With Legendary moving to Universal, I can’t imagine organizing this panel with Warner was anything short of awkward. Followed via CS.net, the panel began with Seventh Son, a film seemingly steeped in unoriginality. At least Jeff Bridges proved a fun presence, pumping up the crowd with talk of the film’s mythology.
Next came Godzilla, with director Gareth Edwards and his cast taking the stage. The movie just started shooting, and Edwards talked about how amazed he was at the freedom he’s been granted on the film. He also shared a funny story about how the crew was crossing the border to film in Canada, when they got stopped by border patrol, who immediately realized what the film was and told them, “don’t fuck it up!” Sound advice indeed.
After that came a surprise announcement from Source Code director Duncan Jones, who took the stage to show some brief test footage, described as a “mood piece,” for the upcoming live-action Warcraft, and to announce the adaptation would begin shooting early next year. A nice touch; I’ll be seeing the final film because of Jones, not the actual property.
300: Rise of an Empire was next, which I all but tuned out for. I disliked the first film and it’s unlikely I’ll get much out of its entirely unnecessary follow-up, which stands as further proof of author Frank Miller’s growing senility.
Following that was Gravity by Children of Men director Alfonso Cuaron, also joined by star Sandra Bullock onstage. Seems as though Cuaron is getting a lot more continuous shots this time around, an exciting prospect for film fans. Bullock said she was encased in a glass cube in her space suit while the camera moved around her to get the space shots, which look brilliant. The film comes out this October in 3D.
Next was The Lego Movie, directed by 21 Jump Street helmers Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Described as, “the weirdest kids movie ever,” the directors brought out some of their cast and showed some footage from the part stop-motion, part CGI film, which the pair exuded a wealth of passion about. I was pretty indifferent to the recently-released trailer, and I don’t see this being any more than a glorified toy commercial myself, and that’s from someone who was obsessed with Legos as a kid.
The last panel was Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, and Bill Paxton, and scripted by Christopher McQuarrie, all in attendance. Formerly titled All You Need is Kill, the film will follow Cruise’s character as a military operative stuck in some sort of time loop, reliving the same day over and over and learning new things each day. Cruise did a mini-duet with Blunt from Rock of Ages, and exchanged Aliens quotes with Paxton, after which footage from the film was screened. Also present was the original author of the comic which the film is based on.
Finally, in the panel’s most publicized event, director Zack Snyder took the stage to announce, “some shit’s going to happen here,” and brought out actor Harry Lennix to read a passage from The Dark Knight Returns, wherein Batman monologues about Superman remembering who put a stop to him. After which, this logo appeared onscreen, to insane screams from the crowd:
Thanks to Outhousers
Despite the announcement being spoiled by several other sources just before the panel, I’m cautiously optimistic. I’ve seen how WB has mishandled the teaming of its DC characters in script form before, and I’m not quite certain they’ve learned their lesson yet. Not to mention, especially considering the recent dark, unpleasant, Batman-centric comic by Greg Pak teaming the two heroes, I can’t see the film going in the lighter, more optimistic, colorful direction that I’d hoped for the DC Universe on film. I guess, all things considered, it’s better than jumping headfirst into Justice League. The as-yet untitled Superman/Batman film will be written by Snyder and David S. Goyer, with a mind to start production next year.
Lionsgate – I, Frankenstein
Director Stuart Beattie and stars Aaron Eckhart and Yvonne Strahovski dropped in to show some footage of their new film, taking place after the original Mary Shelley novel ends and featuring a monster struggling to find himself. The sizzle reel was described by the CS liveblog team as, “Blade-like,” and I’ve also heard comparisons to the Underworld series. The panel was asked about Aaron Eckhart’s appearance in the film, which looks less like Frankenstein and more like a really ripped Aaron Eckhart:
On his appearance, the panel joked that there’s, “only so much you can do to make Aaron look ugly,” further explaining that the scars and wounds on the monster at first heal over time into what you see above. Interesting, if a bit of a flimsy excuse to bring make the monster more appealing to the female demographic. Eckhart said it took him a year-and-a-half training 3-4 hours a day to get his body in shape for the role. Hopefully it pays off this February.
20th Century Fox
CS’ liveblog detailed Fox’s panel, which opened with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and featured director Matt Reeves and stars Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, and Andy Serkis. The team came onstage briefly to talk about how it’s eight years since the events of 2011’s Rise, and that the apes and humans are co-existing and slowly starting to war with each other. It takes 10-12 weeks to animate a single ape, according to the panel, but they were able to show a brief teaser featuring an older Caesar, with an army of apes behind him. Rise was surprisingly enjoyable and I’m looking forward to its sequel, but sadly this team’s MTV Live interview proved far more entertaining than their panel on my end.
