Men of Iron, a Raccoon, and a Hobbit: San Diego Comic Con 2012 (Day Three, Part II)

 

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Continued from Part I.

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures

The highly-anticipated Warner panel kicked off with a look at Pacific Rim, the latest in a series of long-gestating projects (hell, the guy was actually attached to all three of the following films at some point in their development) from director Guillermo Del Toro. The footage screened at the panel was described by ComingSoon as “impressive” and compared to a live-action Iron Giant. The film is reportedly about giant robots, able to be controlled by humans, fighting giant monsters.

I’ve never been a fan of Godzilla movies so it hasn’t really been on my radar, honestly. Some of Del Toro’s decisions are already just flat-out baffling…what exactly is Charlie Day doing in this movie? For that matter, what is his appeal to begin with? I actually read a very interesting interview with Del Toro after the panel that I found much more satisfying. Next were WB’s two big surprises: a tease of the new Godzilla movie in development, and Will Ferrell and Zack Galfinackis’ The Campaign. the latter two comedians showed up in person. The comedy looking pretty funny in trailers I saw, so I may check it out. Really, by this point, I was too busy itching to hear about Man of Steel to really pay much attention.

Finally came the moment I was really holding my breath for, out of both fear and excitement. Director Zack Snyder is sub-par at best, flaunting his lack of appealing style or substance and generic slo-mo trademarks as “visionary”. Hearing that he would be directing the next movie to feature my favorite superhero nearly two years ago was devastating, but I couldn’t bear to overlook this rare first look at the new movie. The full panel is available to watch here, sans footage, which itself is apparently NOT the same footage attached to The Dark Knight Rises this week. I actually got a chance to see the footage separately in a blurry, distant, recorded version online, and after seeing the other trailer in front of TDKR, I’ll have my reactions written up and posted within the next week or so.

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Amidst Snyder’s most awkward moments were playing it vague when posed with a question about the film’s villain General Zod, something long been confirmed by others involved with the production. But perhaps the most awkward bit was when a sobbing fan came up to the mic and could barely even ask his question, he was so “emotional” over the footage. I’m sorry, I’m as big a fan of these kinds of movies as the next guy, but to quote William Shatner, “get a life.”

Someone also asked about the potential for a future Batman/Superman or Justice League movie. Snyder answered expectedly that they needed to see how this film turns out before they start thinking about it. And understandably so; if you ask me, after Green Lantern WB should be sitting around a desk figuring out a new approach before they move forward and potentially ruin any more of these properties.

Then came The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, with director Peter Jackson coming onstage to introduce both a new video blog of the production and over 12 minutes of footage from both this film and Part 2 in 2013. The footage was not screened in the film’s native 48 frames per second and 3D, but 2D and 24 fps as is the standard. After a screening of 48 fps footage a few months back the received a thrashing from bloggers, Jackson claimed he wanted the content to be on display first and foremost. FirstShowing called it “cold feet”, and I’m inclined to agree with them; I want to see what people have to say about 48 fps so I know what format I should be seeing the movie in for the best possible presentation. A film like The Hobbit doesn’t need the approval of the Comic-Con crowd to be successful, so the team really should’ve just gone for broke. Granted, filming in 48 fps on such a huge film like this, where the goal should be more about replicating the feel of the Lord of the Rings trilogy’s presentation than anything, was a huge risk to begin with, but whatever.

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The panel, which can be viewed here, followed the screening. Cast members like Ian McKellan and Andy Cerkis came on, as well as surprise guest Elijah Wood. Many commented on just how outstanding the footage looked, and even blindly, I have to say that I have nothing but positive things to say about the production thus far. Peter Jackson really does go above and beyond for his films, and everything from The Hobbit is looking fantastic. One fan asked about a Silmarillion movie, which Jackson replied by talking about the other books being owned by the Tolkien estate and that they “don’t like these movies at all.” I’m familiar with the legal entanglements The Hobbit had to go through thanks to the estate, and all I have to say is…fuck those guys.

Overall, Warner’s panel was hugely improved from when they last held it back in 2010, if only because they have three fantastic films coming out next year. But even more excitement was yet to come…

Marvel Studios: Iron Man 3

The last major event of the Con has experienced so much rampant speculation over the last several months that the main topic of conversation it’s even Iron Man 3, but what’s coming afterward. And Marvel was eager to oblige, revealing at the panel (available here) that Thor 2 (now Thor: The Dark World) and Cap 2 (now subtitled “The Winter Solider”) were in development. I can’t say I’m particularly enthusiastic about the latter; Joe Johnston and the Narnia screenwriters completely butchered any meaningful build-up to Bucky Barnes’ return, so it’s obvious the film isn’t going to have nearly the impact that its comic counterpart did. Besides, Cap needs some time to get re-acclimated to the modern world and really reflect on what he’s lost before being thrown into such a personal conflict.

Marvel also revealed their fourth upcoming film, Guardians of the Galaxy, and revealed some concept art of the team:

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Which is…weird. I haven’t read any of the comics, but I think Marvel has gravely misinterpreted the commercial viability of some of its properties. We’re talking about a little CGI raccoon as a character here; it’s far too cheesy and obscure to really appeal to a mainstream audience. Are there no other, more viable properties like Black Panther or Doctor Strange ready for production? I have a hard time believing anyone outside of Comic-Con, including a credible director, would be able to take this property seriously enough to want to be involved in it, let alone watch it. Either way, best of luck to Marvel on getting through this with their credibility intact.

And just before the main event, director Edgar Wright showed up onstage to offer a brief update on the seemingly endless development process on Ant-Man. “I’m taking the Terrence Malick approach to super heroes,” he jokes. I don’t think the crowd even knew who Terrence Malick was. Wright proceeded to screen some test footage he shot recently in preparation for the film, which has received unanimous praise online for making the whole shrinking/growing dynamic work. Sadly, the film did not receive a release date, but my guess is that after his next film The World’s End, Wright would have more than enough time to deliver the final film around late 2014 or early 2015.

Marvel, ever knowing of how to play to the crowd, brought out Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. following that and immediately rolled new footage from Iron Man 3. From the descriptions, the footage sounded pretty cool, and Shane Black’s writing and direction has me more excited for the project than I ever was for the last two films. But what is up with that armor?

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It looks so…yellow. So weird. The Marvel tools on the company’s liveblog assured us that the armor would look better in action, but even director Black acknowledged people’s criticisms according to ComingSoon. Still, I’ve grown tired concerning myself with such trivialities; the film itself is looking good.

Producer Kevin Feige, Shane Black, co-star Don Cheadle, and former Iron Man director and Happy Hogan actor Jon Favreau. Surprisingly, having Favreau on the panel wasn’t awkward in the slightest; the actor seemed very pleased to be taking a backseat this time around and even compared himself to a “grandfather” who “gets to play with the baby” without having to “change the diapers.” From the descriptions, it seems his character Happy Hogan will actually quit being Stark’s bodyguard, a humorous parallel to the director’s own departure from the franchise.

Black heaped praise on the villain of the ensemble, Ben Kingsley, playing the Mandarin, the Joker to Stark’s Batman. The production is halfway through filming, and Black was quick to slip in that the film wouldn’t be bogged down by its characters like Spider-Man 3 was, which got a laugh from the crowd. The panel featured quite a few funny moments from Downey Jr. and Cheadle, especially one bit on how long it takes them to get into their respective suits. Be sure to watch the video above, it’s well worth it.

 

Stay tuned for my Day Four post as Comic-Con begins winding down; I give my overall reactions to the festivities and more!

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