If you told people in 2013 that Brazil would host its first ever comic convention and that in less than five years it would grow to become one of pop culture’s biggest events, very few would believe you. If you told people that by 2018, the said convention would be as big, if not better, as the legendary San Diego one, you would definitely have been laughed at. But it is happening. In terms of attendance, the Brazil Comic-Con Experience – or CCXP – this year set a new record with 262,000 people attending. In comparison, SDCC has an average of 130,000 people each year. Yeah, CCXP is twice as big as the legendary SDCC.
The passage leading to the entrance of the convention. As the public walks inside, the con’s theme (here) can be heard through the speakers.
Okay, so attendance may not be the be-all-end-all of what makes a convention so great. There are many things to consider like its original geeky offerings, the presence of A-list attendees, exciting presentations and seminars. And in just one year since its largest edition with CCXP 2017, CCXP 2018 has taken a turn and is growing very fast in those terms. This year, it was the first time many attendees could be heard comparing the Brazilian event to the original SDCC. During his panel, Rich Moore, director of Zootopia and Wreck-It Ralph, went as far as to say that “San Diego got nothing on you guys”, an opinion later repeated by other guests, who said they’d never seen such an energy from a crowd. Of course, it could be them just fluffing the local fans but it’s an opinion I share as an attendee of CCXP 2018.
You see, attending the original Comic-Con at San Diego was one of my dreams as a fanboy but it’s been a couple of years since I had the urge to actually pursue it. CCXP has completely satisfied my hunger to attend a comic convention and some people at the event told me they felt the same way. SDCC may be undefeated in being the center of geek culture in the US but internationally things are changing and major studios like Disney and Sony are starting to notice this big shift.
On the topic of Sony, we all may have our issues with what Sony does to Marvel properties but Marvel Studios’ growth at CCXP is mostly due to Sony’s belief in the event. It all started when they showed the first clip of Spider-Man: Homecoming there in 2016. People at the auditorium roared so loudly it could be heard on the other side of the 100,000 square meters convention center. Sony was amazed at the reaction and went even bigger in 2017, showcasing at the Cinemark Auditorium the first Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse trailer and exclusive clips of Venom. On top of that, Sony officially started the marketing campaign for Venom there, with a gigantic Venom flag over more than half of the auditorium and the crowd chanting “We are Venom.” Exclusive t-shirts were given to everyone attending as well.
This overwhelming support for all things Marvel is what prompted Marvel Studios to make their big splash at CCXP last year. Not only did they bring Danai Gurira out to present exclusive Black Panther clips but they also had Kevin Feige and Ryan Coogler video call-in to give some heartfelt messages to the fans. It was in this video call that our lord and savior Feige promised to bring in the big guns for the following year.
The experience of a Marvel fanboy at CCXP is as great as it can be. Starting with the convention floor, there were two very interesting booths for MCU fans. The first one was Sony’s which was basically at the center of São Paulo Expo’s 100,000 square meter-wide floors. In it, a small area held the original Spidey suits from Spider-Man: Far From Home and had screenshots of some Venice surveillance thing. There was also an installation of a Venice gondola where fans could snap pictures in front of another Spider-Man suit. After each photo is taken, fans were given an option to pick a postcard, (Venice, Prague or London) with a message from Peter Parker promoting the film written in the back, of their choice.
SHIELD recon over Venice? Spidey's heads-up-display? Mysterio's surveillance? pic.twitter.com/rQ048gLorT
— MCU Exchange (@MCUExchange) December 6, 2018
Close to the Spidey booth was Disney’s own. It was a very unique one, to say the least, that was made of several shipping containers one above the other. It had a dedicated Star Wars area, two areas for their live-action remakes and Pixar and another fully dedicated to Captain Marvel. In it, the Avengers’ theme could be heard most of the time and a big panel above showed the Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame trailers. It also had the original Captain Marvel suit used in the film, the front of a Blockbuster booth like the one seen in the trailer, and the front of Carol Danvers’ jet plane, where people could snap pictures as well. It may not seem like a lot but it is a growth from previous years. Marvel Studios presence on the floor of CCXP was never very exciting but that all changed this year.
Of course, what made this year the best CCXP for MCU fans was not just the floor. The panels were the most exciting part and it all started in the eve of Saturday. Like SDCC, CCXP has its own Hall H, the hub for all the big stuff called the Cinemark Auditorium. And like SDCC, some fans chose to sleep the whole night in line, eager to get the best spot possible. Both Marvel Studios’ and Sony’s panel were held on Saturday, less than 24 hours after the Avengers: Endgame trailer had been released, so the enthusiasm of the people in line was as big as it could be. A lot of people in the line were talking about it, most of them also excited about the fact that the first Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer would premiere right in front of their eyes later that day.
