Around the country, people of every race, religion and walk of life are pulling out their Stormtrooper costumes, dusting off their "I Grok Spock" T-shirts and lovingly preparing their CGC-slabbed, 9.2-graded, personally autographed copy of "Brother Power the Greek" #3. It can only mean one thing: Comic-Con is about to return to San Diego.
Over the years, Comic-Con has provided movie fans with some of the most buzzed-about moments in pop culture history. In order to get y'all properly stoked for this year's edition of the world's preeminent fan festival, here's a look back at nine of the most buzzworthy moments in Con history.
Of all the success stories to come out of Comic-Con, perhaps none is as surprising and impressive as Zack Snyder's "300." Heading into the 2006 Comic-Con, only the most hardcore Frank Miller fans were paying much attention to the adaptation of his acclaimed mini-series about the Battle of Thermopylae. That group, however, happens to include everybody who attends Comic-Con, which helps explain why the "300" presentation became the stuff of Comic-Con legend, with buzz that propelled the film to a shocking $456 million gross worldwide.
Director Jon Favreau pulled off a Comic-Con coup when he jumped the gun in 2007; expected to debut a couple short shots from the film during his Saturday panel, he surprised everyone by appearing at a Thursday night event to premiere an extended trailer instead. Fan lapped up every second of it, turning "Iron Man" into the most buzzed-about project of the year and helping kick off the worldwide Marvel movie phenomenon that has continued since.
Harrison Ford in Handcuffs
Favreau managed to make headlines again last year, although not entirely for the right reasons. After decades of being conspicuously absent, legendary action hero Harrison Ford finally made his Comic-Con debut to hype "Cowboys & Aliens." As a joke about Ford's reticence in appearing, Favreau brought him out in handcuffs, pretending they had to arrest him to get him to show up. Unfortunately, this skit happened just hours after a fan was stabbed in the eye at another panel, leading some to conclude it was a very bad joke. The whole thing helped "Cowboys & Aliens" steal the spotlight, though, so all's well that ends well. Except for that guy's eye, anyway.
Hard to believe it's been less than three years since "Twilight" first hit the big screen. But fans at Comic-Con in 2008 got a sneak preview not just of the movie, but of the phenomenon itself. The first-ever "Twilight" panel quickly became the hottest ticket in town and when the stars took the stage, we all found out why, as hysterical Twihards regaled their idols with cheers, screams and swooning throughout. By the end it was clear that "Twilight" was going to change pop culture -- and Comic-Con itself -- forever.
Why So Serious?
When fans arrived at Comic-Con in 2007, some of them discovered something a little odd in their pocket -- it turned out the Joker was very happy to see them. That's because a number of $1 bills had been cleverly defaced, giving George Washington a Joker grin, accompanied by the tagline "Why So Serious?" The greenbacks also included a code that directed fans to a secret downtown location, where they discovered the money was kicking off the "Dark Knight" promotion machine. The film would go on to earn the late Heath Ledger an Oscar for his performance as the Joker, and the stunt would become the stuff of Comic-Con legend.
Fans heading into the Disney panel at the 2008 Comic-Con weren't really sure what to expect, but whatever they anticipated, it certainly wasn't several minutes of footage from "Tron 2." But to everyone's shock, that's exactly what they got, as Disney unveiled scenes from the film's signature light cycle duel -- before most fans even knew they were filming "Tron 2" at all. By the end of the day, "Tron 2' was trending all over the Internet, and the Comic-Con buzz machine had once again created a phenomenon.
'In Brightest Day...'
Comic-Con fans can get a little jaded -- after all, there are only so many Slave Leias and super-secret sneak previews you can see before you start to tune out -- but the little kid in everyone was cheering last year thanks to an actual little kid who popped up during the "Green Lantern" Q&A to ask star Ryan Reynolds what was on everybody's mind: just what does the Green Lantern Oath sound like? Charmed, Reynolds gave an impromptu performance that had audiences cheering -- and gave one young fan the memory of a lifetime.
'The Avengers' Cast Revealed
There's star power, and then there's what happened during last year's "Avengers" panel from Marvel Studios. The coolest person on the planet, Samuel L. Jackson, took the stage to talk about the film, but the ovation he received was was just the prelude for the madness that followed, as the entire cast of the film -- including superstars like Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Robert Downey Jr. -- appeared together, along with Comic-Con legend and "Avengers" director Joss Whedon. We still get goosebumps just talking about it.
And no list of Comic-Con buzz moments could possibly be complete without a nod to the film that started it all back in 1976, "Star Wars." When a handful of Comic-Con fans showed up that year for a little presentation about an upcoming film few had ever heard of, nobody could have guessed that the resulting buzz would help propel "Star Wars" to become one of the greatest cultural phenomenons of all time -- and help turn a little gathering of comic book fans in San Diego into one of the defining events in Hollywood. But it did and it did, and the rest, as they say, is history.