Comic-Con’s buzz-makers

Many provocative questions arose at Comic-Con International this year. Why was Spider-Man playing drums in the Lego Rock Band booth? Was that dog-eared copy of "The Vault of Horror" really worth $5,400? And who in the world was that guy clanging through downtown on a sweaty summer evening in a full suit of chain-mail armor?

As interesting as those topics might be, the more important query for Hollywood is this: Which movies (and, to a growing extent, television shows) benefited the most from their visits to the mammoth pop-culture carnival that folded up tents Sunday night, and which ones left San Diego the worse for wear?

Comic-Con unquestionably represents a critical testing ground for mass-appeal movies, particularly those playing to fantasy fiction enthusiasts. "It all started here," Jon Favreau, director of "Iron Man," said of 2006's Comic-Con launch of his first superhero blockbuster while he was previewing footage Saturday for next summer's sequel to an ardent crowd. "Nobody cared before you did."



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