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NYCC 2015 Day Three: The Battle of the Five Panels

New York Comic Con 2015 03

New York Comic Con 2015 Day Three Writeup. Day Three of New York Comic Con was the most stressful day, but the stress was coming from a terrific problem. You see, often at New York Comic Con, there’s just so much cool things you want to see at the convention that you simply can’t get to it all. There were five panels I was trying to get to today, but due to timing and logistics, I was only able to get to two. Three of the panels I wanted to see were on the Main Stage – this was always a shot in the dark, because while it’s relatively easy to get into one Main Stage panel, it’s a lot harder to get into two, let alone three. The two other panels I wanted to see were going on at the same time as one another, so one had to give. The three panels I had to give up were:

1) Firefly Reunion (Main Stage) – This was probably the lowest priority panel on my list – I love Firefly, and the cast that were going to be there (Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, and Jewel Staite) were very likely to provide a fun panel. But there hasn’t been new Firefly content (outside of comics) since the movie Serenity ten years ago, and it’s not like the panel was going to provide anything substantial outside of a chance for the Browncoats to reunite once again.

2) The X-Files (Main Stage) – I am not a big X-Files junkie, though I plan to give it a real shot soon (full disclosure: I saw some of the first season when I was 13, and X-Files: I Want To Believe when it hit DVD). That said, I am interested in the new X-Files miniseries, and the panel (which featured Chris Carter and David Duchovny) was to be moderated by “X-Files Files” podcaster and comedian Kumail Nanjiani, of whom I’m a big fan.

3) Marvel’s “Cup O’ Joe” Panel – I went to this panel last year and it is a lot of fun. Essentially, this is a panel where Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada and a group of some of Marvel’s best writers discuss everything Marvel comics-related. This year, writers like Dan Slott (my favorite Marvel writer), Charles Soule, and Kieron Gillen were there, and the fan discussion with these guys was likely great.

When I got to the Main Stage queue to acquire wristbands first thing in the morning, the place was already packed (Saturday is traditionally the most crowded day of the convention, and boy, did it feel like it). By the time I got out of the line for my biggest priority panel, the staff had capped off the rest of the Main Stage panels and would not let anybody join those lines. So there went The X-Files and Firefly, but I felt confident in the panel I chose – more on that in a bit.

The Show Floor

I spent a lot of time walking around the show floor today for the first couple of hours, checking out all the cool stuff that you can find when just browsing. One of the great things about Comic Con is you can walk the entire show floor five times in a row and still find something new every time. The crowd was wild and creative today too – at one point, a conga line of people dressed as different versions of Deadpool made its way around the entire floor, chanting “Chimichangas!” the entire time.

I also happened upon the Marvel booth right before the Daredevil cast came out to sign autographs for fans. Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, and Jon Bernthal were there, and for the next 45 minutes, it was a pretty tight squeeze in that area of the floor. The Jessica Jones cast also came by later for another signing, but I was busy elsewhere at another panel, which will be tough to beat as my personal favorite of the convention.

STARZ Present Ash vs Evil Dead

So I am a huge fan of Sam Raimi, and in particular, his Evil Dead series. When the news broke that he and Bruce Campbell were continuing the franchise with a new TV show, I was excited. When the first trailer came out a little while ago, I was floored. And when I found out there was going to be a panel at New York Comic Con featuring Raimi, Campbell, and the cast? Well, I knew I had to be there. The panel was held in the Hammerstein Ballroom, a few blocks away from the Javits Center where most of the convention is held. I left early to ensure my presence there, and ended up getting a seat in the second row, directly in the center. The panel started about ten minutes early with a surprise appearance by Kevin Smith, who introduced Campbell and Raimi out onto the stage. Campbell was charismatic as usual, and he and Raimi had some fun banter, before pulling out the big reveal – they were going to screen the first episode of Ash vs Evil Dead for the first time for this audience. The crowd went nuts, and soon we were watching the world premiere of one of my most highly-anticipated series in some time.

I won’t say too much since I don’t want to spoil it for those who have to wait another three weeks, but I will say that the Ash vs Evil Dead pilot is a blast. It is so much fun seeing Raimi and Campbell back in the world, and they slip back in like they never left. The basic gist is that the show takes place 30 years after the events of Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness (though due to rights issues, the show can’t explicitly reference Army of Darkness). Ash is still working at the supermarket, still has a wooden hand, and is still killing it with the ladies, when a dumb mistake that only Ash would make means the Deadites are back to wreak some havoc. This feels much more “pure” than the 2013 Evil Dead remake, which was fine, but devoid of the personality and goofiness that makes these films work so well. The show is centered around Bruce Campbell, who is great as always, but he has a fine cast supporting him, including Lucy Lawless, who only makes a brief appearance in the first episode.

