Could Chuck Norris best Superman in a showdown? Folks coming to FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention might find out in September.
Norris, the 78-year-old martial-arts performer and “Walker, Texas Ranger” star, and Tom Welling, who played Superman-in-training Clark Kent on TV’s “Smallville,” were the two most prominent celebrity names announced Wednesday at a news conference in the Utah Capitol.
But the name that was most noticeable was the one being used for the event itself.
This is the first time co-founders Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg have organized the convention since December, when a jury in California found that the event’s original name, Salt Lake Comic Con, violated the copyright of the rival San Diego Comic-Con.
The judge in the case will issue a judgment in May, Brandenburg said. The organization aims to petition for a retrial, based on evidence not allowed in last year’s trial — and if that doesn’t work, Brandenburg said, he and Farr will file an appeal.
Until then, the convention will use the FanX name, which was previously assigned to its smaller sister event in the spring.
“That little bump in the road in December isn’t going to slow us down one bit,” Brandenburg declared to dozens of supportive cosplayers gathered in the Rotunda. “The good news now is that we’re much bigger than a name.”
Sean Reyes, Utah’s attorney general, endorsed that sentiment. “They’ve changed the brand, but they haven’t changed the spirit,” Reyes said, before presenting Farr and Brandenburg with certificates of appreciation for FanX’s support of law enforcement and first responders.
FanX will take place Sept. 6-8 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City and is expected to draw more than 100,000 fans of science fiction, fantasy, horror and other genres — many of them in costume as their favorite movie, TV, comic book and video-game characters.
This is the first year since the inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con that Farr and Brandenburg have staged only one event. Brandenburg said there wasn’t a desirable spring date available at the Salt Palace this year, and the organizers were still in the midst of the legal battle. Plans are in the works, Brandenburg said, for two events in 2019.
Besides Norris and Welling, Wednesday’s announcement yielded two more celebrity names for September’s roster.
One is Tricia Helfer, who gained fame as Number 6, the seductive blond Cylon on “Battlestar Galactica.” She now co-stars on the devilish TV series “Lucifer.”
The other is John Wesley Shipp, who on The CW’s “The Flash” plays Henry Allen, father to superhero Barry Allen — a role Shipp himself played in the early 1990s series based on the DC Comics character.
Also announced were six comic artists: Rob Prior, Joe Corroney, Jason Palmer, Donovan Fitzgerald, Sal Velluto and Denys Cowan. Voice actors Kara Eberle, Lindsay Jones and Arryn Zech, stars of the American anime web series “RWBY” (pronounced “Ruby”), will also attend.
More celebrity names will be announced by September.
Farr credited Utah’s fans for making it possible for the event to draw well-known talent since the first convention in 2013.
The fan support, Farr said, “is creating a reputation for us that is unmatched in the industry. … We’ve become kind of a gold standard. Our show is one that other shows are measured against, around the country.”
Brandenburg announced two initiatives the convention is launching this year. One is the League of Utah Volunteers, or LUV, which will help deploy FanX’s volunteer base to help in the community. The other is a STEAM competition for Utah students to show their science, technology and math prowess to win FanX passes.
Norris, Welling and the others join a baker’s dozen actors already announced for FanX in September:
• Robby Benson (“Ode to Billy Joe,” 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast”).
• Barry Bostwick (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Spin City”).
• Tim Curry (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Clue,” the 1990 TV miniseries “It”).
• Jason David Frank (the Green Ranger on “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”).
• Amy Jo Johnson (the original Pink Ranger on “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”).
• Evangeline Lilly (“Lost,” “The Hobbit” trilogy, Marvel’s “Ant-Man and The Wasp”).
• Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin on “Stranger Things”).
• Jennifer Morrison (“Once Upon a Time,” “House”).
• Paige O’Hara (voiced Belle in the 1991 “Beauty and the Beast”).
• Paul Reubens (created the character of Pee-Wee Herman).
• Mark Sheppard (has appeared in “Supernatural,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Medium,” “24” and “Doctor Who”).
• Brent Spiner (played Lt. Cmdr. Data on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” also appeared in the “Independence Day” films).
• Karl Urban (played Eomer in “The Lord of the Rings,” Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the rebooted “Star Trek” films, and Skurge in “Thor: Ragnarok“).