Old Heroes, New Faces at Comic-Con

Crédit photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images Old Heroes, New Faces at Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO — From The Immortals film and the immortals of Twilight, to franchises and stars being reborn, this year's Comic-Con was all about renewal and life after death.

The annual pop-culture convention ended Sunday, which means it's time to hang up the spandex, masks and plastic broadswords for another year. But, once again, Comic-Con's web drew in the biggest pop-cultural events on the horizon — including an appearance by the world's most famous webslinger himself. We look at the top trends and talents at this year's convention, and tell you what you have to look forward to:

• New franchise faces: New Spidey Andrew Garfield was the toast of the convention, with his fanboy love and enthusiasm for a role he called "a childhood dream," and "the most defining experience of my life." Slated to open in the summer of 2012, the franchise reboot is expected to offer a darker, grittier Spider-Man more grounded in our own world. Meanwhile, new Superman, Henry Cavill, was promoting his upcoming film, Immortals — co-starring Mickey Rourke and to be released Nov. 11 — but could not escape questions about being the new Man of Steel. While closely guarded about the 2013 superhero revamp, which has now begun shooting in Chicago, Cavill told Access Hollywood: “It's one of the best scripts I've ever read.”

• Fangs aplenty: The bloodsuckers were the dominant monster of Comic-Con — and the sole creature of the night that people seemed to want to welcome into their bedrooms.

Twilight kicked off Comic-Con with a bang Thursday, with their panel and a morning delight. Some cast members surprised fans waiting in line — some overnight — by serving them breakfast. (What nice, young vampires and werewolves some of them turned out to be!) The second-last film in the series, Breaking Dawn: Part 1, is coming to the big screen Nov. 18.

Then there's Colin Farrell's Fright Night (opening Aug. 19), where he literally plays the "vampire next door." The casts of Being Human, True Blood (now airing on HBO) and The Vampire Diaries (the new season bows Sept. 13) also bared their teeth for vamp-hungry fans.

• The Buffy factor: After almost a decade-long absence as a regular on network TV, Sarah Michelle Gellar is back in this fall's Ringer (premiering Sept. 13), a drama/crime noir in which she plays two twin sisters. On top of that, the new series Grimm, set to debut Oct. 21, borrows a page from the template of her iconic supernatural series. Written by writers executive producers Jim Kouf (Angel) and David Greenwalt (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), the show follows a cop who learns he has inherited special abilities — and an ancient battle against legendary fairy-tale creatures that are all too real. Poor sucker. Just like Buffy, another average Joe learns he must protect humanity from hidden monsters that go bump in the night. Don't quit your day job.

• Fables are the new zombies? Vampires have been hot for years, and zombies seem like the “it” monster of the moment — but, with two new fall TV series, in which fables and creatures of legend walk our streets, they may be the next prom king and queen at the monster mash. Once Upon a Time — starring Jennifer Morrison from House and the ever-reliable Robert Carlyle (Stargate: Universe) — and Grimm were both casting their spell at Comic-Con. Once, premiering Oct. 23, is a drama about fairy-tale characters cast out of their land and unknowingly living in our real world. Meanwhile, the creators of Grimm revealed that the legends they'd be bringing to the modern world with a twist included Goldilocks, The Three Pigs and Cinderella.

• Zombies are . . . the new zombies?

Perhaps no TV show is as hotly anticipated as The Walking Dead. Zombie fans dressed in homage to the show were a regular site and they did not come away disappointed. AMC announced the show's 13-episode 2nd season (over twice as long as the first) would bow Oct. 16.

• Steven Spielberg, the Comic-Con virgin: Who knew the master of movie magic had never been here before? Spielberg was on hand to receive the Inkpot Award, handed out annually to a top dog in comics and genre entertainment. But he was also on hand with Peter Jackson to promote The Adventures of Tintin, poised for release in December — his first directorial effort since 2008's Indiana Jones sequel. Tintin is based on the Belgian tales of a boy journalist and was filmed with motion-capture technology. But Spielberg's presence was felt on the small screen, as well, with a creative hand in two new TV series also showcasing at the convention, Fox's Terra Nova (premieres Sept. 26) and TNT's Falling Skies. Spielberg is also a producer for the pending summer blockbuster, Cowboys & Aliens, which opens wide Friday and had its world premiere in San Diego during the festivities.

• They'll be back, just not with Arnold: Two iconic Arnold Schwarzenegger films are being remade without their original star. Total Recall, starring Colin Farrell, Bryan Cranston and Kate Beckinsale, will hit screens Aug. 3, 2012. Meanwhile, Conan the Barbarian star Jason Momoa cast a hulking shadow over the convention for two different barbaric performances. Momoa appeared with the cast of Game of Thrones, where he played the late Drogo on the show's first season. Momoa fills the large shoes left behind by Schwarzenegger when his revamp of Conan the Barbarian opens this Aug. 19. Arnold was never in the movie or the TV series, but the re-imagined Charlie's Angels also showed some sass — and plenty of leg — at the convention, through its new TV cast: Minka Kelly, Annie Ilonzeh and Rachael Taylor. The series premieres Sept. 22.

• Origin stories: Prometheus, a prequel to Ridley Scott's Aliens starring Charlize Theron, Noomi Pace and Michael Fassbender, got a lot of attention and is slated to hit screens in June of 2012. Meanwhile, the prequel, Rise of the Planet of Apes, brought in director Rupert Wyatt and lead “ape” Andy Serkis to monkey around. James Franco also stars in the film set in the present about the simian who begins a revolution and will one day lead to new world order and the famous line, “Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!" The film bows this summer on Aug. 5.

• Lost and found: The influence of the landmark series could be felt everywhere. While the cast and writers were once an annual superhero TV team at Comic-Con, many are now here with their own projects.

Michael Emerson has left the villainy of The Others' Ben behind him in the new fall series Person of Interest (premiering Sept. 22). But he retains his air of mystery as a man who built a secret, Big Brother-esque machine for the government that monitors humanity and can predict violent crime and catastrophic events. Jorge Garcia, Hurley from Lost, was in town to promote Alcatraz, his new, mid-season, mystery-riddled show from Lost writer Elizabeth Sarnoff, about prisoners who disappeared in the '60s re-appearing in present-day San Francisco. And Nestor Carbonell (Lost's enigmatic Richard) generated heat alongside Gellar for the new series, Ringer. Lost writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz are also the creative conjurers behind Once Upon a Time.

Even Lost showrunner Damon Lindelof was on hand — and being his usual secretive self when it came to details on his script for Aliens' prequel Prometheus (though we can probably guarantee no Smoke Monster, hatch or magical island).

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