Nerd culture is now pop culture. Superhero movies are consistently the year's biggest blockbusters, and fantastical shows like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead are among the most-watched series on television. That means San Diego Comic-Con has evolved from comic book convention to the epicenter for trailers, teasers and tidbits for the most-anticipated titles of the coming years.
This year, Comic-Con fans (and those who follow TIME's coverage of the convention) can expect studios to share news and footage from movies like Black Panther, Deadpool 2 and Blade Runner 2049. The casts of shows like Stranger Things and Twin Peaks might reveal a few of those shows' secrets at their panels. Here are all the movies and TV shows we're most excited about.
Black Panther is easily one of the most anticipated superhero movies of 2018. Chadwick Boseman made his debut as the hero in last year's Captain America: Civil War. His spinoff epic has an all-star cast, including Lupita Nyong'o, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Sterling K. Brown and Andy Serkis. The director, Ryan Coogler, is currently batting 1000 with critically acclaimed Fruitvale Station and Creed, a Rocky sequel that was way better than it had any right to be.
And the movie has historical significance: The character was Marvel Comics' first black superhero. The movie will be the first superhero film to star a black actor, be written by two black screenwriters and directed by a black director.
Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones frenzy is at an all-time high with just 12 episodes left in the series, seven of which are currentlyairing. This is the first time Comic-Con has happened during the Game of Thrones season, and the show's panel will take place between the airing of the first and second episodes. That means that cast members may be able to elucidate some of the mysteries of the premiere.
Ryan Reynolds' Merc with a Mouth proved to be the surprise hit of 2016. Sequels tend to be worse than their originals, but 20th Century Fox got creative with Wolverine follow-up Logan, and maybe they can with Deadpool 2, too. We know it will be action packed. The movie will be directed by David Leitch, the man behind those stylish action sequences in John Wick and Atomic Blonde.
Stranger Things channeled Stephen King and Steven Spielberg to win over nostalgic fans last summer. Now the Duffer Brothers have to prove that the Netflix show has a few twists and turns left for a second season. The full cast is returning, including an exuberant David Harbour and Winona Ryder putting her spin on the unhinged hero. The show doesn't return to the streaming service until Oct. 27, but there's a good chance fans will get another glimpse at the Upside Down during at Comic-Con.
Justice League could either redeem Warner Bros. and DC's struggling superhero franchise or sink it. After critics panned last year's Batman v. Superman for being too dour, Warner Bros. reportedly recut Suicide Squad and premiered quip-filled footage from Justice League at last summer's Comic-Con. Suicide Squad failed to win over critics, setting even lower expectations for Justice League. But Wonder Woman has since won over fans and critics alike, breathing new life into the DC series.
Whether Justice League can strike the right balance between light and dark may depend on a man beloved by Comic Con fans: Joss Whedon. Zack Snyder (who directed Batman v. Superman) recently stepped aside as director of Justice League in the wake of a personal tragedy. Joss Whedon, who directed the Avengers, has taken over duties editing and reshooting the film. He will miss Comic Con for only the second time in 20 years to finish the movie. But Warner Bros. may still air new Justice League footage, if only to reassure fans that the two directors with very different styles can create one coherent movie.
Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok looks like the best Thor movie yet. The trailer borrows a psychedelic look and sense of humor from Guardians of the Galaxy. Cate Blanchett makes a terrifically terrifying villain, Tessa Thompson a formidable warrior and Jeff Goldblum a welcome weirdo. Marvel has been taking more chances with its films lately: Doctor Strange was a visual trip, and Spider-Man dropped all the doom-and-gloom of today's superhero movies in favor of fun. Let's hope the third Thor diverges even further from the superhero formula.
Marvel ended its Comic-Con panel last year by officially announcing Brie Larson would play Captain Marvel, the first female superhero to get her own Marvel Studios film. A veteran of both indie movies and big-budget films, Larson is the perfect pick for the fighter-pilot-turned-superhero. Though the movie isn't due until 2018, the actor is rumored to make her debut as Captain Marvel in next year's Avengers: Infinity War, and she may well join the rest of Marvel's A-list actors at Comic-Con to tease that film.
X-Men: New Mutants
Last year's X-Men: Apocalypse failed to wow fans and critics, making it clear that the very complicated X-Men franchise desperately needs some new blood. Enter Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams, Split's Anya-Taylor Joy and Stranger Things' Charlie Heaton. They play the so-called New Mutants, the first graduates from Charles Xavier's school and will make their silver screen debut next year.
Netflix's Marvel shows have all pursued their own unique style, and each has courted a different audience. But now Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist are all coming together to create The Defenders team, who will swoop into your Netflix queue Aug. 18. While all the heroes are great, the most exciting aspect of the series is its villain, played by the legendary Sigourney Weaver.
