By Alexandra Cheney
It’s no secret that studios like to surprise and delight fans at San Diego Comic-Con, and they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars cutting special footage and first looks to debut in Hall H. While the Variety staff likes a good surprise as much as the next person, we’re going to hedge our bets because there are just some things we can’t imagine not being dropped at the fest. A few studios have announced at length what they’re planning, while others have remained hush-hush.
In order of most- to least-likely, here are our best educated guesses:
1. The Avengers - The trifecta of Con gods, better known as Kevin Feige, Joss Whedon and all things Avengers related, specifically those in the Avengers: Age of Ultron, are coming to San Diego. Simply put, how could they not? Last year, Whedon and Feige blew the roof off Hall H with a title card (yes, a title card), and at this point they’ve got footage.
2. Jurassic World - Universal will not have its own panel this year, but rather is folding into Legendary Entertainment’s. That doesn’t mean Jurassic World won’t find its footing. Set to be released in June 2015, the franchise’s following at the Con is too large to not have even a teaser.
3. Warcraft – Legendary has listed As Above/So Below and Crimson Peak as its two films, but Warcraft, based on the video-game series of the same name, wrapped shooting in late May. By our calculations, that’s plenty of time to put together some footage for the Con, not to mention a surprise guest or two. (I mean, Travis Fimmel is already going to be in San Diego for Vikings.)
4. Batman v. Superman…and the Rock – Warner Bros. dropped the Batman v. Superman bomb last year at the Con, and the studio does enjoy upstaging itself. Our guess; Dwayne Johnson announces the Shazam/Captain Marvel role he’s been teasing out in the media. In addition to the Justice League, Warner’s has access to the entire DC Comics library, and with Marvel’s show of force and box-office domination, now would be the time to get fans pumped. It’s a safe bet we’ll also get a tease from Zack Snyder’s aforementioned superhero showdown during the WB presentation.
5. Fast 7 – Speaking of Dwayne Johnson, Fast & Furious 7 has had a tough production, so some Hall H love could give the film a boost on social media and beyond.
6. Terminator – Paramount has remained very quiet about their panel, which leads us to believe Terminator: Genesis is going to play a part. There are many questions surrounding this filming and it’s been shooting for a while now. Plus, Emilia Clarke will probably make an appearance at HBO’s Game of Thrones panel, so she could easily do double-duty. And to top it off, Arnold Schwarzenegger has become somewhat of a regular at the Con, for both The Expendables and Escape Plan.
7. Game of Thrones & The Walking Dead – While we’re on the subject of Thrones, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have already confirmed that the sprawling series is heading to Oberyn Martell’s homeland of Dorne next season. Plus, the web is rife with speculation as to who will play his daughters, known as the Sand Snakes. Expect those casting reveals and a few more (such as Bronn’s new bride, Lady Lollys Stokeworth; religious leader The High Sparrow; Oberyn’s brother, Prince Doran, and his bodyguard, Areo Hotah, and other members of the Martell clan) and hopefully a comment from the producers on the whereabouts of Lady Stoneheart. Likewise, The Walking Dead will bring its rabid fanbase to Hall H. Its inevitable that the network will tease cast additions, namely who The Wire’s Seth Gilliam will play,( since he’s been signed as a series regular). Our money is on comicbook character Father Gabriel Stokes.
8. Lots of Cumberbatch – Benedict Cumberbatch, Comic-Con virgin, will be down for the DreamWorks Animation’s Penguins of Madagascar. There is simply no way his legions of fans will be satiated with just that. After all, he’s also got The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and The Imitation Game coming. We could easily see a Tom Hiddleston as Loki-style diatribe coming from Cumberbatch as Smaug, no?
9. Doctor Strange – Speaking of Cumberbatch, Doctor Strange is searching for its lead character and the Brit’s name has most certainly been in the mix. We wouldn’t put it past Feige to drop that news.
10. Fifty Shades - The Fifty Shades of Grey trailer is dropping Thursday and Focus Features has a panel on Saturday. Granted their Hall H is centered on the family-friendly The Boxtrolls, but stranger pairings have graced the massive space. Plus, that’s just the kind of announcement that would stop the crowd in its tracks. Also, remember Twilight?
11. Ant Man – Let’s face it, Ant Man needs some good press. And when Feige asks the Con, the Con answers.