There's no getting around it: Comic-Con is daunting. You don't glance at the schedule for Comic-Con 2013 as much as you fall into it, get lost and start to wonder how you're ever going to see everything that interests you...and the truth is that you probably won't. Forget it, Jake. It's Comic-Con.
The best you can do is pick the cream of the crop, the things that you absolutely have to see and concentrate on getting into those. After pouring over the Comic-Con schedule, we made a list of our own. Here are the panels we're making a priority, a nice mixture of the big and the small, of film and television and of popular and niche.
Have anything you think we should add? Comment below!
'Thor 2,' 'Captain America 2' and Marvel Studios
6pm, Saturday, July 20 - Hall H
What the heck is Marvel Studios planning for their Comic-Con presentation? We have no idea...and that's the point. One of Hollywood's most successful and secretive ventures, the company behind 'The Avengers' and 'Iron Man' knows their audience inside and out and know how to make a lasting impression. We'll wager that the bulk of their presentation will focus on the upcoming 'Thor: The Dark World' and the currently-filming 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier,' but the fact that they're keeping the guest list under such tight wraps is evidence that they have all kinds of surprises up their sleeve. Maybe they'll bring out the full cast for 'Guardians of the Galaxy.' Maybe they'll officially announce 'Doctor Strange' and 'Black Panther' movies. Who knows? And that's why they're always one of the most exciting big panels at the con.
'The World's End'
10am, Friday, July 19 - Hall H
Unlike many of the big movies at Comic-Con, the release of 'The World's End' is right around the corner, so being present for clips and footage isn't really a huge deal. However, what is a huge deal is the chance to see director Edgar Wright and his frequent cohorts Simon Pegg and Nick Frost grace the Comic-Con stage together for what may be the final time. The absurdly talented trio behind 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz' are Con favorites and for good reason -- you put these three in front or a crowd and they'll entertain and illuminate like no one else. Sure, other panels will give you glimpses of movies that are still a year away from release, but this is the only place where Wright, Pegg and Frost will spend an hour making fun of each other between clips. And that's so much more exciting than a clip or two from 'Ender's Game,' don't you think?
11:15am, Friday, July 19 - Hall H
What makes the panel for the currently-filming 'Veronica Mars' movie different than every other major panel? The fact that a significant number of the people in the crowd probably helped get it made! Seeing footage from the film and participating in the Q&A is less of a fun experience and more of a check-in with the project they helped fund on Kickstarter. How the crowd responds here will be vital. However, fans who didn't fork over their hard-earned bucks should still find plenty to love, since cast members Kristen Bell, Francis Capra, Enrico Colantoni, Percy Daggs III, Jason Dohring, Ryan Hansen, Chris Lowell, Tina Majorino and Krysten Ritter and director Rob Thomas will be on hand to answer fans' lingering, burning questions about the cult series and its impending cinematic revival.
'Game of Thrones'
2:50pm, Friday, July 19 - Hall H
After the earth-shattering events at the end of the third season, 'Game of Thrones' is more popular (and better) than ever. The panel for HBO's massively successful fantasy series was always going to be a draw for the Comic-Con crowds, but it should be more insane than ever this year. After all, where else will you be able to directly ask Michelle Fairley and Richard Madden about the Red Wedding? Fairley and Madden are joined on the panel by John Bradley, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington and Rose Leslie, so prep your questions about dragons, amputated limbs and North-of-The-Wall cave-sex accordingly.
Behind the Creatures
10am, Saturday, July 20 - Hall H
While everyone else is off standing in line for massive panels about upcoming blockbusters, you should take a detour and go to something a little smaller and probably far more interesting. One of the most enticing events on the Comic-Con schedule this year is a panel titled Behind the Creatures, which will see special effects wizards Kirk R. Tatcher and Tony McVey (whose shared credits include 'The Dark Crystal,' 'Return of the Jedi,' 'Gremlins,' 'Star Trek IV' and 'The Muppets') sitting on stage, sharing and swapping stories about building some of cinema's most iconic creatures. Since everything that gets shown in Hall H will ultimately end up online in some official capacity down the road, why not skip the big stuff and listen to two absurdly talented guys chat about building some of your favorite monsters?
Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures
10:45am, Saturday, July 20 - Hall H
Who, exactly, will be on the panels for the Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures presentation? That's still a secret. What's not so secretive is that these are the guys who have a habit of blowing the roof off of Hall H year after year with their geek-friendly blockbusters. Last year's Comic-Con champion, Gareth Edwards' upcoming 'Godzilla,' will return this year and since they have to find a way to top the previous presentation, footage will undoubtedly be in tow. Just as exciting are panels focused on Alfonso Cuaron's highly anticipated 'Gravity' and the hilarious-looking 'The LEGO Movie.' Those three alone make this the Hall H presentation to beat, but we also hope to be pleasantly surprised by '300: Rise of an Empire' and 'Seventh Son.'
Inside the Writer's Room: Earth's Mightiest TV Writers Assemble
11:30am, Saturday, July 20 - Room 24ABC
Whether you're an aspiring writer who wants to learn all about the industry or simply a fan who wants to know how television gets made, the Inside the Writer's Room panel sounds like it should be a fascinating experience. The schedule promises a no-BS look at the process of developing and writing genre television, with producers and writers from some of the best (and worst) shows on TV sharing their experiences, both high and low. The eclectic line-up should have something for everyone, with folks representing everything from 'Lost' to 'The Vampire Chronicles,' 'Fringe' to 'Castle' and 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' to 'Firefly.'
'The Walking Dead'
1:35pm, Friday, July 19 - Hall H
AMC's 'The Walking Dead' may have its ups and downs, but few shows have such a fervent, loyal and enthusiastic fan base, which makes the annual Comic-Con panel a must-see. This year, stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, David Morrissey, Scott Wilson, and Chad Coleman will be joined by new showrunner Scott Gimple, creator Robert Kirkman, executive producers Gale Anne Hurd and Dave Alpert and make-up guru Greg Nicotero for what's surely going to be one of the most entertaining panels at the entire Con. Although most of the focus will presumably be on the events of season three, the panel does promise a special look at the upcoming fourth season. A trailer? A few clips? Bet on it.
11:15am, Sunday, July 21 - Hall H
We still haven't come to terms with the fact that the end is nigh for 'Breaking Bad,' but at least its Comic-Con panel will help ease us into a world where we can no longer look forward the increasingly evil adventures of Walter White. In addition to footage, clips and trailers for the show's final eight episodes, the panel will feature Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, R. J. Mitte, Bob Odenkirk and series creator Vince Gilligan. In other words, this may very well be one of your last chances to see one of the best casts in TV history all together. Make sure you have a smart question.
1pm, Saturday, July 20 - Room 6BCF
The annual Cartoon Voices Comic-Con panel is so popular that there will be two separate panels on two separate days featuring two separate guest rosters. Seriously. As the name implies, the panels will delve into the art of voice acting, with the busiest (if not necessarily famous) names in the business stopping by. Although the official line-up is as varied and lengthy as panels get, special guests are promised. Even if you're completely unfamiliar with the talent and the shows they work on, this panel tends to produce some of the best stories and biggest laughs at the entire convention. With two panels this year, you have no excuse to miss this.