When you go to Comic-Con, you’ll want to spend some time in Hall H, the giant room where stars come to talk about huge Hollywood projects and show off the biggest stars at the show. This year, I went all day Saturday.
11:45 Warner Bros
Moderator: Geoff Boucher
First, Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns came out to introduce some footage. It showed some effects shots, including a green fist coming from GL’s ring, a shot of Oa, and Tomar-Re. No shots of GL costume. Then they brought out some of the cast and crew.
- Greg Berlanti (screenwriter)
- Donald DeLine (producer)
- Martin Campbell (of The Mask of Zorro and Casino Royale, director)
- Peter Sarsgaard (of Kinsey, Hector Hammond)
- Mark Strong (of Sherlock Holmes, Sinestro)
- Blake Lively (of Gossip Girl, Carol Ferris)
- Ryan Reynolds (of Van Wilder, Green Lantern/Hal Jordan)
Q: Ryan, I hear you used Harrison Ford and Chuck Yeager as models to frame your character.
A: [Reynolds] I felt like he was a classic action hero. He can throw a punch, tell a joke, and kiss a girl.
Q: Martin, what’s the tone of the film?
A: [Campbell] It’s light, with some humor, but the action and relationships needed to feel real. It’s my first superhero movie.
Q: The costume is key.
A: [Campbell] We lost the white gloves; we think it looks more interesting. It’s more like a skin on GL instead of him being in a suit. The lines on it follow the musculature of a human body. Still a work in progress.
Q: This story goes off-planet.
A: [DeLine] It was a great opportunity to take it into a new realm, part space opera. It features famous creatures like Killowog, Solaak, Budika, BZZD, Green Man.
Q: What did you think of some of the stranger ideas, like doing Green Lantern as a comedy?
A: [Johns] Before, we’ve gotten strange questions from studios, like “Can we do it without the ring?” I thought to myself the movie would never happen.
Q: Blake, what was it like playing a character who went through so many interpretations through the years?
A: [Lively] She has a bit of a rivalry with Hal. They’re both test pilots. I felt like a really awesome aunt to my nephews, getting in fighter jets.
Q: Peter, Hector’s doesn’t start out as a villain. What’s that like?
A: [Sarsgaard] It’s nice to have my own origin story within the movie. What he becomes was really inside him all along. He’s a really experimental scientist looking for new frontiers. I say he was always “the kind of kid who licked the battery.”
Q: Peter, what got you hooked on the project?
A: [Sarsgaard] Martin did something really smart. He told me the whole story through my character’s eyes.
Q: Mark, will your character kick ass?
A: Yes. He doesn’t think humans can hack it as Green Lanterns. He feels a duty to train up Hal.
Q: What costume would you wear to Comic-Con?
A: [Reynolds] A wookiee. I want to be cute and dangerous.
[Lively] Harry Potter.
[Sarsgaard] I was always into Captain America.
[Strong] Sinestro. Can’t wait for you guys to see him.
[Berlanti] Barry Allen.
[Johns] Ryan Reynolds.
Now an adorable little boy comes up to ask the next question (the audience goes “Awwww…”). He asks Ryan Reynolds what it’s like to say the Green Lantern oath. Reynolds says, “Well, it’s kind of like this…” and dramatically recites the oath. The kid raises up his hand to show a GL ring, and Reynolds does the same.
Q: The lanterns are based on different types of emotions. Will we see Ion or Parallax?
A: [Reynolds] Parallax is in it. …And I’d better be allowed to say that.
At the end of the panel, they had everybody reach under their seats. One person had a ticket to get the GL ring Reynolds was wearing at the panel.
Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy)
“The last ten years has been an incredible journey.”
Q: The last day of the shoot must have been powerful.
A: It was an emotional day. I don’t want to name any names, but Dan [Radcliffe] cried like a baby.
They showed some footage. Not a very big part of the panel.
Releasing March 2011. Snyder’s first original script. He’s been working on it 8 years, maybe longer.