After that came director James Mangold and star Hugh Jackman to talk about next week’s The Wolverine, a panel which you can watch for yourself here. Jackman promised that fans will finally get see the character’s trademark berserker rage, and Mangold stressed the inherent anger within the character that drove filming. Jackman even saluted Wolverine co-creator Len Wein onstage, a nice touch. Can’t wait to review the movie next week; Fox is positioning the film as their Iron Man, a launching pad for their rebuilt future of Marvel adaptations in competition with Marvel Studios themselves
Further targeting the company, the panel, which can be seen here, brought out its surprise guests – the entire headlining cast of X-Men: Days of Future Past, in a move mirroring Marvel’s own Avengers cast appearance at the Con three years ago. Director Bryan Singer first screened some reportedly “goosebump-inducing” 3D footage for the film, which reveals that the film will see all the old X-Men players facing a dark, mutant-outlawed future, and sending Wolverine back in time to his 70s-era body, where he meets the new X-Men from 2011’s First Class and must gain their trust to help prevent a future war from ever happening.
Questions about the use of Quicksilver by both Fox and Marvel naturally came up – Singer maintained that the character was always part of the story, and will be present in the 70s portion of the film. Which begs the question…as Magneto’s son, why wasn’t he mentioned in the old movies if he was around in the 70s? I recommend watching the panel for yourself, there are quite a few funny moments of the cast interacting with one another.
Personally, for all the acclaim Singer gets for revitalizing the comic book movie with the first X-Men, I’ve never really been a fan of his take on the material. As noted in this excellent opinion piece, I think my biggest issue is how Singer defines the characters by their powers, not by their actual character. In my mind, it’s far more important we see the mutant’s personalities over their powers, playing up their similarities rather than their differences to humanity, so that we might better relate to them. Really, when all the films show about Storm is that she can summon potentially fatal storms, is the mutant registration for security’s sake portrayed in the films really a bad thing after all?
But I digress. First Class was a step in the right direction for bringing a more colorful, team/character-driven experience to the fold, and with the Sentinels finally making their live-action debut, all I can hear is the old X-Men arcade song chanting “X-MEN!” over and over again. This is one of biggest and best X-Men stories finally being adapted for the big screen, and I can’t fucking wait.
In another parallel to 2010’s Con, Marvel Studios brought out their latest Thor and Captain America movies to talk about for their panel, which you can watch here. The panel surprised audience members when Tom Hiddleston in-character and in-costume as Loki, riled up the crowd by asking them over and over to, “say my name!” to ear-piercing screams, and finally introduced a new trailer for Thor: the Dark World.
Afterward, the cast of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and its directors Anthony and Joe Russo came onstage to discuss the April release. Apparently Cap (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) “share the movie in a big way” (read: sex). Anthony Mackie shared his enthusiasm for playing the Falcon, while Sebastian Stan talked about being back as the Winter Soldier. Producer Kevin Feige chimed in to stress the reveal that Cap’s old sidekick Bucky is the Winter Soldier, which by this point is a secret to no one, will be played as a surprise only to Cap, if not the audience. The panel also screened some early footage, which apparently looks fantastic, showing Cap fighting Crossbones (Frank Grillo) and his men in an elevator. The Russo brothers discussed their aim for a 70s political thriller-feel, and I have high hopes their movie will be better than the first.
Marvel also brought out its “surprise,” the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy and director James Gunn, who are two weeks into filming, but still nonetheless prepared some footage for the audience, which has been getting some pretty amazing buzz. The panel talked in very little detail about each of their characters, barred from revealing too much other than, “uh, they’re guys…in space.” One of the female cast members also revealed she was wearing a wig at the panel, taking it and throwing it into the audience. Weird.
I still really, really don’t see the appeal of this movie on a mainstream level. Talking raccoons in a semi-serious space thriller goes beyond suspension of disbelief, crossing into painful obscurity, of which director James Gunn, the man who had Ellen Page rape Rainn Wilson in Super, is certainly no stranger to. I fear for Marvel, as this is probably the worst possible box office climate to experiment in, with even solid movies like After Earth and The Lone Ranger tanking hard in earnings. The panel did nothing to convince me of seeing the final product come August, but perhaps some footage might change that.
And finally, Joss Whedon came onstage to announce the official title for the Avengers sequel:
That explains Vin Diesel’s Vision, who as fans know, was created by Ultron and later joined the superhero team. Still, Feige maintains that “there’s nothing to announce with Vin,” but come on, is anyone seriously doubting he’ll be the first newcomer to be announced when casting is officially underway?
To be concluded…