5 best and 5 worst reveals at San Diego Comic-Con 2018

It's hard to believe San Diego Comic-Con 2018 is done and dusted. This year's event was a bit more subdued than previous editions, with HBO's epic series Game of Thrones and Westworld forgoing the convention and Marvel Studios skipping it altogether, leaving the slots usually filled by packed-from-wall-to-wall Hall H presentations open for other studios to snatch. This meant no Thrones season 8 teases, no loopy Westworld immersive experiences, and, much to our dismay, absolutely no looks at the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe entries Captain Marvel, Avengers 4, and Spider-Man: Far From Home

Still, even with two major companies out for the count, San Diego Comic-Con 2018 brought the heat to an already sweltering southern California as studios dropped movie trailer after movie trailer, unveiled eye-popping new looks at fast-approaching television series, and allowed for some downright unbelievable stuff to happen on the venue's massive panel stages.

A ton of reveals had people practically drooling, doing grabby hands at the screens in front of them, but others were met with the sound of crickets in certain cases and audible boos in a fair few others. Looking at everything that was announced over the course of the con's four frenzied days, here are the five best and five worst reveals from this year's San Diego Comic-Con.

Best: Shazam! trailer

Puppies, sunsets, deep-fried Oreos and other dangerously delicious culinary horrors, good books and the great movies that they get adapted into, and the rollercoasters at Disneyland — these are the things in life that feel like pure, childlike joy materialized. Now we have a new addition to that list: the first trailer for DC's Shazam!

The footage didn't so much touch down as soar in at the Warner Bros. panel on the third day of San Diego Comic-Con 2018. From Jack Dylan Grazer's Freddy Freeman making a Game of Thrones reference when first meeting his about-to-be-best-friend Billy Batson, played by Asher Angel, to the 14-year-old about-to-be-superhero holding back lashes of laughter when Djimon Hounsou's ancient, ability-granting wizard announces his real name (we'll let you guess the magic word) to Zachary Levi going full Backpack Kid while suited up as the titular vigilante, the Shazam! trailer released at this year's convention was unashamedly sunny-spirited, definitely silly, and surprisingly smart  — all things needed to brighten up the mostly dark Worlds of DC.

While some were worriedly biting their nails in anticipation of the Shazam! trailer, the root of their anxiety resting in how Levi would look in complete costume (an ongoing focal point in the conversation around the film prior to Comic-Con), their concerns melted and gave way to excitement when they finally laid their eyes on it — yet another reason why it was one of this year's very best reveals.

Worst: Titans trailer

"Why was the trailer for Titans one of the worst reveals at San Diego Comic-Con 2018?" you might ask. Well, sweet reader, we have two words for you: "F*** Batman."

DC's live-action Titans series made a shocking introduction on the second day of the convention, bringing the F-bomb, a Batman-hating Robin (Brenton Thwaites), R-shaped throwing stars, and plenty of gunfire to the Worlds of DC — plus the heel of the former Boy Wonder's boot straight to another dude's neck. 

Bloody, brash, and deliberately, shockingly bleak, the Titans trailer was dark — arguably too dark. Granted, the series is meant to be as different as humanly possible from its poppy, bubble-gum-bright counterpart Teen Titans GO!, the Cartoon Network animated show that's the visual equivalent of sucking down a dozen Pixie Sticks and then listening to Ariana Grande on repeat, but Titans going as grim as it did was a surprise that didn't sit well with most people. 

Teen Titans: Raven comic artist Gabriel Picolo said what a lot of Comic-Con attendees and pop culture fans at home were thinking after catching the Titans trailer: "My problem with Titans is how unnecessaryly [sic] edgy they're going. I don't want this to be a joyless hero show, let them be teens with superpowers doing some silly s***."

Best: Aquaman trailer

When you're Jason Momoa — with long locks, striking tattoos, and a deep voice that, even when not intoning war chants in Dothraki, is instantly recognizable as Khal Drogo's from Game of Thrones — it's impossible not to make a striking impression everywhere you go. San Diego Comic-Con 2018 was no exception for Momoa, who made a literal splash as Atlantean royalty Arthur Curry in the first trailer for director James Wan's Aquaman.

Described as Star Wars set beneath the sea and led by a dazzling cast also featuring Nicole Kidman and Amber Heard, Aquaman wasn't just one of Warner Bros.' most anticipated reveals at this year's SDCC, it was also one of its best.

