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Comic-Con: Why Superhero Movies are Here to Stay

Studios step up their superhero presentations to promote their upcoming franchise releases

For moviegoers who may not necessarily enjoy the superhero genre, Hollywood sent a very loud message at Comic-Con: Get used to them; they’re not going anywhere.

Studios stepped up their promotional efforts in a big way to tout their upcoming comic book movies on Saturday at the fanfest, with Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Disney’s Marvel hyping films that feature Batman, Superman, the X-Men, Wolverine, Captain America, Thor, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers. Sony got a jump on them on Friday with “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”

Each presentation was confidently produced with a polished message that generated rousing reactions — often deafening — with strong social media buzz immediately following. In the past, super hero films were among other titles presented by studios. This year, they were the main event, with thousands of fans camping out overnight to see the presentations.

One extra upside: With a captive crowd in attendance, other films presented also get a boost while the audience waits for their superheroes to take the stage.

Hollywood, of course, is looking to rally the more than 130,000 people who attend Comic-Con each year around their tentpoles that are proving to be the more reliable franchises on their release slates. Disney’s “Iron Man 3,” for example, generated more than $1.2 billion this summer — more than any installment in the series, while WB’s “Man of Steel” has earned $635 million.

Comic-Con clearly attracts the people who are buying the tickets to see those movies. And studios went on a charm offensive over the last two days, eager to impress them this year by bringing cast members and first looks at footage — even for films that have just started production.

Sony: “The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Andrew Garfield, who impressed fans two years ago with his heartfelt message of love for Spider-Man, while wearing a cheap version of his suit, spent half of this year’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″ panel in character as the web slinger, riffing with fellow panelists Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan and director Marc Webb, before returning as himself to discuss the film and take questions from fans. His entrance began with a video showing his difficulty getting into the convention center’s massive Hall H, which seats more than 6,000 and hosts all of the major studio panels. “It all gets to be a little old hat after a while,” he said as Spidey. “You get kind of irritated by the banality of the swinging” and “wish you had Wi-Fi” when hanging from a skyscraper.

Webb’s mission was to let fans know his sequel would go far beyond the origins story of last year’s film and build a universe that would play out over several sequels (studio already has dated the next two). The director said he was “exhilarated” and “liberated” with being able to move Spider-Man’s story forward, and revealed footage of a bolder-looking film, with more action and character development. In the sequel, Foxx plays the villain Electro, and thesp was game to let fans know his deep interest in the character’s background and his approach to playing the character. “It’s extremely fun to play the villain,” he said. “You don’t have to color inside the lines.”

Warner Bros: Batman and Superman

Zack Snyder appeared at the end of Warner Bros. and Legendary’s three-hour panel to reveal his plans for the “Man of Steel” sequel: add Batman.

To make the announcement, the director brought out “Man of Steel”-castmember Harry Lennix to read from Frank Miller’s 1986 book, “The Dark Knight Returns,” in which Batman battles Superman: “I want you to remember, Clark. In all the years to come. In all your most private moments. I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.” A logo was then revealed featuring the Superman logo over a new Bat-symbol.

SEE ALSO: Comic-Con: Superman and Batman to Team Up in Movie

Studio has yet to announce just who will play Batman, but the new film will be released in summer 2015, with David Goyer penning the screenplay.

Announcement was made in the remaining minutes of an extended panel that showed off new footage of “Godzilla,” “Seventh Son,” “300: Rise of an Empire,” “The Lego Movie,” “Edge of Tomorrow,” and “Gravity.”

20th Century Fox: “The Wolverine” and “X-Men Days of Future Past”

After Hugh Jackman and James Mangold promoted “The Wolverine” on stage, with Jackman thanking fans for letting him return to play the character for a seventh time in a movie, Fox wowed Hall H by bringing out most of the cast for “X-Men Days of Future Past,” which Bryan Singer is filming now.

The 13 actors — Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholous Hoult, Shawn Ashmore, Ellen Page, Anna Paquin, Michael Fassbender — represents actors from the first three X-Men movies and recent prequel “X-Men: First Class,” along with newcomers Peter Dinklage, Evan Peters and Omar Sy.

Outside of the obvious photo opportunity, the stunt on stage also enabled old and new cast members of Fox’s hit franchise to present a message of unity in wanting to make an ambitious new film. Early footage shown during the panel clearly reflects that.

Marvel: “Thor: The Dark World;” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier;” “Guardians of the Galaxy;” “The Avengers: Age of Ultron

But it was Marvel that once again stole the show, presenting new footage of three of its upcoming superhero tentpoles that Disney will distribute through next summer, and the name of “The Avengers” sequel, which will feature the villain Ultron in summer 2015, under the helm again of Joss Whedon.

Presentation began with Tom Hiddleston in character as the “Thor” villain Loki theatrically taking over the panel and asking “Your ears yearn for untold stories. Your eyes crave unseen sight. Your imaginations ache and hunger. Where are your Avengers now? You should have let me rule you when you had the chance.”

But Marvel had a lot to satisfy the packed house of Hall H, with even footage of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which is only into its second week of filming. Yet the lengthy montage of scenes impressively showed off the film meant to be Marvel’s answer to “Star Wars” with a lighter comedic touch. Final looks of the characters Rocket Raccoon and tree-like Groot were also shown during the montage (but the actors voicing them were not revealed).

With this being Marvel’s last Comic-Con to promote “Guardians,” the company flew cast members Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillian, Lee Pace and Michael Rooker from the London set on Saturday and sent them back immediately after the Comic-Con panel ended Saturday night. Djimon Hounsou and Benicio Del Toro also star and were on hand.

Marvel’s fast-moving presentation ended with Joss Whedon revealing “Age of Ultron” as the subtitle for his “Avengers” sequel. Again, it generated a rousing reaction from the crowd, given the history of the Ultron character to the Marvel universe. On Friday, Whedon impressed audiences with a surprisse showing of the pilot episode of “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” premiering on ABC on Sept. 24.

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