Winners and Losers of Comic-Con 2022: Marvel, COVID-19, Cosplayers, LEGO and More

There was a lot to celebrate — and roast — at San Diego Comic-Con

Winners of Comic-Con

The first real San Diego Comic-Con in three years — yes we know about the scaled down Thanksgiving weekend event last year, but this was the real deal — is finally at an end. And while it’s bittersweet saying goodbye after missing SDCC for so long, that’s not going to stop us from assessing the best and worst of the convention’s apparent return to glory.

Yes folks, it’s time to list the winners and losers of San Diego Comic-Con 2022. Strap in.

Winner: FX

Photo by Ross Lincoln

The network held its annual open-to-the-public activation on the grounds of the Hilton Bayfront just east of the San Diego Convention center. And along with the traditional part inspired by the “American Horror Story” franchise — in this case, the anthology series “American Horror Stories” — the huge attraction also recreated the vampire night club from this season of “What We Do in the Shadows,” along with a chance for fans to get horror themed makeovers and watch screenings of FX shows. All in all it was a blast to experience and we can’t wait to see what the network does next year. And that doesn’t even include the always fun panels for shows like “Mayans M.C.” and “What We Do in the Shadows.”

Loser: Anyone who need wifi and didn’t want to spend $70
Citing an inability to obtain sponsorship in time for the start of the convention, SDCC didn’t provide free internet to fans this year, forcing journalists and even people who just wanted to text a friend about how cool a trailer was scrambling. Making things worse, the huge amount of people switching on their mobile hotspots pretty much made them all useless.

Winner: Paramount

Paramount Pictures

Paramount marketing and distribution boss Marc Weinstock kicked off comic con’s Hall H with the first look at “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.” The preview got an unexpectedly great reception in the room — and an equally good one across the street in the studio’s D&D-themed activation, where fans could sample Dragon’s Brew. And overall, it set off Comic-Con 2022 on the right foot. Talk about a critical hit.

Loser: Hilton Bayfront
Hundreds of UNITE HERE Local 30 workers went on strike at the start of con right in front of the Bayfront which sent festival organizers scrambling for back up plans for interview studios because stars didn’t want to cross the picket line. Luckily, a deal with the union was reached late at night before comic con kicked off on Thursday

Winner: Hilton Bayfront employees
Because like we said, hundreds of UNITE HERE Local 30 workers went on strike at the start of SDCC, right in front of the Bayfront, stars didn’t want to cross the picket line, and the union reached a deal with the hotel just in time for the start of Comic-Con. Way to go, guys. Way to go.

Loser: Antivaxxers

Comic-Con International imposed pretty strict COVID-19 protocols including proof of either vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test as well as a for-the-most-part strictly enforced mask mandate. And since Comic-Con is one of the last non-toxic places left in the American public sphere almost no one had a problem with it. Obviously we’ll need a few days to know whether or not SDCC ended up being a superspreader event but the signs look good — read more about that here.

Winner: Cosplayers
Comic-Con attendees really rose to the challenge imposed by the Comic-Con mask mandate, coming up with clever, pragmatic or just aesthetically pleasing ways to comply while also flexing their costumes. It’s almost enough to make us hope for more COVID variants next year just to see what they’ll do. JUST KIDDING die in a fire, COVID-19. But we love you, cosplayers. Read more here.

Loser: People who repeated that obviously fake Henry Cavill rumor

It’s one thing to see a rumor and think it’s interesting. It’s another entirely to harm your credibility by repeating the rumor without verifying it — and raising a ton of false hopes among fans in the process. Read more about it here.

Winner: Lego

Ross Lincoln for TheWrap

Look at that incredible, giant statue of the Mighty Bowser from “Super Mario Bros.” JUST LOOK AT IT. It’s 14 feet tall, it weighs 4 tons, and was constructed using nearly 700,000 LEGO bricks — and it also has sound effects and animatronic motion. Sure, it’s built just for Comic-Con and you can’t but it, but that was far from the only thing your favorite building toys company brought to San Diego. New Marvel-branded sets, new “Avatar” sets, and even some new “Super Mario Stuff” including a smaller size, fully articulated LEGO Bowser build using a ton of neat custom-made pieces. Our only complaint is we couldn’t convince them to let us walk away with all of it for free. SIGH, I GUESS just take my money already.