- Zack Snyder (writer/director)
- Carla Gugino (Mrs. Schulz)
- Jamie Chung (Amber)
- Vanessa Hudgens (Blondie)
- Jena Malone (Rocket)
- Emily Browning (Baby Doll)
The movie is based in a mental hospital, and the girls escape to fantasy worlds (presumably in their minds, though it’s not made clear). The clip they show features many genres, from WWI combat to mecha battles to fantasy worlds. They use “When the Levee Breaks” in the trailer, though this might just be for the trailer.
Q: Tell us about your characters.
A: [Browning] Baby Doll’s mom dies, and her abusive stepfather puts her in an asylum. She meets friends she wants to escape with.
[Hudgens] Blondie gets to shoot the biggest guns.
[Malone] Rocket plays Sweet Pea’s [a character played by Abbie Cornish] younger sister. The likes Baby Doll’s idea of escape.
[Chung] Amber’s the first to jump on board. She’s very loyal.
[Gugino] She’s a doctor and an alternate reality dominatrix/dance-choreographer/madam.
Q: What was the creative process like?
A: [Snyder] I wanted to play with the idea that you can compress a lot into a stressful moment. I’d use a transition and visual process of condensing time.
Q: The characters have dances that represent them.
A: [Snyder] One sequence shows a day in the life of their reality, which has a singing and dancing aspect to it.
[Malone] Dances are about the characters internal struggles.
[Gugino] We did them in a massive hall, kind of a Moulin Rouge homage. There were a lot of people watching, which gave it energy.
Q: What was it like to be action girls?
A: [Browning] It was nice that we were really tough and supportive characters. We weren’t catty, and it wasn’t a “it’s funny to see girls firing big guns” thing.
[Malone] They’re really three-dimensional characters.
Q: Did you have the same action choreographer as Watchmen?
A: [Snyder] The same as Watchmen and 300.
Q: How much information did you need to spoon-feed to the audience, and how much could you imply?
A: [Snyder] I tried to figure out the part that transports you and that conveys the rules of the alternate reality.
Q: What’s the rating?
A: [Snyder] There’s a chance it might get PG-13 since there’s a lot of fighting robots and other non-humans.
Q: What can you tell us about Xerxes?
A: [Snyder] It’s a follow-up to 300. Frank Miller’s working on the graphic novel now.
Q: What was it like to work on your own material?
A: [Snyder] Once it was written, I treated it just like anything I’d be adapting. I stay faithful to the screenplay.
1:30 Let Me In
American adaptation of Let the Right One In.
Simon Oates (head of Hammer Films): Let Me In will be Hammer’s first release in 35 years. We also have The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe as the lead and with Jane Goldman as the writer.
- Moderator: Drew McWeeny
- Matt Reeves (of Cloverfield, director)
- Kodi Smit-McPhee (of The Road, Owen)
- Richard Jenkins (of The Visitor, The Father)
- Chloe Moretz (of Kick-Ass, Abby)
Reeves said “We had to find the right kids or we didn’t have a movie. He showed Moretz photos of a homeless family by Mary Allen Mark, with a defiant, protective girl in them. Moretz’s character could be lonely, sad, or primal.
It’s a period film set in the 1980s. The original book and novel were about the author’s childhood, and this plays off Reeve’s childhood. When the USSR is the “evil empire” and evil is something “over there,” how do they deal with violence in their home?
They looked for a quintessential American community and ended up in the New Mexico high desert for snow and incredible vistas. Somebody suggested Los Alamos.
Reeves made sure they didn’t increase the kids’ ages as originally planned.
Jenkins had a role that was largely non-verbal. He loved to try to make a human being out of someone who does what he does.
The adaptation filters even the subplots through the leads’ eyes. It has a Rear Window aspect as Cody watches what happens around the place he lives. They added in more details from the book, the Swedish film, and the director’s childhood.
Reeves talked to Spielberg about working with kids. He advised to let them come up with their own stuff (since they’re actually 12), and to keep journals written in character.
Smit-McPhee and Jenkins saw the original after they were done filming, and Chloe’s mother won’t let her see it. Reeves asked any cast and crew who hadn’t seen the original to avoid seeing it while working on it.
