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Comic-Con 2010: EW special report

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They may dress up as stormtroopers and spend hours playing Halo in their parents’ basements, but for four days every summer, the geeks inherit the earth — or at least Hollywood. From July 22 to 25, the entertainment industry relocated to San Diego, as filmmakers, power players, and stars like Ryan Reynolds, Angelina Jolie, and Robert Downey Jr. made the annual pilgrimage to Comic-Con to stoke the furnace of buzz among the 150,000 fanboys and fangirls in attendance. Audiences got sneak peeks at much-anticipated films like Green Lantern, Captain America, Tron: Legacy, Thor, Cowboys & Aliens, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and The Green Hornet. And they also got a taste of what’s to come on True Blood, Dexter, and The Big Bang Theory, as well as new shows like Hawaii Five-0 and The Event. As always at Comic-Con, passions ran high — which may explain an ugly incident on day 3 in which one attendee slashed another in the face with a pen in a dispute over a seat — but for the most part, geek love reigned.

Ryan Reynolds and that ring
Proving that Warner Bros. kinda knew what it was doing when it put a power ring on Ryan Reynolds‘ finger and pronounced him Green Lantern, the star of The Proposal charmed the spandex off Comic-Con attendees during the studio’s presentation for the 2011 superhero flick. First he granted a young boy’s request to recite the character’s legendary oath. ”In brightest day and blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight,” intoned Reynolds, bringing the audience to a goose-bumpy hush. Then he gave away one of the emerald rings he wore during production to a contest winner. (Hello, eBay!) By the end, Mr. Scarlett Johansson, humble and funny, had the crowd convinced he was worthy of Green Lantern’s jewelry and (computer-generated) tights. His only miscue? Accidentally spilling a hush-hush plot point. But hey, even superheroes aren’t perfect. — Jeff Jensen

Guillermo del Toro moves on
In an alternate universe — and, many movie fans would argue, a happier one — Guillermo del Toro would have appeared at this year’s Comic-Con to tease his big-screen adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. But in May, the director of Pan’s Labyrinth announced that, after two years of writing and preproduction, he was opting out of the endlessly delayed epic in order to focus on other projects. Instead, in a surprise appearance after Disney’s Tron: Legacy presentation, del Toro — who was also at Comic-Con to promote the upcoming horror film Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, which he produced — dropped the news that he would write, produce, and possibly direct a new film version of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion ride. But while his departure has left The Hobbit temporarily in limbo, he seems confident it won’t remain that way. ”I’m very optimistic that The Hobbit will get made,” he told EW. ”And I’m very hopeful, speaking as a fan, that it gets made with Peter [Jackson] as the director.” That makes a few million of us. — Josh Rottenberg

An All-Star Avengers
Marvel Studios produced Comic-Con’s most electrifying moment by having Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Downey Jr. — charismatic as carnival barkers — introduce the cast of The Avengers, slated for 2012 and to be directed by Joss Whedon. Sporting tinted sunglasses and radiating rock-star brio, Downey cheekily proclaimed that The Avengers would trump Christopher Nolan’s cinematic sensation Inception as ”the most ambitious movie ever!” On paper, it’s certainly shaping up to be the biggest superhero flick of all time. The lineup — anchored by Iron Man vets Downey (Iron Man), Jackson (Nick Fury), and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) — is rock-solid, and Whedon has proved with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly that he knows how to make an ensemble of colorful characters individually pop and collectively mesh. Mark Ruffalo, who replaces Edward Norton as Bruce Banner in a deal that an insider says was still being finalized as Comic-Con began, should have no problem fleshing out the Hulk’s human side. And we fully expect The Hurt Locker‘s Jeremy Renner — tapped to play the masked archer Hawkeye — to not only hit the bull’s-eye but emerge as the center of the film, especially since his character doesn’t belong to any other Marvel franchise. Of course, fan anticipation for The Avengers will be amplified — or diminished — by the two 2011 films that will introduce the team’s other key members: Captain America, starring Chris Evans, and Thor, starring Chris Hemsworth. Our only quibble: Can’t they squeeze in another woman? How about Ms. Marvel? She’s awesome — and she’s got the right name for it! — JJ

Where the ladies were
Comic-Con stopped being just for the boys years ago. And as if to prove it on the weekend that Angelina Jolie drove Salt to a $36 million opening, five talented women inspired a packed ballroom with their tales of action prowess at ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY’s panel ”Women Who Kick Ass.” What did we learn? The diminutive Jena Malone from Zack Snyder’s upcoming Sucker Punch can now deadlift 300 pounds of weight after training with Navy SEALs. V‘s Elizabeth Mitchell, a geek goddess after her years portraying Dr. Juliet Burke on Lost, has long been a fan of the sci-fi genre herself: ”I was brought up being told there was nothing a woman couldn’t do. Sci-fi echoes that.” Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ellen Wong from August’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World tried their own stunts as a way to stay up to speed with everyone else. ”It gives you so much power,” says Wong. But perhaps it was Anna Torv, star of Fox’s Fringe, who articulated her role the best: ”Olivia was the man. She was off doing the tough stuff, while the boys did all the talking in the kitchen.” — Nicole Sperling

J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon share the stage
When J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon took the stage for ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY’s ”Visionaries” panel, the Comic-Con faithful greeted them like royalty — no surprise for a pair who are responsible for some of recent pop culture’s most geeked-out-about creations. As the crowd sat rapt, Abrams (whose credits include Felicity, Alias, Lost, Fringe, Mission: Impossible III, and Star Trek) and Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Serenity, Dollhouse, and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog) shared insights about their influences, their creative processes, their feelings about the 3-D boom — Whedon is all for it, while Abrams is skeptical — and their upcoming projects. Throughout the panel, it was clear that these two Comic-Con stalwarts are themselves fanboys at heart. Abrams rhapsodized about collaborating with his creative godfather, Steven Spielberg, on the still-mysterious film Super 8: ”It’s impossible to work with him and not constantly reference the work he’s done.” For his part, Whedon gushed about Abrams’ big-screen Star Trek reboot: ”I’ve had actual moments of sheer f—ing panic because I loved Star Trek so much,” he said. ”It makes me throw up with fear, so I have to stop watching it.” — JR

And in TV news…
Sure, movie superheroes with their huge budgets and flashy costumes may have stolen the headlines at Comic-Con, but TV made a few shock waves of its own. A roundup of the biggest small-screen news that broke at the Con: Gleeks will soon be doing the time warp, as Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy revealed that he’s working on a tribute episode to cult musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Also in store for the second season: a ”hallucinogenic” episode devoted to the music of Britney Spears ….USA Network announced that Burn Notice‘s beer-loving former spy Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) will be getting his own prequel. The television movie will dive into Axe’s juicy past as a Navy SEAL….For the 10th (and last) season of The CW’s Smallville, Clark Kent (Tom Welling) will finally take flight in good ol’ red and blue. ”I make the new suit look fantastic,” joked Welling….Chuck fans will get to meet the titular spy’s absentee mom during the season 4 premiere — and she’ll be played by none other than The Terminator‘s Linda Hamilton. ”She’s such an icon in terms of [being] that action, female, badass mom,” raved co-creator Josh Schwartz. — John Young

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