Sandwiched between heavy hitters Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios, overnight phenomenon Stranger Things drew one of the biggest crowds on the Hall H stage at this year’s SDCC. In a panel hosted by comedian Patton Oswalt, the moderator went to somewhat unnecessary lengths to avoid even the mildest of spoilers, refusing to ask pre-prepared questions to no-doubt well-rehearsed cast members. Regardless, the panel yielded a few intriguing insights into Stranger Things season 2 (other than that thrilling new teaser). Here’s what we learnt...
1. Details on the new cast members (including an ’80s icon)
The major revelation, of course, were those three new cast members. Dacre Montgomery will play Billy, a bad egg set to fill the extreme douchebag void left by Joe Keery’s reformed bully Steve Harrington - “The Duffers were very interested in playing around with monsters as an antagonist, and they wanted to play around with me as a human antagonist, so dropping a little bit of spice into a recipe that you all know and love,” Montgomery says. “I hope that I can be scary enough,” said young Sadie Sink who will play “Mad” Max, a new student who’s recently moved from California and strikes up a friendship with the boys.
Finally, Paul Reiser (Aliens’ slimy suit Burke) will feature as Dr. Owens – a scientist sent to Hawkins lab by the government. “Understandably they’re a little nervous about the guy who’s coming into replace this frickin’ guy,” Reiser says, pointing to Matthew Modine. “But I come into clean up Brenner’s mess and certain things happen.” With the Duffer Unit previously citing James Cameron’s action classic as an influence on season 2 his casting is deliciously meta.
2. Will hasn’t escaped The Upside Down
This was suggested by Will’s final moments in season 1, where the poor Byers boy coughs up a tentacle tip and has a vision of the Upside Down in his bathroom. Despite being set a year later, in the fall of 1984, season 2 is doubling down on Will’s connection to Stranger Things’ shadowy alt-universe. “Compared to last season, Will shows more bravery and you’ll definitely learn how the Upside Down affected Will,” says actor Noah Schnapp.
3. Jim Hopper has a hero complex
Eleven aside, lovable cop Jim Hopper was Stranger Things’ breakout character, and the A-hole-turned-hero is about to embark on another compelling arc – it seems he isn’t leaving those Eggos around Hawkins’ woods for entirely altruistic reasons. “It’s a year later, you can’t do the same thing, you can’t wake up again. So one of the really interesting, subtle things about the arc in season 2 is there is a psychology about heroic action where someone does something heroic and whether or not they can live up to that in their daily life,” David Harbour says.
“So it’s a wildly different arc in season 2, but to me it’s just as satisfying, and it all beings with me leaving Eggos for a character in the woods that he feels might still be out there. And he’s got some daughter issues of his own, as you know.” Fans of shirtless Hopper have a lot to look forward to as well, with Harbour half-joking that the hero cop will get “to do some very thrilling, sexy things in season 2.”
4. Barb’s definitely dead but she will get justice
The cult of Barb is alive and well at Comic Con (swing by the Stranger Things exhibition and you’ll discover a mural dedicated to the bespectacled angel), but nevertheless Shannon Purser’s long-dead bestie won’t be back, despite Purser herself making a surprise appearance to ask a question from the audience: “Is Barb going to be in season 2?” The response from the Duffers: “No. But there will be justice for Barb. Barb will be avenged.”
With the Demagorgon (presumably) dead, it’s not clear quite what form this vengeance will take, but someone (or something) will be held accountable for Stranger Things’ greatest injustice.