Deadline Comic-Con film correspondent Luke Y Thompson files:

If Comic-Cons can be said to have a theme, this year’s which began Wednesday is “free-for-all.” Usually, there is one property that is expected to dominate (IRON MAN and TRON LEGACY have been there, done that) and one that upsets (300, SIN CITY). This year, with AVENGERS unexpectedly not doing a presentation – though they have a giant set in the main hall with the logo for photo ops – it’s a wide-open field. TWILIGHT will of course be huge with a very particular segment of the audience, and Universal’s new SNOW WHITE may persuade those fans to stick around. REAL STEEL dominates the banners that hang from lamp-posts, and while that’s not doing a formal presentation either, Comic-Con attendees just might want to follow @realsteelmovie on Twitter. And maybe @RealHughJackman too.

GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE has the potential to be something truly nuts, but THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is a question mark. With a high-quality trailer already leaked, some of the wind is out of its sails. The trailer looks fine, and surprisingly Fincher-esque coming from the director of (500) DAYS OF SUMMER. But it feels redundant: that same origin tale again, and so soon that there’s a disconnect – my eyes expect Emma Stone’s face to be Bryce Dallas Howard’s each time Gwen Stacy shows up.

Steven Spielberg is more of a draw than the movie he’s representing; ditto Patrick Stewart, but if we trust in the taste of both men, TINTIN and OZ may surprise. Robert Rodriguez could upset if he suddenly unveils SIN CITY 2, but the real lead buzz right now is PROMETHEUS. As we predicted might happen, Fox just announced that Ridley Scott’s rumored return to the ALIEN universe will have footage, making Fox’s panel the immediate must-see.

Inside the convention hall, there’s been something of a clean break. Displays reused for several years are now gone (and you con-goers know the ones: giant floating Pikachu, Castle Grayskull, that blobby thing SyFy used as a set since before they added the y’s to their name…all outta here). Companies are spending money again, especially Cartoon Network, and ridiculously expensive swag is on display (a 12” scale figure of Jeff Bridges in the giant suit of armor from IRON MAN…can we interest you in a flexible payment plan?). As for must-have exclusives, Mattel’s $70 replica of the Marshmallow Man from GHOSTBUSTERS is already marked as sold out. A Death Star-shaped box of STAR WARS toys marked REVENGE OF THE JEDI is still available.

The far end of Hall H now seems to be independent artists again, a break from recent years when videogame companies tended to congregate there. Good for them; there ought to be actual comics somewhere.

An early party for SHARK NIGHT 3-D sadly lacked new footage, though a new trailer is promised in front of 3-D screenings of CAPTAIN AMERICA this weekend. A shark-styled mechanical “bull” and a photobooth where you can stage your own watery dismemberment will remain open to the public all week. Now, if I could figure out why all the footage in the trailer now is set during DAY-time…director David R. Ellis of SNAKES ON A PLANE fame surely wouldn’t have a misleading title. Yes, it is PG-13, but then JAWS was PG, and it worked. Guess this just means nobody onscreen will pointedly complain about these mother-f***ing sharks on this motherf***ing night.

And then there are the movies where you wonder why they’re here; titles that seem incongruous. The indie drama BELLFLOWER has at least a tenuous connection to geekdom, as two of its lead characters are obsessed with the MAD MAX movies. But THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE, about a decoy for Uday Hussein? Well, free screening.

Free screenings at Comic-Con, though, can be iffy. You may think you’re getting something exclusive, but then you see them handing out tickets on every street corner, and street musicians come in with their guitar cases, while families of four year-olds briefly wander in without consideration of the subject matter – mercifully, they left before any tot could be traumatized by Uday disemboweling a guy for calling him a homophobic slur.

As the movie rolls on, the connection makes sense. Uday is portrayed onscreen as a giggly psychopath quite similar to the Joker. And the actor who plays both him and the decoy is Dominic Cooper, who plays Iron Man’s dad in CAPTAIN AMERICA. It’s impressive: he’s totally different in CAP, obviously; but in THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE, he plays dual roles yet is recognizable as each character at all times – the physicality and the eyes change completely. The movie may not be super-geeky, but a decent way to round out the night.

Best deal of the Con – $6 parking. While all around were paying $20, one lot didn’t seem to have gotten the memo yet. This will change. Now, bring on the panels.