For all of the criticism of this year's Comic-Con for being more Hollywood than ever thanks to giant spectacles and the number of parties per night giving the number of panels a run for their money, what the Con is truly and still continues to be about is being overlooked -- the connection between fans and property or artist. This year I saw more tears than in any year before, and not a single one was shed out of sadness. Although there was plenty of bombast, there was an equal amount of joy and appreciation. Here's a rundown of the sweetest moments we witnessed between stars and fans.
'Twilight' Does Some Good
The last ever "Twilight" panel managed to have one moment that actually, for a second, made me appreciate what the franchise has perhaps done for people. A male fan who somewhat resembled Taylor Lautner took to the mic to have a bro moment with the star, thanking him for the inspiration to get in shape. This fan had lost almost 100 pounds so far and wanted some advice from the oft-shirtless Lautner. He also wanted to know whether or not Lautner cheats on his diet, to which Lautner gave the fan genuine advice. For some reason the positivity of that moment had at least one audience member getting misty eyes (read: me).
Fans Show Some Tim Burton Love
There were multiple moments of overwhelming sweetness during the "Frankenweenie" portion of the Disney panel. First, when a giant group of fans, each dressed as a different Burton movie came to the mic to ask a question, Burton exclaimed, "It's like my family came to see me!" Later, a girl at the mic was asking Burton how it felt to finish a project he started working on so many years ago when she burst into tears, eliciting plenty of awwww's from the entire hall. Burton empathized with the young fan and told her, "I feel like you do, when I think about it, I start to cry myself."
Firefly -- We're All In This Together
Nothing beats the high emotions that took place at the end of the "Firefly" reunion panel. Being in that room for the reunion trumped pretty much anything else that happened during the entire weekend. The intangible energy alone was enough to bring any passer-bye (if it was actually possible to pass anything by at Comic-Con) to tears.
Although a few panelists got misty-eyed during their entrances, mostly notably Summer Glau, everyone lost it at the end. When Joss Whedon was talking about what he would have changed about the end of "Firefly" had he known it was getting canceled, he said "We would have learned about Book and we would have learned about Inara, and for some reason that's the question that's gonna make me cry? That's okay, you know what, that is a good last question." As Joss started to tear up, the audience showered him in applause.
But it went beyond that. Jeff Jensen, before wrapping the panel up, posed this question to Whedon, "What do the fans mean to you?" Already fighting back his emotions, Whedon had a hard time mustering up the strength to answer, which immediately caused Nathan Fillion to wipe his own eyes and inspired the audience to collectively scream, "We love you!!!" After a few more moments, the audience packed to the brim with 4500 people took to their feet applauding Whedon, letting him know how much he means to us. As Whedon couldn't hold it together any longer, Glau leaned over and kissed his shoulder and the whole cast stood up with the audience, applauding Whedon right along with us. Now fully in tears, along with most of the cast, Whedon gave the following speech to the crowd, who stayed on their feet for the whole conclusion of the panel,
“Only an idiot would actually try to follow that with a sentence. When you come out of a great movie… you feel like you’re in that world. Like you come out of 'Brazil' and suddenly everything is duct piping and… bureaucracy and everyone's weird and everything's too much. You know, you come out of these certain things and the world has become that. When you’re telling a story, you are trying to connect to people in a particular way. It's not just about what you want to say, it’s about inviting them into a world and the way in which you guys have inhabited this world, this universe, have made you part of it, part of the story. You are living in 'Firefly.' When I see you guys, I don’t think the show is off the air, I don't think there's a show, I think that's what the world is like. I think there’s spaceships, I think there's horses, I think it's going on in all of us — the story is alive.”
Tarantino Compliments a Superfan
A young woman dressed as The Bride was the first to ask a question during the "Django Unchained" panel. Tarantino immediately said, "Hey, I like your tailor, young lady!" She burst into giggles and thanked him, then got to her question. "Quentin Tarantino, this is crazy, I'm your biggest fan, a bunch of us camped out here last night to see you today -- " That's when Tarantino interrupted her to say, "Thank you very much -- you look damn hot in that Bride outfit, I gotta say."
After covering her mouth in delight and jumping up and down, she responded, "That's going on my blog later," But Tarantino wasn't done making her day, as he continued to compliment the curly-haired bespectacled fan. "It's like Charlize Theron is playing the Bride, you look awesome honey," he said. The young fan thanked Tarantino and fanned her face in order to gain enough composure to ask the very intelligent question she had written down about his tendency to write strong, assertive women.
