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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Comic-Con 2013: Marvel Panel

Written by Sean Ferguson
Marvel-Studios-LogoOut of all of the panels that were to appear in Hall H this year, the one that I was looking forward to the most (with the exception of Harrison Ford), was the Marvel one and it also proved to be the hardest one to get into as well.  I love superhero comics and movies (both DC and Marvel) so I was very excited to see what Marvel had planned for Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier as they were the only two announced panels.  I knew that Marvel being Marvel, would of course have something secret that they would spring on us and I couldn’t wait to see what it was.  I thought it might be an official announcement for The Avengers 2 or maybe some welcome news of a brand new franchise like Doctor Strange or something. I thought there might even be a mention of The Guardians of the Galaxy, but considered that to be somewhat unlikely since they just started filming the movie.  They couldn’t possibly have footage to show after fourteen days of filming right?  And there’s no chance that Loki could show up to belittle the Hall H crowd either right?  Well, true believers you just might be surprised…

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Thor: The Dark World – The fun started with Marvel’s Kevin Feige coming out to introduce the Thor: The Dark Worldpanel before the lights went out  and a menacing voice echoed through the chamber.  “Humanity … look how far you’ve fallen. Lining up in the sweltering heat for hours … Huddled together in the darkness.  Then there was a flash of light and Tom Hiddleston suddenly appears in character as Loki as the crowd roars.  ”I am Loki of Asgard… and I am burdened with glorious purpose.”  Facing moderator Chris Hardwick and Feige, Loki snarls and says, “Stand back, you mewling quim,” and the two scamper away to leave Loki alone in command of the stage.  “The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for a place in this chamber…this meager palace of Midgard, this arena they call Hall H.”
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At this point, it’s clear how much fun Hiddleston is having with the crowd and he’s having a difficult time maintaining his disdain for these humans.  Every once in awhile a wide grin is seen as he continues to berate the crowd.  “You should have let me rule you when you had the chance.  Here you are.  Your ears yearn for untold stories, your eyes crave unseen sights. Your imaginations ache and hunger.  Where are your Avengers now?  Claim loyalty to me… and I will give you what you need.”   The crowd jumped to their feet as Loki tells the crowd to say his name.  ”Loki!!” the crowd responds.  It’s not good enough for Loki.  ”Say my NAME” he says again.  The crowd responds even louder.  “SAY MY NAME!” he yells.  The crowd screams his name and they start chanting his name.  Finally satisfied, Loki smiles and says, “Then I have an army.  Feast your eyes.””  As a reward for our fealty, Loki allows us to see footage from Thor: The Dark World which looks super cool.
Before I get into the footage, here is the video of Loki’s entrance which you really need to see if you haven’t yet:
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As for the footage from the movie, a lot of it has already been seen before in the previous teaser trailer but there is still some new shots interspersed within it such as Jane bitchslapping Loki for what he did to New York, a fight between Thor and a giant rock creature, and most surprisingly, Loki turning against Thor and *major spoiler alert* by cuttig off his hand before Thor can call Mjolnir to him.  This sequel looks a lot more expansive than the first film and it was nice to see the original cast return for this one.  We see the Warriors Three, Heimdall, and more during the quick intercutting between battle scenes.  It looks good and action packed and the romance between Jane Foster and Thor seems to continue into this film as Thor brings Jane to Asgard.  I was surprised that none of the other Thor cast were there but Tom Hiddleston as Loki more than made up for it!
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER logo | ©2012 Marvel Studios
Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Next up was a welcome return to Captain America and S.H.I.E.L.D. with directors Joe and Anthony Russo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Joe Grillo, Emily Van Camp, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan,  Samuel L. Jackson, and Cobie Smulder present to talk about the film.  Feige went right into why the Russos were hired as he had enjoyed their earlier work on “Arrested Development” and “Community.” Turning the question to the crowd, he asked, “Would you like to see why we hired the Russos?”  Being the smart people that we are, the Hall H crowd yelled “Yes” and we got to see a clip from the movie that showed off the humor and the action that we can expect from the movie.
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The clip starts with Captain America getting into a glass elevator along with a couple of guys including Brock Lumlow (Frank Grillo).  They continue on and make another stop where more guys get in.  We see Captain America cooly checking everyone out.  There’s another stop and even more guys get in and by this point there’s about a dozen big guys in there with him.  Cap notices the sweat on one man’s brow and that another man has his hand on his gun and sighs.   ”Before we start this… anyone want to get off?”  The men all attack Captain America and he beats them off skillfully.  The men try to use their superior numbers against Cap and try to put his hands into magnetic handcuffs and hitting him with a taser.
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Lumlow tells him ”Sorry about this, Cap, it’s nothing personal.”  Cap fights his way out of the handcuffs and beats the crap out of all of the men, including Lumlow.  He steps out of the elevator and says,”Well, it feels personal.”  From that point forward, we just see flashes of the movie that includes scenes of the Black Widow fighting and doing spy stuff, Robert Redford classing the joint up, the Falcon in flight, and a shot of the helicarrier smoking and ruined crashing into some water.  The final shot of the clip shows us someone picking up Captain America’s shield with a bionic arm and the camera rises up to show us the Winter Soldier.
