X-citing Changes: Highlights of Comic-Con 2015

ccdp“I’m touching myself tonight,” announces Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool in front of a packed Hall H crowd of over 6,000 people. The Con posits a reminder in front of panelists their audience may be under 18, but that didn’t stop anyone from blowing the roof off the hall with hard language, innuendo, and brutally violent imagery.

And it was beautiful.

It’s the people going against the grain that elevate Comic-Con from a mundane gathering of smelly nerds worshipping at the feet of a bunch of contractually obligated stars, themselves shoved out into the spotlight to recite canned answers to banal questions and collect their paycheck.

Yeah, I’m letting my bitter old fuck side show again, but I did quite enjoy what I saw of this years’ festivities online. And for my annual coverage I’ll be going against the grain myself, limiting myself to a single post recapping the whole of what I got out of the Con, rather than laboriously recounting panels you’ve likely already read about elsewhere. Lots to cover, little time.

Supergirl pilot screening

While San Diego glimpsed the official premiere of CBS’ new superhero series by “Arrow” and “Flash” showrunner Greg Berlanti, I treated myself to the leaked pilot from months prior. “Supergirl” centers on Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist), sent to Earth from the dying planet Krypton just after her cousin Kal-El. But Kara is caught in the Phantom Zone and delayed in her arrival on Earth by 24 years, long enough for baby Kal to have already grown up into the Man of Steel. After some time to grow up herself, Kara now works in National City as a lowly coffee-fetcher, but is slowly beginning to follow in her cousin’s footsteps by using her powers to help others.

“Supergirl” owes a great deal to Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman: the Movie in tone, musical cues, design, and occasionally, cliché. Where the new cinematic Superman in Man of Steel abandoned Clark Kent’s mousy Bringing Up Baby routine, now “Supergirl” picks it up in its stead. Your mileage on that may vary, thoughSupergirl_Promo_SG6F30H_587252_640x360 undisputedly, every player in the pilot gives a pretty solid performance handling the usual clunky pilot writing, complete with Kara doing “woman things” like picking out what to wear on a date with an online match.

In the funny books, Supergirl is an inherently silly Silver-Age spinoff of the Superman mythos. She does all the same things the Man of Steel can do, except she’s a woman. “Supergirl” makes a valiant effort to remove the character from Superman’s world, but comparisons are inevitable. Superman is sorely missed from this series, referred to only as “the big man” or glimpsed briefly as a silhouette in the sun.

I do wonder, with the whole of the internet demanding studios for more female superhero adaptations, would it not be more beneficial for Warners to have picked someone like Zatanna or Power Girl to lead a new series? As an original adaptation not tied to any other male heroes, is that not making an even greater statement, that women don’t need to live in the shadow of men?

Still, this about as good as a Supergirl pilot gets, so if it fails, time to call out the aforementioned rabble-rousers for not supporting the type of quality product they incessantly demand more of.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

mayclylksn2pjygltivcAfter a brief look at Ezra Miller as the Flash (an interesting but highly questionable casting choice) and the Green Lantern Corps reboot, the Batman v Superman panel had a brand new trailer to showcase, released officially online afterward.

A lot of what I wrote in my editorial on the first trailer still stands – it’s all very overwrought, with the Batman/Superman conflict painted as more of a political struggle containing underlying themes of security/taking-the-fight-to-them-type stuff (what snooty critics would tiredly label “post-9/11 subtext”). Substance is always good, but the dark, Christopher Nolan-esque seriousness of the whole thing feels gloomy when it should be thrilling. I miss the fun, winking charm of previous Superman films, the ones where he’s solving things rather than creating more problems. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – Batman is about having problems, Superman is about finding solutions.

We’ll see come March. This is a very important movie for the future of DC Comics on film, and I worry we’ll never again reach the heights of The Dark Knight or Superman: the Movie. Still, kudos to Warner for their filmmaker-driven approach, which should nonetheless deliver more satisfying adaptations than Marvel Studios.

Suicide Squad

Leaked from the con and later officially released by a comic-con-international-2015-warner-bros-presentationgrumbling Warner Bros, footage from David Ayer’s Suicide Squad has been rocking the internet, and for good reason – it looks far better than Zack Snyder’s dour team-up. Uniting some of DC’s more obscure villains to tackle impossible missions is great movie material not just because of its excellent source, but because it looks to be something bold and visionary, something DIFFERENT in the face of the same old superhero shtick Marvel continues to peddle. Even Jared Leto’s Joker looks quite solid, not that there was any doubt in my mind.

