For decades, fans have flocked to San Diego every summer for a parade of Comic-Con surprises featuring their favorite characters, movies, and creators. San Diego's Comic-Con International has been held every summer since its inception as the Golden State Comic Book Convention in 1970. Back then, it was just a small gathering of like-minded fans to swap comics and geek out about Star Trek in a hotel lobby. These days, SDCC is held at the San Diego Convention Center and draws in hundreds of thousands of fans and cosplayers.
It's evolved to cover the entire entertainment industry across nearly every genre and medium, and has become the launching ground for some of the most successful movies of all time. The convention's biggest stage, Hall H, has served up a host of memorable Comic-Con surprises in recent years as studios and filmmakers try to outdo each other and delight fans. Here are the best Comic-Con moments in the convention's history so far.
Two years before Iron Man was released, Marvel Studios held its first panel in front of 2,000 people in a smaller venue compared to the cavernous Hall H. Speaking to Wired in 2012, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige reminisced about sowing the early seeds of the MCU in fans' minds at that panel:
Jon Favreau was on the panel talking about Iron Man, and Louis Leterrier was talking about The Incredible Hulk, and Edgar Wright was talking about Ant Man. And somebody asked, "Could the characters cross over? Is this person ever going to meet this person?" I was asked, "Are we ever going to see the Avengers on screen?" And I said, "Who knows. This is a big new experiment for Marvel. But it’s no coincidence that we have the rights to Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Cap –" and the whole audience started cheering. That was one of the moments where I went, boy, if only, if only we could actually sort of pull this all together.
In 2010, four years after Kevin Feige first teased the idea of a shared Marvel Cinematic Universe, that tantalizing dream was realized on the stage of Hall H with a surprise reveal during the joint Captain America and Thor panels. With a promise of "one more thing" that has become a regular trick in Comic-Con panels, Samuel L. Jackson came onstage to officially assemble the Avengers for the first time. Fans had grown accustomed to seeing celebrities at SDCC, but the sheer number of comic book dreams coming true in that moment whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
In 2010, a young Green Lantern fan approached the Comic-Con panel for the live-action film adaptation to ask star, Ryan Reynolds, what it felt like to say the oath of the Green Lantern Corps. Reynolds did the fan one better than answer the question. To prove his commitment to the role, the actor recited the pledge in full, then and there, in front of the boy and the other excited Green Lantern fans in attendance in Hall H.
In the summer of 2015, the world was waiting for the winter release of the first new Star Wars film in a decade. The Star Wars SDCC panel that year brought together new stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie and Domhall Gleeson with original series stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. If that wasn't enough for fans of a galaxy far, far away, The Force Awakens director J. J Abrams invited all 6,000 audience members outside the Convention Center afterwards for a concert featuring composer John Williams's classic Star Wars melodies.