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Best of the Geekfest

From killer robots to killer zombies, the 45th annual edition of San Diego Comic-Con was, well, killer; more than 130,000 superfans of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror gathered from July 24 to 27 for the confab that can make or break a project; here, our picks for the 10 moments that were worth camping outside Hall H to see

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Ultron Attack
Always a giant presence at Comic-Con, Marvel Studios pulled back on its usual barrage of movies to focus on two for 2015: Ant-Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Both played well to the faithful, but the Avengers footage delivered the real knockout punch. Fans gasped at shots that featured Captain America’s shield snapped in half and a final image of the Avengers sprawled and broken on the ground — damage inflicted by the title villain, an eight-foot-tall bloodthirsty robot played by James Spader (The Blacklist). Our superheroes may be down, but the footage brought fans to their feet.

Batman-Superman Stare-Down
Zack Snyder’s sequel to last year’s Man of Steel (and prequel to the upcoming Justice League) is still shooting, but Warner Bros. shared an early scene from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that highlights the hostility between the two heroes. Picture this: Ben Affleck’s Caped Crusader is on a rooftop with the Bat signal, which he wrenches skyward, blasting the light onto a stern-looking Henry Cavill, floating in the rainy night just above him. As they lock gazes, the eyes of Batman’s cowl glow night-vision blue, while Superman’s simmer heat-vision red. Affleck, Cavill, and Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman, made a brief appearance in Hall H — but they only smiled and waved. ”I’m not giving them a microphone because I’m afraid you guys are going to ask them some questions,” Snyder said. Speaking of Wonder Woman, the director also released a warrior-princess image of Gadot in character, wielding a sword and wearing a dark miniskirt that looks less Lynda Carter and more Game of Thrones.

Interstellar Shock
Even though Inception and the Dark Knight trilogy seemed engineered for Comic-Con crowds, director Christopher Nolan had never ventured to the convention until this year. At a panel moderated by EW editor Matt Bean, Nolan was greeted like a long-lost brother. The filmmaker offered hints about Interstellar, his mysterious new film due in theaters Nov. 7, revealing that Matthew McConaughey (who joined Nolan on stage) leads a team of astronauts and researchers through wormholes in search of a new habitable planet. Nolan called the sci-fi epic ”a journey that would take you not just into the solar system, not just through this galaxy, but into a whole other galaxy.”

Dead March on Washington
AMC showed an action-packed trailer for The Walking Dead’s fifth season that reveals a thankfully reenergized Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and a more focused mission-based story line. Rick & Co. will join with the shady Terminus crew on a grim walker-slashing march on Washington, D.C., to try to cure the zombie virus. Will they succeed? Of course not! But we’re going to love watching them fail. ”There’s something about getting my gun back…and getting sweaty and dirty and bloody that feels right,” Lincoln said.

Westeros Population Boom
Just when you finally figured out Daario from Davos from Dontos, now HBO’s Game of Thrones is adding more characters for season 5. New hires include Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean) as a powerful King’s Landing religious leader, and many members of House Martell in Dorne — that sexy southern playground where everybody’s rather irked about the death of their Prince Oberyn last season. ”It’s a whole new landscape, a whole new cultural group,” showrunner David Benioff tells EW, ”and we get to meet Prince Oberyn’s three daughters with three different women — he was a bit of a scoundrel.”

New Rebel Yell
Disney debuted its first Star Wars title since acquiring the franchise two years ago: Star Wars Rebels, a Disney XD animated series about the founding of the Rebel Alliance. A swashbuckling adventure set five years before A New Hope, the series drew early raves by evoking a feeling from a long time ago — 1977, to be exact. ”The fun of Rebels is to return to the original films,” said exec producer Simon Kinberg. That includes a plummeting Stormtrooper giving a Wilhelm scream.

Hobbit Truthiness
Stephen Colbert came dressed for success. The Comedy Central host (and soon-to-be heir to David Letterman’s CBS late-night show) is a J.R.R. Tolkien superfan and moderated the Q&A for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. All the while, he cosplayed as his one-eyed Lake-town spy from the second installment of the trilogy — completing his transformation with a leathery cloak and a dirt-smeared face. ”If I could only go back in time and show this to my 13-year-old self,” Colbert said. But it doesn’t seem like that inner child has gone very far.

DC TV
Marvel may dominate the multiplex, but DC is inundating TV this fall with four shows, three of them new: Fox’s Batman prequel Gotham, NBC’s Constantine, and The CW’s The Flash launch this year, while Arrow returns for its third season, with plans to introduce supervillain Ra’s al Ghul. Over in the Marvel-verse, ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is adding Lucy Lawless as S.H.I.E.L.D. veteran Isabel Hartley, as well as a sexy fan-favorite undercover operative from the comics, Bobbi Morse (a.k.a. Mockingbird), who’s as yet uncast.

Storybrooke Freeze
ABC shared a peek at this fall’s Frozen story line on Once Upon a Time, which may be the show’s hottest (coldest?) ever. Not much was revealed except this: Anna (Elizabeth Lail) is getting married.

Future Hype
One new trend: teasing sequels before the original is even out. The Maze Runner doesn’t open until Sept. 19, but director Wes Ball told fans that plans were already under way to adapt The Scorch Trials, the second book in author James Dashner’s YA series. And a week before Guardians of the Galaxy opens, star Chris Pratt and director James Gunn closed the Marvel panel by revealing that Guardians 2 would hit theaters on July 28, 2017. Director Guillermo del Toro took this kind of pre-hype a step further, asking his Hall H audience to clap for the future project they wanted more: Hellboy 3 or his long-discussed H.P. Lovecraft adaptation At the Mountains of Madness. The crowd seemed to love both, and del Toro hoped any studio execs on hand would hear that.

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