Comic-Con 2012: ‘Twilight,’ ‘Avengers’ and the Top 15 Moments in the Convention’s History

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Comic-Con 2012 is officially underway, and to celebrate, Celebuzz is looking back at some of the event’s best moments from years past.

From a super-hot Twilight panel to the debut of The Avengers, the convention has a long history of screaming fans and sold-out crowds.

So what moments made our all-time best list?

Captain America Co-Creator Attends First Annual Comic-Con (1970)

More than a decade before the birth of Chris Evans (better known to movie audiences as Captain America), the artist behind the star-spangled crusader stepped out in front of 300 fans at the first Comic-Con. Jack Kirby also had a hand in creating numerous other Marvel Comics characters, including Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the original X-Men. (See his collaborator Stan Lee in the video, below.)

George Lucas Debuts Star Wars Poster (1976)

These days, directors bring footage of their blockbusters to screen at Comic-Con, but back in 1976 George Lucas brought just a poster for Star Wars, which would open a year later.

Angelina and Halle Bring Oscar Swagger  (2003)

Oscar winners Angelina Jolie and Halle Berry both had movies to plug at Comic-Con 2003. The two promoted Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and Gothika, respectively.

Quentin Tarantino Makes Surprise Kill Bill Visit (2003)

Some of the best Comic-Con moments are the ones that aren’t on the schedule. When Quentin Tarantino stopped by to promote his Kill Bill films, fans were treated to a buzz-making appearance from the iconic director.

Samuel L. Jackson’s Pumps Snakes on a Plane (2005)

Snakes on a Plane had quite a viral campaign, complete with hilarious robocalls from Samuel L. Jackson himself. The film came into Comic-Con with considerable buzz, and Jackson shined promoting the film.

The Dark Knight Joker Campaign (2007)

With just days to go until Christopher Nolan’s final Batman film hits theaters, it’s hard to believe it’s been five years since The Dark Knight hit Comic-Con. Back then, Heath Ledger’s Joker was shrouded in mystery — so fans who had Joker dollars slipped into their pockets must have been doubly curious to follow the clues leading to a Batman viral campaign.

Iron Man Makes Surprise Visit (2007)

In a banner year for superheroes, director Jon Favreau unexpectedly showed up with the first trailer for Iron Man. Favreau has since been hailed as a master of the convention, after bringing well-received footage for his films Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens.

Twilight Hysteria (2008)

A few months before the movie-going world was introduced to power couple Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, the crowd in San Diego felt the full force of Twilight. Tickets to the panel became a much sought-after item, as fans fought for a glimpse of actors playing their beloved characters on the big screen.

Tron Sequel Announced (2008)

Disney let it be known that a Tron sequel was happening in a stealthy way. The studio showed footage, which progressively seemed  more and more familiar to fans of the 1982 original. The money shot came when a younger, CG version of Jeff Bridges was revealed, confirming that Tron was back, and so was its star.

James Cameron Returns with Avatar (2009)

After directing Titanic, once the highest-grossing film ever, James Cameron waited 14 years before taking the director’s chair again. He brought a 20-minute, 3D clip of Avatar to San Diego and received rave reviews for its immersive experience. The film would eventually topple Titanic’s box office gross.

Dr. Who and Torchwood Stars Kiss (2009)

Talk about a TV crossover event. Fans were already excited to see the leads of sci-fi favorites Dr. Who and Torchwood onstage. But when the show’s two stars David Tennant and John Barrowman kissed, they went nuts. Someone call a doctor, please.

Avengers Assemble! (2010)

Two years before The Avengers became a box office behemoth, its cast appeared at Comic-Con. Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffallo, Clark Gregg and director Joss Whedon stormed Hall H to screen footage of Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor.

Harry Potter Makes Convention Debut (2010)

It may surprise you, but the Harry Potter franchise didn’t make it to Comic-Con until 2010. Even though the cast didn’t appear, fans were treated to a sneak peak of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Emotional Chuck Farewell (2011)

The cast and creators of Chuck always did well at Comic-Con, but their 2011 appearance was particularly bittersweet for fans — NBC had already announced the show’s fifth season would be its last, and star Zachary Levi broke down in tears, thanking fans for their support. Ballroom 20 was packed, and thousands more fans waited outside.

Andrew Garfield Interrupts Spider-Man panel (2011)

In a genuine display of love for the character, Andrew Garfield interrupted The Amazing Spider-Man panel from the audience — all while wearing a cheap Spidey getup. He explained that he wanted to attend Comic-Con as a fan first, rather than as a cast member,  and went on to reveal how much Spider-Man meant to him. A year later, big-screen audiences generally approved of Garfield’s take on the wall crawler.

What would make  your best of Comic-Con list? Sound off in the comments — and don’t forget to check out the complete film lineup and TV schedule coming to San Diego this year.