The little show that took everyone by surprise just about a year ago echoed the same feeling at their Comic Con Hall H panel. With a whopping twenty people on stage, the cast and creators of Netflix’ Stranger Things powerfully showed the heart, sincerity and eclectic sensibility that made the show an overwhelming success. The show creators The Duffer Brothers (Matt and Ross) were joined by series stars Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), David Harbour (Chief Hopper), Finn Wilfhard (Mike), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas), Natalia Dyer (Nancy), Matthew Modine (Dr. Brenner), Noah Schnapp (Will) and Joe Keery (Steve) on a two levels back to back taking the entirety of the stage. The panel moderated appropriately by geek extraordinaire comedian Patton Oswalt featured a short round of questions on a variety of subjects before serving up the much-anticipated new trailer.
Show producer Shawn Levy commented, “They knew what they wanted down to the font and that’s why we made the show.” The Duffer Brothers explained how they enlisted electronic band S U R V I V E to provide a retro synth score to the show. They had the band cut some music to a few vintage ’80s movies. They explained of how they made the offer to the band, “Will you quit your jobs to do this full time? They said, ‘Hell yes.'” Various cast members recalled how they initially found out they got the part. Matarazzo recalled an awkward story of how while on a lunch with his agent he delayed a photo request from a fan, only to have the fan’s father berate him as being a bad person for the refusal.
They then stood back to play the new trailer on the big screen. Vintage gamers will be elated to see the incredible laser disc game Dragon’s Lair open the trailer. The boys play it and its insanely challenging sequences as Will Byers seemingly starts shifting between the real world and the upside down. Outside the arcade he sees a vision of a massive spider-like monster in the distance. Chief Hopper ominously states in narration, “Nothing’s going to go back the way it was, not really.” From there, the intrigue goes to overdrive. A score of S U R V I V E’s synths starts building tension and is immediately mashed up with Vincent Price’s rap from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Various scenes show tension from Nancy and Steve, Will psychologically tormented by what he’s experienced, Dustin finding blood on a chair, numerous pods almost like hatched eggs and Mike speaking sadly about how he still feels Eleven’s presence. The scenes raise the tension showing much of the action takes place around or near Halloween with all of the character looking more worried as the seconds go on. The music stops with Mike pleading, “If you’re out there, please, give me a sign.” Eleven is seen inside the upside down pushing her way back to the real world. The crowd and the cast both went absolutely nuts after seeing it.
The first question was a plant that literally got the cast jumping to their feet and cheering. A fan in a mask pulled of her mask to reveal that she was actually Shannon Purser, the actress that played the beloved character Barb who was ominously dispatched by the Demogorgon. She joined the cast on the stage. From there, they also announced that the legendary Paul Reiser (who played the excellent villain in Aliens back in the ’80s) and newcomer Sadie Sink have been added to the cast as Owens and Max respectively. If all this wasn’t enough, there is a camaraderie exhibited by the cast of Stranger Things that is hard to ignore. Maybe it’s because many of them are atypical actors cast into an atypical show that has found monstrous success, but there is a warmth on display that is truly captivating compared with so many other properties on display at a convention like Comic Con. There is often a distance you can feel with actors and actresses as they clearly don’t operate in a life much like the way common people are able to. Fans my be thrilled to see them because of the beloved characters they inhabit, but it still feels oddly apart from the regular world. The cast and crew here–which admittedly is hard to say for certain without knowing them personally–all feel like truly good people. They seem thrilled in their bones to be in this position, and are as unafraid of their success as they are of the fans who love what they do.