One of the biggest events at this year’s SDCC didn’t even take place inside the convention center. The Amazon Prime Video Experience, which encompassed a massive 60,000-foot radius, sought to drop visitors into the worlds of three of their biggest series: The Boys, Carnival Row, and the latest season of The Expanse. I managed to get into the experience on Sunday and witness firsthand just how immersive it was.
After entering and having my backpack inspected, I was given a handful of silver coins. Each experience cost one coin, while refreshments including pretzel balls, kettle corn, fruit cups, and churros cost two coins each. There was a shaded area with couches and bottled water for attendees to sit, relax, and enjoy their food, as well as free charging stations and Wi-Fi. One of the most eye-catching things, however, was the 40-foot tower that laid dead center in the middle of the activation. It would periodically show scenes from all three shows, and actors would deliver speeches. The Boys had a support meeting for people whose lives had been ruined by “Supes,” while Carnival Row staged a protest on behalf of magical creatures, or “critches” as they are referred to within the world of the yet to be released series.
Of the three experiences offered at the activation, I only entered two, as The Expanse experience was closing down. I hit The Boys experience first, which saw me covering up a superpowered crime scene, and afterward, at the Carnival Row experience, I toured a marketplace and was pulled into a speakeasy for critches.
(Note: The following experiences were rated 18+ and up for mature content)
The Boys: Superheroes Suck
My first stop was at The Boys experience, which took place inside a replica of Bryman Electronics, the store where Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) works. Two people quickly hustled us inside, where a car crash had laid waste to the inside of the store. They explained that Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) dispatched them to clean up the aftermath of superhero fights. Everyone in the store was then instructed to find clues to the scene of the crime, which included security footage of Hughie getting into a tussle with invisible superhero Translucent (Alex Hassell).
After destroying the tape on which the footage was found, Hammer, one of the specialists, noticed that a man was filming the entire encounter and asked him if he was one of the Supes. When the guy said “Yes”, Hammer pulled out a knife and stabbed him! He then began to eye the rest of us, accusing us of being in league with the Supes until his partner calmed him down. They then led us in a rousing chant of “F*** Supes” as we left the store.
Carnival Row: Man or Monster
Next up was Carnival Row, where magical creatures, wrongfully driven from their homes, struggle as second class citizens in Victorian-era England. Upon entering a marketplace, visitors were given a card which labeled you as a human or a creature. I received a human card and saw firsthand what kind of treatment each class received. Humans were treated with respect and greeting cordially while the creatures were met with verbal abuse and routinely harassed by police officers.
As I explored the marketplace, I came upon a door and a creature hurriedly urged me to come inside. I then found myself in a speakeasy, where a faerie dancer was performing. Unfortunately, officers stormed the speakeasy and we were escorted out.
The Amazon Prime Video Experience was one of the most immersive, wonderful events I had the pleasure of attending at SDCC. I don’t know if Amazon Prime will return to the convention next year but if they do, they will be hard-pressed to top this event.
Season one of The Boys is currently streaming on Amazon Prime, season one of Carnival Row premieres on August 30th, while season four of The Expanse premieres on December 13th.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.