Images: Marvel Studios (top) and Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for HISTORY

Every year at Comic-Con, certain things—news stories, trailers, publicity stunts—stand out from the rest of the crowd. With so much happening every single day, it’s just inevitable. Some stuff exceeds our expectations or delightfully surprises us; other stuff distinguishes itself because it sucks. Here are the winners and losers of this year’s Comic-Con.


Winners

Black Panther

The Marvel Studios panel was filled with big moments, including only the second public screening ever of footage from Avengers: Infinity War. But the first film at the con that made almost every single person in Hall H jump out of their seats in applause was the new, exclusive footage from Black Panther. The place exploded for the stylish, action-packed footage, giving it a standing ovation (including the film’s cast). While it’s infuriating that Marvel hasn’t put the footage online, that doesn’t make it or the response it got any less amazing. Here’s hoping everyone can see it sooner rather than later. —Germain Lussier

DuckTales

Image: Disney XD

The energy in the room for the DuckTales panel was incredible—and it wasn’t just the nostalgia factor. The panel represented everything that makes Comic-Con special, with magic moments (David Tennant doing a Scrooge McDuck rant completely on the fly), awesome reveals (Darkwing Duck!), and fun clips—plus the amazing feeling that the cast, the crew, and the fans were all equally excited about the show. You can’t fake that kind of passion, and while Comic-Con can be crowded and exhausting and full of huge, overhyped projects, the DuckTales panel was a reminder of how it can also offer an amazing, genuinely heartfelt experience. —Cheryl Eddy

Archer

Archer has been on the air since 2009, so it’s a testament to both the show’s consistent quality and the devotion of its fanbase that its Comic-Con panels still pack the house. (The fact that all of Archer’s voice actors are hilarious human beings also helps.) But Archer really went above and beyond this year. First, the panel featured a live introduction by an animated Sterling Archer—which voice actor H. Jon Benjamin really did perform live, as the character interacted with the audience. Then came the reveal that Archer’s ninth season would be set in the South Pacific, circa 1939, and be called Danger Island—an inspired twist for a show that’s already had a lot of fun playing with its new anthology format. Finally, in a nifty bit of cross-promotion, we got a very clever, very funny animated short imagining what would happen if Archer stepped into a Kingsman movie and encountered fellow spy Eggsy. (There would be booze. A lot of booze. All consumed by Archer.) —CE

Westworld

Westworld has only been filming its second season for a few weeks, so the production team must have been hustling like crazy to cobble enough footage to present a season two teaser trailer in time for their panel. And what do you know, it was actually really good! Every shot of that trailer was gorgeous, interesting, and incredibly promising. And watching Dolores ride on horseback while wielding a shotgun, killing park guests... oh my goodness. That was simply breathtaking. More of that, please. —Beth Elderkin

Fresh Air

Acquiring a Comic-Con pass can been incredibly difficult, and then getting into events inside the San Diego Convention Center isn’t much easier thanks to the massive crowds. Happily, this year, there were just as many cool things to do outside the convention center than inside. HBO had an insanely immersive experience themed to Westworld as well as one for Game of Thrones. Warner Bros. presented a stunningly recreated 2049 Los Angeles for Blade Runner, and Netflix let fans check out props and exhibits from their favorite shows. Plus, there were King Kong monster bones, a Tick scavenger hunt, and much much more. You didn’t need to be inside to really have fun at this Comic-Con, and it was a very welcome development. —GL

Stranger Things

Image: Netflix

A lot is riding on the second season of Stranger Things. The first one was a surprise smash, garnering several Emmy Award nominations and thrusting six previously unknown child actors into the spotlight. Naturally, expectations have gotten even higher for season two. Luckily, the trailer released during San Diego Comic-Con was everything fans wanted... and more. It reminded us of everything we loved about the first season, while also showing the new twists and turns we’ll get in the future of the show. Plus, using Vincent Price’s “Thriller” monologue was a stroke of nostalgic genius. —BE

