Halle Berry was hammered. Well, possibly. It was just before noon on a Thursday, and as part of the Comic-Con International panel for 20th Century Fox, the entire cast of the upcoming movie Kingsman: The Golden Circle had poured themselves a shot of whiskey (part of the sequel takes place at a distillery). Instead of a shot glass, though, Berry had gotten a pint glass, which her co-star Channing Tatum filled just over halfway—and which Berry then downed in one mighty go, to thunderous applause. Whether it was really whiskey or simply crowd-pleasing stagecraft remains unclear, but it was a good bit. It was also the best thing to come out of the whole panel. That bears repeating: The most interesting thing to come out of the Hall H presentation for the studio that makes the Deadpool and X-Men films was Halle Berry knocking back a drink.
That’s because once the Kingsman panel wound down—after the drunk jokes and footage reveals—the Hall H audience looked around expectantly, wondering what big surprise was coming next. Then…nothing happened. No footage of Deadpool 2, no X-Men: Dark Phoenix cast, no other panels at all. the presentation was just over. People looked around confusedly, and then filed out. Within hours stories started popping up online: “Deadpool, X-Men Mutants Suspiciously Absent at Fox’s Hall H Panel,”“Deadpool 2 Skips Comic-Con,” etc. No one seemed particularly angry, just disappointed. As a cursory survey of Comic-Con cosplay demonstrates, Fox’s Marvel Comics properties are beloved in the fan community; not showing up at the year’s biggest pop culture event felt like a major oversight.
It’s a particularly notable one considering Fox’s history with the con. Two years ago the studio stole Marvel Studios’ thunder by coordinating a massive on-stage X-Men reunion that included Mystique/Jennifer Lawrence, Deadpool/Ryan Reynolds, Wolverine/Hugh Jackman, Tatum (who theoretically will play Gambit one day), and Stan Lee. It was a seismic event, reminiscent of the time Marvel trotted out Tom Hiddleston in full Loki regalia or announced Avengers: Age of Ultron. The next year, though, Fox followed up on their triumph by simply skipping Comic-Con 2016. Considering the studio was making its grand return this year, it’s odd that it didn’t return with more gusto. (Or at least a couple of mutants.)
It’s quite possible that the reason for the absence of X-Men and Deadpool is simply a practical one. Deadpool 2began filming less than a month ago, and the latest film in the X-Men franchise, Dark Phoenix, is also barely off and running. But Deadpool 2 director David Leitch is theoretically in San Diego to help promote his current film Atomic Blonde, Sophie Turner (aka Phoenix) is slated to promote Game of Thrones, and Tatum was already on stage—so the fact that they didn’t even convene for a quick fan Q&A is odd.
Odd, and also telling. For a few years now there has been talk that the oversaturation of Comic-Con and the leaking of footage shown at Comic-Con would lead to studios backing away from the convention. And look, bringing Kingsman: The Golden Circle isn’t a consolation prize (it looks fun! go see it September 22!), but not bringing your biggest comic-book properties to a comic-book convention says something. The fact that Fox didn’t flex and trot out its major mutants for Hall H’s first big panel might just be a coincidence—but when the talent starts drinking mid-panel, maybe it’s time to get a new gambit.