What to Watch This Weekend: Comic-Con Special Edition

San Diego Comic-Con—the king of pop-culture conventions—is back this weekend with live audiences after two virtual years. To get into the spirit of the cultural force that is the Con of Cons, we’ve curated a list of related titles. If you can’t be there in person, these shows might be the next best thing.

Marvel/Disney

Start with the first episode of the Ms. Marvel series on Disney+. Before becoming a superhero in her own right, Kamala Khan is just another Avengers super-fan determined to attend AvengerCon at all costs. You’ll have to see how that turns out for her. And if your interest is piqued by the end, you can always keep going and watch the remaining five episodes, all of which are currently available on the platform.

We’ve also picked a few of the big upcoming releases you’ll hear about this weekend—along with some related shows to get you ready for their arrival later this year.

First up is Sandman. Netflix will be teasing the Neil Gaiman fantasy series at the con with a big panel and guest appearances in advance of its August 5th release. Based on the popular and long-running comic book series, it centers on Morpheus, also known as the Dream King, and his dysfunctional family of powerful siblings called The Endless. Ultimately, though, it’s about the power of dreams and stories to shape the world.

Lucifer on a date
FOX/Netflix

While you wait for its release, we suggest you check out the delightfully wicked series Lucifer, which actually originated in the pages of the Sandman comics. Although that show’s version of Lucifer Morningstar is vastly different than the one Gwendoline Christie plays in the new series, they’re both ultimately products of Gaiman’s fertile imagination. There are six decadent and often comedic seasons waiting for you on Netflix, but if you don’t have time to binge them all, a good one to start with would be Season 3’s “Boo Normal,” which finds the characters investigating a crime at a furry convention. It’s not exactly Comic-Con, but it’s kind of close? If you have time for two episodes, stick around for the following one, “Once Upon a Time,” which features an alternate universe and narration by Gaiman himself as the voice of God.

HBO

Of course, another title likely to make a splash at Comic-Con is the Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, which finally arrives on August 21st. As it’s been 11 years since HBO’s breakout watercooler hit premiered, you can play catch-up by watching the first episode of Game of Thrones this weekend. It introduces young Daenerys before—well, we don’t want to spoil it, but if you know, you know. It’s a pretty good refresher on the whole Targaryen clan, who will take center stage in the new series.

New Line Cinema

The long-gestating Lord of the Rings series, The Rings of Power. Like House of the Dragon, dropped a big trailer at Comic-Con, revealing that the story also goes back in time — in this case, to trace the history of Middle-Earth and the fateful events behind the forging of the rings (seven for the dwarf lords, nine for the mortal men doomed to die, one for the dark lord).  Tolkien fan Stephen Colbert moderated the panel and explained the larger significance and enduring appeal of the series.  “It’s a story of hope and approaching darkness, and this being Tolkien, it’s a story of loss.”

But it’s also a timely story, as the executive producer of the show explained.  The human kingdom at the center of it all, Númenor, is being pulled apart by factions as the island is slowly sliding into the sea. “It’s a deeply painful story, but something we might learn from it.”

For context, “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” novel and film trilogy are set thousands of years after the Second Age, toward the end of the Third Age. The new series will focus on the time period when Sauron (the actual lord of the rings) created the One Ring to rule all the other Rings of Power.

To go back to the beginning, watch the very first film in the Tolkien universe that started it all: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring from 2001, which you can stream on HBOMax right now.

Expect Rings of Power to compete with House of the Dragon‘s for late summer and early fall conversations, as both Prime Video and HBOMax will be dropping episodes weekly for two-plus months.

Apple TV+

If you’re looking for something more grounded in recent events, check out For All Mankind, an alternate history about the space race , which you can watch right now on Apple TV+. The show’s panel is sure to be buried in the Comic-Con hoopla, but the gripping, high-adrenaline series imagines what would have unfolded if the U.S. lost the space race to the U.S.S.R. It was created by Comic-Con favorite Ronald D. Moore of Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica fame.

Netflix

And finally, you don’t have to make it out to San Diego or even the local theater to take part in the weekend’s biggest blockbusters. Netflix delivers their most expensive movie yet, The Gray Man, an action-packed spy thriller about a CIA agent who discovers a conspiracy within the agency. And just get a load of this cast: Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Regé-Jean Page, Ana de Armas, Alfre Woodard, Billy Bob Thornton, and 20 others you should recognize. It comes from the Russo Brothers, who are best known for the Avengers movies, which brings us back to Ms Marvel, and now you have your weekend viewing cut out for you!

If you don’t find a show or movie that appeals to you here, try out our people-powered recommendation engine, which can help you discover even more titles. You can even share your own recommendations with us right here and we might include them in the future.

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