DENVER COMIC CON 2016: Day 2 Review

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The second day of DCC brought the crush of celebrity stardom to the Denver Convention Center. Comics, Fantasy and Science Fiction fans rocked the BellCo Theater as actors and creators each took turns for interviews on the Main and Xfinity stages. Here are our recaps from all of the day’s exciting events.

Game of Thrones

Shortly after the doors opened at 10AM, actor Lena Headey held court to discuss her role as Cersei Lannister on the HBO sensation, Game of Thrones. The show is currently winding down its sixth season, with episode 9 set to air this Sunday night. Headey readily acknowledged that the Queen Regent from Casterly Rock has become a favorite for for viewers to love-to-hate.

“It’s just funny when people come up and say ‘I hate you!’” Headey joked. “But my children haven’t said that yet.”


Reviewing her career, Headey said she felt a certain attraction to characters that could be seen as broken. In fact, when asked if there were any other characters she would enjoy playing on the show, she volunteered the Season 5 and 6 archvillain Ramsey Bolton as a possibility.

“I love playing characters who are a little dark and a little cracked,” she explained.

Enabling Headey to take on such complex roles is the work ethic she brings to understanding the character, itself. She confessed to peppering the program’s writers and producers with questions about not only Cersei’s history but those of the surrounding characters.

“I’m probably their least favorite,” she speculated.


In addition to delving into her work bringing the former Baratheon-wed queen to life, Headey also entertained the audience with stories of her friendship with Peter Dinklage, who plays Cersei’s youngest brother, Tyrion. Headey laughingly recounted how Dinklage would play dead as a practical joke and how he once suckered her into a wager over a video game, which she lost.

“He’s a hustler and a liar,” she declared playfully.

Whether that off-screen competitiveness will re-emerge between their respective characters, however, is still anyone’s guess. Game of Thrones will conclude its season on June 26th, and has been renewed for a seventh run next year.

Marvel Comics: Stan Lee

In the afternoon, the arguable headline guest for Denver Comic Con, Stan Lee, sat down for his interview. Having lined up for multiple hours to ensure their admission, fans quickly and completely filled up the Main BellCo Theater room. Lee reminisced on his history building out the Marvel comics empire, reviewing the creation of characters that would evolve into some of the franchise’s signature heroes. He began the discussion with his personal favorite, Spider-Man.


Lee recalled that the genesis of the character was from a demand by his editor for more heroes to add to Marvel’s line. As he sat in his home brainstorming, he noticed a fly crawling up the wall and suddenly began dreaming of a hero who stick to and climb up walls. Because there were hardly any lead characters that teenage readers could immediately relate to, Lee decided to make his new protagonist a teenager. Adding to that connection, he even imbued Peter Parker with his own unique set of anxieties and insecurities. Lee’s editor pushed back immediately.

“‘The worst idea I’ve ever heard!’” he remembered his boss saying.

Dejected, Lee temporarily shelved Spider-Man until he saw an opportunity to introduce him into a Marvel Comic line that was set for termination. “Ol’ Webhead” sent sales skyrocketing. When the numbers were reported to Lee’s boss, there was a swift change in attitude.

“‘Remember that new hero you and I liked so much…’” Lee suddenly heard as the new introduction for Spiderman.

From that point, Marvel’s place in the world of comics would be redefined as the Amazing Spider-Man came to represent the franchise.


Lee also talked about the creation of Iron Man, an experience that would nearly serve as the polar opposite of the Spidey experience. Reveling in Marvel’s astronomical success, Lee dared himself to create a hero whose resume would stand for everything that his young readers were inclined to oppose. With the creative constraints that nearly snuffed out Spider-Man gone, Lee envisioned an arrogant character, who was also a wealthy arms dealer. Despite his bio contradicting many of the impulses of Marvel’s fans, Tony Stark became another success story in Stan Lee’s stable.

“I was drunk with power!” Lee exclaimed.

But if Iron Man swam against America’s nascent social consciousness, Lee’s imaginative genius was also developing a set of superheroes that would best embody Marvel’s heart. Later that same year (1963), Marvel published X-Men #1. This latest addition to the comics pantheon centered on humanity’s next evolutionary step, a super-powered race known as mutants. Their struggle in peacefully coexisting with the world around them signified America’s own internal struggles in accepting diversity in its civic, social and economic life.

“I love the X-Men,” Lee explained. “I wanted to let readers know, in a subtle way, that no one is bad simply because he or she is different.”


As Lee thought back over the various  inspirations for the incredible world he created, he focused primarily on his mother. Though his parents were very traditional and did not engage in artistic endeavors of their own, Lee credited his mother with fostering the love he found early in his life for reading.

“She took the last few dollars she’d have and give me books and magazines,” he recounted. “She knew I liked to read.”

At the session’s end, those in attendance gave a heartfelt standing ovation to the man who revolutionized the comics industry half-a-century ago. Without the ascension of Marvel to the top of the entertainment world, there may not have been the space for DCC’s next featured guest to become an idol for the fandom.

