For four jam-packed days every summer, that galaxy far, far away isn’t that far for San Diegans. From superheroes and villains to vampires and zombies, San Diego is the place to be as it hosts the largest pop-culture gathering on the planet, the universe even.
Welcome to Comic-Con International. Now in its 48th year, Comic-Con — for better or for worse — isn’t just about comics anymore. Hollywood, from blockbuster-producing studios to marquee TV networks, descend upon the San Diego Convention Center armed with their big wallets and high-octane superstars.
Here are 10 things to watch as America’s finest city rolls out the red carpet for the biggest intergalactic party of them all.
1. Justice League
The biggest day of the convention has historically been Saturday, and this year’s promises to be a big one, too. Warner Bros. opens the day with what’s expected to be a star-studded panel as it showcases Justice League, the Nov. 17 release that brings together the biggest superheroes in the DC Comics universe. Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) and Ben Affleck (Batman) are scheduled to attend along with Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Ezra Miller (The Flash) and Ray Fisher (Cyborg). Attendees will also get a peek at Aquaman, which is expected to come out next year.
2. Blade Runner 2049
The Warner Bros. lineup will also feature Blade Runner 2049, the Denis Villeneuve-directed sequel to 1982’s Blade Runner. This panel will bring out the big guns, too, with stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford expected to make an appearance along with Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Lennie James and Mackenzie Davis.
3. Charlize Theron
The actress stars in and produces the Focus Features action spy thriller Atomic Blonde, set for July 28 theatrical release, so it seems only fitting that she will be the guest of honour at the Entertainment Weekly panel Women Who Kick Ass. “Comic-Con has always been a celebration of and for the fans, and their favourite stars and franchises. This year, we’re so excited to host our annual panel, Women Who Kick Ass, with the ultimate kick-ass icon, Charlize Theron,” says Henry Goldblatt, Editor in Chief of EW.
4. Thor: Ragnarok
Not to be outdone by DC Comics, Marvel Studios is expected to reveal some big surprises as well. Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige are scheduled to attend, but the roster of big-name Hollywood stars hasn’t been revealed. With signs all around town featuring Thor: Ragnarok, starring Chris Hemsworth, it makes sense that the film, scheduled to be released Nov. 3, will be showcased at Comic-Con.
5. Stranger Things
The phenomenon that is Stranger Things, from Netflix, makes its Comic-Con debut Saturday. Fans can expect to see some never-before-seen footage, as well as a sneak peek at Season 2.
Netflix’s movie division has been busy, too, and one of its biggest offerings at this year’s Comic-Con is the fantasy film Bright, directed by David Ayer and written by Max Landis. The film will stars Will Smith, Joel Edgerton and Noomi Rapace. The film Death Note, based on Japanese manga, will also be featured.
7. The Defenders
Four members of the Marvel universe, collectively known as The Defenders, get a prime spot at Comic-Con on Friday for the Marvel-Netflix series that brings together Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Daredevil. The four heroes, who all have their own shows on Netflix, finally come together as The Defenders.
8. Black Lightning
The latest offering in producer Greg Berlanti’s CW superhero universe, Black Lightning will get a big Comic-Con welcome when it joins an impressive slate of superheroes in Ballroom 20 on Saturday, starting with Supergirl at 3.30 p.m. and ending with Arrow at 5.50 p.m.
It’s not Sunday at Comic-Con without the Winchester brothers, Sam and Dean. The long-running CW series, which premiered Sept. 13, 2005, is a popular draw at Comic-Con, and has traditionally taken over Hall H on Sunday mornings. Fans can expect a special video presentation, and maybe even a sneak peek at Season 13. Expect an appearance by Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and the ever-popular Misha Collins.
10. Doctor Who
With news this past weekend that the next Doctor Who will be a woman — Jodie Whittaker’s set to portray the 13th Doctor — there should be a lot of buzz when the show’s current Doctor (Peter Capaldi) takes over Hall H on Sunday afternoon. Chris Hardwick will moderate the panel, which will also feature Pearl Mackie (Bill), Matt Lucas (Nardole), Michelle Gomez (Missy), writer and actor Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) and showrunner Steven Moffat (Sherlock).