Here’s hoping for a movie that lives up to what Jon Ostrander accomplished with the comics. Provided director Ayer is channeling Fury and not Sabotage, I think he’ll do just fine.

Deadpool

Deadpool-Is-The-Ultimate-Comic-Con-Movie

Before Bryan Singer provided an intriguing, if expected look at X-Men: Apocalypse, it was director Tim Miller, star Ryan Reynolds, and the cast of Deadpool that brought the thunder Saturday night. In a bit of leaked footage from the upcoming film, as Reynolds is being wheeled away on a stretcher on the promise of gaining superpowers, he cries out, “Please don’t make the suit green. Or animated!” I’ve since watched the leaked footage several times over.

Deadpool’s hilarious panel followed suit, providing some uproariously funny commentary about Miller’s occasional on-set crying, cracking jokes about bestiality, and more. The panel proved the sweet irreverence the Con desperately needed; everyone involved appeared genuinely proud of what they’ve accomplished with the film thus far. Vulture wrote it first and I agree wholeheartedly; if Deadpool is as funny and entertaining as it looks, it could prove the most vital superhero movie of 2016.

Honorable Mentions

I’m not a big fan, but Ash vs. Evil Dead looks like a fun return to an old fan-favorite franchise. The Hateful Eight should have an incredible soundtrack now that Ennio Morricone is onboard for the score, and I may just have to travel to catch it in 70 mm from how passionately Tarantino speaks of the format. The ever-funny Bill Murray proved a welcome addition to the Con family appearing for Open Road’s Rock the Kasbah, which if the trailer is any indication, looks to be a great showcase for the actor’s brand of dry, cool-as-fuck humor.bm

Jay Garrick will appear in the second season of The Flash played by Teddy Sears, a welcome addition to a series that I quite enjoyed overall this past fall. But can we all agree that Legends of Tomorrow looks like shit?

People continue to jizz themselves over The Force Awakens. I will say that all involved seem very genuine about making the best movie they can, but I’ve still seen nothing to convince me the film won’t be anything more than ordinary and unessential, not unlike this summer’s Jurassic World.

Victor Frankenstein’s panel featured stars James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe exchanging unintentional innuendo about their character’s sexual proclivities, proving an entertaining break from the norm. And M. Night Shyamalan stopped by to promote his return-to-form of sorts in The Visit. It’s a prime vehicle for the director’s comeback, but I can’t help but feel that prospect is more cosmetic than anything – the first trailer looks just as awkward a mix of creepy and unintentionally hilarious as The Happening. We’ll see come September.

Dishonorable Mention

Quick bone to pick with the rapidly-devolving Arrow, a show which has producer Greg Berlanti claiming that season four will finally feature the hero’s transition from Arrow to Green Arrow. But isn’t that what viewers were promised each summer preceding the last two seasons? Then there’s the eye-rolling decision to turn classic Justice Society character Mr. Terrific gay on the show. I think Stan Lee said it best, why fundamentally change who these characters are when you can just create new ones? Aside from that, I may delve into the specifics of what I hated so much about Season 3 of “Arrow,” but suffice to say, they’ll have one less viewer tuning in this fall.

Reflection

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We are in the midst of an evolving infrastructure at San Diego Comic-Con. People waiting in line for Hall H for days are now being treated to J.J. Abrams and Zack Snyder bringing them water, t-shirts, a surprise Batmobile appearance, and private invites to a John Williams concert.

And to big money-hungry studios bitching about your trailers leaking – fuck off. People are inevitably going to try to leak your footage, so instead of whining to news outlets about how your footage “wasn’t ready” for public consumption, either be ready to screen it, or don’t screen it at all. Leakage proves thousands of online viewers are interested in your product, and they shouldn’t be excluded just because they didn’t spend thousands to travel to San Diego.

When I started writing these Comic-Con posts, it was difficult to even find footage of the panels themselves. We’ve come a long way since then now that all of this years’ are readily available, however it’s time to take the next step. How about a paid VIP service giving online viewers a live streaming experience of the panels? There’s a huge online audience out there waiting and studios are too busy bitching to realize it.

