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James Gunn Says Marvel Won’t Be at San Diego Comic-Con This Year

One of the coolest things about self-proclaimed uncool filmmaker James Gunn is that he’s a fan of things, and so likes to connect with people who are fans of his. Saturday night via his official Facebook page, the Guardians of the Galaxy director answered lots and lots (and lots) of questions from fans about all sorts of things, the only things off-limits were plot details and possible new characters for Guardians 2. Which is why when he let the following bit of information go, much of the internet went “Wait, what?”


As though it were common knowledge, Gunn said that Marvel Studios, the company that pretty much OWNS San Diego Comic-Con with its news and promotion, won’t be attending in an official capacity. Ever since the first Comic-Con, prior to the release of Iron Man, Marvel’s teasing of upcoming projects have been key to both their success and fan excitement. Can this be true? Can Marvel really forsake the promotional blitz that is SDCC?

Well, kind of, yeah. To be honest, Marvel is big enough now not to need to go to San Diego Comic-Con. They’re one of the most profitable studios in the world right now. They only released two films in 2014 and both of them ended the year in the top 5 highest grossing films in the U.S. People wait with bated breath for the next one to come out, whatever it is (it’s just Avengers: Age of Ultron…that old nugget). And last October they proved that they could call a press conference any old time they wanted to and people would not only be interested, they’d be drooling on the floor in anticipation. This was the October presentation where Marvel ANNOUNCED EVERYTHING, including Captain America: Civil War, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and of course the two-part Infinity Wars that will be the third and fourth Avengers movies. How excited were we all for this? And how much did we talk about it afterwards? At least as much, if not more, than we would if they’d done the same thing at SDCC, and in this instance, all of the focus was on Marvel; they didn’t have to share the spotlight with anyone else.

Following this, Warner Bros and DC had their own announcement conference, which was part of their annual shareholders meeting, where they laid out the next nine films in their cinematic universe, a clear “Oh, crap, we better catch up!” move to grab some of that sweet headline space. If things like this can happen in October, then why would anyone need to really pimp stuff at the Con?


SDCC has become an enormous (and frankly overblown) media blitz where all anybody’s looking at is what feature film or TV news we might get, as opposed to just going to celebrate things people enjoy. More and more, it seems, this kind of marketing push doesn’t actually need to come from San Diego. Doctor Who was noticeably absent at 2014’s SDCC, a place where they’ve made the Sunday Morning BBC America panel a place for lots of hoopla. This was due to two factors: 1) there was still filming going on and 2) the series was about to embark on a massive whirlwind world tour which took new Doctor Peter Capaldi and companion Jenna Coleman all across the globe, holding meet-ups and screenings in several different countries in one week. That did incredibly well for them, seeing as Series 8 was the most-watched in BBC America’s history.

Hall H can hold 6,500+ people, which is, granted, an enormous number of people; but, it’s pittance compared to the amount of people who actually attend San Diego Comic-Con (most of whom don’t have a chance of actually getting into that particular hall without an overnight camp-out), and it’s a mere drop in the ocean compared to the number of people worldwide who want to know about whatever news might come out of it. So, if you’re Marvel, DC, the BBC, or any big product, why not wait to announce things or show clips when YOU want to show them, and when you’ll maximize the attention?

For Marvel not to go to SDCC this year sets a huge precedent, which I think will actually do both studios and the Con in general a world of good. Last year, Marvel was there and the next film to come out was Guardians of the Galaxy, but by that time there’d already been several press screenings and news of how awesome the movie was was already permeating. Plus–people at Comic-Con are probably going to see a movie like Guardians already; they’re a captive audience. They HAVE US. This year’s post-SDCC movie is going to be Ant-Man, which comes out literally five days after the Con ends. So what real good would any kind of promotion there do? And the next movie won’t be until 2016, which will be Civil War, which we’re all going to see anyway. Do you see my point?

While this is all just based on one off-handed answer on a filmmaker’s Facebook page, it makes a huge amount of sense. Marvel Studios doesn’t need to go to Comic-Con if it has nothing to show because they could show us things on November 8th at 6:45am and we’d all still want to see it. Maybe something like this will take some of the burden off the Comic-Con weekend and things people want to read about won’t get lost in the shuffle. Maybe make it a place for comic books again. I know, that’s just crazy talk.

