1. Benedict Cumberbatch somehow works in a Sherlock reference when talking about Penguins of Madagascar.
DreamWorks Animation panel
Thursday, July 24, 11:30 a.m. (all times Pacific Daylight)
Scheduled to attend: For Penguins of Madagascar, stars Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich, Tom McGrath, and directors Simon J. Smith and Eric Darnell; for Home, director Tim Johnson.
What we need to see: Benny Batch, who provides the voice of Agent Classified in the Madagascar spin-off, will be making his debut appearance at Comic-Con this year. And frankly, that’s kind of hard to believe for a man who has inspired such rabid fandom, but, because of that, the panel may be packed with people who otherwise would not quite care about DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming slate — and if Cumberbatch reads the room correctly, a sly reference or two to Sherlock would help goose the crowd. (Meanwhile, DWA fans will want to know what lies beyond Home — including 2015’s B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations and Kung Fu Panda 3.) —Adam B. Vary
2. We get a better idea of whether The Giver will live up to the book.
The Giver panel
Thursday, July 24, 1:30 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: Stars Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, and Odeya Rush, director Phillip Noyce, and author Lois Lowry
What we need to see: There has been a lot of trepidation about this adaptation of Lowry’s beloved YA novel, from the decision to age up protagonist Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) by several years to how, exactly, the use of black-and-white will be employed in the movie. With a full hour dedicated to this one film at Comic-Con, there should be plenty of time for some extensive footage, and for fans to further grill the stars and filmmakers about what to expect. —ABV
3. Dan Harmon tells us what Community will look like in Season 6 — and online.
Thursday, July 24, 2:15 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: Executive producers Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna with stars Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Jim Rash, and Dino Stamatopoulos (“Starburns”)
What we need to see: The announcement that the show was saved for a sixth season by Yahoo was (let’s be real) a massive surprise, so no one really knows what to expect from the next batch of episodes. First and foremost: Will the show still be set at Greendale? Hopefully, this panel answers that and more. —Jarett Wieselman
Paramount Pictures panel
Thursday, July 24, 3 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: Nothing has been officially announced.
What we need to see: All Paramount has promised for its hour-long panel is “an inside look at their upcoming films,” which nominally include August’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, October’s Paranormal Activity 5, and December’s Hot Tub Time Machine 2. But the biggest movie on the studio’s upcoming slate is Christopher Nolan’s buzzy sci-fi drama Interstellar. Nolan has never come to Comic-Con — there were no panels for any of the Dark Knight trilogy. But last year, Gravity made a huge impression during its Comic-Con panel, and Interstellar could do the same. —ABV
5. Arnold Schwarzenegger shows up to screen footage from the new Terminator movie, and we care again about his movie career.
Paramount Pictures panel
Thursday, July 24, 3 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: Again, nothing has been announced, so this could not happen at all!
What we need to see: The fifth Terminator movie won’t be out until July 2015, so there may not be much of anything to show from it yet. But studios have been increasingly front-loading visual effects shots during a film’s production to give visual effects houses as much time as possible to get their work done, so there could be a few choice scenes ready for Comic-Con. And Arnold Schwarzenegger — whose career as a solo star since he left Hollywood to run the state of California has been, well, puny — would cause the the convention’s biggest room, Hall H, to explode if he showed up in T-800 black shades and leather to introduce the footage. —ABV
6. AMC — finally! — gives us some news on that Walking Dead spin-off.
The Walking Dead panel
Friday, July 25, 12:20 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: Stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Chad Coleman, and Michael Cudlitz with showrunner and executive producer Scott Gimple, executive producers Gale Anne Hurd, Robert Kirkman, and David Alpert, and executive producer and special effects makeup supervisor Greg Nicotero.
