The Worst Things Ever to Happen at San Diego Comic-Con

July 2, 2024

By Brian Boone

No, we’re not talking about the unveiling of a trailer for a future flop superhero movie, or a panel full of cranky movie stars — these are the weirdest and most off-putting events in the history of the annual pop culture festival held in downtown San Diego.


As Comic-Con is held inside the San Diego Convention Center, numerous events go on outside, including the ZombieWalk. Hundreds of attendees show up in elaborate undead costumes and makeup and march, or rather lurch and amble, down the street in a makeshift parade. In 2014, the ZombieWalk was called off just after it started when a man named Matthew Pocci tried to drive his car through the dense parade. Claiming that one participant, who maybe got into character as a menacing zombie, attacked his vehicle, Pocci retaliated by driving into the assembly. Several people were injured; one woman was hospitalized for an arm injury so severe it almost resulted in amputation. Pocci was arrested and found guilty on a charge of felony reckless driving


Set for a release in August 2013, the dark superhero comedy Kick-Ass 2 was widely promoted at the July 2013 Comic-Con, including a scheduled stunt show that involved trained professionals jumping out of a hotel room window. Moments before that was supposed to start, a woman emerged onto the railing of a window at the same hotel, and it indicated that she planned to jump. Convention attendees on the ground chanted and cheered for the woman to make the leap, casually believing her to be a member of the stunt team. She wasn’t — the woman was deeply depressed and was contemplating suicide. Once the true nature of her presence became clear, authorities were summoned, and the woman was talked down off the ledge.


Actor Rhys Ifans played The Lizard in 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man, and he participated in a panel promotional discussion of the movie at the 2011 Comic-Con. An altercation broke out offstage after Ifans shoved a security guard who wouldn’t let an unannounced guest hang out backstage. Arrested and facing a misdemeanor battery charge, Ifans issued a statement which was more of a rant, lambasting the fans of comic book movies like The Amazing Spider-Man. “You people disgust me with your self-important justifications for your stunted development and your elaborate, mask-ridden drag shows,” he said. “It’s sad wretches like you who have made it well-nigh impossible to earn a living as an actor.”


Fans packed into one of the San Diego Convention Center’s biggest halls at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con for a presentation on the movie Cowboys and AliensTwo strangers were smushed a little too close for their liking, and it got them so incensed that a fight broke out. It escalated quickly — one man used a pen to stab the other in the face. Both attendees were removed from the premises (one to the hospital, and the other remanded into police custody). That delayed the Cowboys and Aliens event, which began with an ill-advised staged stunt that organizers had long planned and decided to do anyway, in spite of recent events. Cowboys and Aliens star Harrison Ford came to the stage in handcuffs and with a security detail — the joke being that the famously cranky and publicity-resistant actor was attending Comic-Con against his will. 

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