Gender Equality in Sexy Pop Culture Collectibles

Cheesecake and nerd-dom have gone hand-in hand-for years—but the vast majority of it has always been designed for the gaze of straight men, instead of the entire range of fans who love these characters, worlds, and sexy versions of their favorite comic book heroes and other characters. So kudos to Kotobukiya and their grand unveiling of the Ikemen pop culture statues, a male version of its “Bishoujo” line of figurines that will kick off with a glorious tribute to Dick Grayson, one of superhero comics’ most iconic male sex icons, and owner of one of the most lauded butts in comic book history. It’s a small step into taking a larger leap at closing the disparity at how erotic portrayals of male and female characters are treated in comics and comics-adjacent material, but a good one for fans of sexiness in general and good butts in particular. —James Whitbrook

Jack Kirby

The King of comics, the writer and artist who shaped the medium more than anyone else ever has, would’ve turned 100 this year, and there was a lot of ambient love and awareness of the King throughout Comic-Con. His influence was discussed throughout the con, IDW had a panel and art show that contained 1,300 pages(!) of Kirby’s work, his grandson gave a small speech at the Eisner awards, and several projects that directly continue his work were hyped at the con, like DC’s upcoming Mister Miracle series, along with a variety of other one-shots featuring his creations. All hail the King. —Evan Narcisse

The Lego Ninjago Movie

It sounds crazy, but this tie-in movie to Lego’s self-generated faux-ninja line of toys shocked us all by having one of the best trailers revealed at Comic-Con. We weren’t expecting anything out of the film, despite the ridiculously high bar set by The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie, both of which relied on already established pop culture icons and franchises. But The Lego Ninjago Movie blew us away with its trailer, which was funny and interesting despite the lack of Gandalf, Lando Calrissian, Superman, and us knowing absolutely nothing about Ninjago. Hell, we’d go see it just because of the giant live-action cat attack. —JW

Supernatural

The immortal TV series Supernatural might have had a relatively uninteresting panel, not revealing any new footage from season 13 or even a blooper reel, but it does take the cake for having the coolest surprise of the convention. As fans waited in the dark for the panel to begin, Supernatural’s unofficial theme song, Kansas’ “Carry On My Wayward Son,” began to play. The lights came on, and lo and behold—Kansas was there to perform the song live! It was an incredible treat for fans of the series, as well as a reminder that Kansas can still kick ass. —BE

DC Comics

The writing’s been on the wall for some time now about the current trajectory of the comics industry, particularly when it comes to the Big Two. People are buying fewer and fewer comics while publishers struggle to come up with ideas to keep them financially successful, catering to the desires of legacy audiences while also appealing to a new generation, for whom nostalgia isn’t enough to make them want to fork over their cash for yet another crossover event. At least in some small part, DC understands that majority of fans are sick of having to slog through event after event with all sorts of complicated tie-in comics and variant covers, so they’re trying something new: longer, more thoughtful, more accessible major releases that come out on a slower schedule. Whether DC actually manages to make these sorts of books remains to be seen, but you’ve got to hand it to them for being so open and acknowledging what fans have been telling them for years. —Charles Pulliam-Moore

Jeff Goldblum and People Who Love Jeff Goldblum

Look, we were already excited about Thor: Ragnarok. We didn’t even need that mind-blowing new trailer to convince us. We—“we” being People Who Love Jeff Goldblum, in this case—were already plenty jazzed about seeing Jeff Goldblum in cosmically awesome mode as the Grandmaster. So you can imagine our delight when the color-drenched new Thor: Ragnarok poster got a Goldblum-tastic upgrade from fan Brian Firenzi, subbing in Saint Jeff’s face over every other actor’s. Sure, Chris Hemsworth is cool and Cate Blanchett looks mighty fierce in the movie. But as we all know, the first rule of Goldblum is that there’s no such thing as too much Goldblum. And more Goldblum makes the world—nay, the galaxy—a better place. —CE


Losers

The Punisher

You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger Jon Bernthal fan than me, but I can honestly say that I think Netflix’s decision to give the Punisher his own solo series is a huge mistake. Yes, the Punisher’s a complicated character whose darkness and brutality are part of a very emotionally complex backstory that, at times, can be a fascinating exploration of the relationships between masculinity, pain, and violence. But at the same time, the Punisher can also be a rather two-dimensional glamorization of gun violence that makes me uncomfortable. The footage shown from Netflix’s upcoming show seems like it’s going to exclusively be the latter, but also accompanied by puerile, sexist, and homophobic “jokes” amid the carnage. Hard pass. —CPM

