My thoughts on Marvel’s absence at Comic-Con


James Gunn, the Director of Guardians of the Galaxy, set off a media frenzy with one simple reply to a Facebook question:


(BTW: Who were the 3 people that ‘Liked’ James’ answer. Let’s find those people and kick them)

Soon thereafter, Twitter was filled with a range of emotions spanning Hulk-like anger to disbelief, denial, and utter astonishment. Could it be possible that the very catalyst that has brought the meteoric fame to San Diego Comic-Con will remove itself all together?! Since this first appearance of the cast of the Avengers in 2010, Saturday afternoon in Hall H has been the focus of the pop culture universe ever since. The Marvel Studios block can account for countless hours of online speculation, the generation of pre/post media, and of course, long nights spent on the grassy knoll of the infamous hall. 12 little words from Mr Gunn may have shattered that streak. With that said- we saw this coming. For years now, Marvel has been tipping their hat that they would eventually stand on their own two Hulk feet. Last October, Marvel held an independent event announcing Phase 3 clearly sending a message that they no longer need SDCC as a platform. After picking ourselves up from the Twitter floor on which we fell, let’s ponder the possibilities and implications (with my theory at the bottom):

Scenario 1
This could be a ruse just to keep things interesting and to keep us guessing. As master marketers, I seriously doubt an announcement of this magnitude was leaked without Marvel Studios permission. If they wanted to create some buzz and misdirect, Gunn would have been a perfect person to execute it. He is credible yet unpredictable enough deliver the message. He followed up saying “I have never lied to fans, ever.” which are pretty strong words but not airtight. Either way, Marvel now can just sit back and make us sweat. The studio can still show up in the 11th hour, to take their place as the rightful king of Comic-Con. Gunn can claim he was wrong or misinformed, fans are elated, the Marvel machine grows and we live happily ever after.

AvengersScenario 2
They have decided to cut the umbilical cord and are forging out on their own. Much like Ultron, it’s time to become the master of their own destiny. If this is the case, the safest way to do it is through a leak. It creates pandemonium based on either the legitimacy of the claim or what SDCC will be like without Marvel. As a result, it actually takes some of the direct heat off of the studio (for now) and focuses on the news itself. It’s a cunning way to dip their toe in the waters of controversy without having to jump into the deep end. Then when Marvel decides to officially announce it- it’s more of a confirmation than news. Emotionally, we’ll already there and thus our hate tweets will be diluted. Not bad…not bad at all.

Scenario 3
Marvel Studios is unsure what they want to do given D23 and the ability to host their own media events. San Diego Comic-Con is still the one con to rule them all, so I am sure there are conflicted leadership all throughout Marvel Studios over this issue. I don’t think this is the case, given how strategic they appear, but if they were unsure, this would be a great way to test out the collateral damage.

My Theory
I honestly think it is Scenario 1. I think James Gunn is enough of a rogue to get away with this and the fan base is ravenous enough to eat it up. In just the past 12 hours, Twitter has been ablaze with responses and tons of outlets have already posted their thoughts. Like a good Marvel movie, it’s all about setting up tension, conflict, and the villain. The hero is seldom early, but never late- and arrives just in time to save the day. Could we be living out a Marvel storyline in real time?? With that said, I think it’s very possible that Marvel rolls out a diminished presence in Hall H. They currently ‘own’ the primetime spot on Saturday night with DC/WB licking their chops to take up the mantel given the opportunity. While Marvel seems to have little the worry about from their studio counterpart, I do think they will find it hard to give up that spot completely. Plus, Marvel PR has done such a good job nurturing the relationship with fans that it’s hard to imagine they would want to throw it away in this manner. However, all good things come to an end, but my gut says it’s not quite yet.

1080_helmet2There are a lot of ramifications and questions to think through if Marvel Studios breaks free from SDCC. A common question being asked online is what will happen to Star Wars? While all owned by Disney, it doesn’t necessarily mean Star Wars will also be mandated to skip Nerdvana as well. Star Wars could be the compromise for the diminished Marvel presence. However, I still think there is greater chances that Star Wars is completely out rather than Marvel. Given D23 (Aug) and JJ Abrams secretive tendencies, I would think he would skip SDCC since Episode VII would be only 6 months away. Other implications would be if Marvel Comics is affected by this news- which I don’t think it will. The publications division is separate enough and no one over there would be stupid enough to pull out of the largest comic convention in the world. If it does turn into a worst case scenario, it certainly opens the door for DC to up their game. Good or bad, this publicity is only helping Marvel so DC is going to have to come strong on Saturday. Not sure many of you know this, but Marvel has always had a stronger relationship with ReedPop’s NYCC while DC/WB has had a longterm relationship with SDCC. The silver lining in this otherwise bleak news is that Hall H could use a break away ways from all the drama. The stress and overnight camping has certainly become a negative factor on many levels- so giving it time to cool off might be a good thing. That may be a sliver of silver, but it’s silver nevertheless.

Let me know what your thoughts are on the whole thing. How would you be affected if Marvel didn’t show up? Do you think it’s a time for change anyways? Does this affect your desire to go to Comic-Con now? Leave your insightful comments below!


21 thoughts on “My thoughts on Marvel’s absence at Comic-Con

  1. Honestly, I’m not completely devastated, but I am surprised. D23 or not, it would be foolish to alienate the SDCC faithful and not have some kind of presence there.

    Like you said, this could be DC’s/WB’s moment to shine and I’m sure they’ve got an eagle eye on the situation as well.

