Johnny Depp Surprising Fantastic Beasts Comic-Con Panel 2018

Johnny Depp’s surprise appearance at San Diego Comic-Con this year was a shock on multiple levels. The 55-year-old actor, who has recently been wrapped up in multimillion-dollar lawsuits and other public financial problems, stepped out on the Hall H stage on Saturday dressed in the costume of his evil character in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Gellert Grindelwald. His physical presence — a shock of bleach blonde hair, icy blue contacts, a floor-length black coat, and a wand — was enough to catch fans in the audience off-guard regardless, but given the recent controversy surrounding his casting in the sequel, it makes his choice to attend the annual convention even more concerning.

In 2016, Depp was embroiled in a contentious divorce from actress Amber Heard that dragged on for months before ending with disturbing domestic abuse allegations. Heard alleged that Depp “violently attacked” her on a number of occasions and that during the “entirety” of their four-year relationship, Depp was both “verbally and physically abusive” to her. Heard later won a $7 million settlement in the divorce case, which she donated entirely to charity. She and Depp finally settled their divorce in 2016, when she dismissed the claims and withdrew her request for a domestic violence restraining order.

For many loyal fans of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise, Depp’s casting in Fantastic Beasts felt like the same old, same old as far as Hollywood is concerned — a man accused of brutal violence against a woman escapes from the fallout with his career unscathed and no punishment for his (alleged) actions. Since then, everything from harsh tweets about his inclusion in the series to petitions calling for his recasting have been made by fans. That being said, he still has plenty of support, as evidenced by people in the audience in Hall H who screamed out their love for the star.

Depp’s appearance at Comic-Con came at the end of the Fantastic Beasts panel, when he stepped out following the rest of the cast’s answers to questions like what they’d do if they had their own set of magical powers (Zoë Kravitz would “impeach Trump,” FYI). He began a creepy speech about “muggles,” who Grindelwald despises in the film. “We who live for freedom, for truth, the moment has come to rise up and take our rightful place in the world,” he told the crowd, before exiting the stage without taking questions.

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 21: Jason Momoa and Amber Heard speak onstage at the Warner Bros. 'Aquaman' theatrical panel during Comic-Con International 2018 at San Diego Convention Center on July 21, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

Not long after his cameo at the Warner Bros. panel, the cast of fellow WB property Aquaman — which includes Amber Heard — stepped out on the same stage for their own panel. The 32-year-old actress plays Mera in the upcoming superhero film, which dropped its long-awaited first trailer during the panel, but Twitter was already abuzz about the awkward and irresponsible scheduling on Warner Bros.’s part.

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