Big Picture Big Sound

Comic-Con: Episode IV - A Fan's Hope Review

By Beth McCabe

Superfan Me


Comic books, video games, cos-play, cult movies, memorabilia. Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, Bruce Campbell, Joss Whedon, Seth Green. Aspiring artists, collectors, fanboys, fangirls, outrageous costumes. If you've heard of Comic-Con, these are just a few things it brings to mind. And Morgan Spurlock's "Comic-Con: Episode IV - A Fan's Hope" takes you there in all its larger than life glory.

Even if you haven't heard about Comic-Con, you likely know someone who has. The annual convention of all things nerdy has gone mainstream in a big way. What started 42 years ago with 500 attendees, a few panels and a comic book trade show has grown to almost 150,000 and become unequivocally the most important annual celebration of pop culture the world has known.

What has all of this massive growth done to the spirit of the con, though? The un-narrated documentary follows a handful of individuals through the four-day event, interspersed with cuts of commentary from attendees - celebrity and otherwise. And no, it's not all happy-go-lucky fandom and childish glee over collectible toys and celebrity panels. There's a veteran comic book store owner, who is faced with the necessity of selling his Red Raven #1 - the $500,000 pride of his collection - just to stay afloat. Two artists - a soldier and a geeky fanboy who lives with his parents - who are looking for a break into the industry. The nerdy couple who met at Comic-Con last year - now he's trying to orchestrate his proposal... at the Kevin Smith panel.

Considering the comic books and action figures at the center of Comic-Con, the cast of characters is what you'd expect: lots of thirty-something men in esoteric T-shirts with long hair and dubious hygiene (stick around through the credits - there are all sorts of comments on the smell) and random women dressed up as slave Leias and other scantily-clad characters. Stan Lee struts through the halls like he owns the place, and is met with reverent wide-eyed stares and requests for autographs and pictures. Long lines for autographs and people camped out to get good seats at panels.

This is Mecca for nerds, and the most refreshing thing about it is the utter lack of apology. There is no self-consciousness here, no judgmental looks or sniggered remarks. This is home.

It's easy to get distracted by all of Comic-Con's many splendored spectacles, but Mr Spurlock keeps his distance and stays focused on story. He and his co-writers, Joss Whedon and frequent collaborator Jeremy Chilnick, are clearly no Comic-Con newbies. In a departure from the likes of "Super Size Me" and "Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?", the director makes no appearance in "A Fan's Hope", which gives the film an authenticity it otherwise would not have been able to find. Comic-Con may not be for everyone, but admit it: you're curious. While this film is bound to appeal to those already immersed in the subculture, you don't need to be a superfan to enjoy it.

What did you think?

Movie title Comic-Con: Episode IV - A Fan's Hope
Release year 2012
MPAA Rating PG-13
Our rating
Summary Stan Lee, video games, outrageous costumes, collectables and of course comic books. Morgan Spurlock's well-crafted documentary takes you there in all of its larger than life glory
View all articles by Beth McCabe
More in Movies
Big News
Newsletter Sign-up
Connect with Us