4:00 Resident Evil: Afterlife
- Paul W.S. Anderson (writer/director/producer)
- Wentworth Miller (Chris Redfield)
- Ali Larter (Claire Redfield)
- Mila Jovovich (Alice)
New trailer shown in 3D for the first time.
Q: Why did you decide to use 3D?
A: [Anderson] I always felt it was a great idea, but the technology hadn’t caught up. When I saw a chunk of Avatar footage early, I knew we needed to use those cameras.
Q: Why has Resident Evil had more longevity than other video game movie franchises?
A: [Anderson] Myself and Jovovich are really fans of the game. We bring passion and energy. It’s really rare to have the same creative team for four movies in a row.
Q: How did 3D change the process and your thinking?
A: [Anderson] It changed everything from how you compose, move the camera, pace movie. I think it’s a paradigm shift like silent films to talkies or black and white to color. You have to design sets for greater depth.
They show some footage of a fight against a creature called an executioner.
During the Q&A, somebody got Jovovich to say “Multi-pass.”
The film had many sequences shot on location, but more stunts were done on green screen to make 3D work better.
Between the RE panel and the scheduled start of the next, we saw a commotion about 30 feet in front of us. People called for security, then for a medic. Security arrived, followed by medical staff and police. A man with blood on his face got onto a stretcher and was wheeled out, then another man was escorted out of the hall by police The panels were bumped to later times as the police questioned witnesses and the area was cleaned. The police later explained that one man stabbed the other in the corner of his eye with a pen. One of them was staying through a panel he didn’t want to see to get to one he did, and there was a dispute. See the CBR report, including a photo of the suspect wearing the Harry Potter free t-shirt with “Undesirable No. 1” on it.
(orig. 4:45) Universal
- Moderator: Chris Hardwick
- Greg Mottola (of Superbad, director)
- Simon Pegg (of Shaun of the Dead, writer/Graeme)
- Nick Frost (of Shaun of the Dead, writer/Clive)
- Jason Bateman (of Arrested Development, Lorenzo Zoil)
- Bill Hader (of Saturday Night Live, Haggard)
- Sigourney Weaver (of Alien, Grace)
- Jeffrey Tambor (of Arrested Development, Adam Shadowchild)
- Joe Lo Truglio (of The State, O’Reilly)
- Seth Rogen (of Pineapple Express, Paul [voice])
Q: Where did the idea come from?
A: [Pegg] We were shooting the record-throwing scene of Shaun of the Dead, and the producer said, “Couldn’t we shoot somewhere sunny?” So we spitballed the idea, including a desert, etc.
Q: You went on a road trip?
A: [Pegg] From California to Wyoming in an RV, just like in the film.
Q: How did you get Greg Motolla?
A: [Pegg] We saw Superbad and thought it was filmed beautifully. You really have to film comedy right.
Q: Jason, you get to be a badass.
A: [Bateman] I’m the guy in hot pursuit. Kind of the Yaphet Kotto role from Cannonball Run, minus a hundred pounds or so.
Q: Sigourney, you were just a voice for much of the movie. What was it like to be separated from the cast?
A: [Weaver] I still had to put everything into the part at all times.
Q: You shot some exteriors at Comic-Con.
A: [Tambor] I’d been here before for Max Headroom. They created a set in Albuquerque to look like Comic-Con.
Q: Seth, what was it like to act in a green motion capture suit?
A: [Rogen] Yeah, as soon as I started I found out I’d be in a green spandex suit for a week. That gets turned into a CG alien who does disgusting things that I find hilarious. So I took technology people had worked on for years and used it to pretend to jack off.
Q: What defining moment made you want to pursue a film career?
A: [Pegg] My mum was really into amateur dramatics.
[Frost] I met Simon. I got to 30 and didn’t want to be [like] Ed [his Shaun of the Dead character] anymore.
Q: This movie is like four levels of meta. It’s about Comic-Con and you’re talking about it at Comic-Con right now.
A: [Simon] We brought a lot of people who’d been to Comic-Con to recreate it elsewhere. We had the 501st [stormtrooper costume group].