A 'Man of Steel' Fan Gets A Hug
During the "Man of Steel" panel, a grown man couldn't keep his emotion in check as he came to the mic to ask a question. Superman means the world to him and he couldn't hide it. "I'm just so emotional right now," the fan professed as he wiped away his tears. "It's that good. Zack and Henry, you -- " The fan was cut off as moderator Chris Hardwick ran off stage to give the man a hug to a hugely supportive audience reaction. Hardwick stood next to the fan as he asked his question, throwing him a "Come on champ, get in there!" The fan continued, "I'm one of your biggest fans. Zack, Henry, you guys just rock!"
Frodo Loves 'The Hobbit,' Too
Elijah Wood happened to be at Comic-Con to promote his TV show "Wilfred," and in a truly "Only at Comic-Con" moment, Peter Jackson and the cast of the "The Hobbit" pulled him on stage to join the panel. Seeing Frodo up there with Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and Gollum (Andy Serkis) created a very special moment for fans, made even better when a warm Wood with a giant smile on his face spoke about his reaction to the footage.
"I was blown away, it was extraordinary. I mean the footage as well, it was so incredible, but it has these amazing emotional moments, and that's, I think, at the heart of what Peter does in his storytelling and what Phillipa and Fran write. And to see that presence in this footage, 'cause I'm so distant from this truly, I really [only] went to New Zealand for a month last year for work, it's beautiful. I was made to feel emotional watching that footage, and to see everyone here, it's wonderful."
He wasn't alone. This was one specific case where almost everyone who stood at the mic had to tell the cast and crew how much "The Hobbit" et al meant to them.
Happy Birthday To A Marvel Fan
During the "Iron Man 3" panel, a fan who had turned 15 that day was about to ask her question when Robert Downey Jr. asked if she would like the panelists, which included him, Kevin Feige, Don Cheadle, Shane Black and Jon Favreau to sing happy birthday to her. Which they did, to her utter delight. She couldn't wipe the smile off of her face, and who could blame her?
'The Vampire Diaries' Cast Sticks Up For The Fans
During the second question at the "The Vampire Diaries" Q&A, the young lady asking a question opened with a statement directed toward Michael Trevino. "Hi, Michael, I actually don't have a question for you, I think I just wanted you to acknowledge --" and then the mic got cut out, though we could see her continue to say "my existence." Trevino replied, "Your existence? I can still hear you sweetie, I can still hear you."
As the camera stayed on her, we saw her argue with the person in charge, and one of the cast members saying, "Turn it back on, what happened?" and showrunner Julie Plec saying, "No censorship, please," until they turned the mic back on and let her ask her question about whether we would see Katherine at all in season five. After Plec answered the question, she requested again that there be no more censorship. Michael Trevino and Ian Somerhalder agreed, "Let them ask whatever they want to ask." Trevino added, "Yeah, that's why they wait in line." Somderhalder continued, "That's the beauty of this, that's why we all flew here and they waited in line." The crowd ate it up. Well done, "Vampire Diaries."
'True Blood' Says Thank You and Goodbye to Alan Ball
When a fan asked for Alexander Skarsgard's signed name card, he happily obliged even though questions like that are against the rules. He didn't have a pen so Stephen Moyer encouraged him to sign it in blood. Instead, Skarsgard licked the namecard and then found a pen, making the young fan's day.
Even better than some Skarsgard DNA was the last moment on the panel,when Moyer thanked series creator Alan Ball, who will not be returning for season six. "One of the amazing things about Alan Ball is that he never makes you do the same thing ever again. So once he's seen you do something, he gives you something else to do, so over time you think you've done the most amazing scene [yet], [and] he gives you something more incredible to do.
The episode that's coming up tomorrow night is an Alan Ball episode, and episode 12 is an Alan Ball episode, our last Alan Ball episode, and I think we should all -- it would be a very fitting end to this panel to say thank you to Alan Ball for making this thing happen." Cue the standing ovation from cast and audience. Ball responded, "Thank you guys so much, if I wasn't so old and so tired and so beat up, I would do eleventh hundred more seasons of this show because it's been the most fun I've had in my career."
The Cast of 'Fringe' Adores One Another
As if aware that countless other panelists had been crying that weekend, the hall was treated to a fountain of waterworks when the cast of "Fringe" was asked to recount their favorite scenes from the show that didn't feature themselves. First, Jasika Nicole (Astrid) lost it while talking about a scene from season three when it finally sinks in with Anna Torv's Olivia how much Fauxlivia infiltrated her life, admitting how much it broke her heart to watch. Torv than returned the favor, bursting into tears talking about the Astrid-centric episode from season four. Not to be outdone, Lance Reddick was pouring tears talking about that same episode's closing scene with Astrid and her father.
With three panelists openly weeping and an audience doing the same, the brilliant John Noble brought some comic relief, adding, "I, too, am sensitive. I loved it when Peter chopped that guy's fingers off." To top off the high emotions of the panel, the entire cast came in front of the podium and took a bow before signing off, thanking the fans for their support during their last ever Comic-Con panel.