People in Lines

Comic-Con and waiting in lines are virtually the same thing. Everyone
knows it, most people expect it, and others prepare for it. But this
year, the lines seemed like they were awful on an entirely new level. Fans
camped out for almost everything, everywhere: in hotel lobbies, on the
street, on the grass. And sometimes, even those who literally waited in a line for days—say, to enter Hall H, where the biggest panels are held—didn’t get in. If a convention requires an attendee to wait in line for more than 24 hours for something, that’s not popularity, that’s a major problem that absolutely needs to be addressed. —GL

X-Men Fans

Without the X-Men, there would be no modern age of comic book movies. Between decades of culturally significant comic books, a classic ‘90s cartoon that basically the entire Millennial generation grew up loving, and Fox’s cinematic franchise, the X-Men truly gave superheroes mass appeal, and brought about the modern live-action superhero craze. So of course, there are a ton of X-related projects on the horizon. There’s movies X-Men: Dark Phoenix and New Mutants, featuring two of the most significant storylines in X-Men history. Deadpool 2 is also in production, while the X-Force movie is in pre-production, and theoretically someone somewhere is working on Gambit. Then there’s TV: The Gifted comes out on Fox this fall, and the excellent Legion returns to the Fox-owned FX network for a second season next February. And what did X-fans get at Fox’s panel? An announcement a few days before the con started that it had been changed to exclusively a Kingman: The Golden Circle panel. There was a panel for The Gifted later, which had a new, good trailer, but that’s it?! Not even some of the stars? You couldn’t even show people some concept art? Pitiful. —CPM

People Who Don’t Like to Be Bummed Out at Comic-Con

Syfy hosted a “Great Debate” panel that included scifi celebs like Orlando Jones, Aisha Tyler, Adam Savage, and John Barrowman, and was moderated by io9 co-founder Charlie Jane Anders. Obviously, it was about settling those arguments that have divided the nerd community for years, but I bet most attendees that came in expected a good time or vicious disputes. What they did not expect, I image, is for Mythbusters’ Adam Savage to settle the eternal “Which is better, Star Trek or Star Wars?” with the most depressing thing said at this year’s Comic Con:

Star Trek lures you into a false sense of positivity that the world can be a utopia and recent events have proven it cannot. Star Wars’ dystopic vision is far more realistic and prepares our children for their future.

It’s a major bummer of an answer, and the fact he’s not wrong makes it even more depressing. —Rob Bricken

Game of Thrones

Image: HBO

We understand that Game of Thrones needs to keep its secrets. Some of the most powerful moments of the series have been ones that fans of the show (and, in recent cases, book fans too) haven’t expected. But this year Thrones kept way too many cards close to the chest. All the show brought to its Comic-Con panel was a slightly longer teaser for episode two, “Stormborn,” showing Melisandre and Daenerys meeting—an episode that aired Sunday evening, right after the con ended—as well as a panel that had just some of the stars, gamely trying to answer the few questions they were allowed to. Seriously, that’s it? It might make sense for the show in the long run, but it made for a really boring and disappointing panel, when the show’s mid-July season premiere meant fans were more excited than ever. —BE

Medusa’s Wig

Because this is a conversation about wigs and queens, I feel like it’s necessary to bring up Beyoncé. Have you ever seen Beyoncé perform in a wig or while wearing one of her glorious hairpieces? If not, shame on you. If so, then you know where I’m going with this. Her hair has volume and body and exudes an energy all its own that lets you know that Mrs. Carter came to handle her business. That’s the magic of a truly good hair piece—it can transform a person and say something profound about their character. And then there are wigs like the one they made actor Serinda Swan wear for Inhumans. Does it have body? No. Does it have volume? Not particularly. It is long and red, which is literally the bare minimum necessary to make the actress look sort of like Medusa while in costume.

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The wig itself is atrocious, but the situation gets even worse when you see it in motion aided by some downright dodgy looking visual effects, which were finally revealed at Comic-Con. Medusa’s hair is the ONE super ability she has. It’s the sort of thing you really shouldn’t mess up about her character. And yet here we are being forced to stare at the Inhuman Queen’s tracks as if we were watching an early season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. This entire ordeal is going to be a mess no matter what Medusa’s wig tells you. —CPM