Marvel Comics: Hayley Atwell

After Stan Lee departed, actor Hayley Atwell arrived at center stage. Atwell first won fan acclaim through her role in Captain America: First Avenger as Special Operations officer Peggy Carter. In 2015, that character became the lead of the primetime network series, Marvel’s Agent Carter. Though ABC opted against renewing the show for a third season, enthusiasm was high for other venues such as Netflix to pick up Peggy Carter’s story as a post-war intelligence agent working for the US government.

atwell panel

Atwell’s portrayal of the determined and unbowed Carter earned due praise for its showcasing of a female lead who could succeed by both brains and braun, and equally exhibit both strength and compassion. When asked whether it was difficult to show a woman persevering in a male-dominated field such as defense intelligence, Atwell responded that Carter’s challenge was one that was still very relatable for female professionals today.

“Many women find that the fields they are going into are male-dominated,” she said.

What has changed for women, she continued, is the nature of the opposition they face. Atwell remarked how the sexism shown by Carter’s male counterparts is one that is very blatant and open. While that overt discrimination has receded in many ways, the era in which the show is set shouldn’t be intended as a sign that unequal opportunity has gone away.

“Today we have more subtle forms of sexism that we can be blind to,” Atwell said. “So we still have a long way to go.”


Though Carter at times clashed or suffered slights from her superiors within the SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve), one source of support for her came from Edwin Jarvis, the British WWII airman who became Howard Stark’s butler. James D’Arcy won that role for the ABC series. Atwell talked affectionately of D’Arcy as one of her best friends from among the show’s cast. Though in England he is often known for playing violent or deranged criminals, Atwell lauded his performance as the principled and compassionate Jarvis.

“He embraced his inner nerd and there’s no stopping him now!” she declared.

Among Atwell’s favorite scenes was the fight between Carter and Jarvis in the desert near the end of season 2. Despite each of their character’s total exasperation with one another, the vulnerability shown by Jarvis in talking about his wife’s injuries and the compassion returned by Carter perhaps did more than any other sequence to show the depth of their friendship. For Atwell, the hallmark of what made doing the series worthwhile.

“Heart is the only reason we ever care about anything,” she remarked.


In the lighter moments of the conversation, Atwell also told stories of the practical jokes shared by members of both the television and Captain America film casts. In one stance, James D’Arcy managed to blanket her trailer in nothing but pictures of himself. She even relayed one story of the 2014 Peggy Carter (also played by Atwell) suggestively teasing Chris Evans from her hospital bed in Captain America: Winter Soldier.

While there are no current plans to revive Agent Carter, a petition to bring the character to Netflix has garnered over 100,000 signatures. In the meantime, Hayley Atwell’s next project will be starring in the legal drama Conviction, also set to air this Fall on ABC.

DC Comics

While some of Marvel’s brightest stars visited the Main Stage Saturday in the BellCo Theater, several of DC Comics’ most high-profile artists gathered for a panel to talk about the recent “Rebirth” launch for the 82-year-old company. The team on the dais included Editor Dan Didio (moderator), Brett Booth (Teen Titans), John Romita Jr (Batman), Yanick Paquette (Swamp Thing, Earth One Wonder Woman) and Chad Hardin (Harley Quinn).


Rather than a reboot, the purpose of “Rebirth” was to re-assert pieces of the Post-”Crisis on Infinite Earths” history for many of the Justice League and Teen Titans characters. In the “New 52” storylines for these characters that began in 2011, much of their pasts – particularly their most critical relationships (Wally West for Barry Allen, Dinah Lance for Oliver Queen) – were wiped away. “Rebirth” posits, through Wally West, that this omission was the deliberate act of someone in DC Comics universe. According to editor Dan Didio, this new launch-point will initiate storylines for at least the next year-and-a-half. The highlights that fans can expect to see as a result of this dynamic include:

  • A “Super Sons” relationship between Damien Wayne and Jonathan Kent (the son of Superman and Lois Lane)
  • The eventual return of the multi-colored Lantern Corps
  • The re-adoption of Nightwing’s traditional uniform and colors

While the current line-up of “Rebirth” storylines extends to Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Green Lanterns, Green Arrow, Nightwing and the Teen Titans…DC readers should also anticipate future “Rebirth” storylines drawing in Batgirl, Black Canary and (later) Shazam.

What I Took Away

Day 2 of Denver Comic Con came loaded with star-power and the surge in the already sizable attendance level confirmed the audience excitement for it. Other celebrities mixing it up with the fandom included Torchwood  and Arrow’s John Barrowman, along with film actors Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride, Robin Hood: Men in Tights) and Karl Urban (JJ Abrams’ Star Trek, Lord of the Rings). For the final day of DCC, the focus will return to Doctor Who as Jenna Coleman and Alex Kingston take part in a dual interview on Sunday afternoon.

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