Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: It's kinda hard to get stoked about this year's Comic-Con International. The annual San Diego confab is typically a bellwether of everything coming to screens big and small. There are usually sneak peeks of future blockbusters and surprise announcements about comic-book heroes getting their own movies. Often, big-name actors come out to surprise fans. This year, though, the con feels downsized. Warner Bros., the studio typically responsible for one of the biggest panels in the convention's legendary Hall H, isn't putting on a big show. If Lucasfilm is bringing anything—like J. J. Abrams and a massive orchestra—it has done a remarkable job keeping it quiet. Marvel announced somewhat last-minute that there would be a presentation on the future of its cinematic universe, but with Avengers: Endgame in the history books, it's unclear what the studio will have to show. That said, the absence of some big players leaves room for unexpected surprises. As WIRED packs up for sunny Southern California, here are the panels and presentations we have our eyes on.
The Batwoman CW Show
Fans of Kate Kane, aka Batwoman, have been eagerly—and nervously—awaiting an adaptation of her comic-book run for some time now. This fall they'll get their wish when Batwoman, which stars Orange Is the New Black actor Ruby Rose as the lesbian superheroine, premieres on The CW. Attendees at Comic-Con, however, will get a chance to see the premiere early; they'll also be treated to Q&As with the cast and an appearance from Rose on the Women Who Kick Ass panel on Saturday.
The Marvel Hall H Panel
Marvel skipped Comic-Con in 2018, but it's coming back this year to bring fans … something. It's expected that head honcho Kevin Feige will be laying the groundwork for Marvel's next phase, but what that means is anyone's guess. Perhaps a look at The Eternals movie? Or Shang-Chi? We likely won't know until it's happening.
The Game of Thrones Reunion
So, the Game of Thrones panel is a bit of an anomaly. The show is over, so it's not like HBO needs to drum up hype for a new season. Presumably, this will be a big "Wasn't that cool, guys?" reunion panel—Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm), John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), and others are all expected to attend—but whether it'll be a victory lap or an apology tour to address fans' disappointments over the finale remains to be seen.
Lots of Star Trek
Star Trek is Comic-Con canon. People come to celebrate the franchise even when it's in somewhat dormant phases. This year, though, the Enter the Star Trek Universe panel on Saturday will feature not only the current fan-beloved show Star Trek: Discovery but also Star Trek: Picard and the upcoming animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks. Beam up.
Terminator: Dark Fate Scaring Chauvinists
It's easy to be skeptical about a new Terminator film. It's a beloved franchise, but it's been awhile since there was a good movie in the franchise. This skepticism immediately evaporates when one hears director Tim Miller (Deadpool) say that Mackenzie Davis' character, Grace, will "scare the fuck" out of misogynists. This panel happens early in the con but could easily end up ruling the show.
The Witcher Attempting to Bewitch Hall H
The Witcher is one of a few high-profile projects Netflix is bringing to Comic-Con this year, and everyone will be watching to see how the crowd responds. The series, based on the fantasy books by Andrzej Sapkowski, will focus on a monster hunter named Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) in "an epic tale of fate and family." The new Game of Thrones? We'll see. Added bonus: Henry Cavill in a wig.
A Glimpse of His Dark Materials
Speaking of fantasy adaptations, HBO's small-screen version of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials books has been in the works for a while. Hopefully the show's panel, which will feature James McAvoy (Lord Asriel), Dafne Keen (Lyra), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Lee Scoresby), and Ruth Wilson (Mrs. Coulter), will have some footage to show beyond the short tease HBO released earlier this year.
A Sneak Peek at Westworld's Next Season
Also on HBO's slate: Westworld. The last season of the sci-fi drama was whiplash-inducing, and season three promises to be even more of a brain-bender. Producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy will be on hand—along with most of the cast—to shed some light.
An Early Look at The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
Netflix is promising a look at its prequel series for Jim Henson's classic 1982 film at Comic-Con. The show, which is being done with classic puppetry and modern VFX, could be magical—or not. Fingers crossed that it's a wonderful journey and not a trip into the uncanny valley.
The New Snowpiercer Show
Hey, remember how cool Snowpiercer was? Great, because TBS is making a whole show out of it. The network is bringing stars Jennifer Connelly, Daveed Diggs, Alison Wright, and others to the convention to offer "an exclusive first look" at the series premiere, which hits TBS in early 2020. TBS is also bringing "bug bars." So there's that.