126,000 PEOPLE in face paint and stormtrooper costumes swarm San Diego every year to attend Comic-Con International. It's not hard to understand why: It looks really fun. Or, at least, documentary director Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) makes it look really fun.
In between shots of fans standing in lines or aspiring comics creators standing in line, Spurlock packs Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope with tons of geeky talking heads: Frank Miller, Gerard Way, Eli Roth, Kevin Smith, Seth Rogen, and Joss Whedon and Stan Lee—who also serve as producers of the film—all speak humorously of their Comic-Con experiences. The interviews are extraordinarily clever, and there's the feeling of having an insider pass to see these famed nerds, of getting to run along with them in a series of underground tunnels beneath the San Diego Convention Center, hidden from the eyes of their obsessive fans.
Concurrently, Spurlock follows three aspiring artists as they attempt to jumpstart their careers at the show, along with Chuck Rozanski, the owner of Colorado comics shop chain Mile High Comics, as he considers parting with a rare comic—Red Raven #1—worth $500,000. (I spent a few childhood afternoons hanging out and talking with the people at Mile High about comics, so when Chuck tries to make the difficult choice between selling his beloved collection or facing a huge business shortfall, I was almost in tears.)
Aside from the sheer entertainment value here—and Comic-Con is nothing if not entertaining—Spurlock deftly manages to bring his subjects' humanity into view from beneath their wookiee masks. I felt sympathy for all the people standing in line waiting for a day or longer to buy an action figure, and I hate the idea of people being treated like cattle, but... look how HAPPY they are! They're wearing little warrior costumes and running around in slow motion screaming, "There's a Hasbro booth!" Godspeed, nerd. That priceless Galactus figurine is thine.