Deadline Comic-Con Movie Contributor Luke Y Thompson reports:

It’s the story every media outlet is dying to tell every year: “Comic-Con just ain’t what it used to be.” This year, however, the event — set for July 21-24 at the San Diego Convention Center — comes with some alarmist (and circumstantial) evidence: Warner Bros won’t be doing a movie presentation. Marvel Studios won’t be either, even though the tiniest teaser for The Avengers last year made for the most memorable panel. Disney initially appeared absent too. So what’s going on? Did the failure of Scott Pilgrim to triumph at the box office following a massive Con promotion last year leave studios leery?

Well, you’d think if that were the case, Universal would feel the most burned — yet they’re doubling down by holding the premiere of Cowboys and Aliens there, inviting many of the fans to attend; one would imagine the big names like Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig will at least attend.

Disney, which now owns the Muppets and Marvel Studios, is likely saving those properties for its own D23 Expo in Anaheim toward the end of August. They are, however, bringing the DreamWorks pickup Fright Night to Comic-Con (in presentation and screening form) — notably, this is a movie that will open Aug. 19, the same day the D23 Expo begins, so it makes sense to hype it sooner. Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are the big names attending; curiously, the publicity has consistently downplayed the presence of former Doctor Who star David Tenant, and he has not been mentioned as attending, though he’d be given a hero’s welcome if he did.

Warner Bros’ lack of a movie panel may largely be due to the fact that the next Superman and Batman movies aren’t ready to show much yet — Man of Steel star Henry Cavill will be there, but on behalf of Relativity’s Immortals (also Luke Evans, Kellan Lutz and Mickey Rourke; director Tarsem Singh is not currently expected). Certainly WB is showing a ton of TV previews, but I’ll leave that to my colleague Gary Hodges to discuss. The biggest question mark in my mind is what Time Warner-owned Entertainment Weekly will put on the cover of their Comic-Con issue now: traditionally, it’s been a big reveal from a Warners movie.

The biggest name being batted about right now as a possibility is Steven Spielberg, to present footage from his The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. Certainly, a Tintin presentation would be wise, as the teaser has left many (myself included) highly skeptical. The fanbase needs persuading, and since it’s Spielberg, there’s probably at least one kickass scene that can get people hyped. But Paramount’s still playing things close to the vest — when I asked a publicist there about Comic-Con plans, I was told “It’s uncertain what or if we’re bringing anything.” That’s not a denial. And there has been talk of a Captain America screening — whether that translates into an actual panel is uncertain, as the regular press junkets and such will already be in full swing for the movie, opening that week.

Superheroes of the Marvel kind will be showing on behalf of Sony, as Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans will try to convince us all that retelling Spider-Man’s origin story yet again onscreen is somehow a good idea (and somewhere, Dylan Baker is gnashing his teeth that Ifans, and not him, gets to turn Dr. Curt Connors into the Lizard). The Crank directorial hyphenate known as Neveldine/Taylor have tweeted that their Ghost Rider sequel will have something to show — star Nicolas Cage is one of the biggest comics fans in Hollywood and rarely misses the big event, so it’s safe to assume he’ll be back to show us more Johnny Blaze … and based on some prior panel performances, he just might be blazed by the time he makes it to the stage.

Whether Spielberg makes it or not, this is a year for major directors in unlikely projects. That other acclaimed Steven, Soderbergh, will direct female MMA (Mixed Martial Arts, y’all, perhaps best known to you as UFC) star Gina Carano in Haywire, and both are expected. Francis Ford Coppola and performance artist Dan Deacon will present footage from the director’s new ghost story Twixt, which will have 3D portions and live musical accompaniment by Deacon (how that’ll carry over to the theatrical experience remains to be seen). And V for Vendetta director James McTeigue will give us an early look at John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe in The Raven; Cusack is one of those screen presences that every geek guy wants to be, and every geek girl want to be with (“every” may be an exaggeration, but not much of one), so expect a big ovation there.

Then there’s Twilight. Sadly, this will not be the last of these, so expect another Breaking Dawn panel next year too; for unfathomable reasons this series remains popular. K-Stew, R-Pattz, and, er, T-Laut (does anybody actually call Taylor Lautner that?) can be expected along with director Bill Condon. Here is your challenge, Comic-Con attendees, should you choose to accept it: see if you can slip a Gods and Monsters question in there for Bill. Lautner will also be promoting the Lionsgate thriller Abduction, which is full of more interesting actors like Sigourney Weaver and original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star Michael Nyqvist (HYPOTHETICAL SPOILER ALERT: since he’s foreign, I suspect he plays the villain). Will they be there? Do the Twi-hards care? Maybe, and no.

Lionsgate would also like to interest us in Warrior, an MMA movie with Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy. Odds are that Hardy’s too busy shooting The Dark Knight Rises to attend, but if that changes, expect Bane questions galore that he’s forbidden to answer.

Finally, Fox will try to persuade us that there’s a way in which Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a sequel-remake anybody actually wanted. If they bring Andy Serkis, though, they’ll get some goodwill.