What we need to see: In September 2013, AMC ordered a second Walking Dead series that’s not a traditional spin-off, as it won’t feature any of the existing characters, but it is set in the same world. Since the initial announcement nearly a year ago, there’s been no casting or major movement, aside from Dave Erickson signing on as showrunner. With the show scheduled to debut in 2015, this would be the time to announce a cast, a premiere date, or — ya know — a title. —JW
7. We find out who will be playing the Sand Snakes.
Game of Thrones panel
Friday, July 25, 1:40 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: Executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, author George R.R. Martin, and stars John Bradley, Gwendoline Christie, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Natalie Dormer, Kit Harington, Rose Leslie, Rory McCann, Pedro Pascal, Sophie Turner, and Maisie Williams
What we need to see: One of the most memorable moments from Season 4 involved the incredibly graphic death of [SPOILER ALERT] Oberyn Martell. And with HBO announcing that Dorne, the Seven Kingdoms region ruled by House Martell, would play a major part in Game of Thrones Season 5, it’s safe to say we’ll see a lot of fallout from his eye-gouging. Recent weeks have seen countless stories claiming to have intel on the casting of Oberyn’s daughters — referred to as The Sand Snakes — but HBO has confirmed nothing. Comic-Con would be the ideal place to reveal those actors. —JW
8. Daniel Radcliffe spreads his (dark) magic across Hall H.
Friday, July 25, 3 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: Stars Daniel Radcliffe and Juno Temple, director Alexandre Aja, and novelist Joe Hill
What we need to see: Harry Potter going really, really dark. Like with Cumberbatch, this is inexplicably Daniel Radcliffe’s first time at Comic-Con. And like with Cumberbatch, it’s fair to say there will be a fair number of people at this panel who have little interest in Horns. It’s a dark tale of death, sin, and betrayal based on Joe Hill’s novel in which Radcliffe grows actual devil horns after his town is convinced that he murdered his girlfriend (Juno Temple). The film premiered at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival and made a strong — and very weird — impression, so fans expecting anything close to the magical whimsy of Radcliffe’s earlier career are in for something of a shock. —ABV
9. Marvel announces the rest of Agent Carter’s cast.
Marvel’s Agent Carter panel
Friday, July 25, 3 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: Executive producers Tara Butters, Michele Fazekas, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, and Louis D’Esposito with star Hayley Atwell
What we need to see: While Bradley Whitford and Dominic Cooper were featured in Agent Carter’s Marvel: One Shot, neither has been confirmed for the series, nor has anyone else for that matter. With production set to commence shortly, it would be smart for Marvel to use the Con to announce which actors will be working alongside Atwell. —JW
10. The new Fantastic Four debut in Hall H.
20th Century Fox panel
Friday, July 25, 4:20 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: Nothing has been announced for Fantastic Four, but…
What we need to see: …Fox has scheduled a full two hours in Hall H, and with that time, it will preview a large swath of its roster, like August’s buddy comedy Let’s Be Cops, the September YA adaptation The Maze Runner, October’s animated feature Book of Life and British thriller Kingsman: The Secret Service, and the video game adaptation Hitman: Agent 47, due out in February 2015. At least some if not all of those films could look great, the footage could wow and impress, and their stars — from Channing Tatum for Book of Life to Colin Firth for Kingsman — could charm the Hall H crowd but good.
But none of that will matter all that much if Fox’s reboot of The Fantastic Four with Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell is a no-show. This is, after all, Comic-Con, and with director Josh Trank’s reimagined Fantastic Four debuting in June 2015, this will be the only chance for the film to stretch attendees’ minds, smash their expectations, set their excitement aflame, and, er, make their doubts invisible. —ABV
11. Sleepy Hollow gives fans a good, long look at Season 2.
Sleepy Hollow panel
Friday, July 25, 5:45 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: Executive producers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Len Wiseman, Mark Goffman, and Heather Kadin with stars Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, John Noble, Orlando Jones, Lyndie Greenwood, and Katia Winter
What we need to see: Unlike most of the shows coming to Comic-Con, Sleepy Hollow has been in production for almost a full month. That means they have the most new footage to (theoretically) screen for fans. The opening scene previously played at a For Your Consideration panel in June, so that’s likely to be screened again, but it would be a shock if Fox didn’t reward Sleepyheads with more. —JW
12. Forty-five minutes of complaining about Tatiana Maslany’s egregious Emmy snub.
Orphan Black panel
Friday, July 25, 6 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: Stars Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, Dylan Bruce, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Evelyne Brochu, and Ari Millen with producers Graeme Manson and John Fawcett
What we need to see: It will have been nearly three weeks since the 2014 Emmy nominations when Tatiana Maslany takes the Comic-Con stage, but there’s little doubt much of the conversation will be dedicated to lamenting her criminal Emmy snub. Once the “Recall!” talks subside, expect intel on what the Season 2 finale revelation — there’s another clone (Millen’s Mark Rollins!) — means for Season 3. — JW
13. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman reunite in Hall H for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
Warner Bros. panel
Saturday, July 26, 10 a.m.
