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Comic Con Day 1: Female Power Icons and Miami Spies

This afternoon I hit an Entertainment Weekly-hosted panel called “Wonder Women: Female Power Icons In Pop Culture” featuring Sigourney Weaver, Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost), Zoe Saldana (Star Trek, Avatar) and an unannounced Eliza Dushku. I went into it a little suspicious. I’m not sure if, in 2009, a panel united solely by a “Yay! Women kick ass!” theme makes portrayals of strong women—or “female power icons,” if you will—less marginalized or more. I’m still not sure any deeper theme united the panel but it turned into a pretty good discussion anyway. Everyone seemed to agree with Weaver when she noted that society is changing faster than the way Hollywood portrays it and that the greatest frustration for smart actresses is that scripts tend to write women as types rather than characters. (I’m paraphrasing a bit.) Everyone came off well, but nobody quite as well as Saldana, who expressed frustration with the roles available for women and minorities and wondered why movies didn’t reflect the diverse crowd gathered there.

Speaking of that crowd, I’ve never seen it more evenly divided between men and women. No doubt Twilight has something to do with that, but it hardly explains the shift in full.

I was secretly hoping that, with two cast members on hand, we’d get some footage from James Cameron’s Avatar without having to brave the line over at Hall H, which no doubt still carried the funk of Twlight fans who’d camped out the night before. (Overheard waiting in line: “My friend is 20 weeks pregnant and she slept outside!”) Alas, no. But fans of Burn Notice did get to see a clip of Jeffrey Donovan providing some spy tips especially for Comic Con. Donovan didn’t make it to the panel, but creator Matt Nix, co-star Bruce Campbell and various supporting players did turn up for a lively session highlighted by Campbell, who knows a thing or two about playing to a crowd of passionate geeks. A highlight: Campbell’s seemingly off-the-cuff discussion of a possible Burn Notice/Evil Dead crossover called Dead Notice. Interestingly, Nix often speaks in the distinctive cadence of one of Donovan’s how-to-be-a-spy voiceovers. He also hates CGI effects and insists on real explosions.

I can’t say too many other panels interest me today, so I think I’m going to head to the exhibit floor and catch some screenings. Will check back in later. (It also occurs to me that I've fallen into the come-to-Comic-Con-and-not-write-about-comics traps. I'll try to correct that tomorrow.)