Regardless, it takes a great panel to remind me why I follow this event in the first place and Deadpool’s was the one to do it. The film was not only the shake-up the convention needed, but that the movie industry will need as well; here’s hoping it delivers as positive an impact as it did in San Diego.

IMAGES: MetroUK, moviepilot, CBSstatic, Wall Street National, altpress, pagesix, flavorwire, nytimes

Dragged to Earth: How the ‘Batman v Superman’ Trailer Loses the ‘Super’

batman-v-superman-02It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a bleak social commentary!

I don’t usually write posts based on pre-release material anymore. More often than not, I’d rather give the movies a chance to speak for themselves, only tossing my two cents in when they can be properly judged in their final form. But my followers know well my adoration for Superman and DC Comics, so perhaps it was inevitable I’d be writing about the Batman v Superman trailer that rocked the internet this month after the new Force Awakens trailer already kind of did that.

Suffice to say, I’m a bit irked.

But before I begin, I highly recommend reading both SlashFilm and ScreenRant’s excellent analyses, which dive deeper into a trailer that seems to entirely lose the point of one-half of its principle protagonists.

I’m referring of course to the distinct anti-Superman attitude throughout the trailer, with actual commentators like Charlie Rose and Neil deGrasse Tyson debating his heroics, set over creepy images of zombie-like followers (pictured above), in one shot reaching out to him in an uncomfortably blinding light. Like its predecessor Man of Steel, Batman v Superman seems to be exploring the possibility that someone like Superman could exist in the real world, analyzing his every move, its implications for humanity, and commenting on society’s rather disturbing messiah complex.

This trailer hugely defies expectations of what a Superman movie is. I tried justifying this radical visage at first, thinking, “Well, lots of Superman comics have delved into his perceived negative effect on the populace, like the classic Elliot S. Maggin/Curt Swan ‘Must There Be a Superman?’, and this is like a darker version of that.” But in the end, I kept returning to the same conclusion. I’m tired of a dark DC Universe. I don’t want any darker a Superman.

Lights up, please.

Director Zack Snyder’s blinding visual flair is perhaps what lent viewers such strong reactions to the footage. It’s incredibly overwhelming, filling each and every frame batman-v-superman-05with vomit-inducing lighting and effects, and making an already dark, ugly color palette feel even darker and uglier. For a production supposedly seeking to answer critics of Man of Steel’s destruction-porn climax, Batman v Superman doesn’t seem to be letting up on the same overwrought approach that led to such miscalculations.

                                                                    Kneel before…Superman, apparently.

Indeed, the trailer goes far beyond the “dark, gritty, realistic” trend in comic book movies of late and extends to pure blackness, hopelessness, and dread. You could make the argument this trailer is presented from the viewpoint of humanity, and indeed its central representative Bruce Wayne, to set the stage for why Wayne might come into conflict with Superman. People are misinterpreting Superman’s mission of peace.

And my answer to all that is simple – it’s a fucking comic book movie.

I don’t go to see a comic book movie for a reflection of the real world, for an exposé on the flaws of society. An allegory maybe, but not a reflection. And I especially don’t go to see a Superman movie to glimpse the batman-v-superman-08ugliness of humanity. That’s not what the character is or has ever been about. I read, watch and consume Superman media to ESCAPE reality, to glimpse a fantasy world that society should be STRIVING towards. The character rarely brings out the worst in humanity; indeed, if anything, the mythology is centered around how Superman’s message of peace is very rarely misinterpreted by the populace, and how people of every creed, nation, and race can rally behind the idea that, hey, let’s all try to be like that guy and help each other out. Superman transcends those kinds of boundaries very quickly.

This idea that humanity could become uglier in his presence is about as far away from Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster as we could possibly get.

I gave Man of Steel a pass on its darker moments under the pretense that that film was the first of a new series. The character needed a grittier, edgier portrayal to be taken seriously by audiences left rolling their eyes at the dated, mundane heroics of Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns. Even within the context of the film, Superman is just beginning his career and entering a whole world of problems. It stands to reason the world is dull and gray without him actively serving it, and that after he’s established as a superhero, sequels would gladly brighten things up.

Yet the trailer for Dawn of Justice shows no such brightness. This is a sordid reality better served by a violent, armor-clad vigilante than a bright and friendly idealistbatman-v-superman-18 swooping in to save the day. But Batman and Superman have always proved a very organic combination in the past, paired together to compare and contrast each other’s respective strengths and ideals. So then shouldn’t this trailer be setting up that contrast? Why the one-sidedness? For shock value? Or just because Snyder has a hard-on for Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns’?

