SDCC 2012: Our Top Five Favorite Moments

This year’s SDCC will undoubtedly go down as one of the best years ever for the con. Farewells, reunions, surprise announcements and reveals, and returning offsite events were aplenty throughout the four days. Saying that, it was difficult to narrow down to the top five, let alone actually getting in line early enough to score a seat at some of these panels. Nonetheless, we did it, and we share with you our top five moments of SDCC 2012.

5. Tie – Nerd HQ and Fringe Farewell

Our favorite moment of 2011, Nerd HQ, re-enters the top five for 2012. The convention started last year by Chuck‘s Zachary Levi stumbled out of the gate during initial ticket sales but quickly rebounded and gave the fans who attended its panels and parties something to remember. Zac emceed every panel, greeted guests at every party, posed for pictures with attendees – all for charity as well as continuing to build goodwill among fans. A smaller venue, more accessible panel guests, great giveaways and a truly awesome crew of staff and volunteers (hats off to you, folks!) made Nerd HQ one of the best moments of 2012.

Tied with Nerd HQ, Fan-favorite Fringe was back to promote its farewell fifth season in Hall H on Sunday. The show’s last season was announced in the spring and the fans camped out overnight to show their appreciation to the cast and crew and give them one final send-off. The casts’ reflections on their favorite scenes throughout the five seasons came amid tears for the thousands who filled the big hall. It will be sad to not see Fringe on the schedule again next year.

4. Disney Is Back

Last year, Disney disappointed attendees by holding back its big studio releases in lieu of its own D23 fan convention. That meant no Marvel or Disney Studios panels at SDCC 2011. Well, there’s no D23 in 2012, so thankfully Disney decided to its big guns for the Comic-Con attendees this year. Literally, with an Item 47 scavenger hunt and screening, the announcement of the Marvel Phase 2 films, and the first footage from next year’s Iron Man 3.

Disney Studios held a separate panel from Marvel and brought huge talent to Hall H. Tim Burton answered questions from the fans to promote FrankenWeenie, Sam Raimi, Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams took the stage to show off the first amazing trailer for 2013’s Oz: The Great and Powerful, and the audience was treated to ten minutes of impressive Wreck-It-Ralph footage. And to close things off, a sizzle reel for Johnny Depp’s still-in-production The Lone Ranger relieved the crowd with its serious and action-oriented take on the classic material.

3. Firefly‘s 10th Anniversary Reunion

The most talked-about panel before the con did not disappoint. Fans started waiting in line early Thursday evening, a full 18 hours before the historic reunion of Captain Mal and his crew in Ballroom 20. And those early birds got quite a treat, as Joss Whedon rewarded fans in the early morning Friday for their dedication by posing for pictures and signing autographs for over an hour.

There’s no doubt the Firefly 10th Anniversary reunion panel, hosted by the Science Channel, could have filled Petco Park, let alone Hall H. Yet the Ballroom 20 crowd, which fit barely a fourth of all attendees waiting in line for several hours, roared like no other when the cast and crew made their appearance on stage. This panel will go down as one of the defining moments of any Comic-Con for the thousands in attendance, let alone for 2012. That last clip with Joss in tears in front of a standing ovation, telling all of them how much they mean to him, is beyond words.

2. Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures

If you weren’t in person to experience it, the Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures panel was jaw-dropping. No one expected the curtains of Hall H to pull back and reveal two giant screens covering the walls of the big room. It was an amazing display which engrossed the audience in the worlds of the upcoming slate of Warner Bros./Legendary films.

And what a slate of films it was. Guillermo del Toro’s “Kaiju vs. Giant Robot”-fest Pacific Rim; the first footage of Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot, Man of Steel; and over 12 minutes of footage from Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth, The Hobbit (and that doesn’t count the ten minutes of behind-the-scenes footage from the last five days of filming). That doesn’t even count the hilarious surprise appearance by comedy heavyweights Will Farrell and Zach Galifianakis promoting this summer’s The Campaign. And, oh that Godzilla footage…

But the studios’ panel isn’t the only thing they should get praise for. The signings, the Extra booth with the concerts, events and Batmobiles, the giveaways, the bags. We could go on. Warner Bros. would have made it to the top spot if only it had hired Lex Luthor to bring kryptonite for our favorite moment of SDCC 2012…

During the Disney Pictures panel, he brought out lighter side of Tim Burton. At the WB/Legendary panel he went toe-to-toe with Farrell and Galifianakis, and brought down a man twice his size in front of a crowd of 6,500 by using only his wit. He announced he’s going to be freaking bowling against Dr. Who, for crying out loud. 

Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…

1. Mr. Nerdist himself, Chris Hardwick.

All this and he still had time rock the Balboa Theater during his annual Nerdist Live event at SDCC with Torchwood‘s John Barrowman, not to mention kicking things off with the Course of the Force lightsaber relay down the California coast for charity. Chris multi-tasks better than an Octopus stuck in some blended version of Multiplicity meets Groundhog Day. He loved Comic-Con, and Comic-Con loved him right back.

Hats off to you, Chris, and may we crown you King of Comic-Con 2012.

About Jeremy Rutz