San Diego Comic-Con is a revered geek event, but New York really needs a comic-con of its own. After all, this is the city of Spider-man and Watchmen -- San Diego is just the city of Ron Burgundy and Veronica Mars. The last NYCC was a doozy, but it was all the way back in February of 2009, and despite the fact that plans for this year's con have been publicly available for over a year it often felt as though the event might never actually happen. But happen it did! After 20 long months of waiting, NYCC finally returned to the Big Apple this early fall weekend, and the massive geek hordes showed their appreciation by descending upon the Jacob Javits Convention Center in record numbers (it should be noted that the Javits Center -- located somewhere between 11th avenue corner and the edge of the universe (a.k.a. New Jersey) -- is about as convenient for citizens of New York as the San Diego Convention Center is for citizens of... New York).
NYCC is still in its infancy (it began in 2006), and as a result still feels a touch more pure and true to its namesake than its unspeakably mammoth West Coast counterpart. A large percentage of the panels and dealers' room floor was dedicated to comic books, and there were only four Hollywood panels that dared to command the main stage of the IGN Theater and present their wares as if they were in San Diego's mythic Hall H. But even if the weekend's biggest draw was a television show ('The Walking Dead' drew a massive crowd on Sunday afternoon), there was still plenty to see, experience, and pose with for even exclusively film-centric attendees like us. So follow the jump for a peek at the very best (and very worst) of NYCC 2010 as seen through our eyes.
Biggest Surprise: 'Hanna'
'Hanna' was definitely something of an unknown quantity coming into the con, but by the end of the panel Joe Wright's teen assassin flick had to be considered one of next spring's most anticipated films (check out or in-depth look at the panel here). The cast is ridiculous (FYI, Cate Blanchett could be in a movie with a broken lamp and the cast would still be considered "ridiculous"), Saoirse Ronan's adorable pubescent killing machine seems fresh and far enough removed from the likes of Hit-Girl, and Wright is one of the most interesting guys to tackle an action film since Marc Forster directed 'Quantum of Solace.' We're sold.
Biggest Relief: Eric Bana not murdering us directly after we took this photo:
As Seth Rogen accurately noted of Eric Bana in 'Funny People,' "Have you seen his arms? They're like legs!" In truth, Bana was actually super amiable with his press, fans, and co-stars, and an uncommonly open and charismatic presence at the convention. But if 'Munich' taught us anything, it's that you wouldn't like Eric Bana when he's
Movie We Expected More From: 'Tron: Legacy'
There's no way to sugarcoat this: Disney really blew it, at least when considered quantitatively. The film itself looks glorious, but the film barely had a presence at the con, and as a result Disney wasted a golden opportunity to tease what's potentially the biggest film of their holiday slate. NYCC's October dates put it at the perfect spot to ferment excitement for the winter blockbusters, and Disney should have done whatever was necessary to treat attendees to the 'Tron Legacy' footage that fans will experience as part of Tron Day. Showing that sizzle reel to 3,000 fans -- even in 2D -- would have resulted in a genuine Internet tizzy of neon and noise, but Flynn's Arcade was dark. At the very least, they should have had a booth where fans could don headphones and have their faces melted by tracks from Daft Punk's score.
Best Question: Anonymous Fan to M. Night Shyamalan:
M. Night Shyamalan's 'Unbreakable' panel was surprisingly great (click here to read all about it), but the oft-mocked filmmaker was understandably a bit wary of how the nerd throngs might treat him. So whereas most panels resolved themselves into casual Q&As with the crowd, Shyamalan only opened himself up to questions towards the very end of the hour, and all of them had to be written and submitted to NYCC authorities. One question that sneaked through: "Why was he dead the whole time? It made me mad." There was no response.
Coolest Moment: M. Night Shyamalan leads a guided tour through 'Unbreakable' storyboards
This was Shyamalan's first Con experience -- it's hard to tell whether or not he enjoyed himself, but a number of Con insiders reported that the director was a genuine delight to be around during his time there, and we can attest to the fact that his panel was riveting. The highlight came when Shyamalan -- who would never record a DVD commentary track -- hopped off stage and lead the audience through a detailed video tour of his storyboards from 'Unbreakable's' train sequence. Shyamalan was never more artistically aggressive than he was with that film, and he seemed to be possessed by the spirit of happier times as he excitedly detailed the rhyme and reason behind every tilt and pan.
Strangest Recasting Announcement: Chris Evans replaced by Little Girl discovered at convention:
Best Fan Service: 'The Thing' Trailer
The panel for 'The Thing' was neat (read about it here), but the real highlight was a trailer packed with a degree of fan service that's only legal in certain parts of Nevada. It opens innocuously on Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a coffee shop (Winstead was too busy getting married to some guy she met on a cruise ship to show up at NYCC), but just a few seconds later we're staring at an ominously familiar block of ice. Cue 90 seconds of drilling inter-cut with shots of people screaming and a few quick glimpses of some (animatronic) tentacles. We can't guarantee that this one is gonna be good, but it's definitely going to be 'The Thing' you know, love, and suspect has possessed your sister's gerbil that suddenly has three heads.
Worst Description of a James Franco Movie by James Franco: James Franco on '127 Hours'
"That movie is hilarious."
Worst Footage From a Movie We Suspect Will Be Great: 'Your Highness'
'Your Highness' is surely going to be the 'Citizen Kane' of medieval pot comedy epics (here's our coverage), and the footage had almost as many laughs as it did shots of a scantily clad Natalie Portman. Director David Gordon Green doesn't know how to make a bad movie that doesn't include the words "Snow" or "Angels" in its title, and he's gathered some of his 'Pineapple Express' cohorts to try for a second genre-bending slice of comedy genius. But the footage was just a touch too reliant upon disrupting staid imagery with f-bombs, and dragged even at a brief 5 minutes. We're not worried, as there were hilarious moments to be sure, and 'Pineapple Express' built its best comedy from extended scenarios rather than easy laughs, but we hope the finished film isn't quite so hit-or-miss.
Best Quote: M. Night Shyamalan on his feisty side:
"I'm a soft guy. I cry at 'Extreme Home Makeover.' But I have another side too where I'll play ball and I'll definitely fight with you."
Best Costume We Really Hope Was A Costume: Pinhead