For that matter, why is it that Superman media of the past five years seems to be all about stacking the character with the weight of the world in terms of problems? Why is it that even the solutions Superman finds, he just ends up causing more problems? Can’t he just WIN at some point? Isn’t that the satisfaction of the character, seeing him WIN against impossible odds?

Batman is about having PROBLEMS. Superman is about finding SOLUTIONS.

Teaming these two shouldn’t prove bleak or dark. It should pay off our investment in their adventures. It should balance their differing viewpoints. And above all, it should be FUN. batman-v-superman-09And that’s what Man of Steel, hell, even to an extent the Chistopher Nolan Batman trilogy, lacked – a sense of fun and wonder and joy and escapism that defines these movies.

Some might argue this is a natural maturation of the subgenre. If that’s the case, the subgenre is maturing right out of its core audience – kids. There is a timelessness to these characters; even as we grow old, they and their ideals never do. I’ll take Superman saving a cat from a tree over yet another existential crisis about the burden of wearing a mask any day of the week.

To its credit, Batman v Superman looks surprisingly sophisticated in its underlying power-struggle theme. I like Jeremy Irons’ Alfred monologue, drawing comparisons between the powerlessness Wayne felt witnessing the death of his parents to the powerlessness he might feel at the arrival of a figure like Superman. But there are ways to explore those kinds of ideas and still be FUN. Don’t believe me? Read the Andrew Kevin Walker/Akiva Goldsman Batman vs. Superman script from over a decade ago, which does a great job taking both heroes seriously while still balancing their strengths.

I will of course be reserving final judgment on Dawn of Justice for opening night. This is mere marketing, and clearly designed to elicit a range of responses. But Warner would be wise to re-evaluate their formula for superhero movies if they care to continue making them. I won’t keep paying to see Superman, much less the likes of Green Lantern and Shazam, being scribbled over with a sharpie on an already blackened canvas.

Because keeping Superman grounded just doesn’t fly.

Images: ComingSoon.net

Fantastic Endings: San Diego Comic-Con 2014 (Wrap-Up)

cc4My most hectic blogging period of the year is over, and with little left to say of Sunday’s events, I’m once again using my last Comic-Con post to share my final thoughts and mention some missed opportunities fans lamented over the weekend.

Overall though, how were this year’s festivities? Can’t really say. I was far more detached from the Con, didn’t have time to truly immerse myself in it like I have in years’ past. Not to mention, I’ve been soured on a lot of the gross fanaticism surrounding the event in recent years. Learning from last year, I’ve taken to skipping the Marvel.com and DC official liveblogs for this reason. Maybe I’m just getting older and more jaded.

Among those conspicuously absent from the Con were Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot, already the subject of a great deal of fanboy animosity over its untraditionally youthful cast, among other things. There’s also the controversy over African-American Michael B. Jordan playing the Human Torch, normally a white character (I have much to say on that subject, but such is a topic for another day). Either way, Fox could’ve scored a huge coup winning over fans with an early panel this year. The Four are most most known in the comics for their regular interaction with the larger Marvel universe, even introducing several Marvel mainstays like Black Panther and Namor the Sub-Mariner in its pages. Without the rights to those characters, Fox will no doubt have an uphill battle convincing fans the team are compelling enough characters to go it alone.

Many were also disappointed J.J. Abrams and Star Wars Episode VII did not make an appearance, merely Disney and Lucasfilm’s new animated show Star Wars Rebels. I kind of expected it; VII is still a year-and-a-half off at least, plus Disney would probably rather save such a panel to bring people into its own D23 expo in August.

I suppose I should also comment on the lack of Shazam news, with no official confirmation that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson will playing either Captain Marvel or Black Adam in a new movie. It’s not a project I’m particularly passionate about, but I suppose an expanding slate of DC films is worth getting excited about regardless. As long as the script has evolved to a place where it’s not a Superman: the Movie ripoff (*ahem*, William Goldman), this is one to watch for.

