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Comic-Con 2013 Preview: 11 Panels Not to Miss In San Diego

TheWrap's take on the buzziest big- and small-screen offerings

This year's San Diego Comic-Con schedule may just be the biggest ever.

As Hollywood's involvement in the event has pushed sessions into the early evenings and fans are finding it harder to score passes, TheWrap offers its take on what's worth your valuable time and when you can schedule that much needed disco nap, when you could browse the exhibition floor or check out the many offerings in Petco Park.

And here's our TV and film standouts for Comic-Con 2013:


The Overachiever
Lionsgate/Summit. Summit already struck gold at Comic-Con five years ago with the "Twilight" franchise. This year the studio, now a subsidiary of Lionsgate, is returning to the annual fanboy event, and as they've done in the past, Summit and Lionsgate each have a panel of their own. Summit will bring "Ender's Game" as well as "Divergent," which has already been labeled the next "Twilight/Hunger Games" by more than a few. Lionsgate will take a victory lap with "The Hunger Games" while also previewing its take on the graphic novel "I, Frankenstein." And for those lascivious fanboys: Yes, "Hunger Games" star Jennifer Lawrence will be in attendance.

Also read: Comic-Con Preview — The 12 Parties Not to Miss in San Diego

The Kid Left at Home
Paramount. Though many studios have toyed with the idea of abandoning Comic-Con, every single major studio will have a presence at the event this year except for one: Paramount — for the second year in a row. The former Marvel distributor doesn't have any movies coming out later this year that fit the mold of the event, unless you think Martin Scorsese wants to take on Comic-Con for the first time. Yet next year Paramount has a summer filled with movies that would make for a good panel – "Transformers 4," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Hercules." Paramount would say all those movies are too far away to say much about, but can you imagine Michael Bay and Megan Fox on stage together?

Also read: Comic-Con 2013: The Film Schedule (Updated) 

Potentially Uncomfortable Panel
Warner Bros./Legendary. Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros. were successful partners for almost a decade, producing "Man of Steel," "The Hangover" films and the "Dark Knight" movies. Yet as time went on the ambitions of Legendary grew from just financing movies to developing, producing and owning IP. That caused friction with Warner Bros., which was also undergoing a management change. So Legendary moved on to Comcast and Universal. Yet the two can't ignore one another just yet – they have several more movies to release. Warner Bros. and Legnedary will share the same stage at Comic Con to preview upcoming titles "Godzilla," "Seventh Son" and the sequel to "300."  Legendary CEO Thomas Tull appeared at the same panel last year. While he'll be at Comic-Con, he won't take the stage this time.

The Reunion
Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. These three talented British lads built their careers together with the short-lived sitcom "Spaced" and the disturbing but uproarious 2004 film "Shaun of the Dead." Pegg created the former and co-wrote the latter with Wright, who also directed the tale of two immature best friends (Pegg and Frost) who band together to prevent the zombie apocalypse. The three worked together again on "Hot Fuzz," the tale of an overzealous cop (Pegg) and a neer do well (Frost) who band together to save their town from a serial killer.

Now the trio is back with "The World's End," a science fiction tale involving an epic pub crawl and robots. There will be a breakfast, a panel and a screening. Miss any of it? We wouldn't dare.

The Question Mark
Fox is hosting a panel Saturday evening, and for weeks would reveal nothing about it. It has since disclosed that it will preview "The Wolverine," "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" and…a big surprise. Will they talk up "X-Force," an upcoming "X-Men" offshoot? Will they introduce something brand new and unannounced? Or will crowds get a peek at the next "Avatar"? Always bet on James Cameron.

Digital, Digital, Digital
While most of the attention at Comic-Con will be focused on movie stars and popular TV shows, the number of panels devoted to web series continues to balloon. This year includes one for a new season of "Mortal Kombat: Legacy," the Jack Black-produced "Ghost Ghirls" and "The Awesomes," Hulu's new animated show created by Seth Meyers of ‘SNL" and Mike Shoemaker of "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." Popular YouTubers like Felicia Day will be in attendance as well. While none of those shows is going to make as much money as "The Hunger Games," the combination of lower stakes and comedic talent will make for a far more spontaneous panel.

Lucas Shaw


Toughest Ticket in Town
HBO's "Game of Thrones" (Friday, 2:50 p.m., Hall H) or AMC's "The Walking Dead" (Friday, 1:35 p.m., Hall H) are the obvious choices here. But judging from the buzz we're hearing, ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (Friday, 3 p.m., Ballroom 20) may actually end up being the toughest panel to get into. There is a lot of curiosity around the series and especially Clark Gregg, who reprises his role as Agent Coulson, who we thought met his demise in "The Avengers." Joss Whedon, you got us again.

Also read: Comic-Con 2013: The TV Schedule (Updated)

Most Unpredictable
For our money, it's NBC's "Community" (Sunday, 1:50 p.m., Hall H). In past years, Dan Harmon has never disappointed in throwing a very hilarious and spoiler-filled Comic-Con panel. Aside from finding out how the returning showrunner intends to get the comedy back on the rails for Season 5, you really never know what he (or the cast) is going to say or do. Of course, we're expecting a laugh riot and hoping Harmon bites the hand that fed-fired-and feeds him once more; even just a nibble will suffice for the fans who stuck with the show during his absence.

The Last Dance
Clearly, fans won't want to miss the final season panels for Showtime's "Dexter" (Thursday, 6:30 p.m., Hall H) and "Breaking Bad" (Sunday, 11:15 a.m., Hall H), but we're most looking forward to BBC's "Doctor Who" (Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Hall H). It will be Matt Smith's final turn at the Con before he regenerates into whoever steps into the role next. We don't expect showrunner Steven Moffat to tell us who that will be, but there's plenty more to spill about the upcoming 50th Anniversary episode that explores the Doctor's origin story.

For Nostalgia's sake
Hello, Mulder and Scully are back together again! The "X-Files" 20th Anniversary panel (Thursday, 3:30 p.m., Ballroom 20) not only reunites David Duchovny and Jillian Anderson, but assembles creator Chris Carter and executive producers Vince Gilligan and Howard Gordon in the same room. Honorable mention in this category goes to the "Veronica Mars" Movie panel (Friday, 11:15 a.m., Hall H), which has assembled a huge group of returning players including Kristin Bell, Jason Dohring, Ryan Hansen and Chris Lowell. Creator Rob Thomas promises plenty of sneak peeks at the movie fans helped make possible.

Most exciting extracurricular activity?
Ga-duh, "The Walking Dead" Escape (Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m., Petco Park). Are you a zombie or a survivor? From AMC, Skybound and Ruckus Sports, this obstacle course allows you to role-play as you try to make it unscathed to the decontamination zone — complete with makeup crews.

Jethro Nededog

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