Morgan Spurlock: We Are All These Geeks Now
While it started as a small get-together for fans of brightly illustrated panels and thoughtful word bubbles, Comic Con has exponentially increased in the last decade, becoming the premiere destination for everything genre -- and in some cases, genre-adjacent.
How the annual convention transformed into the biggest pop culture event of the year is just one of the fascinating journeys Morgan Spurlock's new documentary, Comic-Con: Episode IV – A Fan's Hope, takes audiences on. The feature also follows five fans as they each trek to San Diego in hopes of completing a major life goal. For some it's marriage, for others it's professional -- but no matter their objective, everyone's journey is fueled by passion.
And it quickly became clear during my chat with Morgan that he shares this passion of geek culture -- from horror movies to comic books, he is "one of us." Although with that population also growing exponentially, the real question is, Who Isn't A Geek These Days?
Insider.com: What inspired this film?
Morgan Spurlock: I grew up loving comic books and everything in geek culture – my first Comic Con in 2009 and I sooooo drank the Kool-Aid. I loved everything about it. And when I met Stan Lee, to kiss the ring and tell him how much he changed my life, he said, "Morgan, we should make a documentary about Comic Con." And the only answer is, "Yes, Mr. Lee – we should!" Cut to a year later, we were making the movie. It was incredible.
Insider: Have you adjusted to the fact that Stan Lee is now your "friend?"
Morgan: It's completely crazy. It's surreal. The fact that I even met Stan Lee is crazy. I was just at Wonder Con doing press for the film and I kept thinking, "Dude, I'm with Stan Lee!" I still can't believe it.
Insider: The film follows a several "ordinary" people participating in various Comic Con activities. How did you find them?
Morgan: We put a massive casting call to find people online, on comic book websites and Harry Knowles (creator Ain't It Cool News, who came on as a producer) he put it out pretty wide so we got over 2,000 videos from people who wanted to be in the film. We definitely wanted a couple who fell in love through their geek passions, we wanted to find the guy who flies in just to get a limited edition toy and flies out the same day and we wanted a comic book shop owner. Then we found out about the portfolio reviews from Stan, Joss [Whedon] was talking about the Masquerade – so all these things that I didn't know existed basically became the focus.
Insider: Countless geek gods do running commentary throughout the film -- but in the credits, the Thank You list includes so many names that weren't in the film, I imagine you cut a lot of interviews.
Morgan: There are so many people we interviewed who we couldn't fit in the film -- at some point, you have to cut people out. We cut out great interviews – but they'll all be on the DVD. It'll be amazing.
Insider: What was the hardest cut?
Morgan: Nathan Fillion was in up until the eleventh hour. There was this great line from him about Comic Con being a three-day orgasm. There's the anticipation and then the release.
Insider: Was there anyone who you wanted to be in the film that said no?
Morgan: Countless people. With the exception of our characters in their homes, nothing was filmed outside the four-day Comic Con window. We called the studios about talking to Ryan Reynolds, Chris Hemsworth and those guys, but it didn't fit into their marketing plan. They wanted fans talking about their movies the next day – not months later. Most studio people don't get it anyway. There's more to Comic-Con than selling you "my thing." There's a deeper relationship fans have with this experience.
Insider: So you don't agree with the sentiment that Comic Con is "going Hollywood?"
Morgan: The only thing Hollywood is taking over is the media coverage of Comic Con. There's 6,000 people in Hall H but there are 145,000 other people who aren’t in there. Who aren't experiencing that part of Comic Con, but that's not as sexy as Angelina Jolie walking out in a tight outfit. That's what journalists want to talk about.
Insider: Joss has a great line in the film about Comic Con being filled with members of his tribe -- was that your biggest takeaway from this experience? That, for thousands of people, this is the safest space possible to "come as you are?"
Morgan: I think so but what the film also shows you is that this culture is also bigger than San Diego. There's millions of people who would love to be there every year but can't. What the film does a better job of showing is that there's someone like everyone in this film. There's someone everyone can relate to. Through that, it shows you that geek culture isn't just these weirdos in San Diego – we are all these geeks now.
Comic-Con: Episode IV – A Fan's Hope is now available on Video on Demand & hits iTunes Friday!