SDCC 2019: Is Comic-Con International Losing Its Luster?

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Another San Diego Comi-Con has come and gone. Plenty of cosplayers and geeks left exhausted from a long and active weekend. While I was unable to attend, I, like many others, followed social media and YouTube breathlessly waiting for the latest news and trailers to drop. With everything now behind us, a couple question nag at me: Is Comic-Con International losing its luster? Is SDCC no longer the giant, marquee event that it used to be?

SDCC losing Luster: A Shadow of Its Former Self

Once upon a time SDCC ruled the Con world, the be all/end all massive orgy of news in everything in geek culture. Fans, studios, everyone headed to San Diego for four days to revel in new trailers, new movie announcements and more. But… as I look back on SDCC 2019, I really don’t see much new material coming out of the biggest Con of the year.

First off, let me clarify. SDCC is still one of the biggest and best Cons of the year. The cosplay and merchandising will always be through the roof. Vendors and cosplayers alike go above and beyond to find that extra sales piece, or tweek that costume just a little bit more. This will always be a constant for such a huge Con. Even the panels were great as always.

Family Cosplay at SDCC
Family Cosplay

Where SDCC seemed to fail this year was with news and trailers, areas where it used to dominate. While it used to lead the way for new news, this year seemed very lack luster and lacking. Granted, there were some great trailers and a couple of surprises, but they were all with minor projects and television/streaming series. The Witcher trailer was amazing. It2 was incredible. Tom Cruise shocked everyone by appearing on stage with a surprise Top Gun 2 trailer. But where were the big projects?

Marvel Solidifies the Known

Marvel came to SDCC
Marvel in the house

The MCU brought the seats, being the biggest company on hand. Their panels dominated and brought all the A-list stars one would expect. The Marvel announcements simply lacked newness. Marvel leader, Kevin Feige, cemented the movies of Phase 4. While a lot of movies people expected for Phase 4 were pushed back to Phase 5 or beyond, we knew the movies of phase 4 already. Of these Phase 4 movies we did not get a single trailer.

SDCC

The announcement of Mahershala Ali as the new Blade for Phase 5 and Thor 4’s release ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy 3, of which Thor is supposed to be part , remain the only new news. We also found out Natalie Portman quit whining long enough to take up Mjolnir, signifying she would become Lady Thor.

There will be a couple of adds to be sure, but even Phase 5 is mostly laid out with familiar films, by title if not by release date.

Empty Seats of Disney

Not having major power houses at SDCC always hurts. With Disney taking over the film world, of course their major announcements will be held off for the D23 Expo instead of SDCC. Star Wars was, for the most part, absent from SDCC. Sure there was the Thrawn book release and the new Sith Trooper, but no trailers, footage or panels.

The Empty Seats of DC Comics

Empty seat of DC movies
Where was DC?

The last time both DC and Marvel attended SDCC, Marvel made some big announcements, but DC blew the geek world away with their trailers, panels and announcements. DC not only won the weekend, but was the huge talk of the town for the next few weeks.

For whatever reason DC movies did not attend this year’s Comicon. They had plenty of announcements for their television world (Arrowverse), but the movies were absent.

Wonder Woman 1984 may be 11 months away, but so far we have seen nothing other than a poster. It keeps getting bumped, so there should be plenty to work with for a trailer or something. Joker is due out in less than three months. I think this film serves Joaquinn Phoenix in an Oscar run than a comic book movie, but what about Birds of Prey? What about future films? The Batman is the only other film officially in production for DC even though Shazam 2 and Aquaman 2 are floating around out there.

Living in Today’s World

The Rise of Skywalker; SDCC

SDCC losing its luster intensifies by missing some of its key players from years past (Star Wars, Sony, and Disney, etc.). Those are major players that really need to be there in order to have a complete schedule, but today’s world impacts the Con as well.

The Marvel movies announcements should have been bigger than they were. However, with today’s social media all or most of the titles were already known. We have had casting news on several of the projects for some time, so their announcements were very blah. We knew this stuff months ago.

The conference did a great job hiding Top Gun 2 and its trailer, but there were otherwise so few events that surprised viewers. Those that went left, having had a fantastic time. There is no greater experience than a great Con surrounded by stars, cosplay and vendors.

For for those on the outside waiting for breaking news and trailers, this year’s Con seemed to fall flat.

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