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15 Things We Learned at 2012 Comic-Con

Robert Downey Jr.
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If there was one victor among the movies paneling at San Diego Comic-Con this year, it'd have to be … Marvel. Or was it "Man of Steel"? Or maybe "The Hobbit"?

Another Con's in the can, and we've emerged with new intel on a handful of high-profile mega-movies. There weren't necessarily any groundbreaking casting announcements this year, but first footage from movies like the new Superman flick, "Oz: The Great and Powerful," "Pacific Rim" and "Elysium" had fans and bloggers buzzing big time.

Check out the biggest movie scoops below. What we should add, #16: Getting in line at 7 a.m. does not guarantee you entry into the con's marquee venue (Hall H). Not even for a 6 p.m. panel. And yep, we learned that the hard way. – By Bryan Enk and Kevin Polowy

There's a Whole Lot of Marvel Movies Going On as 'Phase Two' Is Unveiled
Excelsior! Marvel Mania hit Comic-Con as the studio revealed its master plan (well, some of it, anyway) for the next wave of super-movies (or "Phase Two," as it's being called). Some of the upcoming sequels got official titles as "Thor: The Dark World" (awesome) will hit theaters on Nov. 8, 2013; "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (AWESOME) will be released on April 4, 2014; "Guardians of the Galaxy" (we still can't believe they're doing a movie of that at all, much less this soon) will come out on Aug. 1, 2014 and, to the delight of the geekiest of fanboys, Edgar Wright's take on "Ant-Man" will probably creep into theaters sometime in 2015. The star of the Marvel panel was — no surprise here — Robert Downey, Jr., who danced on stage to the delight of fans and showed off some "Iron Man 3" footage that gave us a glimpse of the new suit. Oh, and Ben Kingsley is indeed playing the Mandarin, which is, of course, perfect.

Sci-Fi Is the Future
What a week it was for sci-fi films at Comic-Con. Three of the best-received movie panels were the futuristic mind-benders "Elysium," "Looper" and "Pacific Rim." Neil Blomkamp's "Elysium" pits Matt Damon and other freedom fighters against the one percenters hovering in a spacecraft over a ruined Earth; Rian Johnson's "Looper" finds Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a time-hopping assassin tasked with knocking off an older version of himself (Bruce Willis); and Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" pits giant robots against giant monsters, giving us all giant nerdgasms. "Looper" lands this fall, while "Elysium" and "Rim" are set to thrill in the spring and summer of 2013, respectively.

Twilight Cast
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At Least the First Seven Minutes of 'Breaking Dawn - Part 2' Are Going to Be Really Good
We knew we were going to see something from the last installment in the "Twilight" series, but we certainly weren't expecting to be treated to the entire first seven minutes of the film — nor, admittedly, were we expecting those seven minutes to be quite so jaw-droppingly good. "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" picks up right where "Part 1" left off, with Bella opening her red vampire eyes; from there, she gives Edward a powerful hug that takes his breath away (so to speak) before they're off to the forest for her first hunt. The sight of Bella scrambling up the face of a mountain, drunk with bloodlust for a poor mountain climber with a bleeding hand wound is pretty sweet, but nothing can prepare you for her claiming a freaking mountain lion as her first official meal as one of the undead. Kristen Stewart has never looked more beautiful — death most definitely becomes her. | Read "Twilight" panel recap

'Man of Steel' is Man With Some Edge
Imagine if Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan have a baby and name it Kal-El. Yeah that'd probably be one lucky yet confused kid. But that's how "Man of Steel" producer Thomas Tull describes the new Superman reboot, which is music to our Batman-loving, "Superman Returns"-hating ears (Snyder directs while Nolan produces). The Hollywood Reporter claims the trailer — which starts with a young Supes saving a busload of children, has a clearly darker tone than previous Clark Kent incarnations and also give us peaks at Russell Crowe (Jor-El), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Michael Shannon (Zod) and, of course, Henry Cavill's grown-up hero — brought fans to tears. "Goosebumps" and "chills" were also common refrains on the Twittersphere. The most super news? You won't have to wait too long to see it yourself. The teaser will wow moviegoers before Nolan's final Bat flick, "The Dark Knight Rises" starting Friday.

