Some people train for triathlons. For pop-culture geeks — the kind of folks who live for superhero movies, comic books, sci-fi TV and customized Walking Dead action figures — San Diego Comic-Con is their endurance sport. They start about two weeks out, planning their four 16-hours days down to the minute. They obsessively organize their bags, balancing the amount of rations, cameras, and cell-phone power packs they need to carry against all the swag, exclusive toys, and signed books they want to haul home. Each year, they get better at speed walking, weaving through dumbfounded newbies and baby strollers, and calculating the clearest routes from one hall to the next. One of our writers logged 11 miles on his health app on the first day alone, and that didn't even properly account for the extended periods of zombie-shambling on the exhibition hall floor.
The San Diego Convention Center is big enough on its own, but now the side cons, parties, and "activations" (as the PR folks call their off-site promotional installations) are spread more than a mile across in every direction. This year, the event has expanded further into the digital world, with Comic Con HQ streaming certain panels online and Hollywood studios increasing their square footage through virtual reality.
But if you're going to Comic-Con, then you go all-in, no minute squandered, because there's no better personal trainer than the fear of missing out. And that was how we were able to compile this list of the 25 very best things we encountered at SDCC 2016.