efe-epaDavid Villafranca San Diego

The world's largest event celebrating pop culture got under way Thursday as fans of comics, film, television and video games poured into the San Diego Convention Center for the 50th edition of Comic-Con.

Barely 300 people turned up at the U.S. Grant Hotel in March 1970 for the inaugural San Diego Comic Convention, a single-day affair.

Attendance over the four days of Comic-Con 2018 topped 135,000 and organizers hope to attract even more people this year with a program that includes Marvel Studios, "Game of Thrones," "Star Trek" and "Terminator: Dark Fate."

The latest "Terminator" was the highlight of Thursday's opening session, as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton joined director Tim Miller and new cast members Mackenzie Davis, Diego Bonetta, Gabriel Luna and Natalia Reyes to talk about the film, set to reach theaters Nov. 1.

"Of course I needed to come back. I'm addicted to 'Terminator,' Schwarzenegger, 71, told the crowd in Hall H, the convention center's largest space.

"'Terminator' (1984) was the movie that really launched my action movie career. From that moment on, everything has changed in my life. I feel very indebted to Jim Cameron for creating this character and these movies," the former California governor said.

"And I'm so happy that he's part of this one again ... and that he and Linda came back," Schwarzenegger said.

"I think that you will all be surprised with this movie because it has come out unbelievable. I was blown away when I saw it three weeks ago for the first time," he said.

Cameron, whose last involvement with "The Terminator" franchise was in 1991, wrote the screenplay for "Dark Fate" and produced the film.

The presentation included a film clip in which Davis' character defends Dani Ramos (Reyes) from the new Terminator (Luna).

Miller talked about his approach to making the film.

"I try to put myself in the fan's state of mind. When I read anything in the Internet like, how would I feel if they announce a sixth Terminator film. And I would be like: f--- me," the director said.

"It's like: I've seen enough of these movies, I'm tired of the story, unless there is something new, a part of the story that hasn't been told," Miller said.

"And that's the story of Linda," he said, referring to the long-awaited return of Hamilton in the role of Sarah Connor.

Hamilton said that she took her time considering the offer to appear in "Terminator: Dark Fate."

"You kind of want to retire a champion or rest on your laurels," she said after talking about her participation in the first two installments of the series.

"It was the passage of time. I was very intrigued: the character is the same, but time changes everything. What has happened, who is she now, what has happened to make her who she is now - there were so many more possibilities 27 years later that I felt that there was a world of richness that I could explore and then rock it as a woman of a certain age," Hamilton said of her decision to accept the role.

Thursday also saw an unannounced appearance by Tom Cruise, who popped up in Hall H to show the trailer for "Top Gun: Maverick," the sequel to "Top Gun" (1986).

While in another part of the vast convention center, legendary Spanish cartoonist Sergio Aragones was autographing some of his original creations for MAD magazine.

"Here, I get to know new people, greet old friends," he told EFE, recalling that he has been coming to Comic-Con since 1971.

He said that having contact with fans was very important to cartoonists.

"This is a solitary profession," Aragones said. "And when you come here and you see the excitement of people who have followed your work, it fills you with satisfaction to know that people see what you're doing and that it truly interests them."

"It's proof that what you're doing is good ... and you arrive home with a desire to keep working," he said. EFE

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