Great Debate Comic-Con 2019

There are a lot of panels at San Diego Comic-Con. Hundreds, I’d wager. And while Hall H gets a lot of attention for the mega-IPs that make their home there, there’s a strong case – hear me out – for SYFY’s The Great Debate being one of the best panels at Comic-Con. 

True, you’re not going to see top secret footage from the next Marvel movie or get a glimpse of an uber-celebrity there. But what you will get, however, is a fun, relatively unscripted time where there are no PR people coaching actors on what they should and should not say. 

This year’s panel, held Thursday afternoon in Ballroom 20, brought together a group of funny people who did not disappoint. Aisha Tyler returned for the fourth time to moderate the motley crew of Felicia Day (The Magicians, Supernatural), Naomi Ekperigin (Broad City), Dani Fernandez (Ralph Breaks the Internet), Thomas Lennon (Reno 911, The Odd Couple), and Travis McElroy (My Brother, My Brother and Me, The Adventure Zone). The panelists debated a variety of topics while managing to fit in references you’ll not likely to see at other Comic-Con events (Day, for example, got in the tidbits that lizards have two-pronged penises, and that Smurfs are three apples tall).

Here’s a rundown of their takes on some of the most pressing genre subjects of our time. Agree with their taken-out-of-context quotes below? Disagree? Great! That’s how this panel works.

What is Sadder to See Ending: Game of Thrones or (This Phase of) the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Felicia Day for Game of Thrones: “It made it socially acceptable to love dragons. Okay? I love dragons.”

Travis McElroy for the MCU: Game of Thrones is very sad, and made me sad. I didn’t like that. Superheroes make me very happy, and I do like that. But now I’m sad that my happiness is gone. It’s just a rollercoaster up here folks, in which I mean inside my head.”

The masses of Ballroom 20 sided with McElroy. Disagree? Agree? Wonderful!

What’s the Better Era for Horror Movies: the ’80s or Right Now?

Naomi Ekperigin for right now: “The horror now is about reality. It’s about everyday life…who is going to get you? Are you living? You should be terrified.”

Aisha Tyler for the ’80s: “The Michael Myers mask was a destroyed Bill Shatner mask. Which just goes to show you that a white guy wearing another white guy’s face is doubly scary.” 

Tyler won the round, though it was close!

Who is Cooler: Wolverine or Han Solo?

Thomas Lennon for Han Solo: “Wolverine is a 200-year-old mutant from Alberta, Canada…and if you ran into Han Solo back in the day, you either get shot or pregnant.”

Dani Fernandez for Wolverine: “Han Solo is a middle-aged man who lives in his car.” 

It was a tie!

Bench, Please!

For this round, each panelist got a “bench” character that they had to defend. Here were their defenses for their characters:

Dani Fernandez for Nebula: “She’s AI and human combined…she can charge your iPhone, I’m sure.”

Naomi Ekperigin for Neville Longbottom: “Neville is ride or die…Longbottom is a top.”

Travis McElroy for Lando Calrissian: “He saves us all, really, when you think about it. He drives that car ship really good.”

Felicia Day for Brienne of Tarth: “She’s the only one who emerged unscathed with her honor intact. Not so much her virginity, but that’s okay.”

Thomas Lennon for Ship’s Computer: “I’m doing a thing that lawyers do –I’m going to lose this round, so I’m wasting 20 seconds of my 45 right here.”

It was a close one between Neville and Brienne, but Brienne won!

Nahhhstalgia: What Nostalgic Property is Actually Kind of Bad?

Felicia Day on Smurfs: “They are defined by birth by their characteristics, like Brainy or Jokey. There’s no room for personal growth—you can’t be Jokey and have a philosophical transformation later in life and not be funny. Your name is Jokey.” 

Thomas Lennon on Ewoks: “Ewoks eat people…Ewoks are gonna find you, cook you, make a broth out of you, and they will save the leftovers.” 

It was a tie, though no one really wants to win this category. 

You Can Quote Me: What is the Most Iconic Movie Line?

Naomi Ekperigin for “We’re going to need a bigger boat,” from Jaws: “It’s so iconic that you can literally say it about anything. It can apply in any situation…and what happens when you say it is everyone laughs and says, ‘I know that reference.’ Now you’re all friends.” 

Travis McElroy for Sting’s “I will kill him!” from Dune: “It tells you everything you need to know…the statement of intent is clear cut. What are you gonna do? You’re going to kill him. And here’s the twist—he doesn’t.” 

Dani Fernandez for Optimus Prime’s “Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing,” from the first Transformers: “That was line said to Mr. Shia LaBoeuf, and you know that led to that ‘Just Do It’ video.”

The JAWS quote won, though it’s fair to say that these quotes, as well as the entire panel, are all winners. 

And so another Great Debate panel is in the books. If you’re at SDCC next year, give it a try! If nothing else, you’ll get a fun voting paddle, which is pretty cool.

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