    • Yea, I know it would be really hard but I think the show would be just fine. So much angst surrounding Hall H anyways that I’m not sure it is worth the post-tramatic stress. There is wisdom in ‘too much of a good thing’ and even sacred cows have a shelf life. I’m always open to something new and different. I can’t to see how this unfolds! Thanks for commenting!

  2. If marvel doesn’t go, it might make my time there a little less enjoyable. My favorite part was hearing the marvel news and exclusives on Saturday in hall h. I am a huge marvel fan, ever since I was 5 years old. So marvel has been a big part of growing up and my life. Its because of marvel that I have the career that I do have. I really hope that what James gunn said is a lie.

    • No doubt that the absence will be felt. Not sure what Marvel would gain totally being absent from SDCC. Partial I understand but completely being gone seems to be a poor marketing move. We’ll see. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Ive seen this coming… every D23 year, this looms ominously. Its perfect bait for Disney to use to grow their Expo. “You can only get Marvel here, at D23!!”. Its a business move but also a cheap move. Disney wins, SDCC fans lose.
    I doubt it will have any effect on the lines. People will still line up on Friday morning with some “hope” it might make a surprise appearance, if not, they still got into Hall H on Saturday and saw great panels. I don’t see the lines getting better unless Disney(movies) pulls out of SDCC all together for the foreseeable future which we know wont happen….its simply bait for their own expo every other year.

    Oh well. Disney can do whatever they want, we’ll just have to accept it. Time to start calling it “sDCc”

    • Yea, I don’t think this will affect attendance or demand. It’s still a great show and I believe DC/WB will bring enough to see. Ha, I think sDCc is a new hashtag! Thanks for commenting!

  4. It was rumored a couple years back that they would be pulling out if not then in the near future. Sooo we’ve been waiting for this… Though it would be sad not to have the Marvel Movie Universe there Im still in it for the comic books and I’m pretty sure they would not pull that end of the company out of SDCC…I’m not even getting into the Con this year so Im heading up to Wondercon and possibly Star Wars Celebration the following weekl

  5. Also, Star Wars Celebration is next month. Abrams is going to be there and so are most of the stars of the new movie.

  6. Considering what SDCC has become, and it’s seeming disappointment to those who have been long time, faithful attendees, it’s entirely possible they’re reading a trend away from the mega-con, and towards something that may be more niche, and therefore more accessible to more of the real fans. That’s my take on it, anyways.

  7. Perhaps they plan to attend smaller Comic-Cons, as SDCC had pretty much had a monopoly in a sense. Or- I’ve heard Comic Cons have substantially raised vendor fees nationwide which isn’t good the small mom & pop operations. Marvel could be taking a stand quietly. They’re fan base won’t change but arena for CCs may have to if this turns out to be the case.

  8. Gunn’s comment seemed too flippant. It’s a rouse. I think #Marvel is trying to break another #SDCC #TrendingTopic .I personally haven’t made an attempt at Hall H in years so their absence wouldn’t break my Con. However if Gunn’s disingenuous comment holds true, I think Marvel should reconsider a new spokesperson.

  9. Marvel’s presence in Hall H has been a definite highlight for me and my friends at SDCC these past few years. However, I’ve decided to change my game plan for this one and and possibly skip it, regardless of whether they show up or not. I’ve missed out on too many other events happening during Con because of waiting overnight in line. Not to say it isn’t worth it, but I’d like to do something different for once.

    • Yes I think too many fans think of this from the perspective of what they will lose instead of what else they might gain. Hall H Sat will still rock, other panels will also be awesome, and there will be plenty to go offsite. It might be different but still a great con. Thanks for commenting!

  10. Tony, as always an outstanding write up. First off there has been no official announcement from Marvel. Marvel is big enough to realize they do not need SDCC, especially after their Phase 3 announcements at El Capitan Theater. They held this event as contracts were not finalized before SDCC 14 and they still dominated the news and social media As a PR person, Marvel leaving SDCC means less competition to get their announcements across and eliminates getting lost in the clutter. Even though 120K people attend SDCC only 5K get to watch the Marvel panel. All the ideas from your past posts regarding improving SDCC and maximizing the number of audience members they just might make a reality in Anaheim.

    No one is going to ask for a refund because Marvel will not be attending. What is scary to me is if Marvel thinks they are the main attraction at SDCC and which other studio may be thinking of leaving SDCC. Believe me, other studios will be watching. Just like everyone, I live and breath comic con all year long. But when a TV show doesn’t do well in the ratings, or a movie had a bad opening weekend, the question asked is why didn’t it do well if it was shown at SDCC. SDCC serves as a bright spotlight for some and studios will pay for the light bill. Where ever Marvel moves too, the spotlight will follow.
    Thanks Tony!

    • Yes, all great thoughts. Honestly, I’m surprised Marvel hung on as long as they did. But the announcement of Phase 3 was a HUGE tip that they were branching out on their own soon. It will be interesting how it affects the other studios and companies- however Disney seems the be the only one that can generate it’s own buzz. Either way, I usually think change is good. Better for them to leave on a high note than to sit through an uninspired panel (which we have all seen). Yea- no way there will be return tickets. Thanks for your praise and thanks for commenting!

  11. 95% of the 130,000 people who attend Comic Con are not in Hall H for the Marvel Studios presentation.

    I’ve been one of them.

    I honestly think this is not going to impact the majority unless it reduces the Hall H line and allows some people who have been avoiding it to actually get inside and see some presentations they’ve been prevented from seeing because people have been holding the seats all day for Marvel.

    Otherwise, it will be the same old convention for the 95%.

  12. Pingback: 5 Reasons Why Marvel NOT being at Comic-Con is good thing | Crazy 4 Comic-Con

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