- San Diego Comic-Con has become a must for pop culture fans of all stripes
- This year's schedule is packed with sneak peeks at movies and TV shows
- Can't-miss panels include "Hunger Games," "Spider-Man," "Big Bang Theory"
The best and worst thing about San Diego Comic-Con, the four-day mashup of geek and mainstream pop culture, is that the schedule is such an embarrassment of riches.
What was once a haven for lovers of comics has expanded into a heaven for entertainment fans of all stripes, and this year's Comic-Con is no different.
Starting Wednesday through Sunday, July 21, the San Diego Convention Center will be flooded with well over 100,000 attendees as they shuffle between panels promising exclusive previews and answers to fans' burning questions.
But unless the goal is to not sleep for four days -- which it might be for some -- having a plan of attack is crucial. Even a Con-goer flying high off a rush of adrenaline, caffeine and Joss Whedon sightings needs to prioritize.
It was difficult, but we've narrowed down the wealth of SDCC to 15 events that we're the most excited to see.
That's not to say there isn't plenty more to take in, as we also have our eyes peeled for "Kick-Ass 2"; "The Big Bang Theory"; J.J. Abrams' new Fox pilot, "Almost Human"; "The Walking Dead"; "True Blood"; and the first and only appearance of the "How I Met Your Mother" cast.
But if you need a starting point, here are 15 events to highlight:
'The X-Files' 20th Anniversary
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are staging an "X-Files" reunion at Comic-Con this year, marking the 20th anniversary since they first partnered as Agents Scully and Mulder on Fox's prime-time sci-fi series. Writer-producers like David Amann, Vince Gilligan and Howard Gordon, plus creator Chris Carter, will be here as well.
'Ender's Game' and 'Divergent'
Summit Entertainment brought the "Twilight" masses to Comic-Con in the past, but this year they're arriving with fresh -- and pretty prestigious -- meat. Harrison Ford will join his "Ender's Game" co-stars Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld and Abigail Breslin for a Q&A with fans, who'll also get to see new footage of the November release.
This panel will also offer a glimpse at another fan favorite adaptation, "Divergent." Author Veronica Roth, whose best-selling young adult novel has spawned a series and a massive following, will be here to take fan questions, along with the movie's stars, Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Mekhi Phifer, and Maggie Q, among others.
The stars of Showtime's "Dexter" will convene in Convention Hall H for one last Comic-Con appearance. Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas and James Remar will join the series' executive producers to take fan questions about the eighth and final season, which began in June.
The Kickstarter-funded "Veronica Mars" movie just began filming, but Rob Thomas and the "Mars" crew already have some fun stuff to share with fans. Several of the cast members will be here, including Kristen Bell, Francis Capra, Enrico Colantoni, Percy Daggs III, Jason Dohring, Ryan Hansen, Chris Lowell, Tina Majorino and Krysten Ritter, plus Thomas. Fans who get into this chat will get to ask questions, learn details about the production and see footage from the film.
'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'
The only glitch for "Walking Dead" fans is that the show's panel overlaps with the first look at Joss Whedon's upcoming ABC series, "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." We've had a small taste of what's to come with a trailer, but additional "top secret information" plus surprise guests are on the bill for the Comic-Con panel.
'Game of Thrones'
Fans will have an opportunity to get the scoop on the fourth season, which will begin filming this summer. Expect to see Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington and more.
'The Amazing Spider-Man 2'
Sony and Screen Gems are rolling out previews of four upcoming films, not the least of which is Marc Webb's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." With Jamie Foxx joining Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in the sequel -- in which the Oscar winner takes on the role of the villainous Electro -- we can't wait to see what sneak peeks will come out of Comic-Con. The other Sony-Screen Gems previews are "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2," "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones," and the remake of "RoboCop" -- with Samuel L. Jackson, Joel Kinnaman and Abbie Cornish.
If you've yet to become acquainted with the name Tatiana Maslany, now would be the time to do so -- especially ahead of awards season. The star of BBC America's "Orphan Black" is raking in the critical acclaim. Fans who are taken with this suspenseful series, about an orphan (Maslany) who takes on the identity of her look-alike after witnessing the woman's suicide, will get to ask questions about the addictive first season.
'Godzilla,' '300: Rise of an Empire,' 'Gravity'
Warner Bros.' panel will feature Jeff Bridges' "Seventh Son"; "The LEGO Movie"; "300: Rise of an Empire"; the George Clooney and Sandra Bullock space thriller "Gravity"; and a do-not-skip preview of Gareth Edwards' "Godzilla."
'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
This panel will also put a spotlight on Aaron Eckhart and Yvonne Strahovski in "I, Frankenstein," but we're betting all eyes will be trained on what's in store for "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." It'll be the first time the franchise appears at Comic-Con, and fans can anticipate a look at new scenes, plus a Q&A.
'The Wolverine,' 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes'
We know that 20th Century Fox is going to feature "The Wolverine" and "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," but we're more curious if the crew from "X-Men: Days of Future Past" will be there as well.
'Thor: The Dark World,' 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'
Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige is going to satisfy the fandom's thirst for glimpses of this year's "Thor: The Dark World" and 2014's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." "Surprise" special guests are in store, so our fingers are crossed for double Chris action: "Thor's" Chris Hemsworth and "Captain America's" Chris Evans.
Along with "Dexter," Comic-Con is also giving AMC's "Breaking Bad" one final panel in honor of its last season. Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn and more stars will join creator Vince Gilligan to talk about filming those final eight episodes. There'll be an opportunity to ask questions, of course, and fans will get to see a sneak peek at the final episodes of season 5 ahead of the August 11 premiere.
50th anniversary of 'Doctor Who'
Matt Smith is no longer "Doctor Who," but he will be at Comic-Con to celebrate the 50th anniversary special with Jenna Coleman, David Bradley, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. It's unlikely that we'll also learn who the new "Doctor" will be, but we can hope.
'Community': Celebrating the fans
Given that it's the fandom that has truly held "Community" afloat on NBC for the past four seasons, we appreciate that the fans are getting their due this year -- even if it's only in the panel title. Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Jim Rash and Ken Jeong will be at the panel, along with reinstated executive producer Dan Harmon.