DC FanDome was a blast! And I should know, as I watched all of it this weekend past as Warner Bros. gave us several big reveals for their DC Comics-based movies, games, and TV series for a solid 8 hours (which was then repeated another two times in a 24-hour period to make sure everybody got the chance to watch it). By the time it wrapped, DC FanDome had set the benchmark for online conventions as it kept tens of millions of fans around the globe entertained.
And that’s no hyperbole, as an official press release (via Variety) has revealed that across its exclusive 24-hour period, DC FanDome generated over 22 million views from 220 countries and territories worldwide. It wasn’t just that people were watching, they were also buzzing with excitement during the entire event as the #DCFanDome hashtag trended in 53 countries. As we were treated with the likes of the first trailer for The Batman, the first footage and cast reveal from The Suicide Squad, the debuts of Gotham Knights and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League games, a new trailer for Wonder Woman 1984, concept art for The Flash, an animated first look at Black Adam, a title reveal for Shazam 2, and so much more, Warner Bros and DC Comics – traditionally often stuck playing bridesmaid to Marvel’s bride – were all that geeks were talking about.
Compare that to Comic-Con@Home in July which went down the level of hype one normally associates with the debut of a new brand moist towelette. To be fair to Comic-Con, the world’s biggest and most prestigious traditional comic book convention was caught woefully unprepared when the COVID-19 pandemic continued to rage, prompting mass cancellations of public events everywhere. With Disney/Marvel deciding to sit out all events this year, Warner Bros having already announced DC FanDome as its own alternative, and none of the other major studios really having much to show as productions were halted, the hastily slapped together Comic-Con@Home really didn’t have much to work with.
Even so, nearly all the pre-recorded panels ended up being literally just a bunch of people sitting in their living rooms randomly talking. There were a couple of highlights (like the Star Trek, Walking Dead, and New Mutants panels), but overall it was a dud. According to the official numbers on YouTube, where the vast majority of the panels aired, the various vids averaged just 15 000 viewers each. When DC FanDome’s trailers and panel vids hit YouTube, they combined for over 150 million views.
There were some hiccups though, while international viewers didn’t appear to have an issue, locally both Darryn and I, as well as other South Africans I was in contact with, had a number of times where the video player on the DC FanDome site just stopped working for a few minutes at a stretch. A few of the panels were also seemingly added just for the sake of being there, as they had literally nothing of value to show off (I’m looking at you, Aquaman panel!). These were minor quibbles though.
Just a few days before launch, DC changed up the entire format of the event. Instead of offering a free-for-all virtual convention in which you could “wander” to any event you wanted, the initial show would be a curated eight hours of back-to-back content focusing only on the Hall of Heroes, the virtual convention venue designed by comics legend Jim Lee, which would be the stage for the biggest titles DC had to offer. Hosts from around the world, including our own TechGirl aka Sam Wright, acted as continuity presenters, greenscreened into the Hall of Heroes, to hype up and introduce panels.
These panels, which varied in length depending on what they had to show, were also pre-recorded like Comic-Con@Home, but here they were spliced together with recorded fan-interactions in the form of Q&A, fan art, and cosplay. The panelists also had very clear talking points to keep things interesting (and just appeared to be having way more fun together). In between panels, we got neat little interludes like dubbed over classic cartoons, which kept excitement levels up. The result was just a slick, very well put together production that offered something for just almost everybody in a tight package.
I said “almost everybody” because there were some fans who may not have been catered for. But that’s where the second part of DC FanDome comes in. Hosted on 24 September, DC FanDome: Explore the Multiverse will be an on-demand virtual convention where fans can choose from the many different panels happening simultaneously across a 24-hour period, to build their own lineup. With the big movie and gaming news out of the way, this second convention will also cater more for comics, TV series, and kids content, with the latter getting its own family-friendly DC Kids FanDome portal.
Based on how great this was the first time around, we will definitely be there to check out DC FanDome part two. And if DC were to start making this an annual thing – an absolute no-brainer now given its success – I would definitely be down for that.
If you want a behind-the-scenes write-up on how DC FanDome came together, then check out the article at Variety as its filled with all kinds of neat tidbits.
Last Updated: August 27, 2020