Chewbacca and Han Solo in the last ‘The Force Awakens’ teaser (Lucasfilm)
It’s that time of year again, when cosplayers unpack their lightsabers and culture vultures wait for the latest movie news to drop. This year’s San Diego Comic-Con, which kicks off on Thursday, promises to bring exciting revelations about some of Hollywood’s most anticipated films, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, X-Men: Apocalypse, The Hateful Eight, The Justice League, Deadpool, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2. Many of the big panels and events are cloaked in secrecy, but here are eight highlights to look for as Comic-Con unfolds.
Will Han Solo come home?
The cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens made their first live appearance at Star Wars Celebration in April, but there was one notable no-show: Harrison Ford, who was still recovering from a small plane crash a few weeks earlier. Friday’s Lucasfilm panel would be a perfect occasion for Ford — whose “Chewie, we’re home” line got the biggest cheers at the teaser trailer debut — to make a grand entrance. (And if he does, it will be his first post official public appearance, post-crash.) Officially, the Lucasfilm panel promises producer Kathleen Kennedy, director J.J. Abrams, writer Lawrence Kasdan, along with mystery “special guests” and a “special look” at Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Don’t get too excited yet: Entertainment Weekly reports that it won’t be a full-length trailer, but rather some behind-the-scenes footage.
The Star Wars movie universe expands
Along with new Force Awakens footage, we’re hoping for some updates on the stand-alone films known as the Star Wars Anthology Series. We already have some basic details and casting news from Rogue One, the Death Star heist movie to be directed by Gareth Edwards. However, the others remain cloaked in mystery — particularly after director Josh Trank abruptly left his spin-off film in June. A new director announcement would be right up Comic-Con’s alley.
Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Gal Gadot — and a vested Chris Hardwick — at the ‘Dawn of Justice’ Comic-Con appearance last summer
Dawn of the Justice League
Last year at Comic-Con, Warner Bros. surprised fans with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice triple-punch: A new teaser video, appearances by all three stars, and the first official look at the costumed characters. This Saturday at the Warner Bros. panel, we expect a similar ambush debut for the cast of The Justice League (which hits theaters 2017). Ben Affleck (Batman), Henry Cavill (Superman), and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) are already scheduled to appear. If Warner Bros. trots out Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Ezra Miller (The Flash), and Ray Fisher (Cyborg), then they’re most of the way to a full Justice League line-up. Of course, they have yet to announce the casting of the seventh member, Green Lantern. Could that be another huge Comic-Con reveal?
The ‘Suicide Squad’ cast (David Ayers/Twitter)
Hide the kids — the Suicide Squad might be in town
The Justice League isn’t the only super-ensemble that Warner Bros. might be hiding up its sleeve. The villainous all-star cast of Suicide Squad, currently shooting in Toronto, could be due for their first public appearance together. We can only imagine the screams in Hall H on Saturday morning if Jared Leto (The Joker), Will Smith (Deadshot), Cara Delevingne (Enchantress), Jai Courtney (Captain Boomerang), and Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn) show up alongside their onscreen nemeses Affleck and Cavill.
X marks the spot
X-Men: Apocalypse will be the last go-round for some of the current X-Men cast. (Jennifer Lawrence has said she won’t sign up for more mutant adventures, and co-stars like Michael Fassbender are likely to make the same decision.) While 20th Century Fox is keeping the contents of its Saturday evening panel on lockdown, it’s pretty much a guarantee that the 2016 superhero film will get a prime spot. Hopefully that includes a first trailer and a few good star cameos. Hugh Jackman, come show your claws!
Will Deadpool make fans’ dreams come true? (Twitter)
Although X-Men: Apocalypse marks the end of the current X-Men trilogy, Fox is branching out into other superhero franchises. Saturday’s Fox panel seems primed for an unannounced appearance by Ryan Reynolds, whose “hard R” superhero comedy Deadpool arrives in theaters in February. Other crowd pleasers who might just stop by: Channing Tatum, whose Gambit movie found a director last month, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who will play Black Adam in Shazam. Both movies are a ways off, but an appearance by either star would rock the house.
‘Eight’ is enough
After plenty of pre-production drama — including the ultimate spoiler, a leaked script — Quentin Tarantino’s Western The Hateful Eight is ready to generate some good buzz. Tarantino’s fellow film geeks will likely come out in force for a first look at the film during Saturday afternoon’s Hateful Eight panel. A promised Q&A session with the cast could include Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, and/or Bruce Dern.
Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Mockingjay — Part 1′ (Lionsgate)
The Mockingjay’s swan song
The blockbuster Hunger Games franchise concludes in November with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2, and it promises to go out with a bang. On Thursday afternoon, Lionsgate will show exclusive advance footage of Katniss Everdeen’s final revolt, along with a cast and filmmaker Q&A. The Hunger Games crew skipped Comic-Con last year, so we may be due for a visit by the always-entertaining Jennifer Lawrence, along with her love-triangle participants Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth.
Watch a video preview of Yahoo’s 2015 Comic-Con coverage: