Comic-Con 2016: Biggest Hits and Misses From the TV Panels

Comic-Con Best TV Panel Moments
Courtesy of HBO/AMC/Netflix/CW

The dust has settled from Comic-Con 2016, and while Warner Bros. and Marvel’s film divisions wowed the crowd with sneak peeks at the likes of “Wonder Woman,” “Justice League,” “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the weekend was dominated by TV, with a cavalcade of shows dropping major news (like announcing the final seasons of “Teen Wolf,” “The Vampire Diaries” and “Bates Motel”) and epic trailers. Variety was on the ground in San Diego to tally up the biggest hits and most disappointing misses from the convention.

Hit: “The Walking Dead

Fans may have been outraged by the cliffhanger ending that closed Season 6 — which saw Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan beat one of the show’s main characters to death, but chose to hide who the victim was — but that didn’t stop the show from receiving an ecstatic response at Comic-Con. Moderator Chris Hardwick attempted to do some damage control over the criticisms of the finale, but the panel itself did plenty to lift the audience’s spirits, debuting the chilling trailer for Season 7, which offered a first look at comic book character King Ezekiel and his iconic tiger, Shiva. The Q&A also escalated the ongoing prank war between stars Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus — following Reedus’ most recent salvo, in which he filled Lincoln’s air conditioning vents with glitter, Lincoln attempted to return the favor on the panel and inadvertently covered himself in the process, much to the delight of the crowd.

Glitter attack successful 😎

A post shared by norman reedus (@bigbaldhead) on

Miss: “Game of Thrones

Despite the return of showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to the convention, the hotly-anticipated panel was light on news and missing some of the show’s biggest stars: Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke and Maisie Williams (who were all nominated for Emmys last week). Since Season 7 has yet to begin production, there was no new footage to get fans buzzing for next season — a bitter pill to swallow considering viewers are facing an even longer wait than usual, with an planned summer premiere date and shorter episode order. A hilarious gag reel and a clever video featuring moderator Rob McElhenney and his “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” co-star Charlie Day spoofing the iconic phrase “Winter is Coming” kept fans chuckling, and departing star Kristian Nairn received a rock star welcome with chants of “Hodor!” for his heartbreaking performance in “The Door,” but the panel couldn’t help but feel slightly underwhelming amid a weekend of big reveals and high-profile previews.

Hit: Marvel TV

Much like the film side, Marvel’s TV division brought its A-game to the Con, debuting electrifying first looks at upcoming Netflix dramas “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist,” in addition to dropping a teaser for crossover miniseries “The Defenders,” announcing a Season 3 renewal for “Daredevil,” and featuring a surprise appearance from “The Punisher” star Jon Bernthal.

“Luke Cage” producer Cheo Hodari Coker pointed out that the African-American hero played by Mike Colter feels especially timely: “When I think about what’s going on in the world right now, the world is ready for a bulletproof black man,” he said during the show’s crowd-pleasing panel. Elsewhere at the convention, Marvel and FX unexpectedly bowed the first trailer for the X-Men universe drama “Legion,” while ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” revealed that Ghost Rider will be making his debut in Season 4.

Miss: “Star Trek

An all-star lineup of “Trek” alums including William Shatner, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Jeri Ryan, and Scott Bakula failed to boldly go in a newsworthy direction during the show’s 50th anniversary Q&A on Saturday. The ponderous panel offered precious little information about the upcoming CBS All Access revival series, despite showrunner Bryan Fuller moderating the discussion, only revealing the show’s title and a new look at the titular starship, “Discovery,” but giving no insight into plot, cast or characters. The session instead focused on “Star Trek’s” themes of inclusiveness and the current political landscape, but fans were clearly expecting more from the anniversary celebration, and even became hostile — booing an audience member who dared to ask a question while wearing a “Star Wars” shirt.

Hit: “The Flash

The jury is still out on the DC cinematic universe, but on the small screen, “The Flash” remained a standout for the Comic-Con crowd, debuting a revealing Season 3 trailer that showed the extreme repercussions of Barry Allen’s decision to go back in time and save his mother in the Season 2 finale, creating an alternate timeline known as “Flashpoint,” a plot point beloved by comic book readers. The lively panel also revealed new information about one of the season’s villains, Doctor Alchemy, and an upcoming “Arrow” crossover, before stars Grant Gustin and Jesse L. Martin demonstrated their tap dancing prowess on stage, thoroughly charming the audience.

Miss: “Supergirl”

The Girl of Steel suffered a similar shortcoming to “Game of Thrones” — since filming has yet to begin on Season 2, the CW drama had nothing to show the crowd — not even art of new cast addition Tyler Hoechlin in costume as Superman (the star revealed that he has yet to try on the iconic Super-suit). The actors were as charming as ever, demonstrating the chemistry they have both on and off-set, but the panel was missing a big reveal that could’ve helped it take flight.

Hit: “Mr. Robot”

USA Network’s breakout hit made its Comic-Con debut in style, kicking off with a snarky message from fsociety and ending with a dramatic sneak peek at this week’s episode just to whet fans’ appetites. While there were no bombshell reveals from the spoiler-averse cast, the stars did offer some intriguing hints about their character arcs in Season 2, and the actors were in fine form, with Christian Slater revealing that he’s a secret fan of both Pokemon Go and “The Bachelorette” during the raucous panel.

Miss: “Prison Break”

Anticipation may be high for Fox’s “Prison Break” revival, but the subdued Q&A failed to generate much heat, despite the presence of original stars Wentworth Miller, Dominic Purcell, Sarah Wayne Callies and Robert Knepper, plus a sneak peek at new footage. The panel ended on an awkward and somewhat painful note when the cast were asked to recount their reactions to Purcell’s recent on-set injury, which was clearly traumatic for all involved.

Hit: “Sherlock

Star Benedict Cumberbatch usually skips the panel for PBS’ hit drama, but since the British thesp was already in town to promote “Doctor Strange,” fans were treated to a double-dose of the charismatic Brit over the weekend. Cumberbatch joined executive producers Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Sue Vertue and co-star Amanda Abbington to preview Season 4, debuting a thrilling trailer that hinted at the return of Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis, Moriarty, and the threat of a new villain played by Toby Jones.

Honorable mentions:

“Bates Motel” 

In addition to revealing that Season 5 will be the A&E drama’s last, “Bates” gave us one of the biggest casting reveals of the convention: Rihanna will be playing “Psycho” character Marion Crane in the final season.

“American Gods”

Starz’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s beloved novel gave fans two treats on Friday, dropping a stunning first trailer and revealing that Kristin Chenoweth has been cast in the role of Easter, marking a reunion with her “Pushing Daisies” showrunner Bryan Fuller, who will executive produce the series with Michael Green.

Once Upon a Time

The ABC drama announced that Aladdin (Deniz Akdeniz), Jasmine (Karen David) and Jafar (Oded Fehr) will be debuting in Season 6, and gave fans a first look at Aladdin and Jafar in action in the opening scene from the Season 6 premiere, drawing cheers from the crowd.

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  1. hornacek says:

    “… ‘Bates’ gave us one of the biggest casting reveals of the convention: Rihanna will be playing ‘Psycho’ character Marion Crane in the final season.”

    Instead of “biggest” I think you meant “worst”. Does anyone really want to see Rihanna act -er- I mean try to act?

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