Comic-Con attendees go all out for the 2022 pop culture extravaganza

The pop culture extravaganza that is Comic-Con International is back to its old extravaganza. Stars, cosplayers and hordes of fans fill the San Diego Convention Center in force for the first time since 2019. Here’s a look at this year’s version of the four-day festival.

comic crowds

Jay Acey, left, dressed as A-Train from The Boys TV series, Faeren Adams, center, dressed as Marvel superhero Doctor Strange, and Derek Shackleton, dressed as Marvel superhero Moon Knight, walk together at the exterior of Preview Night at the 2022 Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center, Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in San Diego. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/Associated Press)

The pandemic necessitated virtual versions of Comic-Con over the summers of 2020 and 2021, and a scaled-down in-person version in November. None looked like the usual spectacle, with fans of all things geek descending from all over the world and arena-sized panels on movies and TV shows that look like sporting events.

It’s unclear whether the convention will draw the roughly 135,000 people who flooded San Diego before the pandemic. But when the doors of the Convention Center opened for Wednesday’s preview night, fans poured in, storming the floor. As required, almost everyone wore masks – the protective type, not the super-villain type, although there were plenty of them too – and the excitement amidst the crowd was palpable.

“Everybody’s just been locked down for a while and they’ve been anticipating this,” said Dinh Truong, 34, who came to Comic-Con for the second time from his hometown of Minneapolis. “It’s good to see everyone in the same atmosphere. I can’t wait to see the program, to see what’s going on, to see everyone cosplay and stuff, and to get back to what we were before.”

Much larger crowds are expected on Thursday, when events begin in earnest.


CFX’s Jenn Brown adjusts a silicone mask based on Pinhead from the Hellraiser film franchise in their booth during the preview party at Comic-Con International 2022 at the San Diego Convention Center on Wednesday. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/Associated Press)

Chances are no one missed the in-person convention more than captains, queens, and cosplay connoisseurs. Comic-Con is their Met Gala, and no outfit is too elaborate.

Lorelei McKelvey, 54, originally from San Diego but now living in Yokosuka, Japan, was dressed as Captain Carter, Captain America’s British counterpart from World War II.

“I had to make one that I could authentically replicate,” McKelvey said. “I went and did my research and found out what genuine British officer leathers were worn in WWII, and found manufacturers to make those leathers.”

She walked the floor of the Convention Center in as real-life officer cavalry boots and Royal Air Force gauntlets, and carried a two-kilogram steel shield.

McKelvey came to Comic-Con and worked a booth for 20 straight years. It’s her first time as a cosplayer and second time as a trans woman, and she’s thrilled to reunite with the cherished friends she’s made here.

“My last convention is the first time they see me as Lorelei,” McKelvey said. “It’s the first time they see me four years later and see how much I’ve grown since then.”

Others wandered the halls on Wednesday as star wars Stormtroopers, the Mandalorian, Wonder Woman and Sailor Moon. chuckie’s Child’s play out of a cosplayer’s stomach.

Comedy Upcoming Attractions

Rylee Stubberfield and Reese Bartolome of San Marcos, Calif. pose with giant Lego The Mighty Bowser on display at San Diego Comic-Con International on Wednesday. (Christy Radecic/AP Images for The LEGO Group)

Comic-Con does most of its news as a venue to show trailers and footage of upcoming movies and TV shows during star-studded mega-panels held in Hall H, which seats some 6,000 people. Announced panels include Warner Bros. and the DC Universe black adam. It will include Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who plays the titular antihero, director Jaume Collet-Serra, and stars playing Hawkman, Dr. Fate and other members of the Justice Society.

“Get ready, cause the hype is real,” Johnson said in pro-wrestler promo mode on Instagram earlier this month. “Guess who’s coming to town, the most electrifying man in the entire DC Universe.”

Warner Bros. will also provide an overview of Shazam: Fury of the Gods.

Marvel may hold back its best material for Disney’s upcoming D23 Expo, but should tease its next film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and the Disney+ TV series She-Hulk: Lawyer.

A pair of highly anticipated fantasy prequels will also give fans a taste of their worlds. A new trailer was released on Wednesday ahead of an HBO Max panel that will show the game of thrones spin off Dragon Houseset 200 years before the original series.

Amazon goes back 2,000 years in time to The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, a story of the emergence of evil among the elves long before Frodo and Bilbo walked Middle-earth. This year, their panel comes 21 years after director Peter Jackson presented footage from the first of the original films at Comic-Con.