Finally, Marvel surprised many when news outlets attempting to pre-emotively ruin their surprise, did not actual reveal their surprise, that Joaquin Phoenix is being courted to star in Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange adaptation. I’m going back and forth on this one. There is an ethereal, out-there, otherworldly quality to Phoenix and the projects he chooses. He’s built quite the reputation for himself over the years, starring in several subtle, intense roles that make him an interesting pick for Strange. Yet he looks nothing like the character, whose rugged good looks are a defining aspect of his personality. The Strange of the comics has always struck me as more of a swashbuckler, a charmer with humility, an Errol Flynn with a mind to help people. Needless to say, Phoenix’s quirky, even mousy persona doesn’t quite fit that. Jean Dujardin, on the other hand…

As always, I’m wrapping up with Kevin Smith’s yearly talk. This year his Q&A is conspicuously absent from Youtube, limited to only his nonetheless entertaining account of visiting the set of Star Wars Episode VII:

I have some evolving thoughts on Episode VII which I’ll discuss in a future post as well.

That’s about all I have. As always, thanks so much for following and being patient. Hope you all enjoyed this year’s coverage, which I’m praying I’ll have more time for next year.

Small Rifts, Max-imum Wonder: San Diego Comic-Con 2014 (Day Three)

comic-con_logoHey guys, sorry I’m late with this post. Balancing passion with paid work is never an easy task…very much appreciate the patience!

 

WB Pictures

Getting the surprises out of the way first, Zack Snyder entered to premiere a quick teaser for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and bring out the three primary cast members, Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, and Gal Gadot as Supes, Bats, and Wonder Woman respectively. The footage has already leaked online, featuring a Batman wearing heavy Dark Knight Returns-style armor and Superman flying above, eyes flashing red with heat vision. The look of Wonder Woman was also revealed, pictured left.

The WW costume is about what most of us were picturing, I suppose. Not much left to say other than I’m just as excited as I was before this and very much looking forward to the team-up.

Jupiter Ascending was next, a film which I’m interested in, yet weary over after the Wachowskis’ pretentious, overindulgent Cloud Atlas. Following that film came Mad Max: Fury Road, finally debuting footage after a nearly two-year shooting block and an even longer development period. Director George Miller took the stage for his first Con, describing the film as an, “imaginary friend. Popped into [my] head and wouldn’t leave.” Miller went on to say the film would largely be one big chase sequence with minimal dialogue, and gave him, “a chance to return to simple allegory of first film.” Footage screened at the Con can be viewed below:

That’s a Mad Max movie alright, though I’ve never been particularly passionate about the franchise myself. The first film is my least favorite of the bunch; I find it dark and ugly, almost Grindhouse-esque. I much prefer the  down-to-earth, human, story-driven nature of Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome. Give me story over stunts any day.

Still, check out some fantastic storyboards for the film at BleedingCool, which I’m sure will be published as a comic book or something during the film’s release next year.

I unfortunately had to skimp on The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies panel, moderated by Stephen Colbert. It’s a film I have no doubt will be as epic and emotional a conclusion as director Peter Jackson’s five other Middle-Earth ventures.

 

Legendary Pictures

Ended up missing this panel as well. Still, it was exciting to hear of Chris Hemsworth and director Michael Mann, making his first Con appearance, showcasing Black Hat, previously known as the Untitled Cyber Thriller, which they’ve been working on for a few years now. Guillermo Del Toro was also on call to promote Crimson Peak, the director’s latest R-rated horror venture which sounds for more promising than Pacific Rim. For Warcraft, director Duncan Jones appeared to promote the film, which is reportedly an origin story detailing the origins of battling the Orcs. Also announced was a King Kong spinoff of sorts titled Skull Island. Interesting stuff all around.

 

A Dame to Kill For

While I followed this panel, I don’t really have much to say on the film itself just yet. The film comes out in a month, I’m eagerly awaiting it, however (minor spoilers)…we STILL don’t know if Clive Owen will make a cameo in the third act of the title storyline as Dwight post-face operation. You’d think this would be the sort of thing they’d reveal at Comic-Con, despite the spoiler potential. I want to know, dammit!

 

Marvel Studios

Ant-Man-Comic-Con-2014-Exclusive-Poster

Ironically enough, looming large over Marvel’s festivities this year was the Edgar Wright Ant-Man debacle, yet fans didn’t seem to care much as Marvel played the crowd like a fiddle, showing footage from Phases 1 and 2 to kick off their panel. They certainly do like tooting their own horn, even undeservedly, yet perhaps sadder is the fact that people still eat up even the company’s weakest efforts.

