfully, it may not have needed it. Christian Bale does his Ian McKellen impression (starred in “X-Men” and “Lord of the Rings” at the same time) as he jumps into another franchise, taking on the role of John Connor. The trailer was cut well, enticing the audience, bringing in theme recognition after a little mystery -- but hopefully more will be revealed. “Terminator” has always had a great following at Comic-Con, so don’t expect it to end now. (Warner Bros.)
“Bolt” and “UP”
“Wall-E” just might be the year’s best-reviewed film, so make plans to hunker down in Hall H on Saturday until Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar unveil first-look footage of its upcoming films. On tap is Disney’s “Bolt,” a 3D comedy-adventure about a super dog, and Pixar’s “UP,” from director Peter Docter (“Monsters, Inc.”) about a lost world where anything can happen.
For the record: An earlier version of this story identified “Bolt” as a Pixar film. “Bolt” is Walt Disney Pictures film from Walt Disney Animation Studios. (Walt Disney Pictures)
Returning TV shows
Expect producers and cast members to showcase their best two-steps as they answer and dodge the fans’ burning questions about returning TV shows such as “Lost” (What’s up with this shadowy Jacob character, anyways?), “Heroes” (How much longer are we going to have to put up with Sylar?), “Battlestar Galactica” (Just tell us who the fifth Cylon is already!) and “24" (How will Jack survive without CTU around to save his behind?). ()
New TV shows
J.J. Abrams’ “Fringe” and Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse” top the new fall shows that will be getting the sneak peak treatment. After its Saturday session, “Fringe” will take attendees on a scavenger hunt through the streets of San Diego and to the location of the screening sites; register at www.ExloreTheImpossibilities.com for your first clue. Whedon and star Eliza Dushku will be on hand to better explain the world of “Dollhouse” and its fleet of imprintable ‘bots-for-hire. (Fox / ABC)
We love all things Whedon. From “Roseanne” to “Buffy” to “Firefly” -- love it. Joss, the creator, will come to Comic-Con to impart his wisdom and witty repartee in many different venues. Project-wise, he and Eliza Dushku will present the much-anticipated “Dollhouse,” and with his crew of Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day, he will talk about the Web series “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog.” And to top it all off, the convention will end with the slayer’s musical episode “Once more ... with feeling.” (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)