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Movie Review

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope

A Comic-Con adventure

Comic Con A young Spider-Man meets up with a trio of Storm Troopers at Comic-Con. (Warrior Poet)
By Mark Feeney
Globe Staff / April 13, 2012
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When Comic-Con, the annual fanboy-palooza in San Diego, started out 145 people attended and the focus was exclusively on comic books. That was in 1970. Forty years later, 125,000 people showed up, and the program featured sci-fi, fantasy, horror — all that sort of stuff — in every imaginable medium. Several of the media hadn’t existed in 1970.

One of the attendees was Morgan Spurlock. He’d first visited the year before and met Stan Lee there. The Marvel Comics legend proposed that Spurlock make a documentary about Comic-Con. Perhaps to the surprise of both, Spurlock agreed.

“Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope” comes excellently credentialed. Lee and Joss Whedon, the man behind “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” are executive producers. Spurlock, who’s made onscreen irreverence (and self-congratulation) a small cottage industry in documentaries like “Super Size Me,” “Where In the World Is Osama Bin Laden?,” and “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,” doesn’t appear on camera and snideness is nowhere to be seen. The “Star Wars”-inspired title is meant as tribute rather than irony. That said, the soundtrack is a mite jocose for its own good (the use of comic-book typefaces is a nice touch, though).

Spurlock weaves together several story lines. Skip and Eric, aspiring comic-book artists, are hoping to get a start. Holly, a costume designer, has put together a skit based on a video game. “This is like a metaphorical suicide mission for my future,” she says, only half-joking. Chuck, the owner of Mile High Comics, in Denver, is hoping to find a buyer for a mint copy of an early Marvel comic book, “The Raven.” The asking price: $500,000. James and Se met at the 2009 Comic-Con. With a little help from Kevin Smith, whose convention Q&A they’re planning to attend, James hopes to surprise Se with a very public marriage proposal.

Spurlock intersperses the story with talking-head interviews and footage of the convention. Where else can you see a sign that says “Costume Weapons Check”? The TSA should meet with such meek compliance.

The interviewees range from anonymous convention visitors (costumed and otherwise) to a raft of famous names: Lee, Smith, Seth Rogen, Kenneth Branagh (he did direct “Thor,” after all), Eli Roth, Frank Miller, Guillermo del Toro. “I’ve seen the look on people’s faces when I’ve brought them there,” Whedon says of the convention. “It’s the look I had on my face. ‘My tribe, my tribe, I’ve found my tribe.’ ”

Spurlock will be at the Coolidge on Sunday at 3 p.m.

Mark Feeney can be reached at mfeeney@globe.com.

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Movie Review

COMIC-CON EPISODE IV:

A Fan’s Hope

Directed by:

Morgan Spurlock

Written by: Spurlock

and Jeremy Chilnick

At: Coolidge Corner

Running time: 87 minutes

Rated: PG-13 (language, harmlessly aberrant behavior)

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