[Frost] We couldn’t film inside at Comic-Con. The fire marshal said no way.
Q: Simon, you’re a geek icon. You’ve played Scotty [in Star Trek], and you fought the ninth Doctor [in Doctor Who].
A: [Pegg] I could make a living just coming to Comic-Con for the rest of my life.
Q: What are the pros and cons of being a celebrity at Comic-Con?
A: [Motolla] People think I’m Moby.
[Pegg] You can still put a mask on and just wander the halls.
[Frost] I came Thursday as slave Leia. There’s no downside. Before all this happened, I was a waiter.
[Hader] I came as a fan for four years.
[Weaver] I feel at home here.
[Tambor] People thought I was Dr. Phil.
[Lo Truglio] I’ve had a lot of double rainbow moments. There are wonderful smells and sights.
[Rogen] Since I lost weight, I look like J.J. Abrams. People fuckin’ love him here.
Q: Seth, was it hard to schedule this and Green Hornet?
A: [Rogen] I did some motion capture before GH. They filmed simultaneously, and I had to re-record some voice stuff after GH was done.
Q: In a gun fight between the cops from Hot Fuzz and Superbad, who would win?
A: [Hader and Rogen] The guys from Hot Fuzz would kick our asses.
[Pegg] Hot Fuzz. Angel’s so dedicated and the Superbad cops just don’t care.
Q: This is for Chris too. What’s your favorite Comic-Con memory?
A: [Hardwick] I saw a guy dressed as Wolverine take a hit off his inhaler.
[Motolla] Probably about 10 minutes ago.
[Pegg] Meeting Ken Foree from the original Dawn of the Dead.
[Frost] Right now.
[Bateman] Seeing that trailer. It’s the first I’ve seen of it.
[Hader] I met Neil Gaiman in 2000.
[Weaver] Coming for the first time to promote Galaxy Quest.
[Tambor] Meeting you guys today.
[Lo Truglio] He took mine.
[Rogen] Smoking a joint with Ed Brubaker and Method Man.
Cowboys & Aliens
Jon Favreau comes on stage. He says they’ve only been shooting four weeks and there’s another Comic-Con before the film releases. They show some early footage. [Aside: If you get a chance to go to a panel Favreau’s on, do it. He knows exactly how to work the crowd at SDCC.] He introduces the cast.
- Daniel Craig
- Olivia Wilde
- Sam Rockwell
- Adam Beach
- Alex Kurtzman (screenwriter)
- Roberto Orci (screenwriter)
Then Harrison Ford comes onstage in handcuffs, escorted by two security guards. It’s his first time at Comic-Con and the crowd gives him a loooong standing ovation.
Q: Did you ever see any of this in your future?
A: [Ford] I just wanted to make a living as an actor. I never saw any of this.
Q: Jon, you were mixing two genres. How did you decide what the feel would be?
A: It was inspired by Scott Rosenberg’s comic. It’s a straight Western and shot like one, but I added in the type of science fiction from when I was a kid. It was still sort of horror, like in Close Encounters, Predator, and Alien.
(orig. 6:00) Marvel Studios
- Moderator: Geoff Boucher
- Kevin Feige (president, Marvel Studios)
Q: Tell us about the ambition to connect the films into one universe.
A: It’s never been done before because of rights and real-world conflicts between people.
They show Captain America teaser footage. It’s from costume tests and features a shield throw. They bring out some cast and crew.
- Joe Johnston (of The Rocketeer and The Wolfman, director)
- Chris Evans (of Fantastic Four, Steve Rogers/Captain America)
- Hugo Weaving (of The Matrix, Red Skull)
Q: What’s the tone?
A: [Johnston] It’s a classic adventure/love story. One of my favorite movies is Raiders of the Lost Ark (probably because I worked on it). It’s a period piece, but very modern. At no time does it feel like it was made in 1936.
Q: Was doing another superhero [after the Human Torch in Fantastic Four] a pro or a con?
A: [Evans] To me, I just try to make the character come to life. If I’m good, no one will have much of a problem with it.
Q: Joe, tell us about your version of Cap.
