Fan Fusion 2023 — Phoenix’s annual comic con and pop culture gathering — takes over the Phoenix Convention Center for three days of cosplay, celebrity meet-and-greets, game tournaments and more Friday through Sunday, June 2-4.
Actors from shows and movies such as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Doctor Who,” “Harry Potter,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” “Star Trek” and “Wandavision” will host panels, sign autographs and pose for photos with fans.
Follow along as we bring you the coolest, nerdiest and wackiest things happening at Fan Fusion all weekend. Updates will be posted daily.
Do not miss out:Capt. Kirk, drag queens and street art are the best things to see in Phoenix this weekend
High: A standing ovation for Jeremy Renner, who was a true delight
Jeremy Renner said Phoenix Fan Fusion 2023 was his first major public appearance since a snowplow accident on New Year’s Day landed him in critical condition with blunt chest trauma and more than 30 broken bones.
He opened a panel discussion on Friday by vowing “I’m coming back stronger” and drawing loud applause after saying, “It’s glorious to be full of love and titanium.”
Asked when he might return to work as an actor, he said, “I’m not going anywhere.” If Marvel wants him back as Hawkeye, he said, “I’d do it in a heartbeat. I love those guys.”
In the meantime, he’ll be back to starring in “Mayor of Kingstown” “as soon as these legs or hopefully my whole body is strong enough to stand up all day long.”
He didn’t just talk about his accident, though. He was heartfelt and candid and funny and just really down to earth, frequently bringing the conversation around to the 10-year-old daughter he clearly adores.
And he revealed that Wonder Woman as played by Phoenix native Lynda Carter was his first crush, and joked about the Wonder Twins (“It took two of them to fail always,” he said, pronouncing them the “most useless” superheroes of all time.
— Ed Masley
Low: How early does a person have to get in line to see Hawkeye?
It’s gotta hurt for those who planned their day around a particular panel, showed up early, hurried through the food court without stopping, took their place at the back of the line and waited for what seemed like an eternity only to be told their best-laid plans weren’t good enough. But that’s the nature of the beast, it seems. At least it was for the overflow crowd for the Jeremy Renner panel Friday afternoon. There wasn’t room for everyone who showed up and not everyone made it inside.
— Ed Masley
High: Looking for Fan Fusion merch? Head to the Exhibitor Hall
It doesn’t matter what your inner geek is into. Star Trek? Star Wars? Marvel? D.C.? Tank Girl? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Anime? The Beatles?
You’ll be amazed at the number of things can you find for a price at the Fan Fusion 2023 Exhibitor Hall in the Phoenix Convention Center’s basement, from comic books to trading cards, bobbleheads, posters and cosplay accompaniments.
There are more than 600 vendors, artists, creators, dealers and publishers hawking their wares. You can even find bargains. One comic book vendor had a whole table devoted to deeply discounted back issues of good titles.
Exhibitor Hall opens each morning at 10 and you would need at least a couple hours to explore everything on offer. It shares a space with Hall of Heroes, where celebrity guests are available for photo ops and autographs, although it can get pretty pricey. A photo with Jeremy Renner was going for $175.
— Ed Masley
High: ‘Star Wars’ fans, picture yourselves in Mos Eisley
Tucked away in the back of the Exhibitor Hall you’ll find a sign welcoming guests to Mos Eisley, “A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy.” And if you don’t know what Mos Eisley is, you don’t know “Star Wars.”
Mos Eisley is a legendary spaceport on the planet Tatooine first seen in the O.G. “Star Wars” movie that started it all in the ‘70s. It’s what that wild cantina scene is set. And by wild, I mean classic.
The Fan Fusion Mos Eisley has a droid docking station for those who don’t attend such things without their droid and a corner booth from the cantina for that “Star Wars” photo op that won’t cost you a dime.
— Ed Masley
Low: It’s too hard to choose among this many great activities
My fear of missing out kicks in at music festivals when there are two bands playing at the same time, forcing me to choose between them.
At Fan Fusion 2023, there are more than 30 events taking place every hour, from workshops to panels to cosplay contests to Padawan lightsaber trainers, which I missed and now I’m absolutely worthless if somebody challenges me to a light saber duel.
It can feel a bit overwhelming, especially if there are four or five things that speak directly to your inner geek going on at the same time.
— Ed Masley
High: Fan Fusion cosplay does not disappoint
Does it go without saying that cosplay is a major part of the appeal of a weekend spent wandering Phoenix Fan Fusion? Of course it does. But that’s no reason not to say it.
I’m not sure if this is what Sly Stone was getting at when he sang “Everybody is a star,” but the fans who go all out to bring their favorite characters to life are the heroes we need at an event like this.
And kudos to the mom in the “cleverly cosplaying as a mom” shirt.
Waiting an hour in line to see Jeremy Renner only to be told you can’t get in to see his panel doesn’t feel nearly as much like an hour you’ll never get back when you’ve got folks dressed up as Superman, the Queen of Hearts and Poison Ivy strolling by.
— Ed Masley
Fan Fusion 2023: Day 1 highlights
If you’ll be at Fan Fusion on Friday, June 2, here are three highlights from the extensive online calendar. See the entire schedule at https://www.phoenixfanfusion.com/features. Prices for autographs and photos are set by the celebrities.
See Jeremy Renner. The “Hawkeye” actor will sign autographs at 10 a.m., 2:45 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. He’ll be at Photo Booth A at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. and he’ll take part in a panel discussion at 1:30 p.m.
See Walter Koenig. The actor who played Pavel Chekov in the original “Star Trek” series will sign autographs at 10:30 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. He’ll be at Photo Booth A at 11 a.m. He’ll take part in a panel discussion at 2:15 p.m. and he’ll be at the Star Trek Mixer after-dark party at 9 p.m.
Take your pick of escape rooms. Themes include Tesla’s Secret Tower, Coven of Souls and Sea of Scallywags, to name just a few.
What to know if you’re going to Phoenix Fan Fusion 2023
Fan Fusion is Friday-Sunday, June 2-4, at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 N. Third St. There are three entrances:
- Second and Adams streets.
- Third and Monroe streets.
- Third and Washington streets.
The lower-level exhibitor hall and the Hall of Heroes hours are:
- Friday, June 2: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
- Saturday, June 3: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
- Sunday, June 4: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
For complete details on attending Fan Fusion 2023, here’s our guide to the schedule, tickets, location and celebrity guests.
Find your new favorite:100 essential restaurants in metro Phoenix
Fan Fusion bag policy
There are no size limits on bags at Phoenix Fan Fusion, and clear bags are not required, according to Kristin Rowan, director of public relations. Here’s what else to know:
- Oversized rolled suitcases are not allowed.
- Camera bags and professional cameras are permitted only with a press badge.
- All bags are subject to search by security.
These are among the items that cannot be brought into the event:
- Real and replica firearms.
- Pepper spray and mace.
- Real, replica and simulated explosives, ammunition or chemical weapons.
- Metal and wood swords.
- Sharp-edged weapons.
- Noisy props.
- Glass and stone props.
- Wheeled items such as roller skates, rollerblades and skateboards.
Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.