Perhaps wanting to get it out of the way first (and unsurprisingly fielding no fan questions), the cast and new director of Ant-Man took the stage first, revealing as rumored that Evangeline Lily would be playing Hank Pym’s daughter Hope Van Dyne in the film. Attempting to better tie director Peyton Reed to the project, Feige eagerly showcased a hand-drawn promo from an amateur rock band Reed played in in the late 80s. The promo was a riff on the cover of Avengers #1 with band members standing in for the heroes; Reed stood in for Ant-Man, in what is I guess a pretty interesting coincidence. Still, it’s a pretty fleeting way of trying to brush past Edgar Wright’s huge commitment to the project in favor of Reed’s.

More promising was Rudd’s physique, clearly just looking at his neck shows he’s been hitting the gym hard for the role of Scott Lang. And Michael Douglas seemed earnestly enjoying his tenure there, speaking of Tales to Astonish and Hank Pym’s background. Marvel also screened some early test footage featuring of Lang running along a table and leaping onto a flying ant.

I shared my thoughts on the new direction of the production a month or so ago, but since then a lot of the anger seems to have cooled based on producer Kevin Feige’s comments that the production really did come down to creative differences. Feige also poked fun at the notion of the “big, bad studio,” and maintained the film in its current state was the, “best version of Ant-Man.” According to who? The studio? More importantly, who’s to say this isn’t complete PR bullshit, the studio’s “official” account of the story, put out there in order to dodge such questions at Comic-Con? If the split between Wright and Marvel was really as amicable as Feige paints it to be, then why did Wright tweet the ultra-somber photo of Buster Keaton, famously cheated by MGM, and title it “selfie?”

There is another side to this story – Wright’s. Feige has said nothing to deconfirm what the trades initially reported, that the studio had gone over Wright’s head and commissioned inferior rewrites of the script. Whether or not Wright “wasn’t used to the collaboration,” is irrelevant, more Feige vindicating of himself and the studio than a subjective recount of the dispute. Regardless, I’m still shaking my head at Marvel, Feige, and all involved who led to Wright divorcing himself from his own work.

There was a bit more fun to be had at the Age of Ultron panel, which included all major players sans Joss Whedon, who’d been undergoing knee surgery. Also introduced was Josh Brolin as Thanos, the sole surprise of the evening after screening some early footage of the film.

 

WB TV

Though I’ve already shared by thoughts on both Flash and Constantine here, the WB TV panel, moderated by Arrow’s Stephen Amell, shared some new details about the four new and current DC shows. For one, an extended trailer revealed that Ra’s Al Ghul will, predictably, be the primary third season villain on Arrow. Fine by me – while Arrow is a show highly derivative of Nolan’s Batman, frequently contains silly plot twists (Sarah’s bisexual?! MY GOD!!), and is generally entirely manufactured drama, at it’s core it’s a solid, entertaining hero’s journey.

I haven’t said a lot about Gotham because there really isn’t much to talk about there. It looks decent, I’m looking forward to seeing where they take the story, but there’s only so many places you can take a series like this without drawing it out and/or deviating heavily from the source material like Smallville did. I’m really just hoping for cameos from past Bat-family like Adam West or Chris O’Donnell.

Check back soon for my final wrap-up of the ceremonies!

Multiverse of Possibility: San Diego Comic-Con 2014 (Day Two)

cc2Do you feel that? That is the itch of anticipation, dear readers. An itch that can only be quelled by tomorrow’s smorgasbord of panels, sure to be a true roller-coaster ride of commentary. Until then, we must settle for the kibble and bits we’ve been given during Friday’s panels.

 

Grant Morrison’s Multiversity

Bleeding Cool have posted a great recap of this panel, detailing writer Grant Morrison’s Multiversity, a 9-issue comic which took Morrison eight years to script. Every character in the DCU will make an appearance of some kind, in addition to a healthy dose of meta-ness – each subsequent issue will feature children reading the previous issue. Morrison’s got a huge ego and isn’t all he’s cracked up to be, but he is talented, and this is certainly one to look out for.

Marvel TV presents

Once again Marvel TV man Jeph Loeb was on hand to talk Marvel’s growing slate of TV adaptations. The first was Agent Carter, set to premiere in mid-season 2015, centering on Peggy Carter, the love interest from Captain America: The First Avenger. Yet despite the awesome prospect of bringing back Cap movie directors Joe Johnston and the Russo brothers to helm episodes of the series, there’s not a lot for me to be excited about here. As with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. last year, I’m wondering what exactly makes this rather minor character compelling enough to warrant her own series.

