March 25–27, 2016


Finding Your Inner Superhero: How Pop Culture Media Brings Justice and Healing (Fri 12:00-1:00pm) Room 502B.  Can caped crusaders inspire you to find your inner courage? The Pop Culture Hero Coalition presents a powerful discussion about real-life heroism with a spotlight on Paul Dini and his powerful, soon to be released autobiographical graphic novel Dark Night: A True Batman Story (Vertigo, June 2016). Dini (Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond) will be joined by experts in psychology, education, and human rights activism. The panel will explore topics such as bullying, online harassment, hate crimes, and other interpersonal adversities. Ann Burroughs (Amnesty chairman of the board) will be joining United Nations Association president Bettina Hausmann (Global Ted Fellow), Suleiman Bahkit (founder, Aranim Comics, Hero Factor), Dr. Andrea Letamendi (host, The Arkham Sessions, Under the Mask), and coalition founder Chase Masterson (Star Trek, The Flash). Join this riveting discussion on how fictional characters in comics, film, and TV can teach us to overcome bullying and become heroes in our everyday lives!

Hollyweird Science (Fri 5:00-6:00pm) Room 502B.  For science fiction productions, there is an implied bargain between the screenwriter and the audience: “Suspend your disbelief on one or two fantastic notions, and other parts of the story will be grounded in the believable.” The genre is predicated on the expectation of one or two key inaccuracies per story. In recent years, however, both experts and fans have been nitpicking even the fundamental story conceits of films such as Gravity, Interstellar, and The Martian. From the “anything goes” storytelling approach of 1950s and 1960s sci-fi, these panelists will explore whether or not the science accuracy pendulum of audience expectation has swung too far in the other direction. Panelists are Jaime Paglia (showrunner Eureka, Scream), Deric A. Hughes (Warehouse 13, The Flash), Kevin R. Grazier, Ph.D. (science advisor, Gravity, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales), Jessica Cail, Ph.D. (science advisor, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Zootopia), and Andrea Letamendi, Ph.D. (clinical psychologist, The Arkham Sessions, Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics).

The Psychology of the Marvel TV Universe (Fri 6:00-7:00pm) Room 502B.  They’re heroes from different eras. They operate in different parts of the world, not to mention occasionally different dimensions! And they fight different villains, sometimes reluctantly. Yet, they’re all very much connected through the same universe and many of the same experiences, including trauma, adversity, and self-discovery. Writers D. J. Doyle (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Jose Molina and Lindsey Allen (Agent Carter), Scott Reynolds (Jessica Jones, Iron Fist) and Christos Gage (Daredevil) join Dr. Andrea Letamendi (The Arkham Sessions) to explore the dramatic psychology of the Marvel TV Universe. Moderated by Brian Ward (The Arkham Sessions).

Not Your Sidekick: Heroes of Color Take Center Stage (Fri 7:00-8:00pm) Room 502B.  From Marvel’s Kamala Khan to Star Wars‘s Finn, characters of color are finally taking on the pilot’s seat/captain’s chair/chosen one’s mantle and being positioned front and center in entertainment. But how far has it come and how far does it still have to go? A dynamic group of creators and expert commentators who have all had a hand in crafting powerful protagonists of color will discuss issues of representation and authenticity, writing from their experiences, the unique pressure put on diverse characters, and how audiences can best support these characters to usher in a whole new era of POC heroes. With Marc Bernardin (Genius), Shalisha Francis (Minority Report), Javier Grillo-Marxuach (The 100, The Middleman), Sarah Kuhn (Heroine Complex) and Dr. Andrea Letamendi (The Arkham Sessions).