This past weekend, I attended Wizard World convention in New Orleans, LA. It was held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center from Friday (Jan. 8) through Sunday (Jan. 10). This was not my first Wizard World experience, as I attended the Atlanta show in May of 2014.
One thing that Wizard World has and continues to excel at is quality and quantity of celebrity guests. The highlight of this year’s show was the presence of a good majority of the upcoming Marvel movie, Captain America: Civil War. Captain America himself, Chris Evans, was on hand on Saturday for a panel, autographs, and photo ops with fans. He was joined by other fellow Marvel Cinematic Universe co-stars Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon), Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter), Frank Grillo (Brock Rumlow/Crossbones) at the audience question and answer panel to start the morning events. The panel was moderated by the directors of the film, Joe and Anthony Russo.
The conversation focused primarily on the upcoming movie, with a few personal and funny stories thrown in. It was discussed how the latest chapter from the MCU will change the overall arc and lead into Avengers: Infinity War. The Russo brothers replied:
“We think that…the way we’ve been talking about it that….people are ready for it emotionally. Everyone comes together differently at the end.”
Anthony Mackie, who plays Cap’s sidekick, Falcon, said:
“The great thing about Civil War is that with these two teams….you see the duality. You know where we’ve come from. You really do have to pick sides. That makes everyone here lose some bonds…some relationships. We’re split into two sanctions and try to fight for the same thing.”
In addition to the Civil War cast, other headliners included William Shatner (Star Trek, Boston Legal), Ben McKenzie and Erin Richards (Gotham), Barry Bostwick (Rocky Horror Picture Show), Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica), and WWE® Hall of Famer Ric Flair® and Diva Charlotte™.
There were several of the current and past cast from The Walking Dead, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Scott Wilson, and Jon Bernthal. However, the current cast was only on hand for autographs and photo ops. They did not participate in any Q&A panels.
Doctor Who companion Jenna Coleman was on hand, but actors Karen Gillan and Matt Smith were unable to attend, Smith due to scheduling conflicts and Gillan due to a visa issue.
There was solid representation from the comic book world in the artist alley and programming panels. Guests included Gene Ha (X-Men; Justice League), Jorge Molina (Uncanny X-Men; Superman/Batman), Dean Haspiel (The Fox; Beef With Tomato) and Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti (Harley Quinn; Superzero). Saturday’s panel, “All in the (Comics) Family”, moderated by Danny Fingeroth (longtime Spider-Man editor and writer), featured guests that are family members who work together and/or are inspirations to each other.
One of the highlights of the convention for me was attending the Bruce Campbell panel “BRUCE CAMPBELL VERSUS THE AUDIENCE” on Saturday afternoon. I have attended many panels in my days at cons, but this was like no other. The Ash vs Evil Dead star treated his fans to something other than a typical Q&A panel. It was more of a gameshow to determine the “most interesting person in the room”. There was a lot of audience participation, and Bruce is a great emcee. (Spoiler alert: the most interesting person in the room – besides Bruce – was a 10 year old boy named Edward.)
Other programming highlights included tutorials with cosplay guests, both adult and child costume contests, and paranormal evidence investigation with The Paranormal Society of New Orleans. The exhibit hall was filled with vendors including art, clothing, costumes, collectibles, toys, crafts, and much more to spend all the dollars in your pockets. Wizard World also helps to give fans experiences. There were several opportunities to have your photos taken with Ghostbusters vehicles, a TARDIS, Star Wars vehicles, the Jurrasic Park JEEP, and the DeLorean from Back to the Future.
Overall, it was a convention with great guests, interesting panels, and stellar cosplay. These are all things that are top of my list when I choose what cons to attend. I would not consider it to be quite enough to see and do to fill three days, but it was enough to spread the crowds out and not unmanageable.
Wizard World will return to New Orleans on January 6-8, 2017.