After the screening (and the thunderous applause and cheers that followed), Kevin Smith came back out and reintroduced Raimi and Campbell, then brought out the showrunner and the rest of the cast as well. Smith asked a few questions then went to an audience Q&A, which was mostly dominated by Campbell – and why wouldn’t it be? Campbell is so relentlessly entertaining, and everyone in the crowd loved him. At one point, Campbell angrily made fun of a fan for his lack of Three Stooges knowledge, and at another, he gave a fan some dating advice. But as fun as Campbell is, it was so cool to see Sam Raimi there talking about his craft and working on the Evil Dead movies and show. There are few who have had a bigger impact on the film geek in me than Sam Raimi, and to see him onstage with Kevin Smith, another guy whose work was a major part of my teenage years, was a thrill to behold.

The panel ran about 20 minutes longer than it was supposed to, and while I could have watched it for another several hours, it ending at 4:20 meant I had to rush back to the Javits Center to make it for my other panel on the Main Stage, which started at 5:00. After basically running over, dodging and weaving in and out of Comic Con crowds, I made it with about ten minutes to spare (and got a pretty good seat, too!) for Marvel’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones panel.

Marvel’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones

This panel started out kind of slow, but certainly picked up as it went along. Marvel’s Head of Television Jeph Loeb, as he demonstrated yesterday, is a master of getting the crowd excited. As he walked out, he said, “I’ll probably get in trouble for this, but hold on one second!” and ran offstage. When he came back out, he was joined by Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, and Mike Colter, who play Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, respectively. He ushered them offstage quickly, and said, “I wasn’t supposed to do that, but that’s basically your earliest glimpse of The Defenders.”

After that fun stunt, he brought out the cast of Daredevil Season 2: Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Hensen, Jon Bernthal, and Elodie Yung, plus the new showrunners, Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez, and executive producer Joe Quesada. It was a fun little session that wasn’t anything too major. As someone who enjoyed Daredevil Season 1 but didn’t love it, I can say the most exciting element of the new season is the addition of Jon Bernthal and Elodie Yung as The Punisher and Elektra. We were shown a brief teaser that gave a quick glimpse of each of those characters, but otherwise, the Daredevil portion of the panel was fairly run-of-the-mill.

After we were shown the teaser a second time, the Daredevil cast left the stage and the Jessica Jones cast was brought on to take their place. Loeb went through similar motions with this cast, asking them questions about what their characters are like. Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Rachael Taylor, Carrie-Anne Moss, Eka Darville, Erin Moriarty, and Wil Traval were there, as well as showrunner Melissa Rosenberg. The notable absence to this lineup was David Tennant, who Loeb made reference to when he noted that there was an extra chair and microphone there at the table, before revealing that that was a joke and Tennant was in England doing a play at the moment. He then presented a video clip of Tennant speaking to the NYCC audience, where Tennant says they have a short clip prepared for us to see. When he said this, the lights went down, and then, just as quickly, they came back up again. Loeb apologized to the crowd, saying they didn’t have a clip to show, and after much arguing from the cast, revealed that the reason they don’t have a clip is because they brought the entire first episode instead. Like I said, Loeb knows how to play to the crowd, and the response to this was wildly enthusiastic.

So yes, I have seen the first episode of Jessica Jones, and I can report that it is very, very good. I won’t give too much away, but fans of the character will not be disappointed. Krysten Ritter is terrific as the title character, and Mike Colter seems to be a good fit for Luke Cage. The show is very much in the same mold as Daredevil in terms of visual aesthetic, but it feels like its own thing. There’s no reference to anything happening anywhere else in the Marvel universe (that I caught, anyway); this is just a straight-up, hard-boiled detective show with a protagonist that happens to be superpowered. There’s a bleak sense of humor and darkness here that really works, and I think this first episode is stronger than pretty much anything in Daredevil‘s first season. Part of the appeal here as well was that everyone in the crowd was going in completely blind. No footage of this show has been released yet, and the only teasers have been 20-second glimpses that have not even shown Jessica’s face. I’d recommend that experience if you’re able to do it – I’m sure a real trailer will be released soon, but dropping in on this world knowing nothing about it is a lot of fun.

And that was the end of my third day at New York Comic Con. Don’t forget, I’ll be tweeting and broadcasting live on Periscope through FilmBook’s Twitter account for the remainder of the convention, and you can always follow me as well if you were so inclined. Tomorrow is the last day, and I’m only going to one panel. However, that panel is going to be four hours long. Warner Brothers Television is taking over the Empire Stage, and they’re bringing five shows with them: Gotham, Blindspot, Supergirl, Person of Interest, and Legends of Tomorrow. You can follow on Twitter to get a real-time recap of that plus anything else I do that day.

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About the author

Michael Smith

Mike Smith is an avid filmgoer from New York who loves to hear his own voice - luckily his work as a podcaster on FilmBook allows him to do just that. Mike graduated from The College of Saint Rose in Albany with a degree in communications, and is ready to dole out critical analysis of all your pop culture fixations. Mike is the host of FilmBookCast and can frequently be seen at his local movie theater, patiently explaining to his friends that Superman Returns is a misunderstood masterpiece.

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