Leave it to the House, or should we say Studio of Ideas to provide a smashing finale to Saturday's San Diego Comic-con Hall H festivities.
Even though DC and Warner Bros. had a splashy and exciting panel in the morning, Marvel has the benefit of closing the day out on Saturday -- and as usual, they didn't disappoint, sending thousands of fans out into downtown San Diego hoarse and very happy.
Where do we start? At the beginning, of course. First out of the chute was a video recap of the MCU's nearly 10-year history, hosted by Ant-Man's Paul Rudd and Michael Pena. The tongue-in-cheek video ended with the first big reveal that Michelle Pfeiffer has been cast as Janet van Dyne in Ant-Man and the Wasp, which was followed by a montage of concept art and test footage.
We saw the Wasp flying in what looked like a bright yellow suit, there was an image of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) suited up again, and one amusing final shot of a city street with Scott Lang (Rudd) peeking out from behind a building in his Giant-Man mode.
You can read about the full cast for Ant-Man and the Wasp here. At that point, moderator Chris Hardwick and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige next rolled out a concept image from Captain Marvel of Brie Larson in the suit, with Feige making the jawdropping announcements that the movie would be a prequel to the first Iron Man and that the villains would be the Skrulls.
Then it was on to the Thor: Ragnarok panel, which featured director Taiki Waititi, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Karl Urban, Tessa Thompson, Jeff Goldblum, and Rachel House. Talk was kept to a minimum, although Mark Ruffalo revealed that Hulk in the movie refuses to change back into Bruce Banner at first because he is enjoying his life as the Grandmaster's champion gladiator on Sakaar.
Before they showed the Thor trailer that's online now, the Hall H audience got a look at a truly weird clip in which the God of Thunder is processed along some kind of psychedelic conveyor belt while "Pure Imagination" (yes, the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory song) plays in the background, and a soothing female voice tells him he's now the property of the Grandmaster.
Thor is then deposited in the Grandmaster's (Goldblum) main quarters, where the Elder is immediately taken with him and pays Valkyrie (Thompson) a handsome sum for capturing him. That led into the beginning of the big fight scene in the gladiatorial arena between Thor and Hulk, with Thor trying to explain that he's "not hanging around" with the Avengers these days because they've gone "corporate."
From there we went right into the new trailer, which is, in a word, mind-blowing.
Next up was Black Panther, with the entire cast coming out along with director Ryan Coogler. Again, talk was kept brief, but star Chadwick Boseman explained that in the movie, T'Challa "is just learning how to become a new ruler and is still mourning his father's death, so he's in a transitional period that gets interrupted very quickly."
Danai Gurira said her character, Dora Milaje head Okoye, is "driven by love for her nation and her people," while Michael B. Jordan said that his villainous Eric Killmonger "has his eyes on the throne, so he's trying to do whatever it takes to get into Wakanda and make that a reality."
From there we were shown exclusive Black Panther footage, starting with a James Bond-like scene in a nightclub where a deal to trade diamonds for vibranium between Ulysse Klaue (Andy Serkis) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) is about to go down. But T'Challa and the Dora Milaje are there and the scene devolves into a fierce battle between T'Challa's team and Klaue's goons, with everyone revealing hidden weapons of some kind.
Then we witnessed a car chase with T'Challa atop the car followed by a rapid-fire succession of scenes showing T'Challa in and out of his Black Panther gear, various other costumed cast members, lots of shots of different aspects and settings in Wakanda, more action and car chases -- just a dizzying array of images. One thing's for sure: Ryan Coogler is a genuine talent behind the camera, as Fruitvale Station and Creed proved, and now he's bringing his considerable skills to a big-budget superhero movie with what look like fiery results. Check out the new poster:
And speaking of fiery, no matter how much they pretended that the panel was ending there, the crowd knew better, and so did Tom Hiddleston, who made a big show out of telling Kevin Feige that there were three Avengers in the house and that he needed to show something else. Of course it was all staged as he, Hemsworth, Boseman, and Ruffalo finally "convinced" Feige to show the same Avengers: Infinity War sizzle reel that was premiered last weekend at D23 in Anaheim. The response in Hall H was electrifying.
And that was the real end of the Marvel Studios panel ... but what a way to end it!