I am still working on writing up panels from this year’s Comic Con, so maybe the biggest loser is me – or for that matter anybody who relied on the shitty wifi in Hall H this year. And once again, as they do every year, AT&T screwed the pooch so iPhone users found jammed networks that were unable to do much of anything. Because I write in Google Docs, I was silenced for much of Comic Con.

But what about the movies that came to the Con? Who walks out of San Diego with the biggest buzz, and who walks out with the hardest luck story? First, the official winner followed by the official loser, and then some secondary winners and losers.

For the record, I thought this was a generally strong year. Most of the studios came correct, and I think that there were very few real problem panels or campaigns. In fact, most of the Hall H stuff felt like winners, which is nice. While I don’t know that many things knocked people completely out, it was a good Comic Con overall.

And the Winner Is…

Scott Pilgrim vs the World.

Universal was incredibly savvy this year with Scott Pilgrim. They set up a major presence outside the convention center, setting it apart from the random madness on the show floor. Also, by having a huge spot outside the Con, they could reach more people than the 6 or 7 thousand who can fit into Hall H. At their Scott Pilgrim Experience congoers could have garlic bread, could silkscreen personalized t-shirts, could get autographs, could  take pictures and turn them into flipbooks, and could tag a wall along with thousands of other fans.

But the masterstroke came at the end of the official Scott Pilgrim panel on Thursday. Director Edgar Wright, who had been moderating the panel, actually led select audience members to a movie theater where they were shown the entire movie. As the theater loaded Dan the Automator and Kid Koala, two of the most famous and sought after turntablists in the industry, played. And after the screening – which was attended by pretty much the whole cast – the screen raised and the band Metric, who stands in for Clash at Demonhead in the movie, also played. It was a huge moment, trumping the previous audience participation buzz event, last year’s Tron Legacy Flynn’s arcade.

Universal didn’t stop there. They screened the movie three nights in a row to jam packed houses with Edgar Wright in attendance. Forget clip packages or meet and greets – Universal did the best marketing possible by actually showing the movie. Again and again. 

This allowed Scott Pilgrim to have a constant presence throughout the Con, always being in people’s face and always being a subject of discussion. It was a masterstroke, and it certainly took the crown for 2010.

And the Loser Is…

The Comic Con programmers.

The movie studios have decided that they want to do everything at Comic Con on Thursday. They want the Friday press cycle, and I think that the surprise Iron Man footage on Thursday in 2007 really turned it all into an escalation. While the biggest day at the Con is probably Saturday, Thursday is often the biggest day in Hall H.

Saturday’s a pretty big day too, and this year Marvel decided to dominate it by putting their Thor, Captain America and Avengers stuff at the end of the day, giving them a Sunday and Monday news bump. But whither poor Friday? It turns out that Hall H scheduling meant that the first group of movies appearing in Hall H were Drive Angry, Skyline and Super - three fairly unknown films without the huge star muscle needed to fill the hall. And as a result, the hall never reached capacity on Friday. People camped out on Wednesday night to get into Thursday morning’s panels, and they camped out Friday night to get into Saturday – but you could have walked into Hall H at any time Friday morning and gotten a great seat.

This means that a trio of smaller films that could have used the buzz from a packed Hall H didn’t play to full houses. That’s too bad, especially as all three look intriguing, with Drive Angry and Super looking flat out great. Someone at Comic Con needs to figure out how to schedule Hall H better, spreading out the crowds across all three days that the hall is open (there’s no programming there on Sundays for some reason).

UPDATE: I want to make it clear that I don’t believe that Drive Angry, Super or Skyline were losers because they were not. They got great reactions, and it’s important to pay attention to the smaller films making their marks at Con. I think that the Comic Con scheduling folks are the losers for not staggering out the smaller and indie films to give them better exposure. They’ve done this in the past, with Kick-Ass last year being an example.

As such I’ve changed who is the specific loser of this so that it doesn’t reflect on the films.

And the rest…

Winner: Marvel. 

While I didn’t take to the Thor footage (and especially the 3D), most of the audience and attending journos did, and the Captain America stuff, mixed with the reveal of The Avengers (Richard Dickson on our message board compared it to the unveiling of the Mercury 7 astronauts) means that Marvel came out damn strong Saturday night. Even after the scuffle/stabbing in Hall H that slowed everything down.

Loser: Green Lantern.

It wouldn’t be so bad that Green Lantern, which is still filming, came to the Con with almost nothing to show if two other movies that are also in production didn’t show up and prove how to come to Con. Cowboys and Aliens and Captain America: The First Avenger are both very early in shooting - Cap is just about eight days in – but they both put effort into getting complete scenes together to show the crowd. That makes a difference. Green Lantern had just a quick cut reel, which they only played once. Even concept art would have been better than what we got. 

Why isn’t Green Lantern the big loser? Because at one point a cute kid came to the mic and asked Ryan Reynolds – who was wearing his Green Lantern power ring – to recite the Lantern oath. It was a great moment, and the kid was blown away. It was a real classic Comic Con scene, and it saved the panel.

Winner: Cowboys and Aliens. 

A kick ass five minute sequence and Harrison Ford’s first appearance at Con? Yes, please. Hall H was on its feet in excitement. Look for my write-up soon.

Loser: Pirates of the Caribbean 4.

It makes sense to get Johnny Depp on video to address the crowd, but the footage we saw (and which you can see here) was uninspired, and felt like a first runthrough. Also, it was without any concept art or anything. Here’s how it works at Comic Con: You can show no footage if you bring an amazing star (see The Avengers) or you can show just footage of the stars if it’s a highly awaited property (see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). But Pirates needed something more than Depp in costume, and Disney surely had some art or something it could have shown the assembled masses. Which is a shame, because they did well with Tron Legacy.

Winner: Guillermo del Toro and Joss Whedon.

This year GdT and Whedon cemented themselves as The Geek Kings of 2010. Remember the empty Hall H Friday morning? It filled up for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, a remake of a movie nobody in the crowd knew directed by a newbie most people didn’t know and produced by a guy who pays my bills. The reason it filled up? Guillermo. And that was just part of his big weekend – he also was announced as producing a new Haunted Mansion movie. I’ve been to Guillermo’s ‘Man Cave,’ and he has an entire room – hidden behind a trick bookshelf! – given over to Haunted Mansion memorabilia. It’s a perfect marriage of sensibility to material, and I can’t wait to see who directs it. 

Whedon also came on big this year. He’s always been a major geek fixture, but he’s had a niche following. Keep in mind that Comic Con can be a gathering of geek fiefdoms, and there isn’t always crossover. But between The Avengers announcement and his conversation with JJ Abrams, Whedon hit the next level this year. It’s a moment that Whedonites have been waiting for, and I think it happened – Whedon went full mainstream geek this year. I bet he could take over Kevin Smith’s annual ‘Spending an hour talking about himself’ slot next year and fill Hall H. And be better at it than Smith.

Also in Whedon’s favor this year – he and I made peace and cemented it in dance. And manlove.