Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con 2017
Despite an early morning disagreement I had with a volunteer over wristband placement (Sorry about that…), Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con 2017 was a fun and stress free experience, and that’s saying something in comparison to other years that it seems will never be lived down. Wizard World NOLA brings with it memories of six hour costume contests due to filming a TV show, so every year I’m not quite sure what will happen. But, I was pleasantly surprised with the efficiency of this year’s convention, and the laid back atmosphere, which could be attributed to everyone walking around with shiny tankards of the beverage of their choice.
This year I had the pleasure to listen to some of the stars from one my favorite movies, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, and Sean Gunn. Rooker is a repeat offender when it comes to conventions in New Orleans and his antics during panels are never dull. This year, we were treated with stories of their work on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. While nothing about the plot of the film was revealed, because Marvel keeps their secrets under threat of DEATH, they did share with us some stories from the set, showing off their camaraderie and the sense of family that has grown between the cast and crew.
For instance, during one such rehearsal, Rooker, who plays Yondu, took it upon himself to share with his co-stars the best way to take care of your glutes, in which the story ended with Rooker and Bautista, Drax, flexing their butt muscles for all to see as someone in the audience yelled “I AM GLUTE!” But their stories weren’t only humorous. Sean Gunn, who motion captures Rocket the Racoon, as well as plays Yondu’s right hand Reaver, Kraglin, told the audience about a second script written by his brother and director, James Gunn, specifically for Vin Diesel who plays the beloved Groot. In this script, James Gunn wrote out the subtext and situation for every “I am Groot” line spoken in the film to help Diesel perform the very limiting role. Bautista, unknown as an actor when he portrayed the very literal Drax the Destroyer in Guardians, relieved audiences with his comedic performance in the film. This panel was the first time I’d ever seen him not as Drax or Hinx from Spectre, so I was surprised to get to know him and see how much of a total geek he is! Dave Bautista, this intimidating giant of a man, couldn’t have been a nicer guy, or geek out more on his favorite shows and movies growing up, or joining the crowd in his dislike for Batman V. Superman (take THAT DC!).
What also surprised me about this year’s convention was actually the size of it. Often Wizard World NOLA takes up a large portion of the Ernest C. Morial Convention Center, including a large auditorium saved for their big name guest panels and cosplay contest. This year, however, I found many of the panels being held on the outskirts of the vendor room floor, including the big Guardians panel and the cosplay contest. While this was convenient and I didn’t have to walk far to get to a panel, I did find the commotion of vendor booths distracting from the speaker. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this kind of placement at a convention, but this is often due to limited space at smaller cons, while WIzard World often has a large presence. There could be many reasons for this change, be it financial or just trying to keep things more compact, but the convenience of it was overshadowed by the overall distraction from the rest of the convention.
Wizard World NOLA is one of the bigger pop culture conventions to be held in New Orleans, LA. While it’s a bit more of a corporate entity, it offers a large scale event for the nerds of New Orleans to gather and share their passions.