Scheduled to attend: Warner Bros. has announced panels for the final Hobbit movie, along with the Wachowskis’ delayed Jupiter Ascending (which was due to open last weekend until its release was pushed to February 2015) with Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, and the rebooted Mad Max: Fury Road with Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. But no one involved with those films has been officially confirmed to attend.
What we need to see: Certainly Peter Jackson will return for his Hobbit swan song, but what is unclear is who will be with him. Given that Cumberbatch, who plays the dragon Smaug and The Necromancer in The Hobbit movies, will have been in town two days prior for DreamWorks Animation, and given that the title character of the Tolkien franchise is played by Cumberbatch’s Sherlock compatriot Martin Freeman, surely the Comic-Con gods will smile on their appearance together for this panel. —ABV
14. Zack Snyder reveals the full Justice League, and maybe introduces them. Or, at the very least, Snyder shows off some footage from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Warner Bros. panel
Saturday, July 26, 10 a.m.
What we need to see: Like Fox, Warner Bros. also has two full hours to fill in Hall H, and three movies just doesn’t seem like enough to do it. Last year, director Zack Snyder popped in unannounced during the Warner’s panel for a surprise reveal that his Man of Steel sequel would feature Batman. In the 12 months since, Snyder has cast Ben Affleck as Batman and Fast and Furious star Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and as that ungainly title suggests, Snyder will follow up that movie with Justice League featuring Affleck, Gadot, Henry Cavill as Superman — annnnd several other actors playing DC Comics mainstays like Green Lantern, The Flash, and Aquaman.
Jason Momoa (aka Game of Thrones’ Khal Drogo) is reportedly likely playing Aquaman in Dawn of Justice (which Warner Bros. has yet to confirm). With just two other main JLA roles unfilled — or just one, if Warners somehow decides Ryan Reynolds’ go at Green Lantern was a redeemable disaster — it would be The Event of this year’s Comic-Con if all members of the Justice League appeared on stage together in Hall H.
Of course, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is still shooting, and it won’t hit theaters until May 2016. So the Powers That Be at Warners could decide this kind of hype is too premature for this year, and save their big Justice League splash until Comic-Con 2015 (or 2016, or never!). That said, it would be awfully nice of Snyder to at least give us a taste this year of what it looks like when Dark Knight and the Man of Steel go to battle with each other. —ABV
15. OUAT lets Frozen footage go.
Once Upon a Time panel
Saturday, July 26, 11 a.m.
Scheduled to attend: Executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz with stars Jennifer Morrison, Robert Carlyle, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Colin O’Donoghue, and Jared Gilmore
What we need to see: While Georgina Haig (Elsa), Elizabeth Lail (Anna), Scott Michael Foster (Kristoff), and Elizabeth Mitchell (a mysterious, unnamed character) aren’t scheduled to attend, the OUAT creators are likely to take us inside Arendelle and give us a first look at the Frozen-themed season and all the actors in character. —JW
16. Guillermo del Toro scares the crap out of us with Crimson Peak.
Legendary Pictures panel
Saturday, July 26, 12:25 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: No one has been officially announced.
What we need to see: Legendary Pictures, which used to pair its panel with Warner Bros., is going solo this year following its new partnership with Universal Pictures. But this panel is comparatively short: just 45 minutes. So the production company-cum-micro-studio will have to be selective about which movies on its slate to showcase. It’s a horror-heavy lineup with the found footage horror film As Above, So Below (out Aug. 29), the period horror thriller Dracula Untold (out Oct. 17) with Luke Evans, and Guillermo del Toro’s gothic horror film Crimson Peak. The latter isn’t opening until October 2015, but with del Toro already in San Diego for Fox’s Book of Life, he very well may pop over to show off his first unabashed horror film since 2001’s The Devil’s Backbone. —ABV
