Marvel springs Black Panther cast and Thor: Ragnarok images at Comic-Con

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Jul 25, 2016, 3:11 PM EDT (Updated)

Marvel Studios kicked off its Hall H presentation with some nice surprises.

As you may recall, Marvel famously skipped last year's Comic-Con because, as president Kevin Feige said at the time, they really had nothing to show at that particular juncture. But two years after their last appearance here, Marvel was back in a big way -- trotting out casts and surprising us with footage from films that have barely started production.

Things got off to a rousing start with an appearance by the Ryan Coogler, director of Black Panther, who then brought out his superb cast -- Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa, Michael B. Jordan confirmed as the villain Eril Killmonger, Lupita N'yongo as Nakia, a member of T'Challa's all-female security force the Dora Milaje, and The Walking Dead's Danai Gurira as Okoye, the head of the Dora Milaje. That is a power-packed quarter of actors right there.

Production doesn't start until next January, but Coogler promised that he and his co-writer were "working hard" on the script and said that this was his first trip to the Hall H stage at Comic-Con (same for Lupita). Boseman, another Comic-Con first-timer, said that Coogler was going to make a "beautiful, special" movie ... but we have to wait until February 2018 to see it.

As the Black Panther team departed, the video screens flashed a new logo for Thor: Ragnarok. What? How they could possibly show us anything? Feige himself said that the movie just started filming five days ago. So instead director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows) fashioned a short mock documentary explaining Thor’s absence from Captain America: Civil War. The hilarious short finds the God of Thunder going on a vacation in New Zealand, where he moves in with a chubby office worker named Daryl, draws pictures of the Avengers for local school kids and frets over why Tony Stark hasn’t called him to come up and fight like everyone else.

That led straight into some real Thor: Ragnarok material, consisting mainly of some behind-the-scenes shots on mostly bare green-screen stages and a lot of concept art. There were some weird creatures on display, a jarring shot of Thor with short hair, a drawing of the Hulk in the gladiator armor we saw earlier and a pic of him and Thor clashing in the ring. The final two images were a production painting of Hela (Cate Blanchett) and a quick little motion comic shot of Hulk jumping right into the fiery face of none other than Surtur, the demonic fire giant who is probably anxious to escape his captivity and bring on the apocalypse.

Those images of Hulk and Thor clashing, not to mention the appearance of Surtur, seem to spell that this is going to be the biggest and wildest Thor movie yet. It was just enough on Marvel's part to get everyone excited about this one. Thor: Ragnarok arrives on Nov. 3, 2017.

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