Another year is in the books and, as it wraps up, we're taking a look back at what made 2014 such a fantastic year for geeks like us. It was a year when a talking raccoon with a machine gun conquered the box office, when the most talked-about TV shows were about zombie apocalypse, high fantasy and a madman in a blue box, and when sci-fi, fantasy and horror continued their rise to dominance in the world of entertainment ... but within that bigger picture were the individual moments that fed our fanperson hearts. Check out our writers' best moments of the year, and let us know yours in the comments!
I actually have two favorite moments. The first was a fantastic scene from Penny Dreadful episode "Seance" in which Eva Green turned in a powerful performance (seriously, give her all the awards), alternately eerie and chilly, affecting voices from Sir Malcolm's (Timothy Dalton) past — specifically his dead son — and managing to be scary and sad by turns. The moment when she arches her back way, way, way ... well, back ... will go down in history as one of the most creepily effective scenes I've seen on TV. The second one was Outlander's "The Wedding" episode. Fans of Diana Gabaldon's book series have been waiting 25 years to see Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) finally get it on in the flesh, and executive producer Ron D. Moore didn't disappoint. It was an hour filled with humor, discoveries, lots of sexy times and, ultimately, some falling in love ensued. It was perfect.
To set the stage -- a mysterious free "demo" called P.T. was released in August for the PS4. All I'd heard was that it was short but maintained a constant feeling of dread. So I downloaded it, turned off all the lights in my house and cranked up my sound system. In under five minutes, I turned on one light. A minute later, I'd turned on another, and then another, until my house was bright as day. And even after I turned the sound way down, there was still a moment in the game that made me literally leap out of my seat and scream. That was my best moment of 2014. The fact that the demo was a playable teaser for a Hideo Kojima/Guillermo DelToro Silent Hills game was just icing on the cake.
My best moment of 2014 from a geek perspective had to be sitting in the audience at the event where Marvel Studios rolled out the details of its Phase 3 slate. It was everything that Marvel's Comic-Con presentation was supposed to be. There was a palpable excitement in the air as Kevin Feige -- who has become a master at this sort of thing -- unveiled a five-year plan that, quite simply, was like a dream come true for Marvel fans. From Civil War to Black Panther to the Inhumans to Captain Marvel to the coup de grace of the two-part Infinity War epic, the hits literally kept coming and the crowd of 1,000 sounded more like 10,000. Marvel is brimming with confidence now, and it showed, that day -- they know how to please their fans and put on a real show using just a guy on a mic, some teasers and a quick appearance by three of its stars, including our screen Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman. It was a blast being there. Now, we just have to hope that the movies are good ...
For me, the single best moment of the year had to have been the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission to land the Philae module on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It was a thrilling and inspiring mission from which we will certainly learn plenty, and the culmination of over 20 years of work. It made far-fetched films like Armageddon and Deep Impact seem plausible, at least in concept. We'll see what happens when Philae hopefully comes out of hibernation as the comet travels closer to the sun. Still, having a seat on a moving comet as it travels our solar system just helps expand our knowledge of what exists beyond what we can see. What's even more encouraging is the massive effort by scientists and engineers from around the world to help make this happen, that space exploration is not dead, and, for a brief moment, the achievement of man and science to take the headlines. It gives hope for what can be achieved when mankind works together instead of against each other.
I saw the trailers, I heard all of the hype, and yet something in me was still worried that I would be disappointed. Then, Guardians of the Galaxy arrived in theaters, and I watched it with the biggest grin I can ever remember having at the movies. It's no accident that a song called "Come and Get Your Love" features in one of the opening moments of this movie. Director James Gunn and company wanted to give us a big warm superhero hug of a film, and I haven't been so pleased by an action movie in a very, very long time. Guardians is now my favorite Marvel movie, and I don't see that changing any time soon.
The best moment of 2014 was Guardians of the Galaxy defying the odds. As Marvel's most outlandish film to date, the space opera could have been a commercial and critical failure. But, thanks to James Gunn's unwavering vision, the risk paid off. Guardians is the highest-grossing domestic film of 2014, earning $332.7 million. It debuted at No. 1, but slipped to No. 2 its second and third week. Due to positive word of mouth, the film reclaimed the top spot its fourth week in theaters and held on for another three. Not bad for a movie with a talking raccoon, eh?
Guardians of the Galaxy. Yes, the movie was awesome, and I had an absolute blast watching this one on opening weekend. Heck, it was so good my wife (who had zero interest in seeing it) actually had a fantastic time. But, it's a whole lot more than just a fun night at the movies. Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the riskiest films of the year, especially coming from a studio that had built its reputation on higher-profile properties like The Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America. Virtually no one outside of hardcore comic fans even knew the Guardians existed, and Marvel took that obscure property and turned it into one of the biggest hits of the year — and actually stayed relatively loyal to the comic canon, to boot. It was a watershed moment, and proved there are a million different (exciting!) directions for the genre to try in the years to come.
It has been an excellent year of the geek for me. I have been fortunate to work on a lot of projects that had me hosting on stage with the likes of Chris Hemsworth, Nathan Fillion, Patrick Stewart and more. I was part of a "grooting" moment at Chicago Comic Con with Michael Rooker and Dave Bautista; was told by Adam West that I had a voice that could put him out of a job; interviewed George R.R. Martin while he was wearing a Robot Chicken head; judged a Wookiee roar contest with Peter Mayhew; and took a helluva duckface selfie with Karen Gillan and Matt Smith on stage. But the ultimate moment was backstage at Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con when the Green Power Ranger, Jason David Frank taught me how to punch through a wooden board – while surrounded by Matt Smith, Eliza Dushku and William Shatner. My friend Zarah punched through first like a champ, and (thankfully) I managed to break it on my first try. No one wants to punk out in front of a Power Ranger, vampire slayer, Starfleet captain and Time Lord, and the great coaching from JDF prevented that.
2014 rang in bright and clear with one of my most memorable moments occurring at Wizard World Portland Comic-Con in late January. I had the privilege to sit down and interview Star Wars royalty, Billy Dee Williams, and chat with him about his suave Lando Calrissian character, art, action figures, the whereabouts of the famous blue cape and whether or not the call to appear in Star Wars VII had come yet. As a certified Star Wars addict since 13, hanging out with the gracious and well-groomed Williams was a real thrill, and I fired off as many questions as my ten-minute time limit allowed. While we know now that Abrams' Star Wars VII call never came despite a furious surge of fan support, the smooth gentleman went on to star on Dancing With The Stars and provide voice work in upcoming episodes of Star Wars Rebels. My brief time with Williams was something I'll never forget and definitely made me think about sprucing up my sad wardrobe!
The highlight of 2014 for me had to be my first-ever trip to San Diego Comic-Con. Somehow, I'd missed out on a trip to nerd Mardi Gras up to this year, but as late July grew closer, I could feel its siren song pulling at me like a subspace tractor beam, and I could no longer resist. It was...well, it was really something. Coordinating coverage for Blastr involved a lot of work, and there were a couple of days on which I didn't get to leave my hotel room (reliable Internet access being a precious commodity for those of us trying to cover the show) and started to feel like the protagonist from Oldboy. But the times I did get out on the show floor were an eye-opening carnival of fanboy delights, from the amazing cosplay to the comprehensive panels to the chance to take a ride in a Pacific Rim Jaeger thanks to the Oculus Rift to simply having the opportunity to soak in the joy of being around so much communal passion. In terms of big announcements, SDCC 2014 underwhelmed a bit, but for this first-timer, it was a reaffirmation of the power of fandom writ large.