Blade Runner 2049
If there is one person that Comic-Con fans cannot get enough of, it's Harrison Ford. Luckily, the actors seems determined to revive every iconic role he ever played (in Star Wars, Blade Runner and, yes, another Indiana Jones movie). Ford may or may not show up to Comic-Con this year, but fans still have plenty of reason to watch for teasers or details about the follow-up to the 1982 classic about a futuristic world where it's hard to tell human from android. Ryan Gosling co-stars and Denis Villeneuve, who helmed the well-received sci-fi film Arrival last year, directs.
It's a whole new world in HBO's Westworld after last season's bloody finale. Creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have expressed a desire to explore humanity's sometimes toxic relationship with technology. But in season two, they have to prove that the show is probing deeper questions than "Is that a person or a robot?" Evan Rachael Wood, Ed Harris, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden and others are set to appear at the show's first Comic-Con panel to discuss the first season fallout and tease future puzzles.
Ready Player One
Steven Spielberg is directing the adaptation of Earnest Cline's popular novel about a virtual reality game creator who dies, leaving behind a puzzle that leads to his fortune. Whoever can follow the clues, wins. Spielberg has released very little information about the 2018 movie since it began filming, but Comic-Con would be the perfect time to drop a trailer.
The Entourage fantasy is finally coming to life: We're getting an Aquaman movie in December of 2018. Game of Thrones' Jason Momoa will play the muscled man who can talk to fish. As that description suggests, DC will need to convince fans that Aquaman is an aspirational figure and not a punchline. The director, James Wan, has a horror background (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring) but has also mastered action — he helmed Furious 7.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix
Jean Grey got short shrift in X-Men: The Last Stand: The writers used her dark powers as a plot device rather than exploring the powerful mutant's struggle with her inner demons. Thanks to some nifty timeline shifts, the film series is getting a second chance to do right by one of the best characters in the comics with X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Sophie Turner, best known as Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones, made her debut as Jean in X-Men: Apocalypse and will star in her own film during the 2018 holiday season.
Avengers: Infinity War
It's almost here: The movie that unites every single superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Infinity War, will premiere next year. It's going to take a Bruce Banner-level brainiac to figure out how to distribute screen time among the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and a dozen other characters. (That's how many heroes it takes to defeat Thanos, the purple dude who has been collecting powerful Infinity Stones throughout the Avengers series in order to destroy the universe.) But if Marvel pulls it off, Infinity War could be the biggest blockbuster of all time.
Charlize Theron will be featured on Entertainment Weekly's "Women Who Kick Ass" panel promoting her shoot-em-up (and stab-em-up and beat-em-up) flick Atomic Blonde. The gritty, stylish movie from John Wick director David Leitch will hit theaters just a week after Comic-Con premieres. Theron, who has made her mark in the genre as the one-armed road warrior Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, will discuss what it was like to train for Atomic Blonde and learn to throw around dudes twice her size.
Twin Peaks' new season is already well underway, and fans are as confused as ever about the twists, turns and downright trippy diversions that the revival has taken. Kyle MacLachlan and the rest of the cast likely swore to David Lynch that they wouldn't reveal any of the creator's secrets. Heck, Lynch won't answer the cast's own questions about what's going on in the Washington logging town. But Twin Peaks fanatic Damon Lindelof (Lost, The Leftovers) will be moderating the panel, so it's a can't miss event for any Lynch fan.
Netflix has begun to make its mark in the film industry, to the chagrin of cinephiles who believe that movies ought to be watched in a theater. But it's one thing for Netflix to scoop up comedies, dramas and indies that are easily enjoyed at home (or, let's admit it, on phone screens).Whether they can convince moviegoers to watch the sprawling, effects-heavy films that dominate the box office exactly because they are best appreciated on a big screen is another question entirely. The streaming service's recent film Okja, which featured an adorable CGI-superpig, was its most recent attempt to woo audiences away from the cinema.
Next up is Bright, a movie that boasts A-list star Will Smith and a plot that involves the world's first Orc cop (Joel Edgerton). The fantasy-world policemen premise is either brilliant or terrible, and the success of the film will help determine Netflix's future as a studio.
Star Trek: Discovery
Star Trek is headed back to television, this time on CBS and later CBS' All Access site. Discovery is set before the events of the original series and follows the crew of the Discovery starship. The first trailer offered hints that we could encounter the Klingons again and even get a glimpse of Spock's father. The most exciting members of the cast are action veteran Michelle Yeoh and Walking Dead's Sonequa Martin-Green. At Comic Con, CBS will probably drop more details, including looks at aliens and costumes from the universe