After two days in a row of missed programming events due to long lines, I decided that Saturday I would beat the Con by arriving hours early to secure a spot in line. So with no sleep, but fueled by liters of caffeinated beverages and cheap fast-food breakfast sandwiches (that rhyme with ‘smack’) I hit the road early Saturday morning.
My destination was the San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall H movie programming event that included the new Quentin Tarantino film Django, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Man of Steel, Pacific Rim and Iron Man 3 – a movie-geek’s dream day. Unfortunately, the ‘genius’ that designed the San Diego freeway system had other plans for me as I missed my exit, due to some sign-foolery, and quickly found myself on an unwanted and unexpected journey of my own.
If you’ve ever driven in San Diego, then you know the streets are not designed with any sort of common sense. North can quickly turn into East and South is not necessarily South; and a wrong turn or missed exit can mean getting endlessly lost. I’m saying this as someone who previously lived in San Diego for several years.
In Arizona, we may have the heat, but at least our city planners and road engineers can draw a straight line. If you miss an exit in the valley, you simply go to the next one and back-track. In San Diego, you pray to the God of Chaos that you will one day be able to find your destination and maybe, if you’re lucky, see your loved ones again.
So after finally making my way to the downtown parking garage, I grabbed my bag and made a mad scramble for the convention center and Hall H, knowing full well that there would already be a long line, but hoping that arriving four hours ahead of the first event would still get me into the building in time. But nothing could have prepared me for the elongated line of walking dead attendees that I saw when arriving at the event entrance.
At 7:30 am, the string of movie-fans was already lined back & fourth across the grassy area next to the building, all along said building, across the street and all along the adjoining Hilton hotel, along the harbor piers and into the seaport village park, through the park and switched back & fourth throughout a basketball court and along some more of the seafront. It was literally the longest line I have ever seen and I’m guesstimating that if pulled straight, this line would have reached half-way to the moon.
It’s no exaggeration to say that there was literally thousands of people in front if me, with hundreds more arriving by the second. Suddenly the full weight of my earlier freeway exit gaff came crashing down on me like a ton of Kubricks and before he day was done I was wishing my feet had the leathery soles of a Hobbit and that I had brought along several pints of ale.
After missing all of the earlier programming, I had still hoped to make it inside the building for the Warner Bros. event that included the Hobbit and the Man of Steel sneak-peeks. But the event coordinators would only allow one man in for each person that left the 6500 seat capacity hall – and no one was leaving. So after 8 exhausting hours of standing in line, with only 30 people in front of me, I hobbled away with the realization that I was never going to make it inside the building; and that while the Con can be the sweetest of nerdy lovers, it can also be a cold-hearted calot of the female persuasion.
But while hundreds of other poor misguided souls, that were behind me in line, continued to hope in vain at being admitted into the big movie affair, I at least had the very good fortune to attend the Iron Man 3 press conference with Marvel producer Kevin Feige, director Shane Black, Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) and Don Cheadle (War Machine). The late afternoon press event at the Hilton was packed with reporters wielding recording devices and clamoring with their cameras.
In the press conference, promises were made of a fresh & new look at the iron-clad hero in his third installment, with more emphasis on Tony Stark’s relationship with James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes in the new film. The team said that they have no plans to try and top the Avengers movie, but to still expect a “ton of thrills” and that the movie would begin to set the tone for other upcoming Marvel films, including the next Avengers.
It was confirmed that the Super Patriot armor WILL make an appearance in the new IM3 film and that Rhodey (Cheadle ) will be wearing it. But this statement was followed with a comment that the creators love it when the blogosphere gets so many things wrong and that they are not above putting misleading leaks of information out to the world, or even just having someone walk around the set in an obscure character’s costume, just to throw everyone off.
Another rumor that was quashed is that the movie is being shot in China. No 1st unit footage is being shot there, but it was indicated that at least part of the movie would be set in that country, whether it is filmed there or not. The press conference was very quick as the group was on their way to the Hall H appearance, but a young boy who was present at the press event got the last question and asked Downey Jr. how it felt to be a hero. Downey replied that the role of Iron Man is a great opportunity and that he “…takes it as seriously as Shakespeare.”
With the bulk of the day wasted in line for Hall H, I hit the exhibit hall again and took in all the madness. Even though the day had some disappointing missed opportunities, the excitement that oozes from every corner of the pop culture event is invigorating. I’d dare say you won’t find a bigger concentration of people having fun anywhere else in the world.
See the slideshow below for pictures of the days activities, and keep a lookout for one of the highlights of the day, a picture of porn-star Ron Jeremy asleep at an autograph table for the B-movie, Girls Gone Dead. His co-star, actress Ryan Keely, was wishing someone would wake him up – hilarious and priceless.