Stallone & Schwarzenegger Just a Couple of Bros
It's not every year you get action titans like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger sharing the stage in Hall H, but that's exactly what happened with Thursday's mantastic "Expendables 2" panel. There were career retrospectives, a trailer and new clip, and appearances by co-stars Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews and Randy Couture ... but really the most intriguing thing about this hype fest for the August release was observing to the genuine connection between the two legendary screen stars, who have been buds for over three decades. Of course, like any bromance, there's a healthy competition in place. "Sly's killed 288 people, I've killed 289," the former Governator said. But who's counting? | Read "Expendables" panel recap

Bros Part 2: 'The Hunger Games' Tributes'
While at the "Hunger Games" DVD/Blu-ray junket (it's out Aug. 18, you know), we also bore witness to the tight bond formed between Tributes Alexander Ludwig (Cato), Dayo Okeniyi (Thresh) and Jack Quaid (Marvel). The trio, waiting to do interviews on a Hard Rock Hotel terrace, laughed and goofed with each other incessantly like they were old college chums (or as they and other "Games" cast members often describe the experience, summer camp alums), talking about everything from their love for the cult comedy film "Super Troopers" (it's the bear-screwing scene that gets them) to prospective web series ideas. It's a shame — for their friendship, anyway — that none of them return for "Catching Fire."

Yes, There Is Absolutely a Three-Breasted Hooker in 'Total Recall'
Sure, hovercars are cool and all, but the question fans (okay, or at least us) really have on the top of their minds is: Will Len Wiseman's reboot of the Philip K. Dick sci-fi yarn/Arnold Schwarzenegger actioner include that iconic three-breasted hooker? We asked the cast on the red carpet, and while co-stars Bryan Cranston and Jessica Biel were hesitant to spill the beans (though "Breaking Bad" star Cranston does admit to having his own three-breasted prostitute), Kate Beckinsale came right out and confirmed it. And yes, they're fabulous, the actress (and wife to director Len Wiseman) says. Wiseman also teased the genetic marvel's appearance in the panel footage. Three cheers for all of you. | Watch "Total Recall" cast confirm it

Peter Jackson
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A Whole Lotta 'Hobbit' Appeases the Masses
After mixed reactions to the 48 frames-per-second footage shown earlier this year at CinemaCon, perhaps the film with the most to prove was Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" (a two-part prequel to the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy). Jackson decided not to show the Comic-Con crowd footage in his fancy new 48fps style (saying it can't be fully appreciated in excerpts), so the director made up for it with quantity, showing a whopping 13 minutes of crowd-pleasing scenes spanning both films. Jackson was joined on stage by Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan and Elijah Wood, and the crowd ate it up, rewarding the Middle-earthlings with a standing ovation to close the panel.

'Looper' Is the New '12 Monkeys'
We've been waiting almost 17 years for something to be referred to as "the next '12 Monkeys,'" and it looks like we're finally getting it in the form of Rian Johnson's new mind-crunching sci-fi action film, "Looper." Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the writer-director's unofficial muse (they previously rocked the house together in "Brick"), joined him for the panel, much to the delight of the Con crowd. The trailer released a few months ago was amazing enough, but the extended look we were given here promises a film that's going to be as exciting and entertaining as it is thought-provoking and smarty-pants cool (just like "Monkeys"). It's fun to see JGL and Jeff Daniels, who plays the head "looper," reuniting after their terrific teamwork in another bit of noir nastiness, "The Lookout," but it's the scenes between Gordon-Levitt and Willis — as they play the same person — that we're most looking forward to. In particular, there's a tense scene in a diner that demonstrates the idea of "beating yourself up" in rather imaginative ways. The film opens Sept. 28. | Watch "Looper" cast interviews

'Elysium' Is a Worthy Successor to 'District 9'
Peter Jackson introduced Con-goers back in 2009 to the scrappy duo of writer-director Neill Blomkamp and actor Sharlto Copley, who were in San Diego to promote their rather impressive-looking science-fiction film, "District 9." We couldn't wait to see what Blomkamp had up his sleeve as a follow-up, though we feared he may fall victim to the infamous "sophomore slump" in trying to at least match something as amazing as "D9." Now, after seeing the footage for his new movie, "Elysium," we fear nothing. Blomkamp has his satirical eye on the rich's exploitation of the poor in this story of a working stiff (Matt Damon) on a ravaged future Earth whose only chance for survival after being exposed to radiation is to journey to an off-world space station where the wealthy live disease- and worry-free. The grungy production design is astonishing enough, but our favorite part of it all has to be a nearly-unrecognizable Copley as some sort of bizarro "Mad Max"-ian villain who makes things difficult for our hero Mr. Damon. Bring on March 1, 2013! | Watch Sharlto Copley interview

