Last weekend, Chrystie and I went to the Moscone Center in San Francisco to attend our second WonderCon. I somewhat expected a big hoopla for the 25th anniversary, but aside from a panel with some of the founding fathers, there wasn’t much celebration of their silver anniversary. Even the program was kinda sad, perhaps by design, but it came off as just looking like they were strapped for cash.
That being said, I had a great deal of fun at WonderCon (much more than I had at PAX East). We arrived right after it opened, and there were no lines to get our badges or to get on the expo floor. We did an inital scout mission around the booths to check for swag, but aside from a booth giving out autographed children’s books, there wasn’t much swag to be had.
My favorite part of WonderCon is the cosplay – tons of costumes, many very well done. As we made our way to get in line for our first panel, I snapped a few shots of the cosplayers I came by.
At last year’s WonderCon we were unable to see a panel on psychiatric evaluations of inmates of Arkham Asylum that proved to be quite popular. In anticipation of a similar experience at this year’s “Transcending Trauma: From the Birth of Batman to the Rise of the Red Hood” panel, we showed up an hour early to find there was no line whatsoever. We walked right into the room and sat down. Unlike PAX, WonderCon doesn’t clear rooms between events, so we sat through a panel celebrating Francis Manapul – a comic artist I hadn’t heard of. He shared some interesting stories about how he became an artist and his daredevil work on the TV show Beast Legends.
The Transcending Trauma panel turned out to be not quite as interesting as we had imagined. Three psychologist PhDs discussed how trauma affects people and what factors can lead to a person experiencing a traumatic event going down the road of good or evil.
The gist I got from it was if you have positive influences in your life following a traumatic event, you’ll likely be good, if you have negative or no influences, you’ll likely go evil. If you can overcome the trauma, you’re good, if you dwell and can’t get past it, you go evil. Batman had a positive influence in Alfred, who took care of him following witnessing the murder of his parents, so while he is still haunted by their murder, he became a hero. Mr. Freeze on the other hand, had no one, and dwelled in anger at the untimely death (murder as he saw it) of his wife, becoming a villain. Nothing I wouldn’t have come up with myself, but the panel was still worth watching.
After the panel, we made a more thorough round of the expo floor before heading to catch some movie panels in the esplanade. Along the way I took more photos of cosplayers.
The movie panels we saw were quite disappointing. The first one we saw was Hanna, which looked alright – small girl beats up big guys. The panel consisted of the director, Joe Wright and Saoirse Ronan who played Hanna, who both really drove home how sick they were of the complete lack of positive female roles in action movies. Because of this they chose to make Hanna unattractive, strong, clever, and independent.
It’s sad, but it’s the world we live in, and kudos for trying to bring change to the system, but guys will always want to see big breasted bimbos. We’re much more likely to see a movie that has a poster of a half-naked Angelina Jolie than Saoirse Ronan completely covered in animal furs with only her eyes showing. Sure you’ll get a larger female crowd, but they’re not likely to outnumber the guys who instead choose to go see Your Highness starring Natalie Portman’s cleavage or Sucker Punch’s gang of big breasted bimbos.
The next movie panel was for Priest, “based” on the graphic novel, which already bombed for me:
Strike 1: it’s in 3D, and the preview had 3D gimmicks in it.
Strike 2: in the preview the guy uses the uber-cliche Psalm 23:4 “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” line.
Strike 3: Despite a clever “this takes place many many years after the comic” and “oh yea, the fallen angels turned into the vampires” the only thing this movie sounds like it has in common with the comic is the fact it has Priests in it.
I really have a feeling some Hollywood exec said “Ok, summer time, let me fling my dart at the board to see which graphic novel were going to bastardize this summer…ah, Priest, that’s a western with fallen angels…but westerns and angels aren’t in right now, futuristic crap and vampires are, lets make the movie about that”.
Next up was Immortals, which looked alright, but there wasn’t much to see because it doesn’t come out until November. The story seems to pit Greek warrior Theseus against the all-powerful titans. The director, Tarsem Singh was quite a character on stage, bluntly crediting the pornography he has seen, among other things, as influences of his visual style. The ladies swooned over Henry Cavill, who I learned is cast to play Superman in what I can only assume is yet another rendition of a comic that has already recently been rebooted.
I was surprised for such a blockbuster movie lineup coming this summer that there were not panels for Thor, Pirates of the Caribbean, Kung Fu Panda 2, X-Men: First Class, Super 8, Cars 2, Scream 4, Transformers, Harry Potter, Captain America, The Smurfs or The Thing, to name a few.
We then grabbed some food and got in line for the highlight of the evening, the WonderCon Masquerade – their big costume contest, not a formal dance as the name would imply. We had such a blast at last year’s Masquerade, that we knew we had to get in line very early to get good seats. We got there two hours early and ended up being about sixth in a line that we were told wrapped completely around the Moscone Center.
The event was emcee’d by Phil Foglio who had done it the previous year and his wife Kaja.
They fancied audience participation and had us call out each contestant number, and as a gag, the audience would call out the number followed by “ah-ah-ah” ala The Count from Sesame Street. I got a laugh out of the guy translating in sign language for the hearing impaired repeating the “ah-ah-ah” every time with a disgruntled look on his face.
There were some great costumes this year, but nothing that blew us away like Bumblebee from last year. The ones I found noteworthy were:
Kira and Fizzgig from the Dark Crystal
Tron meets the Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade
WonderCon was great fun and I look forward to coming back next year.
See more of my photos from the event here.