After I entered the gigantic auditorium which hosted more than 3,000 seats, I heard a rumor that Tom Holland was spotted in São Paulo which meant an appearance at that very same room. Nothing was confirmed, so the day moved on and everyone got a Captain Marvel poster!. As soon as Marvel’s panel started, a video celebrating the 10 years of MCU was shown, with nothing new, just some scenes of each movie. The crowd cheered loudly everytime a new character appeared.
Sebastian Stan was the first guest to be brought out which drew roars from the thousands of attendees including myself. Stan talked about his experience working with Marvel, in which he revealed to have taken the part of Bucky Barnes without even reading the script and that he absolutely loved the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. It was a brief interview in which he mostly talked about the studios’ history and the importance of Stan Lee for pop culture.
Next came Brie Larson and the crowd reacted as you’d expect; wildly and deafeningly. Both of them seemed truly surprised with the fans there and both mentioned the incredible energy of the room. After a few basic questions from the host, Larson then proceeded to tease the crowd some footage and the teaser for Avengers: Endgame trailer was shown. Everyone seemed a bit disappointed, to which she replied she wouldn’t give us something everyone had already seen. The lights went off as the crowd roared and an exclusive clip was premiered, which you can read right here.
Larson’s exit from the stage signaled that Sony’s was next.
The Sony panel gave lots of new clips and the presence of many stars from their upcoming films with one glaring omission: Spider-Man: Far From Home. All seemed naught and pointless for the MCU fans who waited hours to see their hero swing by until the host came back to bring out a special guest, Jacob Batalon. Batalon came in and before he could say anything, his phone started ringing. Him picking the phone up and playfully saying, “Yeah, I’m here. What? You’re here too?”, was enough for the crowd to go absolutely wild. Deafening screams and cheers took the place over as the lights went off to reveal Tom Holland on stage. Holland seemed truly overwhelmed by the experience.
The Cinemark Auditorium during the Spider-Man: Far From Home panel.
During the interview, Holland shared his excitement for Spider-Man: Far From Home, proclaiming the film to be better than Spider-Man: Homecoming. Batalon teased some onscreen antics for his character, Ned. After that, both introduced an exclusive first look at the new film, one that wouldn’t be released later. The footage was, in fact, a full trailer, and the crowd’s reaction was absolutely wild during it. You can read the full description here, but let’s just say it showed Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Mysterio, first him with just an armor on and emitting green smoke through his hands, and later in the same armor but with the glorious fishbowl helmet on this time. That was the first look ever at a highly-anticipated character and the audience knew what a special moment it was. It was the usual loud cheering and screaming until the lights went out again and Jake Gyllenhaal himself appeared in classic Mysterio fashion with green smoke all around him. The crowd went absolutely crazy with their the thunderous ovation overwhelming Gyllenhaal, who couldn’t stop smiling through the rest of the panel.
It was truly incredible seeing Jake Gyllenhaal, an A-list star that seemed to never find big success in tentpole blockbusters like this one, be there to show his genuine excitement with the film. The rest of the panel proceeded in a truly fun tone, with Holland and Gyllenhaal showcasing incredible chemistry and telling the fans that their dynamic is similar on the film. After it was over, people in the audience were truly satisfied with what they got and everyone ended up getting more than they expected.
This edition of CCXP made Marvel Studios’ belief, support, and their willingness to give international fans an exclusive taste of their upcoming slate clear as day. But what’s next? What’s stopping the event to become as important as SDCC? A lot of things could be said about that but as these two panels showed, Marvel’s presence makes the event stronger and makes people all over the world pay even more attention to it. That is only natural, of course, since the MCU is, alongside Star Wars, arguably the biggest pop culture cinematic phenomenon of the present-day. So why not go further? Why not give the fans a full panel, bring even more stars, and even more content? If CCXP keeps growing the way it’s been growing, next year’s edition would only become bigger. And if studios like Sony and Disney continue to support the event, there’s no telling how much the event could grow in importance to the geek culture worldwide. We could very well be witnessing the birth of a more global geek culture movement and that is truly exciting.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing CCXP cosplay which ranged from an identical Tony Stark to an amazing Iron Spider. As usual, lots of Captain Americas, some Scarlet Witches and Doctor Stranges, a Rocket Raccoon, and a Thanos.