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  1. gil says:

    so marvel the movie producer isn’t going, but will marvel the comic book company be there?

  2. Frank says:

    I think that Marvel’s absence is a sign that the “big” cons, like SDCC and NYCC are beginning to collapse under their own weight.  Although, I don’t see anything wrong with Comic-Con encompassing all things pop-culture related, the author might be right…having it be less of a promotional juggernaut might be better for the fans.  NYCC, in particular, has become far less about what the fans want…and almost totally about how ReedPop can wring more money out of everyone.

  3. Nate says:

    “Ever since the first Comic-Con, prior to the release of Iron Man . . . ”
    Comic-Con has been around since 1970 … why are you claiming it started in 2007 or 2008?

  4. ed says:

    As a SDCC attendee, I could understand MARVEL not going to focus on their own events like the El Capitan thing or the D23 that’ll happen in Anaheim… BEFORE Comic-Con.
    I’ve seen it happen before, when STAR WARS– owned by DISNEY™– reduced their Exhibition Floor presence necause there were bigger pr bangs to the buck in the uncompeting marketplace of D23. There wasn’t a full-scale X-Wing on the floor that year… but, SDCC being the geek magnet that it is, there was still a SW presence anyways. And I can remember the bad old days of Comic-Con when MARVEL didn’t even HAVE a presence on that floor. (This was in the bad old days when the company was broke, pre-the MCU, pre-Big Bang Theory, pre-LOTR movies; pre the 100,000 crowds even. The dark times before the DISNEY™ buyout.)So MARVEL’s not going, according to Gunn. Maybe not his movie, but I think there STILL will be some presence for the comics anyways. The Thor throne… the Iron Man suits… the S.H.I.E.L.D. screens… the little glass exhibits… WON’T have their follow-up this year? Damn, I was hoping for a giant Dread Dormammu to get pictures of! 
    Oh well, I’ll wear my glow-in-the-dark Iron Man and blue “A” shirts anyways.

  5. JamesDaBear says:

    I actually hope this will make them have a much bigger presence at NYCC.

  6. CRodrig1 says:

    This isn’t the first time they skipped SDCCC. I think they skipped three years ago. They had D23, and did all their promotion there. They had 0 movies from Disney promoted at Comic-Con that year. I will not be surprised if Star Wars skips too, because Disney wants people to attend their con. That’s okay, I have my my four day pass, and I can’t wait for the party. 

  7. Krystina says:

    They really don’t need to. Civil War has all the hype it needs already. Marvel will most likely attend SDCC 2016 to help promote Doctor Strange for November 2016.

  8. Larry says:

    Kind of glad I wasn’t able to get a ticket this year

    • zach says:

      If you don’t want to go just because a big movie studio isn’t going, then you do not understand the point of going to a comic-con. People who go to cons should go to celebrate what they enjoy not to see what the next big movie is. SDCC is nice but it’s certainly not a great con, it is mostly one just to cross off a bucket list of cons to go to.

  9. Andy says:

    I think that part of the reason that Marvel won’t be at SDCC is that Disney is holding their D23 Expo in August in Anaheim this year. This is an every other year event, so I think in these “odd” years when it’s held there will be a limited presence of any Disney properties at SDCC to drive more attendance and buzz to their own event.

  10. Longbowhunter says:

    Great article,but you failed to mention Disneys D23 expo. Its right after SDCC,and Disney has been trying to turn it into their own exclusive SDCC like event for years. Its most likely that they will break both Marvel AND Star Wars news at D23 as well as reveal theme park plans for both franchises.

  11. KingofthMooners says:

    They will be back next year. Disney’s D23 Expo is this year and that’s where Marvel will be along with Disney and Star Wars. Disney is thinking let them come to us for exclusive news.

  12. Chris says:

    Interesting article! However, it was actually Warner Bros. that announced their full DC lineup first. DC announced their movies around the 15th and Marvel announced theirs on the 28th.