Marvel Announces Return to Its Ancestral Marketing World: San Diego Comic-Con

President and Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Studio Kevin Feige had a huge surprise for con-going fans on Friday. During a virtual press conference for Thor: Love and Thunder, in theaters July 8, he announced that the Assemble! one more time at this summer’s San Diego Comic-Con. The big event runs from Wednesday 20 July (preview evening!) to Sunday 24 July (hangover day!)

This is a much-needed boost to the annual “Celebration of the Popular Arts” in Southern California’s Gaslamp Quarter. The July event, which attracts over 130,000 unconscious marketing headings avid fans on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok have moved to “[email protected]” for the past two years thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a slimmed-down version over the Thanksgiving weekend. While studios and networks still put out their sales pitches, it lacked the same aura of the days when celebrities appeared in front of thousands of summer cosplayers who lived on Red Bull and convention center hot dogs for five days.

The rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been woven into the fabric of the annual event, since the first Iron Man panel in 2007. The company produced several exclusive sizzle reels especially for attendees, and there’s no shortage of stunts, such as the first “Mercury 7”-esque reveal of the avengers cast (“I’ve had a dream all my life and it was not so good” cried Joss WhedonRobert Downey Jr. dancing down the aisles, and Natalie Portman shocking everyone in 2019 to hold Thor’s hammer. Every year, Marvel’s panel in Hall H of the San Diego Convention Center (capacity: 6,500) would get a Saturday night primo slot and conquer the social media buzz.

But that 2019 appearance was actually Marvel’s last appearance on the show. The company declined to participate in the two virtual events and last year’s fall quickie. When you consider that Marvel’s parent company, Disney, has its own pep rally (the D23 Expo), you might suspect that the House of Ideas and SDCC had split up for good.

But what would the MCU (or comics in general) be without surprises?

What and who specifically will make their way to San Diego this year is currently unknown. Ryan Coogler‘s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is likely to dominate the conversation, as the sequel to the Best Picture nominee is set to hit theaters in November. (A first look at Namor the Submariner is worth waiting in a long line.) The third ant man image (Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania) is due out in February, so there’s bound to be plenty of material ready to collaborate and impress the fans. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 won’t be released until May, but director James Gunn and this gang of misfits know how to entertain people. Also, don’t be surprised to see at least some official images of Mahershala Ali as Blade. Finally, the smart bet (and the thing that is sure to make social media explode) is to expect a casting announcement for the next iteration of the Fantastic Four. (Is John Kraskinskic in as Reed Richards? Or was that just some Multiverse trick in? Doctor Strange

As the differences between movies and streaming shows smooth out in the MCU, the panel is sure to highlight what’s coming to Disney+, including She-Hulk: Lawyerthe WandaVision spin-off Agatha: House of Harknessarmor wars (will Stilt-Man attend?!?), and the kid-friendly I am tall animated series that debuts in early August.

And then there’s this: Marvel always does the unexpected. Is Galactus coming? And if so, will he be hungry? Someone is saving one of those gross hot dogs for the Devourer of Worlds.