Comic-Con 2014 Day 3: From Batman V. Superman to Avengers: Age of Ultron
Saturday at Comic-Con is the closest thing to being in one of the many fictionalized dystopian futures of literature and film that keeps the fans coming out to the convention. Comic-Con-ers camped out the afternoon of Friday and over-night in order to finally gain access to Hall H at 9am Saturday morning. Some of them are “Hobbit Heads” — fans of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien franchise — and thus were anticipating the first panel of the day, but the majority of those sleep-deprived, un-showered fans were looking forward to an entire day of movie news and insider scoops, especially the end of the day’s Marvel panel.
And boy were they rewarded.
Warner Bros. Pictures
The first panel of the day was anything but subtle. Immediately beginning with what fans would most want to hear about: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Director Zak Snyder brought in Batfleck himself, Ben Affleck, along with Superman, Henry Cavill, and the film’s third superhero, Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, though why she has a sword and not a whip is beyond us. Curtains on either side of the hall revealed extra screens, the better to provide a sensory immersive experience for Snyder’s Batman v. Superman teaser.
The very short teaser showed Batman on a rooftop on a dark night, his eyes glowing through the mask of his Batsuit. He turns on his Batsignal, illuminating the sky and revealing Superman floating in the air, red eyes fixed on Batman. The two stare each other down a moment and it’s over. Hardly anything at all, but it was more than enough to excite the crowd of over 6,000.
Along with character shots, including a look at Wonder Woman’s outfit, Snyder showed off the film’s logo and assured the crowd filming is going “amazingly well”. Plan is to release the film May of 2016.
Next up, they jump straight into the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending. No Wachowskis in the house but out comes Channing Tatum to say hello and show some footage. Tatum’s eye-makeup-ed Caine, talking to Mila Kunis’s Jupiter Jones about her role as monarchy in the universe. Lots of cool visual elements, great fight scene between Tatum and a winged-monster. It looks like the sort of visual fare we love from the Wachowskis, let’s hope the story doesn’t get in the way too much. They move quite quickly into the next big project for WB, Mad Max: Fury Road. Charlize Theron says hello in a video and then they show a video recap of the previous Mad Max films… which transitions into footage from the new film. A canyon and lots of post-apocalyptic vehicles. Director of all the Mad Max movies, George Miller, comes to stage and tells us that he considers chase scenes to be the purest form of cinema, and so he wanted to make a film that was one long chase scene. No Tom Hardy, but Miller reveals their won’t be a lot of dialogue in the film. They close this portion with more footage, a chase involving lots of tornado dodging.
And then, with still an hour to go in the panel, they move on to what people most wanted to hear about: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. And that’s when Stephen Colbert takes over the panel as moderator, dressed in head to toe Hobbit-wear. First some funny video, mostly a gag reel from all of the movies. Then a huge chunk of the cast takes the stage along with Peter Jackson: Andy Serkis, Elijah Wood, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch, writer Philippa Boyens, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Orland Bloom, and Cate Blanchett. They joke about each LOTR movie deserving two more films with Colbert saying “You owe me 6 more Lord of the Rings films,” “If Warner can find a way to do that” Jackson pokes. After some discussion they finally play the trailer for the new film which features a decimated Laketown as Smaug blows fire all over it. Lots of soldiers and armies assembling. The song Billy Boyd sang during Return of the King plays in the background as we see a chase scene on ice, a flash of Sauron, and Bard asks Thorin “Will you have peace or war?” to which Thorin responds “I will have war!” The panel ends with an announcement for TheHobbitFanContest.com, a chance to go to New Zealand to see the latest film before it’s released.
After two hours of WB, the crowd is obviously not as enthralled for Legendary picture’s announcements, but there is plenty to be excited about. Thomas Tull, CEO of Legendary comes out. A video from Godzilla director Gareth Edwards where he says once he’s finished with “a little sci-fi film” (the Star Wars spinoff) he’ll return to Godzilla with the second film. They tease us with a little video that reveals the potential new monsters Godzilla will fight: Mothra, Rodan, and Ghidorah. “Let them fight” it says. Crowd likes that.
They show an extended preview of As Above, So Below, the new horror film in the catacombs of Paris. You can see the trailer here. Moving on, Michael Mann makes his first Comic-Con appearance to discuss Blackhat, a cyber hacker thriller. The footage they show is interesting but a bit generic. Chris Hemsworth, star of the film, comes out to chat but mostly just proves he doesn’t know much about coding and computers. Wrong audience dude.
Finally someone we can get behind, Guillermo del Toro (who we saw in Thursday’s Book of Life panel) comes out to talk about Crimson Peak. Apparently excited not to be discussing a children’s film, del Toro takes the opportunity to make use of colorful language. He gives us a brief first look, though the film is a year and a half away, so not much. The logo covered in blood, Tom Hiddleston’s voice, “Houses as old as this one become, in time, a living thing. They may have timber for bones and windows for eyes, and sitting here all alone, it can go slowly bad. It starts holding onto things. Keeping them alive when they shouldn’t be. Some of them good. Some bad. Some should never be spoken about again.” It’s satisfyingly creepy, along the Pan’s Labyrinth route. Even more satisfying is del Toro’s use of a female lead, Mia Wasikowska, and his comment that he wants a story about a woman that shows their life beyond getting the man, that there is more to a female then her love interests. We can’t wait. He teases about Hellboy 3 (which gets a huge audience reaction) and At the Mountains of Madness (which gets decent applause).