I suppose the idea makes sense from a business perspective. There is financial risk to be had in female-led comic book properties, and a low-budget TV show starring a pre-established character is, on paper, a great way for Marvel to test the waters for more female-centric projects. But wouldn’t a show based on a different, as-yet-unadapted Marvel comic prove more exciting? Or at the very least be set in a time period which allows for more connectivity with the rest of the Marvel universe? Jessica Jones, anyone? Not to mention, if Agent Carter is to pick up after First Avenger, imagine the number of feminist critiques one could level at a show very likely to feature its leading lady predominantly pining after her seemingly-dead male lover.

Then there is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a show which I shared similar skepticism over last year for the same reason that a show lacking in comic-based Marvel characters might not be able to prove its worth. I got about three episodes in upon its premiere last fall before growing fatigued. It’s very hard for me to get invested in these low-level black suits when I know there’s infinitely more thrilling characters like Iron Man and Cap living out their lives elsewhere. I will say the addition of Mockingbird to the cast should prove interesting…some interplay with Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, perhaps?

Disappointingly, the panel did not feature any appearances or announcements from the currently-filming Netflix series Daredevil. Perhaps more disappointingly, the Marvel tool camp was out in full swing, desperately trying to make, “Hail Hydra” a thing, when I can say  wholeheartedly, unquestionably, irrevocably, and without fear of contradiction, it is, in fact, not.

 

20th Century Fox

Fox brought a whopping five films to Comic-Con, barely any of which actually fit the criteria for a CC appearance (Let’s Be Cops? Really?) Standout however was Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsmen: The Secret Service, moderated appropriately enough by Mark Millar, and featuring stars Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson. The actors talked about the influence of spies in our culture, with Jackson commenting he always wanted to be one. He’ll be playing a character with a strange lisp and a baseball cap, and I can’t wait to see how that works out this October.

What I wanted most from the Fox panel was a special appearance from Ridley Scott to talk Exodus: Gods and Kings, the Prometheus sequel, The Martian, the Blade Runner sequel, that movie about football concussions, or any other number of projects he’s attached to. No such luck.

 

Arrow Q&A

The above trailer is a first look at Season 3 of what is apparently “CW’s most watched show two years in a row,” released during a panel featuring the writing team and cast. The crew teased new developments in the show to come over the next season, including Thea being taken to a far darker place, Oliver and Felicity starting to date, and Roy Harper becoming Arsenal. Which brings to light some of the criticisms I have with the show – why can’t Ollie and Felicity just be friends? Why does there always have to be some sort of sexual tension between unrelated male and female characters? The showrunners maintained that they’ll be looking “honestly,” at the characters’ feelings for each other, which they believe “have always been genuine.” Yet it’s abundantly clear comparing the two’s interactions between the first and second seasons that a relationship between them was not initially in the cards.

The panel also revealed there will be episodes flashing back to Felicity’s time at MIT, with one episode titled, “Oracle.” Pure speculation, but with last season’s “Birds of Prey” episode, coupled with the above trailer showing Felicity receiving some serious injuries…could Felicity be being groomed to stand in for Barbara Gordon as Oracle? For that matter, what of the persistent rumors that the team has cast an actor to play Nightwing and feature more Batman characters? Only time will tell…

Tune in tomorrow for a post I’ll be working overtime on. Until then, courtesy of Edgar Wright’s Twitter, here’s a quick taste of the controversy I’m hoping will erupt in full force at the Marvel Studios panel. Stay angry, folks…

BtbjOUTCUAAaaNe

Pilot-ing to the Stars: San Diego Comic-Con 2014 (Preview Night + Day One)

cc1Once a year, the perpetual youth of America turns its attention towards San Diego for the city’s annual Comic Convention. It’s the premiere event for vapid, commercialized entertainment that saps like you and me can’t help but gobble up. And for the third year in a row (my sixth following the Con), I once again plant myself firmly behind my computer screen to bring you, dear reader, all the news, announcements, and coverage you look for in a WordPress blog, with added commentary to boot.