Loser: Tik Tokkers as Hall H Moderators
Just because you have over 20 million followers doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to move a crowd of 6,000 inside Hall H. The cats — we won’t name them out of a sense of human decency — were atrocious, low energy, very obviously reading directly from a script, and never engaged the crowd the way seasoned pros like Chris Hardwick and Aisha Tyler used to.

WINNER: Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’
Amazon took the exact right approach with the Hall H panel for their $500 million bet on the world of J.R.R. Tolkien. After opening with an orchestral performance of the show’s score, noted Tolkien scholar Stephen Colbert moderated a panel that underlined the ways in which this series expands upon — but also builds on — the foundation that Peter Jackson’s films created, and succinctly contrasted the two. The best sell yet is the notion that the millenia-long gap between the two eras is the difference between a world thriving (in ‘Rings of Power’) and one that’s essentially post-apocalyptic (the time period of Jackson’s films). The exact right approach for the legion of fans unsure how they feel about a return to Middle-earth helmed by new stewards.

Winner: DC Comics Movies (made by New Line)

Dwayne Johnson speaks onstage at the Warner Bros. theatrical session with "Black Adam" and "Shazam: Fury of the Gods" panel during 2022 Comic Con International: San Diego at San Diego Convention Center on July 23, 2022 (Getty Images)
Dwayne Johnson speaks onstage at the Warner Bros. theatrical session with “Black Adam” and “Shazam: Fury of the Gods” panel during 2022 Comic Con International: San Diego at San Diego Convention Center on July 23, 2022 (Getty Images)

New Line Cinema put on a dazzling show with first looks at the upcoming “Black Adam” and “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” with the latter literally electrifying Hall H via lanyards passed out to attendees that would light up on cue when the Rock engaged the audience. The “Shazam! 2” presentation didn’t suck either,

LOSER: DC Comics Movies (made by Warner Bros. Proper)

Warner Bros.

Maybe there was some thrill in seeing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, emerge like an incredibly built genie from a puff of smoke. And, sure, “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” could be some fun counterprogramming this Christmas (if you’ve already seen “Avatar: The Way of Water”). But the DCEU, as it was once was (and maybe still is?) known, remains in a state of flux, between solidification and dissolution, and the panel didn’t do much in terms of offering a clear path forward. Instead of illuminating what’s to come, they just pumped up the next couple of releases and left everything else vague. It’s clear part of this has to do with the fact that “The Flash,” one of the big tentpoles for next year, is up in the air thanks to star Ezra Miller’s streak of bad behavior (and even worse press). But surely there could have been a tease of the upcoming “Aquaman” sequel? Or maybe the “Batgirl” movie? What about “Blue Beetle,” DC’s first Hispanic superhero? All of that potential thunder was stolen by Marvel Studios, whose presentation was a mixture of razzle-dazzle and deeply felt sentiment, and whose unveiling of Tenoch Huerta as Namor the Sub-Mariner, was the moment that Xolo Maridueña as Blue Beetle could have been. Oh well. There’s always DC FanDome (is that still a thing?) or Comic-Con next year…

And speaking of…

Comic Con’s Biggest Winner: Marvel Studios

A still from the "Black Panther 2" teaser trailer (Marvel)
A still from the “Black Panther 2” teaser trailer (Marvel)

Marvel studios threw a much-needed hail Mary at Comic-Con with a triumphant return to the Hall H stage, where the company announced not one but three phases of the MCU. Kevin Feige ran a tight ship in his usual role as circus showman while the creatives and casts of the companies various projects strolled out one by one with announcements that, for now at least, seem to have settled the question of whether Marvel is losing focus fairly definitively. The stand outs of course were the emotional trailer for “Wakanda Forever” — we cried for Chadwick Boseman and cheered for Tenoch Huerta’s Namor — and the announcement of “Avengers” 4 and 5. But the whole thing was the end-of-day thrill ride fans have come to expect. Whatever you thought about Marvel going into the presentation, they’re all you’re talking about now.