7 times Comic Con has appeared in pop culture

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San Diego Comic-Con is the place where pop culture converges for four-and-a-half days and brings fans of all strips together under one banner. Comic book readers, movie and TV fans, fantasy lovers, sci-fi enthusiasts, anime experts, gamers, and more can always find something they love at the show.  That’s because Comic-Con is pop culture. But sometimes, Comic-Con leaves such an impression that it leaps out to other aspects of pop culture on screen or even in the pages of a book.

For this year’s SDCC, we’re taking a look at seven times a Comic Con has appeared in pop culture. It’s not always San Diego, but Comic-Con’s influence is still felt in these projects.

Paul (2011)

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in Paul.
Universal Pictures

Although Paul wasn’t filmed in San Diego, the opening of the movie has some of the most convincing Comic-Con moments ever seen on screen. The movie even used the official SDCC branding and invited some very recognizable Comic-Con regulars as background extras.

In the film, Nick Frost and  Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning‘s Simon Pegg play lifelong pals Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings who travel to Comic-Con. But on the next leg of their trip, they encounter and befriend a real alien who calls himself Paul (Seth Rogen).

Entourage (2004)
The cast of Entourage.

Now it’s time to go from one of the most convincing representations of Comic-Con to the other extreme. During the second season of HBO’s Entourage, Vince and the boys head to San Diego to promote his new Aquaman movie. However, this show’s Comic-Con looks like it was put on by people who had never actually seen a real Comic-Con.

The episode’s biggest crime is the sheer contempt that it displays for the whole Comic-Con crowd, as exemplified by Rainn Wilson’s evil geek influencer, RJ Spencer. The irony is that this episode aired only a few years after the real Comic-Con became a prime destination for Hollywood. They just didn’t understand it, and most still do not.

Galaxy Quest (1999)

Tim Allen in Galaxy Quest.

Including Galaxy Quest is a bit of a cheat since Star Trek does have its own conventions separate from Comic-Con, and this movie is clearly aping that franchise in a lighthearted way.

However, the scale of this movie’s convention is more like Comic-Con than many of the remaining Trek conventions. Additionally, the finale in which the crew appears on stage in costume almost feels like it could have inspired some of Marvel’s in-character moments from Hall H.

Ms. Marvel (2022)

AvengersCon costume contest from Ms. Marvel episode 1.
Marvel Studios

We have no idea if there are Comic-Cons in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But we do know that the MCU’s hero worship in the wake of Thanos’ defeat led to some hardcore fandom.

In the first episode of Ms. Marvel, the lead character, Kamala Khan, is obsessed with going to AvengersCon, and winning the costume contest with her Captain Marvel costume. This is pretty much Comic-Con without the comics, and it was weirdly presented as an almost counter-cultural event as opposed to the mainstream that Comic-Con has become.

Chasing Amy (1997)

Dwight Ewell as Hooper in Chasing Amy.

Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy has several scenes set at comic conventions, and unlike Entourage, the setup actually resembles Comic Cons from the late ’90s. Even the panel discussions seem more accurate, aside from the part where Hooper pretends to murder Banky after a pre-planned argument escalates into a crowd-clearing moment.

Comic Book: The Movie (2004)

Mark Hamill and friends in Comic Book: The Movie.

Comic Book: The Movie has the rare distinction of actually filming during Comic-Con. In fact, there was even a panel where audience members were invited to be a part of the scenes during production. Mark Hamill directed, co-wrote, and stars in the film as Donald Swan, a die-hard comic fan who finds himself battling a major studio over the cinematic fate of his favorite hero, Commander Courage.

This is a mockumentary, but Hamill didn’t just come to mock Comic-Con. This movie was made with a lot of love for the subject matter.

Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International: San Diego (2014)

The cover for Harley Quinn invades Comic-Con.

Sometimes, even comic book characters get to invade Comic-Con! In this one-shot adventure, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti sent Harley to San Diego on a doomed trip to get her own comic book published. And because Harley is Harley, she only knows how to leave chaos and destruction in her wake.

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