This year I’d debated presenting my coverage via voice-over or video. However, I didn’t quite crack the formula for such content in time for the Con, so I opted for the traditional, written format. Next year perhaps.

To start, get in the mood by glimpsing the show floor on Preview Night here:

 

We begin with Wednesday’s Preview Night, which saw WB TV screening a pair of upcoming pilots, CW’s The Flash and NBC’s Constantine. Both have already leaked online, and despite my tweet earlier in the month…I caved and watched both mere weeks later.

The Flash centers on Barry Allen (Grant Gustin)’s origins as a perpetually late, yet hopeful CSI-turned speedster following a lab accident. Along the way, Barry’s unrequited love (Candace Patton) and others get entangled with a bout against Weather Wizard (Chad Rook). Gustin makes for a solid everyman, and his interaction with both his adoptive and birth fathers (Jesse L. Martin and John Wesley Shipp, respectively) are deep and heartfelt. I can say it’s definitely another CW show, with its soapy romantic dynamic and all manner of pandering teen-friendly content (Iris Allen makes reference to twerking…never thought I’d have to type that, but there you go). It is also a rather ordinary origin story; Weather Wizard proves a very one-dimensional bank-robbing villain. I’m also not a big fan of the series basing itself on Geoff Johns’ comic book retcon, wherein Barry’s mother is murdered by Reverse Flash. Can’t Barry just be a good person at heart? Why does every superhero these days have to have their parents killed before they can don a cape and cowl? All the same, the pilot’s speed effects are well-done, its supporting cast interesting enough, and its flaws minor. Arrow’s pilot bore similar flaws and that show has certainly come into its own. Here’s looking forward to Flash doing the same in the fall.

Constantine centers on the self-proclaimed Master of the Dark Arts (Matt Ryan) meeting another young magic-wielder (Lucy Hale) to combat dark forces, and put himself on a quest to redeem his soul after condemning a girl to Hell. I’ve barely touched Constantine comics and avoided the Keanu Reeves movie like the plague, yet I really liked NBC’s pilot. Sight unseen, I already long for more smoking and fouler language, sorely missed attributes of network television, yet the series compensates with some smart storytelling and strong production value. Matt Ryan gets a quick handle on the character as well, standing as the pilot’s standout casting choice. I would’ve liked the character to be a bit more of a hard-ass and less easy to read, perhaps peeling away the layers of his character until the climax when he’s most vulnerable, yet his arc suffices. The pilot does try to cram far too much into one episode as well, bearing the weight of several plot threads, character arcs, and exposition. I’m looking forward to less expository and more witty, snarky, amused follow-up episodes this Fall. And hopefully, as already teased, further DC characters like Swamp Thing will make an appearance.

Thursday proved a busy day for me. I had every intention of following (and truthfully, making fun of) the Sony panel, which featured such inspired future classics such as the Jack Black-starring Goosebumps and the Adam Sandler-starring Pixels. Much to my dismay, I did not make the liveblogging festivites, and consequently, nor did I care to read back on them. Either way, for the following and all future posts, a special thanks to ComingSoon.net for liveblogging said events.

Paramount’s panel had far more going on, though still not a lot I’d care to comment on. A trailer for the second theatrical Spongebob movie played with Tom Kenny in attendance. Despite growing up and loving the show as a kid, I hated the first movie, even back in 2005. There’s just something about that character that doesn’t work in a Hollywood-ized, theatrical setting. Next came Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a film being produced by Michael Bay and directed by the Wrath of the Titans and Battle: Los Angeles guy. Pass. Hot Tub Time Machine 2? Pass. The panel did feature a brief appearance by Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson promoting a screening of Hercules. Fans chanted “Shazam!” to him in light of the wrestler-turned-actor’s recent hints that he’s attached for a role in a Captain Marvel movie, as he has been for years. Johnson wouldn’t confirm, but let’s be honest, the secret’s kinda out.

Finally there was Interstellar, featuring appearances by director Christopher Nolan and undeserved Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey. The film, which its star described as Nolan’s “most ambitious yet,” will follow McConaughey’s character being forced to leave his children to travel to another galaxy. Nolan discussed how the film will tap into the zeitgeist, that in years past, every kid wanted to be an astronaut and travel into space. Not so much in recent years, as we’ve been preoccupied with predominantly domestic matters. Still very much looking forward to this one.

Highlight here, thanks to BleedingCool:

That’s all for today, check back tomorrow for more!