San Diego Comic-Con is not just an event for comic book geeks. Sure, it might have started that way back in 1970 when it was founded by a bunch of like-minded San Diegans and dubbed the "Golden State Comic Book Convention," but the annual fan-centric fete has become a veritable who's who of Hollywood, especially for stars and their upcoming films and TV shows seeking early support from eager and enthusiastic fans.
The 2012 convention is certainly no exception, with four days of programming that will feature appearances from some of the biggest names in the biz.
Here's our breakdown of which big stars you can expect to see and when:
The Young and the Restless
Comic-Con kicks off Thursday with perhaps the most youth-friendly event of the entire week: The "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" panel, at which the majority of the film's beloved stars will appear, including Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, as well as Mackenzie Foy, Elizabeth Reaser, Peter Facinelli, Kellan Lutz, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed and Jackson Rathbone. Other programming that caters to the younger demographic is the appearance of "Glee" stars Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Naya Rivera, Darren Criss, Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz as well as "Vampire Diaries" stars Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, Michael Trevino and Zach Roerig.
Most of the following fellows need no introduction due to their legendary and/or cult status among the dedicated masses. The action-movie fans will get their fix via the "Expendables 2" panel, which will feature action icons Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with castmates Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews and Randy Couture. Matt Damon and Jodie Foster will make an appearance in support of "Elysium," Quentin Tarantino will bring his patented and potent geek-friendly energy to his "Django Unchained" panel, WB's presentation of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" will bring celebrated thespian and geek god Sir Ian McKellan to San Diego and, speaking of geek gods, we can't forget to include OG geek heroes Joss Whedon and Nathan Fillion, who will surely cause mind-melting fan-demonium during the "Firefly" 10th-anniversary panel.
Speculated Surprise Guests
Much of the fun of Comic-Con is trying to guess which studios will pull off the biggest surprises, à la the first official assembly of "The Avengers" cast in 2010. This year we have very high hopes that Christopher Nolan will make his first appearance at the Con either in support of WB's "Man of Steel," on which he serves as executive producer, or as part of "Dark Knight Rises." This is the first time Comic-Con falls on a weekend ahead of the release of one of Nolan's Batman films, so we hope the timing is perfect for something extra-special. Disney announced an "Iron Man 3" panel, which has our curiosity piqued for which castmembers will be on hand in support of the film and whether any of Iron Man's fellow Avengers (we're looking at you, Thor and Captain America) may or may not appear alongside their comrade to promote or announce developments with their individual films. Finally, we'd like Lionsgate and Summit to take the opportunity to make some exciting announcements about "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" in front of their very captive audiences. The casting rumors have been heating up for that film and we've only had one official confirmation so far, so as far as we're concerned, Comic-Con would be the place to cause a casting stir.
MTV News has Comic-Con 2012 covered! We'll be live-streaming from San Diego daily at 1 p.m. ET. Don't miss a geeky thing!