Recapping the reasons the film's trailer stood out amongst the slew of other announcements is akin to Saturday Night Live's Stefon Meyers talking about New York's hottest nightclubs: this footage has everything. Between Momoa's Aquaman facing off with his villainous, shark-riding half-brother Orm (played by Patrick Wilson) to become the rightful ruler of Atlantis and all those breathtaking underwater set pieces, the Aquaman trailer was, as The Hollywood Reporter put it, the best received at Comic-Con. Not to steal a line from the first look at Godzilla: King of the Monsters, but long live the king.

Worst: Bumblebee's baddie isn't who fans hoped it would be

For some, the thought of yet another entry in the Transformers franchise is enough to inspire dramatic eyerolls and groans from the deepest pits of one's diaphragm. Fortunately, it appears no one is more aware of that fact than Travis Knight, the director of the newest Transformers series installment Bumblebee — a prequel spinoff that promises to focus on the gentler, less explosive, more character-driven side of the franchise. 

Based on details we heard and footage we saw prior to Comic-Con, we knew Bumblebee was going to be good different. But during the convention, we realized it might also be sad different, as it won't include the iconic Decepticon Starscream as the final of its three main villains. (The other two are Shatter, voiced by Angela Bassett, and Dropkick, which Justin Theroux offers his voice to.)

"I'm gonna break a few hearts here today. It is not Starscream," Knight said during Bumblebee's SDCC panel, adding that the flying Decepticon seen in the film's trailers is actually a Triple Changer called Blitzwing that only looks extremely similar to Starscream. 

Those who witnessed Knight drop the Bumblebee bombshell live noted that there were "lots of disappointed 'awwws' in Hall H," and that enthusiasm for the film was already "starting to evaporate" after learning Starscream, a prominent player in Michael Bay's Transformers movies, wouldn't be in the upcoming outing. 

Best: Glass trailer

Three stars in the sky that is M. Night Shyamalan's expansive filmography finally come together in Glass, the forthcoming superhero horror-thriller that acts as both a follow-up to the 2000 flick Unbreakable and a sequel to the 2017 James McAvoy-led trip Split. At San Diego Comic-Con 2018, we saw Glass shatter for the very first time when Warner Bros. released the official trailer for the hotly anticipated threequel. 

Unveiled following a string of crystal-crackling, pre-Comic-Con clips that teased McAvoy's Kevin Crumb (a.k.a. the Horde) from Split and Bruce Willis' David Dunn and Samuel L. Jackson's titular Mr. Glass (a.k.a. Elijah Price) from Unbreakable, the Glass footage was essentially everything one could hope it would be: stylish, wonderfully self-aware, sprinkled with action, and featuring Sarah Paulson as a psychiatrist who specializes in treating people just like our super-powered (or are they really?) trio. Even more than that, the trailer proved the 18 years fans spent waiting for Willis and Jackson to again share the screen in a Shyamalan production were well worth it. 

Worst: The Johnny Depp debacle

You know Newton's Third Law — that for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction? Warner Bros.' SDCC 2018 panel perfectly encapsulated that.

After unleashing a magical trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Warner Bros. opened the Hall H stage to the sequel's cast members to answer fan questions. Between the trailer drop, Jude Law calling his version of Dumbledore "sprightly," and Credence Barebone actor Ezra Miller cosplaying Toadette and declaring he would "destroy the patriarchy" if he was a real-life wizard, it was all happy times and goofy antics at the panel.

And then Johnny Depp showed up. 

In full costume as Gellert Grindelwald, Depp took the same stage earlier occupied by Aquaman star Amber Heard, Depp's ex-wife who accused him of assault, and proceeded to give a "Shakespearean monologue." Depp's appearance "drew both cheers and boos" from those in attendance (via E! Online), but it sparked especially negative reactions online. "When is Johnny Depp just gonna f*** off?" one Twitter user wrote. Another posted, "The fact that the audience didn't boo Johnny Depp off the stage at Comic-Con highly disappoints me."

Though Depp's arrival was a total surprise, we can't say the same for the responses to it. After the actor was confirmed for The Crimes of Grindelwald, some fans were horrified, suggesting he be replaced and pointing to Heard's allegations against him as grounds for a potential firing. Not so "fantastic" after all?

Best: Star Wars: The Clone Wars is alive again

"A war left unfinished… until now." Those six words sent attendees at this year's San Diego Comic-Con into fits of unbridled joy, roars of delight filling every corner of the presentation room and mega-watt smiles spreading across the faces of countless Star Wars fans. 

