Attendees of Comic-Con International in San Diego descended en masse for Paramount Pictures' advance "Captain America: The First Avenger" screening Thursday morning, eager for an early look at the highly-anticipated Joe Johnston-directed vehicle (not to mention a special appearance by Cap himself -- Chris Evans -- following the film). Showtime was at 10:00 AM, but folks at the beginning of the queue showed up as early as 3:30AM -- and with good reason. By 8:00 AM, the line stretched across the entire top floor of the United Artists Horton Plaza, extending to the level below by 8:30AM.
Volunteers passed out swag to the patient crowd, sending fans of Marvel Comics' star-spangled hero home with some sweet limited edition posters and buttons. Throughout the morning, Cap fever clearly reigned supreme. By our (very scientifically accurate) estimation, one out of four attendees was wearing some form of Captain America garb.
We walked the line, chatting up the crowd. Towards the front was the (clearly) dedicated Chris Dorrenbacher, a first-time Comic-Con attendee from Dallas, TX, who arrived -- in full costume -- with his friend Martha at 5:30AM. When asked what they were most looking forward to about the film, Martha said, "We like Chris Evans, but we're really big fans of Cap. And we're also looking forward to the 'Avengers' footage at the end."
Kayla Nagel and Craig Jenkins showed up at 6:00AM -- and they went to some pretty interesting lengths to procure their tickets. Craig recalled, "Last night we were about to get on our bus to go back to our hotel and I overheard this guy behind me say, 'Are you a "Captain America" fan?' I turn around, and he was talking to two girls. He pulled out one of the red tickets and he's like, 'Well, we have these free passes to the 10AM showing and we could give them to you because we can't go -- all we want is your "Fringe" bag.' And the girls were like, 'Well, we can't really go either.' So I jumped in and said, 'Well, I'll take the ticket. I have a "Big Bang Theory" bag.' And he said, 'Well I don't want a "Big Bang Theory" bag!' And the girl was like, 'I do!' So she traded me the "Fringe" bag for the "Big Bang Theory" bag, I gave him the "Fringe" bag and he gave me the tickets!"
Melissa Zahn and her four-year-old son Trent arrived at 7:00AM, Melissa admitting that "Captain America" is her favorite superhero. Her husband is in the military, so the subject matter really resonates. And what of Trent? "He's a big 'Avengers' fan, Melissa said. "We actually have the action figures in my backpack -- he's been playing with them all morning. I'm so excited for Trent to see Chris Evans because he's never met somebody like that and this will be, like, the biggest thing for him. This is actually his late birthday present from us. His birthday was on the 12th."
Eddie Newsome, from Greensboro, NC, is an old pro at the Comic-Con game. This is his sixth year attending the convention, he's also arguably the most dedicated fan we've seen so far. As an avid cosplayer, he's dressed as Captain America for years, along the way amassing quite the collection of autographs on his shield. "One thing I've learned at the Con is that a lot of the artists, writers, creators -- they tend to show a lot of appreciation for us cosplayers who really bring their characters to life. The first year I wore this costume at Comic-Con, I bumped into Kyle Baker -- the creator of this character, Isaiah Bradley -- and when he turned around and saw me, his eyes just welled up."
Eddie's had his shield signed by Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Quesada and John Romita Jr., among countless others, but he saved its crowning glory -- the star -- for royalty. "Stan Lee signed it last year," Eddie gushed. "Every year when I go to the Con, people ask if they can sign the star and I'm like, 'No, no -- I have to have Stan Lee sign the star!'" And we can vouch for Eddie's commitment when it comes to lugging around his accoutrements -- we picked up the solid metal shield, and it had quite the heft. At least we know the secret behind his superhuman pecs!
By 9:00AM, people were being turned away, with one particularly frazzled girl sarcastically noting, "Well, we're here already -- let's see something! What do you think, guys? 'Cars 2?'"