Has Comic-Con Sold Out?

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The 40th annual San Diego Comic-Con International kicks off tonight with an all-star guest list that includes Angelina Jolie, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey and Brad Pitt. But some fan boys are worried Hollywood is corrupting the spirit of their annual retreat. What has gone wrong?

  • Too Big Not To Fail?  As attendance has gone up conventioneers' standards have gone down argues Marshall Fine of the Huffington Post. Conceived as a celebration of creativity, the event has become a place to sell people on mediocrity.

What's missing ... is any sense of proportion or context. This is Comic-Con--a fantasy convention for people whose lives are devoted to reading comic books and other forms of speculative fiction. The studios and TV networks are lining up to kiss the collective ass of exactly the crowd that has turned the movie industry into a special-effects factory making prefab product so undistinguished that 'Iron Man 2' looks like a work of genius (to some critics).

  • No More Unfettered Access to Panelists  This was once a selling point at the event but has become rarer, even a luxury, reports CNN.com's Henry Hanks. Now, there's not even a guarantee attendees will be able to see the event of their choosing. As one (former) attendee told Hanks, "I'd be really disappointed spending my money and seeing that I was gonna go to a panel discussion about [the Fox series] 'Glee.'"

  • With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility  It's a super hero lesson Los Angeles Times film critic Betsy Sharkey says Comic-Con attendees have failed to heed in recent years. They've allowed themselves to be fooled by junk. Explains Sharkey:

"Last year, the buzz out of Comic-Con for 'Jonah Hex' was hot. When it opened in June, it quickly flamed out. In 2008, the C-Cers loved what they were seeing of 'Watchmen.' Its $55-million opening in 2009 wasn't horrific, but it wasn't close to expectations. The problem with 'Watchmen' was that it hewed too closely to the source material; bowing to the 'be-true-to-the-source' creed of the Comic-Con crowd (whether consciously or not) was its undoing. And the hex on 'Hex' just proved the notion that anyone could be fooled by a cool trailer."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.