'ParaNorman' Stars Ain't Afraid of No Ghosts
Laika Studios' stop-motion animation follow-up to the critically adored "Coraline" looks just as fun and family/adult-friendly as its predecessor, but after meeting three of the film's voice leads on the red carpet, it's almost a shame we won't see them appear together in live-action form. Kodi Smit-McPhee (who voices the lead, a bullied boy who can speak to the dead), Anna Kendrick and Christopher Mintz-Plasse riffed off one another with razor-sharp wit, even when attempting to convince us that paranormal spirits don't actually exist. That's right, none of them believe in ghosts. We'll just have to agree to disagree — and secretly hope one or all of them move into a haunted house one of these days. |  Watch "ParaNorman" stars talk ghosts

'Oz: The Great and Powerful' Looks Both Great and Powerful
Sam Raimi, ever the gentleman geek, treated us to the first trailer for this sorta-prequel to the 1939 classic, "The Wizard of Oz." Raimi's take on more whimsical material than what he's usually known for looks absolutely magical, with a Kansas-set prologue that's filmed in black-and-white as an homage to the first act of "Wizard." James Franco plays the carnival magician who takes the yellow brick road from shady cad to a truly "Great Man" via a tornado that whisks him away to a magical land known for its majestic Emerald City, mystical creatures, clever witches (both good and bad) and, of course, nasty flying monkeys. Franco's perfect for this part, and ever-smiling pixie Michelle Williams as Glinda is quite the stroke of casting genius, too; the trailer also offered brief glimpses of both Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz (who are playing the aforementioned "bad" witches) and closes with a very Raimi-esque shot of a certain green hand with black nails slamming onto a table. Well played again, Sam. | Watch the trailer

It Helped If You Had Actually Read 'The Host'
We knew before heading into Hall H for the "Twilight" panel that Stephenie Meyer was going to be in attendance … and not just to talk about "Breaking Dawn - Part 2." We knew she was going to be doing something in regards to "The Host," and at Comic-Con "something" usually means showing a clip or two. What we got was a seven-minute highlight reel showing key scenes from the sci-fi flick about a future world in which most of the human race has been enslaved by alien parasites. The footage was most definitely impressive (this movie has the kind of budget that the "Twilight" movies never quite had but probably should've) as it offered looks at Saorise Ronan as Wanderer, Diane Kruger as The Seeker and a strikingly well-designed dystopian landscape. However, somewhat unfortunately, the reel had no sense of a narrative thru-line, coming across simply as a mishmash of random scenes that probably left those unfamiliar with the book somewhat confused.

'Django' Looks Off the Chains
There were no major revelations to come out The Weinstein Company's Saturday morning panel for "Django Unchained," besides maybe Quentin Tarantino's declaration that a scene in the thriller about a slave-turned-bounty hunter (Jamie Foxx) involving a cameo by Jonah Hill could very well be the funniest thing he's ever written (and he did later announce at a different panel that "Django" will also come in comic book form). But what became further evident: The film looks fantastic. Tarantino, who appeared in Hall H with Foxx, Kerry Washington, Christoph Waltz, Walton Goggins and a ponytailed Don Johnson, unveiled an eight-minute sizzle reel that expanded on the film's recently released trailer and stoked the hearts and minds of Comic-Con faithful.

We Won't Be Getting Any 'Resident Evil' Movies For Much Longer
The wild and loose "Resident Evil: Retribution" panel was tons of fun, with Milla Jovovich being her usual dorky-hottie self with a crowd-pleasing sense of genuine excitement for being back in San Diego and getting to play the ass-kicking Alice for the fifth (!) time. The new RE movie makes for something of a reunion, as several cast alums are making appearances — whether their characters were killed off in previous installments or not. Michelle Rodriguez, a super-cool lady in her own right, seemed especially psyched to be back with "the family," though the get-together had a slightly bittersweet tone to it as director Paul W.S. Anderson announced the "Retribution" is, indeed, the "beginning of the end" for the series. In fact, Alice herself might shuffle off this mortal coil in the new film that opens on Sept. 14 — though Jovovich was being a bit coy about confirming that one way or the other. | Watch the cast talk zombie apocalypse

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