Disney and Lucasfilm announcing the return of Star Wars: The Clone Wars — through a 12-episode revival set to premiere in 2019 on the House of Mouse's impending (and still unnamed) streaming service — wasn't just an incredible moment at SDCC 2018, marking the resurgence of a universally beloved series that got the perfunctory axe after Disney acquired Lucasfilm. The reveal was also important because it demonstrated the influence wielded by Star Wars fans. Clone Wars supervising director Dave Filoni said at the time of the renewal announcement that the series was only saved because of viewers' relentless enthusiasm and support. Teamwork really is dreamwork!  

In a time when the Star Wars fandom seems split between those who loved The Last Jedi and those who hated it so much they harassed its stars to the point of deleting their social media accounts and even petitioned for Lucasfilm to remake the film with a different director in place of Rian Johnson, news of Star Wars: The Clone Wars coming back is a breath of wholesome, sweet air that can hopefully help bridge the gap between the groups. 

Worst: The James Gunn double whammy

One of the most shocking things to happen during San Diego Comic-Con 2018 actually took place outside the convention halls — but had serious repercussions on what subsequently went down within them. 

On Friday, July 20, the second day of SDCC, it was announced that James Gunn had been fired as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the threequel for which he was already whipping up a script. Not only was he kicked out of the director's seat, a choice the company made after conservative site The Daily Caller dug up controversial tweets Gunn posted as many as 10 years ago, but Gunn was also taken off Sony Pictures' SDCC panel mere hours after his firing. 

Just a few days before being ousted, Gunn teased a major announcement that was meant to happen during the presentation, tweeting a photo of a symbol that's often been spotted in Image Comics' Nameless, with "Hall H Friday 6:15 PM" written across it in red text. Many took this to mean that, at the Sony panel, Gunn would reveal he was working on a film adaptation of the Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham-created comic series. Sadly, we may never know what Gunn was truly going to unveil.

Gunn getting fired and then not appearing at SDCC was a twofold shocker that Twitter user Evangeline Gale best summed up: "It's crazy that the only thing the MCU brought to Comic-Con this year was the firing of James Gunn."  

Best: Supergirl's super casting

Our modern news cycle turns over faster than Gordon Ramsay flips his famous Sunday-morning pancakes, and each new day seems to bring an exciting new film or television project centered around a superhero. Stargirl getting a series on DC Universe! Miles Morales leading his own animated movie due out this holiday season! Captain freaking Marvel finally flying into the MCU next year! Anticipation to see vigilantes hop from page to screen is at a constant high, and on the third day of San Diego Comic-Con 2018, the world turned its attention to a series that's been on the air for three seasons already — and will make history in its fourth.

The CW announced at the convention that Supergirl will introduce television's first transgender superhero in season 4. The series cast Nicole Maines, known for her work on Royal Pains and in the documentary The Trans List, in the role of Nia Nal — a fresh-faced, protective-by-nature young woman who serves as the newest member of CatCo's reporting crew and later rises to power to become the superhero Dreamer. 

Finally getting to see an openly transgender superhero on the small screen is worthy of a celebratory squeal — heck yeah, more positive LGBTQ+ representation in mainstream media! — but the fact that Supergirl cast a transgender actress and activist like Maines for the part makes this reveal that much sweeter. 

Worst: Bye-bye, Rick

And now, a moment everyone knew was coming but no one wanted to actually experience: The Walking Dead star Andrew Lincoln giving verbal confirmation that the post-apocalyptic drama series that spawned a zombie-filled television empire will go sans Rick Grimes super soon.

Word of Lincoln's intended departure from The Walking Dead, on which the actor has starred since its inception in 2010, first surfaced in late May 2018, with reports indicating Lincoln had gotten all his ducks in a row to appear in a mere six episodes of the series' upcoming ninth season and then dip out, never to be seen again. Fans were instantly in a storm of uncertainties: How will the series say goodbye to Rick? What will become of The Walking Dead once he's gone? And wait a minute — this some kind of an elaborate, really belated April Fools' Day prank?

It wasn't until The Walking Dead's panel at SDCC 2018 that Lincoln broke his silence on the subject, affirming that yes, he really is hanging up his hat. 

"This will be my last season playing the part of Rick Grimes," Lincoln announced at the presentation. "This has been the most extraordinary, amazing, and beautiful experience of my career … These guys here and everybody back in Atlanta [where The Walking Dead films] are the greatest surrogate family I could have wished for. But I do have a real family, and it's time for me to go home." 

We're not crying, you are.