Superheroes once again ruled San Diego Comic-Con with three studios rolling out their big future plans for their tentpole franchises. Two generations of X-Men will meet. The Avengers will fight a new, surprising enemy: Ultron. Batman and Superman will unite on the big screen for the first time ever!
With each studio jockeying for superhero supremacy, who came out the victor? It was a photo finish, so broke down the three panels to see which group of heroes won it all.
What They Showed: Zack Snyder took to the stage to officially announce the follow-up to "Man of Steel," but he revealed that it wouldn't be just another sequel. Batman would be there, and the director strongly hinted that the heroes won't be seeing eye-to-eye. The audience was then treated to a logo combining the two symbols.
Surprise Factor: A Superman-Batman movie would have blown the roof clear off the San Diego Convention Center if The Hollywood Reporter hadn't spoiled the surprise right before the panel started. Obviously, not everyone in Hall H knew that the announcement was coming, but it certainly took away from the overall effect.
Overall Impression: This is DC's next step on their mission to compete with Marvel and the Avengers. Anyone who would outright say that they have no interest in seeing Batman and Superman on the screen together is probably a horrible cynic, but the move on DC's part does feel somewhat desperate. Props to WB, however, for practicing at least a small amount of moderation and not jumping to "Justice League" right away. This was the right call.
What They Showed: After a fairly standard panel for "The Wolverine," Fox brought out director Bryan Singer and the entire cast of "X-Men: Days of Future Past" and showed a preview of "Days of Future Past," the time-bending mutant adventure that throws Wolverine into the future and brings young and old Professor X face to face.
Surprise Factor: This was the worst kept secret of Comic-Con. Everyone knew it was going to happen, but no one could have predicted the awesomely flirtatious encounter between Magnetos, Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender.
Overall Impression: Fox is doubling down in its X-Men franchise and going for broke to unite its currently separate series. "Days of Future Past" will either make or break the X-Men movie franchise.
What They Showed: The house of Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor showed footage from each movie in the remainder of their Phase Two. "Thor: The Dark World" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" both showed one action sequence and an extended sizzle reel, while "Guardians of the Galaxy" got a cast reveal and a rough trailer, and "Avengers: Age of Ultron" rolled a teaser.
Surprise Factor: "Thor" and "Cap" went off largely as expected. Everyone predicted some presence from "Guardians," but few could have guessed that James Gunn would have shown a trailer after shooting for only 13 or 14 days. Joss Whedon's "Age of Ultron" surprise caught everyone off-guard since the entire world assumed that Thanos would be at the heart of "Avengers 2."
Overall Impression: The big take away from the Marvel panel is that the studio intents to do something different with each and every movie. Their cinematic world is growing and evolving, showing a maturity in how they approach bringing their heroes to the screen.
It's hard to compete with the combined forces of Batman and Superman, but what Marvel showed is that they know the superhero movie business better than anyone. They can surprise a Hall H audience not big a big stunt, but tapping into what makes fans love the books and the characters.