Ahoy there True Believers!

My excited nerdy heart was all a flutter as I was able to catch Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, at A Design Film Festival 2013. Comic Con Episode IV is a documentary by director Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me fame. The mission? To boldly go where no man documentary filmmaker has gone before: the San Diego Comic-Con International. The film takes a look into the most popular and well-known comic convention in the world, which actually started out as a much smaller niche event focusing on comics and attracting only the most devoted. But it has since transformed the massive multi-fandom multi-genre annual pop culture phenomenon it is today.

The film follows a select few individuals representing aspects of the con: the aspiring comic book artists, the amateur costume designer, the comic book dealer, and the adorable geek couple whose love story revolves around the Con. We are not just told about the Con, but are able to vicariously experience it through these personal stories. And let’s be honest, chasing dreams and falling in love are immortal themes of stories we enjoy throughout time, with the only difference here being that these stories contain a lot more Slave Leia costumes (complete with slave collar and chain). Cameos galore, the film boasts an A-list cast of the nerd world, heavily featuring fan favourites such as Joss Whedon (JOSS WHEDON!) and Kevin Smith, as well as the inimitable Stan Lee. The film writes itself by allowing the natural humour and charisma of the writers shine through, providing plenty of insight, as well as plenty of laughs.

It’s not just a telling of individual stories either – interspersed throughout are relevant issues to the Con and the pop culture industry in general, such as the regrettable but inevitable shift of focus of the Con away from comics to cater to a mainstream crowd, or the struggle of small privately owned businesses against larger commercial entities. However the issues are admittedly not discussed at length – the focus of the film remains on the experiences and emotions of the fans.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Not every documentary has to be an intellectual endeavour. Comic-Con IV: A Fan’s Hope aptly captures the devotion and love of the fans, which can’t help but make you smile. We don’t laugh at the grown man with a gun-safe full of action figures (not dolls thank-you-very-much) because we can feel how genuine and almost child-like he is in his fervour. And who doesn’t relate to being passionate about the things you love? I myself walked out after the show feeling re-invigorated to pursue my own love of comics and comic book art, which had taken a backseat for the real world. In the end, the film is a fun and earnest celebration of all that is geekdom, but avoids the usual exclusivity of fandom by making it universally relatable and enjoyable for all.