Comic-Con 2012: What to expect

'Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2' will have a panel at this year's San Diego Comic Con

With the 2012 edition of the famed San Diego Comic Con just around the corner, fan boys and girls have plenty to be excited about. If a studio has a major sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, horror, action, or western offering in the pipes, chances are it will be at Comic Con. While there are still comic books at the Con, the event has steadily become the premiere destination for film studios to showcase their latest genre offerings to fans.

This year is no different. Here are a few of the big things you can expect from Comic Con 2012.

THURSDAY

"Twilight" - No strangers to Comic Con, the now mostly vampire cast of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" will help kick off the show with a panel on Thursday, July 12. Confirmed to be attending are Twi-stars Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan), and Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black), as well as Cullen family patriarch Peter Facinelli (Carlisle Cullen) and newcomer Mackenzie Foy (Renesmee Cullen). In addition to offering a sneak peek at the final installment of the franchise, the cast are expected to field questions from Twi-hards in attendance. It'll be fun to see how many times Pattinson and Stewart - who have already moved on to decidedly more adult roles in "Cosmopolis" and "On The Road" respectively - roll their eyes at some of the questions thrown their way.

FRIDAY

"ParaNorman" - The latest film from Laika - the stop-motion geniuses responsible for "Coraline" - will appropriately make an appearance on Friday the 13th... of July. Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee ("The Road"), Anna Kendrick ("Up in the Air"), Christopher Mintz-Plasse ("Superbad"), "ParaNorman" follows a young outcast named Norman who can speak to ghosts and must use that ability to help save his town from a terrible curse. Aimed squarely at kids, the spooky comedy looks like a cross between "The Goonies" and a John Carpenter movie. An incredible combination if there ever was one. The cast and creators will answer questions and show off some new 3D footage from the film, which is due out later this summer.

Sony Science Fiction: "Total Recall," "Looper," and "Elysium" - On Friday afternoon, Sony will show off its three upcoming sci-fi offerings - Len Wiseman's "Total Recall" remake, Rian Johnson's time travel action flick "Looper," and Neill Blomkamp's highly anticipated and mysterious followup to "District 9," "Elysium."

Expected at the two-hour-long panel are the directors, as well as the respective stars of the films. Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, and Bryan Cranston will all be on hand for "Total Recall;" Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt will chat up "Looper;" and Matt Damon and Jodie Foster will help to unveil "Elysium." While we've already seen plenty of material from "Total Recall" and "Looper" in the form of trailers, Blomkamp's new film is the one to watch here. Other than the fact that Damon shaved his head for the role, "Elysium" is almost a total enigma at this point. Comic Con will represent our first look at the big budget sci-fi film.

SATURDAY

"Django Unchained" - Saturday is when the big guns (and big egos) come out, which must be why director Quentin Tarantino is making a weekend appearance. Tarantino will show off footage from his new Western homage "Django Unchained," starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, and Leonardo DiCaprio. While it's still unknown if any of the stars will make it out for the "Django" panel, numerous outlets are reporting that Tarantino will show up to the con with as-yet-unannounced cast members from the film. Frequent Tarantino collaborator Samuel L. Jackson surprised many by showing up in the latest TV spot for "Django Unchained," so who knows what other surprises the director will have in store.

Warner Bros. lines up "Pacific Rim, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," and "Man of Steel" - Speaking of big guns, how about director Guillermo del Toro's giant robots versus aliens picture "Pacific Rim?" An homage to "Kaiju" movies like "Godzilla," Del Toro's film turned entire blocks of Toronto into a nameless (and thoroughly destroyed) Japanese city earlier this year. The director will unveil the creature battling film at Comic Con during Warner Bros. two and a half hour afternoon panel.

Speaking of del Toro, wasn't he supposed to direct the "Lord of the Rings" prequel "The Hobbit?" Filmmaker Peter Jackson - who originally hired del Toro for the project but then replaced the the "Pan's Labyrinth" creator - is expected to be in attendance for a screening of new 3D footage from "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." Industry insiders were not impressed by the film's heavily hyped high frame rate, so the public's reaction to the footage here will be important. Jackson will no doubt be joined by a number of actors from the film's sprawling ensemble cast, a group that might include "Rings" veterans Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, and Orlando Bloom.

Capping off the Warner Bros. panel will be director Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel." DC Comics has a lot riding on this Superman reboot, since its success or failure will determine whether or not a "Justice League" movie - the DC equivalent of "The Avengers - is feasible. Though no details about the "Man of Steel" Comic Con appearance are available, it's a safe bet that director Snyder and cinematic Superman Henry Cavill will be in attendance and that footage from the film will be shown.

"Iron Man 3" - Later in the evening Marvel will attempt to steal rival DC Comics thunder with their big panel. Featuring a first look at "Iron Man 3" and some very special guests, Marvel movie producer Kevin Feige will discuss the studio's future comic book movie plans in the wake of "The Avengers." Fingers crossed for an "Ant Man" announcement from "Hot Fuzz" director Edgar Wright.

There's a lot to take in at Comic Con this year. What are you most looking forward to?

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