Comic-Con San Diego may still be the mother of all comic book conventions, but it's also become an increasingly important event to Hollywood movie studios in terms of starting the buzz machines in motion for many of their most high-profile releases. Given the convention's inherent geek factor, where better to debut footage from the latest Marvel comic or fantasy epic making its way to the big screen? While years past have seen unveilings that range from Star Wars to Spider-Man to Pirates of the Caribbean, this year's offerings may not be as obvious, but they're not any less enticing. Here are 12 burning questions we're hoping to answer as the panels begin and the footage starts rolling.
Do Robert Downey Jr. and Edward Norton have the right stuff to play superheroes?
They're both outright incredible actors: Downey Jr. the quick-witted master of cynicism, Norton one of the most intense thesps since Brando. But how will they fare in capes and tights (figuratively speaking)? We'll see when Marvel unveils footage of Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Norton as the Incredible Hulk.
Will the new Indiana Jones finally get a proper title?
Sure, The Fourth Installment of Indiana Jones is catchy and all – and quite descriptive! -- but it's kind of a mouthful. Give us a nice juicy moniker ... and it better not be Attack of the Clones. Footage of seasoned adventurer Harrison Ford and confirmation that Shia LaBeouf is indeed playing his son wouldn't hurt, either.
Can Prince Caspian rock on without Aslan?
Disney promises the second chapter of The Chronicles of Narnia will be even heavier on the fantastical creatures, and we believe them. But we'll miss good ole Aslan, not to mention all the great "Jesus is a lion" jokes. And considering the story takes place 1300 years later (in NST), Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy) has long since kicked the bucket. Just as he was becoming a star, too!
Will "Cloverfield" make a surprise appearance?
After the web hysteria that followed Paramount's brilliantly executed "unknown trailer" strategy for the Untitled JJ Abrams project otherwise known as Cloverfield and/or 01.18.08, we're fiending for more... more information, really. Don't even show us anything, just tell us what the hell is going on. Considering Abrams will be in attendance, and Paramount promises "a few surprises," we're feeling good about our prospects.
Will Emile Hirsch "Speed" out of the gates?
We have all the confidence in the world in Emile Hirsch, but it's still hard to picture him as Speed Racer, and not only because he's neither Japanese nor hand-drawn in late-'60s-era anime. Maybe we're just fearful of helmet hair. Either way, with the Wachowski brothers behind this one, just a single action sequence would do us right.
Is Matt Damon really going trekkie?
Now, this long-running rumor has for all intents and purposes been put to bed, as Cinematical reported recently that Damon thinks he's too old to play a younger James T. Kirk. But as Patrick Walsh noted in reporting that Heroes star Zachary Quinto is looking like a lock to play Spock, never say never.
Can The Golden Compass fill the massive shoes of Lord of the Rings?
We enjoyed the recent debate that broke out over the casting of new chums Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig when we debuted the poster. The story definitely has its faithful. And while inviting comparisons to LOTR may be a bold move, remember, so was LOTR. Now can we get that Sam Elliot character poster?
Will the cast of Watchmen be announced?
If IMDB doesn't soon remove those oh-so-teasing italics listing stars Jude Law, Billy Crudup, Jason Patric and Patrick Wilson as either "rumored" or "in talks" next to their credits, we may soon have a full-blown virtual riot on our hands. That's a lot of indecent posts to remove. Hopefully director Zack Snyder comes bearing announcements.
Is 30 Days of Night the hit Josh Hartnett's been waiting for?
There's no arguing Josh Hartnett is one truly nice dude, and an increasingly better actor. But he needs to land one: for our sake, for your sake, for the sake of the state of Minnesota. 30 Days of Night (no relation to 40 Days and 40 Nights) looks creepy and potentially very bloody, and is arriving just in time for a piece of the Halloween pie.
Beowulf: The Polar Express Meets Pulp Fiction?
We don't mean narratively, of course. That would just be weird. But the combination of Polar Express director Robert Zemeckis (returning to the performance-capture technology that guided Hanks' train) and Tarantino collaborator Roger Avary makes us really curious. So does the thought of another animated version of Angelina Jolie.
Will Clive Owen's hot streak continue in Shoot Em Up?
After Sin City, Inside Man and Children of Men (we'll pretend Derailed never happened), Owen's turning out some of the most high-grade product on the block. The fact that New Line is showing his latest thriller in full would lead us to believe there's more where that came from.
Will Halloween director Rob Zombie bite the head off of a chicken? Or maybe just an extra?
Like we said, never say never.