For a few days every summer, San Diego becomes the center of the pop culture universe as its gravitational pull attracts masses of fans to the annual gathering known as Comic-Con.
What began as a tiny gathering of comic, film and science fiction fans back in the spring of 1970 has grown into the largest event of its kind on Earth, its attendance clocking in at upward of 130,000 for the event’s four-day run.
When: Thursday through Sunday (Preview Night on Wednesday)
Where: San Diego Convention Center, 111 W. Harbor Drive, downtown San Diego
This, ladies and gentlemen, is not your father’s Comic-Con: Forty-six years later, fans of all kinds flock to our little corner of the planet to get their fill of all things comics, video games, movies, TV and more. Here are 10 things to watch this year.
Still ‘Dead’ after all these years
1 It’s become a Comic-Con tradition to expect an appearance from the cast of AMC’s hugely popular series “The Walking Dead,” which will kick off its seventh season in October. Chris Hardwick, who has become the Ryan Seacrest of Comic-Con, will moderate a panel featuring the show’s producers and cast, including Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Chandler Riggs, Sonequa Martin-Green, Michael Cudlitz, Josh McDermitt, Ross Marquand, Christian Serratos and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. 1 to 2 p.m. Friday, Hall H
‘Mr. Robot’ goes to San Diego
2 “Mr. Robot,” the highly acclaimed and Golden Globe Award-winning USA series, is making its first appearance at Comic-Con. The show - about cybersecurity engineer turned underground hacker Elliot Alderson - stars Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin and Grace Gummer. Malek was nominated for Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Television Critics Association awards. He won the trophy for best actor in a drama series in the Critics’ Choice Television Awards. 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Room 6BCF
3 It’s not Comic-Con without “Teen Wolf,” and this year, the pack from MTV’s popular series will be back for the seventh year in a row. Expect a sneak peek at Season 6, a Q&A with the cast and show runners, and lots of squeals from fans, especially when Tyler Posey hits the stage. 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Ballroom 20
No Stone unturned
4 “Snowden,” a biographical political thriller about Edward Snowden, hardly qualifies as the sort of film that’s showcased at Comic-Con. There are no caped crusaders, stumbling zombies or bloodsucking vampires. But the all-star cast is sure to wow fans when it makes its Hall H appearance Thursday. Leading the lineup is filmmaker Oliver Stone, who’s making his first Comic-Con appearance. He’ll be joined by stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Zachary Quinto and San Diego’s own Scott Eastwood. 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Thursday, Hall H
5 The highly secretive folks at Warner Bros. are at it again, releasing no information about what films they expect to showcase at Comic-Con this year. But expect big surprises, especially since the studio - which produces DC Comics movies - is holding court in Hall H for two hours Saturday. “Suicide Squad” is coming out this summer, so there’s a good chance the stars of that film - Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Ben Affleck, Jared Leto and Scott Eastwood - will be on hand for the Hall H extravaganza. Next summer’s big release is “Wonder Woman” - could there be an appearance by Gal Gadot? 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Hall H
Time flies when ...
6 The cast of “Aliens” - the 1986 sequel to the 1979 film “Alien” - will reunite Saturday for the film’s 30th anniversary. Expected to attend the Hall H panel are writer and director James Cameron and producer Gale Anne Hurd. They will be joined by Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Michael Biehn and Paul Reiser. 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. Saturday, Hall H
7 Fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when “Supergirl,” dumped by CBS, found a new home on The CW, joining fellow Warner Bros. Television shows “Arrow” and “The Flash” on the network’s growing roster of superhero shows. Now you can hear for yourself what Season 2 will bring when show runners and cast members - including presumably Supergirl herself, Melissa Benoist - gather in Ballroom 20 on Saturday. 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. Saturday, Ballroom 20
The need for speed
8 Soon after it premiered, “The Flash” sped to the top of The CW’s list of most popular shows, and it hasn’t looked back. Now it’s The CW’s highest-rated series, and no wonder: Season 2 brought an abundance of plot twists, and fans are eagerly anticipating what surprises Season 3 has in store. Meet the crew and cast, including The Flash himself, Grant Gustin. 5 to 5:40 p.m. Saturday, Ballroom 20
9 Just like the studio behind DC Comics movies - Warner Bros. - Marvel Studios has been tight-lipped about what it will showcase Saturday in Hall H. The program description lacks details, but you can expect at least one big-name star - Chris Pratt - to make an appearance as part of a “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" sneak peek. In early June, after wrapping up the film’s final scenes, director James Gunn revealed, in a Facebook Live session, that “We, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,’ are coming to San Diego Comic-Con this year. I’m gonna be there, Chris Pratt is gonna be there, and a bunch of the gang is gonna be there.” 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. Saturday, Hall H
Boldly going where no one has gone before
10 “Star Trek Beyond,” the third installment in the sci-fi franchise’s reboot, will get a Comic-Con premiere Wednesday night at Embarcadero Marina Park South. The screening, with a live performance of the film’s score by the San Diego Symphony, will mark the first time a movie has been premiered in the open air and in IMAX. The film’s director, Justin Lin, will make an appearance, and he’ll be joined by the cast, which includes Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Simon Pegg (who also co-wrote the film), Karl Urban and Idris Elba. The film opens Friday. Wednesday night, Embarcadero Marina Park South