In 1971, the 300-or-so people pawing through cardboard boxes of dusty comic books couldn’t have possibly imagined that they were standing in what would become the cradle of nerd civilization. From a small meetup for diehard geeks, San Diego Comic-Con has grown into one of the largest and most feverishly anticipated pop-cultural events of the year. Thousands upon thousands of industry types, journalists, the devout faithful (and the suckers they’ve handsomely paid to stand in line as proxies) and cosplaying fans of all stripes will descend upon the city from July 21st-24th to feast on tidbits about everything from superhero-movie multiverses to geek-TV staples.
SDCC offers more events, guests, panels, screenings, and nebulously defined “experiences” than you can shake a lightsaber at, so allow us to impose a little order on the chaos. Below, we’ve organized the buzziest previews by the company representing them (movie studio, TV network) to give you a comprehensive rundown of what to expect from the Super Bowl of people who don’t like watching the Super Bowl. In the event that you’ve finagled a pass to this four-day bender of networking and branded promotion with a little genuine passion for entertainment mixed in — godspeed and may the Force be with you. If you’re observing from the sidelines, meet your newest obsessions for the next 12 months.
After sending Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick to Cannes for a little frizzy-haired promotion of the upcoming Trolls animated feature, DreamWorks Animation will ship the pair off to San Diego for another musical number or two. Based on the freakish, bug-eyed dolls that reached the height of their popularity during the Eighties, this new comedy will give the toys the Shrek treatment, with an ogre-sized payday to hopefully follow.
Having directed searing profiles of such lightning-rods as Richard Nixon and George W. Bush (not to mention an entire movie devoted to J.F.K. assassination conspiracies), Oliver Stone is no stranger to controversy. He’s going to stir the pot once again on September 16th with Snowden, his biopic on the divisive NSA whistleblower starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the title traitor/American hero. Expect the filmmaker, his lead actor and the supporting cast (which includes Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, and Star Trek‘s Zachary Quinto) to make a splash at the convention — and to experience a next-level feeling of irony if footage of the movie’s panel is leaked.