April 26, 2018 - Knoxville, TN - It's not every day the Knoxville Convention Center hallways are packed with people wearing gigantic diapers and over-sized baby bonnets. But, it's also not every day the Knoxville Comic Con plays host to one of the most anticipated announcements in the ever-expanding industry of comic book-based movies.
The cheers from fans lucky enough to score seats in the main exhibit hall began even before the panelists of movie stars, directors, and writers began to gather on stage. Self-described "superfan" Scott Walters of Norcross, Georgia, drove four hours to Knoxville to witness the history. As representatives of Universal Studios finally entered the room, Walters' chants rose to a crescendo before blending into a wall of sound from his fellow fans.
"Huey! Huey! Huey!"
And with a single image of an overgrown duckling projected on the screen, fans went wild. At long last, their dream of seeing the launch of the Harvey Cinematic Universe, or Harvey-verse as the fans called it in casual conversation, was becoming a reality.
"We've waited for a live action Baby Huey movie forever," sobbed Walters. "Sure, there was Baby Huey's Great Easter Adventure back in 1998, but, frankly, most of that story isn't even canon."
The first surprise guest of the day was legendary director and producer Stephen Spielberg who appeared via Skype to explain the Harvey-verse would be jointly produced by Amblin Entertainment and Universal Studios. Spielberg himself would oversee the coordination of scripts and casting for phase one.
"Sure, Baby Huey is the centerpiece of the story," explained the Oscar-winning director. "But, we're excited about a lot of the early scripts, including a reboot of Richie Rich, in which I can tell you that Leonardo DiCaprio has agreed to take on the role of a grown-up Richie."
The Harvey-Verse will also see the cinematic debuts of Golden and Silver Age Harvey superheroes including Captain Freedom, Bee-Man, Shock Gibson, the Glowing Gladiator, and Black Cat.
Spielberg says comparisons of the Harvey-verse to the more established Marvel Cinematic Universe are off base. "I think it's pretty obvious these characters bear no resemblance to anything already out there. Our main superhero team is a patriotic freedom fighter, a man who is also a bee, an electric thunderbolt-throwing superhero, a raging gladiator, and a guy dressed as a cat, along with billionaire playboy Richie Rich. You're straining to make comparisons, really. And, besides we have a certain friendly ghost that fans will be excited to see in Phase Two."
Will fans line up to watch the debut of the Harvey-verse in the same way as they are lining up this weekend for the Avengers: Infinity War opening weekend?
"Sure," said superfan Walters. "I mean, I've already committed to a lifestyle that dictates I'll watch at least 19 Marvel movies so far, not including the Netflix series. I guess I can carve out more time out of my entertainment budget for these. I mean, I hate-watch every movie in the DC Universe so I can tell my friends how badly DC doesn't get it with creating good fan-appealing movies," Walters continued.
"But, you have to admit," another fan - Carter Jacobs - interjects, "DC really nails it on animated features."
"Oh, of course," responded Walters. "No doubt. The Batman series in particular has always been amazing, and I don't hate the various DC television series out there, but they just don't seem to get it for movies. I'm willing to watch five or six more to see if they figure it out. And, I guess I can commit to at least the first eight movies in the HCU's phase one."
"But," continued Walters, adjusting his baby bonnet, "I want to ask the Harvey-verse panel how they plan to deal with some of the bigger continuity questions. For instance, will we see Herman and Katnip in these movies as part of the Huey movie or will they get their own standalone feature? And, is Katnip indeed the same cat who is regularly outsmarted by Buzzy the Funny Crow? The original books never specified if Katnip and Buzzy's blue cat nemesis were the same cat, but honestly, how many blue cats can this story contain?"
Other fans seemed enthusiastic also about the promise of a 32-movie Harvey-verse franchise.
"You mean I have the chance to see Girl Commandos, Stumbo the Giant, and Little Audrey on the big screen at some point in the next ten to fourteen years?" asked fan Brooklyn Byrd. "Shut up and take my money!"