Thousands of pop culture-consuming patrons mobbed Cleveland’s First Merit Bank Convention Center this weekend for Wizard World Comic Con 2016.
Oh, and a few Hollywood celebs were on hand, too.
Chris Hemsworth, anyone?
It was Wizard World’s second annual event in Cleveland, a city whose metropolitan highways and bi-ways provided home to second-unit filming on such blockbusters as Spider-Man 3 (2007), Marvel’s The Avengers (2012), and Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014).
The directors of that last film—Cleveland’s own Joe and Anthony Russo—were in attendance at the comic-con on Saturday, February 27th, to host a panel feature several stars from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
During an extensive Q&A session in the grand ballroom, the cinema sibs Winter Soldier’s Cap-on-the-run plotline was inspired in part by the paranoia political thrillers of the ‘70s, like Three Days of the Condor. They let slip that Spider-Man will appear in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War (due in May) alongside Avengers favorites Iron Man, War Machine, Hawkeye, and Black Widow, and that Chadwick Boseman brings “a new intensity” to his part as Black Panther, who will makes his big-screen debut.
Joe Russo said it was a “lifelong dream” to have childhood hero Spider-Man appear in one of his films; he said his copy of The Amazing Spider-Man #15 is among his most prized possessions.
The Marvel programming began at 3:30 in the afternoon, at which time Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD starlets Chloe Bennett (Daisy “Skye” Johnson) and Elizabeth Henstridge (Jemma Simmons) fielded questions about the popular paranormal TV series.
The ladies were as gregarious as they were gorgeous; both Bennett and Henstridge joked about working with Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson) and Iain De Caestecker, whose hunky Agent Fitz provides a running romantic interest for the female investigators.
Up next was Frank Grillo, who resumes his Brock Remlow / Crossbones character from Winter Soldier in Civil War. Grillo said he believes Remlow / Crossbones differs from his character in The Purge: Anarchy in that the Captain America baddie is motivated by personal interest, whereas Anarchy’s Sergeant must look out for others.
Grillo proved something of a cut-up with the audience: He feigned not knowing where in the room fans had lined to offer questions, dished on shooting the climactic Winter Soldier elevator fight with Chris Evans, and admitted that there is a possibility Crossbones will return in Avengers: Infinity War—which the Russos will direct.
“Don’t feed the beast!” quipped Anthony Russo, on Grillo’s Q&A energy.
If the breakout panels had a main event, it was Australian heartthrob Chris Hemsworth of “Thor” fame (Thor: The Dark World, The Avengers: Age of Ultron).
The tall, blue-eyed star sat in with the Russos from 5:30pm to 6:30pm following an afternoon of autographs and photo ops with fans (who paid handsomely for both). Humble Hemsworth laughed off catcalls from the ladies in the audience and answered most questions in jest. He said Thor used “Thoreal” shampoo, and surmised that the Hulk would beat the Asgardian thunder god in a push-up contest because, well, “He’s the Hulk!”
Hemsworth won’t have a big part in Civil War (if he appears at all) because his character will be off dealing with other matters in Thor: Ragnarok.
Other television and movie personalities appearing at the Comic Con were Matt Smith and Karen Gillan (from Doctor Who), Brent Spiner (Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation), Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy), Robert Englund (of Freddy Krueger / Nightmare on Elm Street fame), Henry Winkler (The Fonz from Happy Days), and Larry Wilcox (Jon Baker from CHiPS).
Wizard World will return to Cleveland next February.