Next up is Warcraft. Director Duncan Jones explains they wanted a LOTR style set with Avatar-level CG. They show some brief footage that does show some decent CG art. Thomas Tull ends the panel telling Guillermo to finish Pacific Rim 2 and then they can discuss his other projects. Then he shows a brief clip of King Kong and the title “Skull Island.” Looks like we have a prequel or sequel on our hands?
All day people were joking that Boxtrolls got both a great spot and bad spot for their slot at Comic-Con. For one, they were guaranteed an audience as no one would leave Hall H before Marvel, and yet all those fans would be extra tired by the time Boxtrolls was up. And sure enough, plenty of sleeping people in the audience during this panel. But they did show an adorable clip of the Boxtrolls digging through garbage and playing with a ragged teddy bear. Cuteness overload and the stop-motion animation looks absolutely flawless. A short panel with Elle Fanning, Sir Ben Kingsley, and Isaac Hempstead along with creators Travis Knight, Anthony Stacchi, and Graham Annable allowed them to describe in greater detail just how long (8 years) and strenuous it is to make films like this.
Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
A strange follow-up to so cutesy a film, next up is the gritty sequel to Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City. A bit strange to see a sequel 10 years after the original, but when you’ve got all the original creators and actors working on it, no one is complaining. Rodriguez and Frank Miller were both on hand to discuss the film along with cast members Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, and Josh Brolin. The extended preview they gave us looks just as cool as the original, which really hasn’t yet been recreated successfully in other films. All the skin, guns, cars, and well placed color you’d expect. It looks incredible, but we’re still a bit dubious Miller and Rodriguez are going to get the reception they hope for. Let’s hope 10 years is enough time to build up some good nostalgia.
After what was almost exactly 24 hours of waiting for many in Hall H, the fans finally got what they were waiting (and chanting) for.
The panel began with a reel of all the Marvel films, edited together to effectively show the many ways they have all crossed paths and fit together. In it was a little bit of footage from Age of Ultron, teasing the audience for what they most wanted info on. The reel morphed into a Guardians of the Galaxy trailer which ends with Thanos floating through space on a throne. Kevin Feige, President of Marvel, came out and told audiences we’d be talking about 2015. And he meant it. Not much beyond next year was covered.
First up was Ant-Man, and he brought out Peyton Reed, the film’s new director (after Edgar Wright’s drama-filled exit). Determined to assure audiences he was the right man for the job, moderator Chris Hardwick asked about Reed’s past with Ant-Man, and he showed the audience a drawing he once did, where he turned himself into Ant-Man for a band picture. Reed also admitted this was his 20th time at Comic-Con. Clearly they are out to prove Ant-Man is in good hands. Out comes Paul Rudd who will star as Ant-Man, along with Evangeline Lilly, who they’ve just revealed will play Hope Pym, Corey Stoll (who they revealed will be Yellowjacket), as well as Michael Douglas as Hank Pym. After a few comments from the actors — Lilly knows almost nothing about her character as she’s not yet seen a script, Stoll alludes to his character being the scientist bad-guy, and Rudd prepares for superhero stardom — they played a video made just for Comic-Con, as the film hasn’t started any filming.
In it they pan around a laboratory while Michael Douglas’s holds a conversation with Rudd as Scott Lang, Ant-Man’s alter ego, asking Lang to do a “small” job for him (Lang is a thief). They jump to a costumed Lang running through a room, then a hallway, a man holds a gun up to him and he morphs into the tiny version of himself landing on top of the gun. Then more footage of him riding the back of a flying ant. The perspective is great, and even if this is conceptual footage, it looks really good.
Moving on to what fans most wanted Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” plays as the cast of Avengers: Age of Ultron take the stage. Robert Downey Jr. charms the entire audience with flowers (which he handed out to his female co-stars as well). Most exciting was the newest Avengers, Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver, Paul Bettany as Vision, James Spader as Ultron, and Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch. The only notable missing persons were Scarlett Johansson and director Joss Whedon who just had knee surgery and couldn’t attend. After some fun banter with the entire panel — Hemsworth joked about the new sex-change of his character being his chance at an Oscar, Elizabeth Olsen says she’s been practicing staring at pencils for months willing them to move, and Robert Downey Jr. asks that she soon release him from the spell she cast on hims as “it burns” — we finally get a trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron.
It begins with a dinner party with all the Avengers playing a party game where each tries to pick up Thor’s hammer. Tony Stark jokes that if he can do it, he gets to rule Asgard, right? It doesn’t budge, he tries again with the Iron Man glove, no dice. Not with the help of Cheadle’s War Machine hand either. No luck from Bruce Banner, but he wasn’t in Hulk mode, so… Hawkeye is a no go. Black Widow says that’s not a question she needs answered and Captain America gets the hammer to budge slightly which causes Thor obvious alarm. He picks it back up himself, satisfied, when suddenly a voice booms out at them. James Spader’s mechanized voice of Ultron, telling them that the only path to peace, is their extinction. As the hyper aware robot, built by Stark, Ultron plans to wipe them all out as the only way to solve their war problems. Cut to devastation, battle sequences and a creepy rendition of the Disney Pinocchio song “I’ve Got No Strings” sung behind the footage. Ending with a shiny new Ultron saying “I’ve got not strings on me.” The puppet has become the puppet-master. It looks awesome.
There’s nothing else to say. And that’s the end of the panel, except, a quick appearance by Josh Brolin donning Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet. Which the audience loves. Especially when Downey Jr. offers him a flower, and Brolin commences to tear it up in his mouth and chew on the petals. Oh yeah, he should do nicely for ultra-villain Thanos. You can watch the panel (minus footage) here.
That’s Saturday at the con folks. Crazy long and so much happening. That pretty much concludes the film events of Comic-Con so it’s time this girl went and caught up on a heck of a lot of sleep.