A: [Johnston] I’m a fan of the Brubaker version, and we borrowed some visuals for the suit from there. It’s slightly more modern.
The entire film is set in the forties.
Q: Joe, you wanted to have an actor who could do bot pre- and post-serum Steve Rogers.
A: [Johnston] You have to like him before he takes the serum or you won’t care about him after.
They showed footage of the Red Skull (before his face was changed and he got his name) searching for the Cosmic Cube and referring to Yggdrasil.
- Kenneth Branagh (director) [First time at Comic-Con]
Branagh knew little about American comics growing up, but he loved Thor: the name, appearance, brute strength, dysfunctional family, and epic adventures.
- Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson)
- Tom Hiddleston (Loki)
- Kat Dennings (Darcy [a new character for the movie])
- Natalie Portman (Jane Foster)
- Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
Q: What was it like using a hammer instead of the more common swords and guns?
A: [Hemsworth] I looked at comics for the poses and studied the real-world function of using a hammer to fight.
Q: Tell us about working with Anthony Hopkins [Odin].
A: [Hemsworth] He was humble, talented, and extremely enthusiastic. He kept saying, “Isn’t doing this great?”
Q: Natalie, Jane Foster hasn’t been the most developed character in the comics.
A: [Portman] It’s been exciting to play a character you can find new colors in, and to play a scientist who’s frazzled and not just “sexy cleavage, glasses.”
Q: So I heard you were disappointed to be walking away from Star Wars.
A: [Portman] Working with FX is a skill, and I wanted to keep using that training.
Q: Kat, tell us about Darcy.
A: [Dennings] She’s a new creation. Kind of Jane Foster’s helper/sidekick/protege, but she’s kind of useless.
Q: Tom, your character has so much going on, he must be a treat to play.
A: [Hiddleston] He’s both the agent of chaos and a damaged younger brother. He could have been the guy, but didn’t have the guns. It’s fun to play that game of “Is he telling the truth” and “Can you tell?”
They showed some footage (in 3D).
Q: The hammer has that classic Kirby look.
A: [Branagh] We went with the most popular, enduring items, stories, and comics, plus what we like. We wanted clean lines and a classical feel.
Q: Why didn’t you do the classic Don Blake Thor with the cane?
A: [Branagh] We have some Don Blake surprises. There are touches, but not done in the usual way.
Q: Natalie, you’re highly educated. Do you feel the popularity of Thor speaks to a Jungian archetype? Also, will Thor smash Loki with a hammer, and will it be totally sweet?
A: [Portman] You win. You’re the best questioner ever.
Q: Kenneth, you’ve done a lot of Shakespearean works. How is this similar and different?
A: [Branagh] My first picture was Henry V. It has epic battles, a hero with a reckless past who must atone for the sins of his father. I guess interest in those subjects is in my creative DNA.
Q: Chris, what homework did you do?
A: [Hemsworth] Kenneth gave me books about men finding their way in life, the comics, Norse myths. The Thor world was new to me.
Q: Kevin, is there any hope for the R-rated characters?
A: [Feige] Frank Castle is now under the Marvel Studios roof, and we hope to bring him into the fray soon.
Q: Will Wolverine be in the Captain America movie?
A: No. He’s under the Fox contract.
Q: Natalie, why do you like comic projects like V for Vendetta and Thor?
A: [Portman] They have epic themes and scale. And it’s great to have fans already excited about the subject matter to deliver to.
…One More Thing
They show an Avengers teaser with the logo and a voice-over by Samuel L. Jackson. Then Jackson comes onstage and announces the returning cast and characters for the Avengers movie.
- Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson)
- Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow)
- Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
- Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America)
- Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man)
Downey Jr. then takes the mic. He talks about how this is the most ambitious film project ever, to combine these movies into one universe. He introduces the new actors.
- Jeremy Renner (of The Hurt Locker, Clint Barton/Hawkeye)
- Mark Ruffalo (of Zodiac, Bruce Banner/Hulk)
- Joss Whedon (director)
Joss said, “I’ve had a dream for my entire life, and it was not this good.”