17. Julie Plec offers answers about the now-defunct “Other Side.”
The Vampire Diaries panel
Saturday, July 26, 4 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: Stars Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder, and Kat Graham with executive producer Julie Plec
What we need to see: The Season 5 finale of The Vampire Diaries stranded recently deceased Bonnie (Graham) and Damon (Somerhalder) on “The Other Side” as it crumbled around them, leaving Delena fans to spend the summer in a perpetual state of panic. Plec clearly has a lot of explaining to do — but perhaps no question is more important than how she brings Bonnie and Damon back to Mystic Falls without making death hold even less weight on TVD. —JW
18. Apologies from Bon Temps.
True Blood panel
Saturday, July 26, 5 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: Executive producer Brian Buckner with stars Chris Bauer, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Anna Camp, Nelsan Ellis, Stephen Moyer, Anna Paquin, Nathan Parsons, Carrie Preston, Sam Trammell, Rutina Wesley, and Deborah Ann Woll
What we need to see: You’d be hard-pressed to find a true Blood fan who hasn’t, thus far, found the final season underwhelming. From the random death of a major character to the circuitous plot, Season 7 had lacked any real bite. But it would be a disservice to the great work that came before it to dwell on that. Expect a nostalgia-filled panel — both as the actors reminisce about what the show means to them and we remember better times in Bon Temps. —JW
19. The Avengers assemble, and we see Ultron in action for the first time.
Marvel Studios panel
Saturday, July 26, 5:30 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige is the only person officially on the docket, but do not be shocked if The Avengers: Age of Ultron writer-director Joss Whedon shows up, along with most of his cast — including veterans Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, and Jeremy Renner, and new recruits Elizabeth Olsen (as Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (as Pietro Maximoff, aka Quicksilver), Paul Bettany (as Vision, aka Tony Stark’s cyber-butler J.A.R.V.I.S.), and James Spader (as Ultron, aka the Big Bad).
What we need to see: Guardians of the Galaxy opens a week after Comic-Con, and its stars are not expected to show up in Hall H. Instead, expect the hour-long Marvel Studios panel to be dominated with talk of and footage from the sequel to the third-highest-grossing movie of all time, and the end of its “Phase 2” round of movies. Spader’s interpretation of the humanity-eradicating machine Ultron will be of significant interest, but so will possible first looks at Olsen and Taylor-Johnson as the Maximoff twins, Bettany as the android Vision, and whatever Andy Serkis is up to in the movie.
Speaking of Serkis… —ABV
20. Oh, and we meet Doctor Strange.
Marvel Studios panel
Saturday, July 26, 5:30 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: No one, though director Scott Derrickson (Deliver Us From Evil) is a good bet.
What we need to see: Marvel Studios hasn’t even confirmed that a Doctor Strange movie exists yet, but it’s likely that Feige will be breaking at least some news about the project during the Marvel panel — like, say, when the movie will be released, and, you know, who will be playing Doctor Strange.
Which allows me to float a totally unsubstantiated and likely ill-advised hypothesis: The role Andy Serkis recently hinted he was playing in The Avengers: Age of Ultron could be our first peek at Stephen Strange. Marvel does enjoy counter-intuitive casting (like Downey as Tony Stark, and Paul Rudd as Ant-Man), and Serkis is a peerless performer who knows how to hold an audience’s attention — albeit with a CG costume, and not his own skin. And, yes, the internet is pretty well-convinced that Benedict Cumberbatch has the role. But, c’mon, you have to admit that Serkis as Strange has a rather uncanny logic to it, no? —ABV
21. Answers about the final (sniff) season of Sons of Anarchy.
Sons of Anarchy panel
Sunday, July 27, 12:30 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: Executive producers Kurt Sutter and Paris Barclay with stars Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Kim Coates, Mark Boone Jr., Tommy Flanagan, Theo Rossi, Dayton Callie, and Jimmy Smits
What we need to see: Coming off that shocking finale, fans have a lot of questions — specifically, what will Jax (Hunnam) do in the wake of Tara’s (Maggie Siff) death? Also, what will Juice (Rossi) and Gemma (Segal) do now that they’ve presumably covered up their involvement in Tara’s murder? New footage would answer both of those questions, and could also give us the first look at guest stars Marilyn Manson and Courtney Love in action. —JW