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While I am a fan of the Russos’ comedic television work, I was a little concerned about their hiring for this movie, but that’s evaporated now that I’ve seen this footage.  The fight scene is not only well-choreographed, but it’s filmed well too, with none of the super close up editing that I disliked about the recent Batman movies.  For this entire fight, you can clearly see the entire fight and see how it all flows together so well.  The rest of the film looks really good too with a lot of action and it’s never a bad thing to have Robert Redford in your movie.  Apparently, he is the actual head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury’s boss.  We didn’t get to see too much of The Winter Soldier but Feige did mention that while the audience may be aware who the Soldier actually is, it’s still going to be a surprise for Cap and I’m sure it will be a shock for him.  As someone who really liked the first movie, I;m fairly confident that I will like this one too and I believe that this sequel will convert the naysayers from the first movie (including two of our writers) into fans.
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This panel was already really cool and the audience knew that now we were entering uncharted territory where there was a chance to learn about something new and unannounced was a real possibility.  Feige knew what the fans wanted and asked the crowd, ”Well… do you like new things?”  Of course we answered yes and he said that the Guardians of the Galaxy was fourteen days into shooting in London, but that “They very much wanted to come here to say hi to you.” Feige takes a long pause.  ”So they came here to say hi to you.”  And with that, we began the panel for:
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Guardians of the Galaxy – Director James Gunn came out to introduce the cast that included Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Lee Pace, Djimon Hounsou, and Dave Bautista.  I have to admit something up front about this movie.  Last year, when they announced it at Comic-Con, it felt like I was the only person who was indifferent to the news.  I had never read the comic and the entire concept seemed just silly to me.  A vicious little raccoon that can kick butt?  A tree/plant that fights?  It just had too many weird elements in it for me to get excited about it.  I would have much preferred if they had announced a movie based on more established characters.  So the last thing I expected was to see any footage from a movie that just started filming, or that I would absolutely love it if by some miracle it did happen.  Well, that actually did happen and now I am happy to admit that I was wrong and that I did love what we got to see.
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The clip starts with Star Lord entering some kind of an ancient temple to apparently steal a glowing spherical object whose light alerts guards as the man is quickly surrounded.  Korath aims a gun at him and orders him to drop the object, which Star Lord quickly does, not wanting to get shot.  ”Who are you?” Korath asks.  With a smug smile, the man answers, “Star Lord,”  self-importantly.  Korath appears puzzled.  ”Who?”  While this exchange may not work as well in print as it does on screen, just trust me, by this point I was sold on the movie.  The next scene shows Star Lord getting processed by the authorities which includes John C. Reilly and Peter Serafinowicz who talk about Star Lord and his motley crew of companions as they are being booked.  With each character introduction, we get to see each actor pop up on their screen as Reilly reads off their rap sheets.
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I was really surprised that even the CGI characters like Groot and Rocket Raccoon were included as well as a bunch of finished special effect scenes.  Marvel and whoever is doing their visual effects for this movie must have worked round the clock to pull this off and I tip my hat off to them.  Seeing a movie that just started filming looking this good and finished really caught the audience by surprise and I’m sure their ecstatic reaction must have relieved Marvel that their immense gamble would pay off.  This is such an unusual film for Marvel that I’m still shocked that this came from them.  At the end of the clip as the two men discuss Star Lord, we see him slowly mime cranking a wheel as his middle finger rises up towards the men.  When he’s done and he’s flipping off the men, he sheepishly acts like it’s a surprise and says, “Oh, sorry, I don’t really know how this machine works.”  That was funny in itself, but when Reilly shakes his head in disgust he says, “They call themselves the Guardians Of The Galaxy,” to which the other man says, “What a bunch of a-holes.”  I don’t think I can properly convey just how much this clip killed in the room but suffice it to say that it it was very well received.
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As impressive as it was to see just how much they had accomplished in so short of a time, but Feige reminded us that they, “Try to plan years and years out; you know that we were here in 2006 talking about one day making The Avengers.  One of the things we think about is how long can we make them interesting, but we want something unexpected, and that’s what led us last year to Guardians of the Galaxy.”  James Gunn also talked about how little had changed for him in the making of this movie despite it being on a larger scale than his usual movies.  ”I really like to plan everything out, to know exactly what we’re doing.  In a way it’s no different from making an independent film; we’re trying to do something new and different again.”
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When Chris Pratt’s new physique is brought up he claimed that it wasn’t tied to his new role.  “I just happened to get a tapeworm so it was great timing.  No, I got the role six months ago and luckily they trusted me to lose weight.  I can’t tell you a lot. I can tell you that I’m a FedEx executive who goes down in a crash and lands on an island; Batista plays the volleyball.  Wait, no, that’s Castaway.”  When asked how to describe Star Lord, Pratt said,”Star-Lord is this guy who lives in space.  He’s kind of a jerk; he had a hard time as a kid and now he goes around space making out with hot alien girls and being a bit of a rogue and a jerk, and through teaming up with these guys finds a higher purpose, something to care about and fight for and put his life on the line.”
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For Zoe Saldana, it was an easy choice to take the role as she said, “I’ve been blue once, so why not try green? I love being in space, I love being challenged by great roles.  I play an assassin from space!”  The panel took a more serious turn when Dave Bautista talked about how badly he wanted the role of Drax the Destroyer and how hard he worked to get it.  ”I’m still at the point where I go to set every day and can’t believe I got this job.  James saw something in me when I auditioned and I don’t know what.  I fought really hard for this job; it’s something I wanted more than anything I’ve ever wanted, and when I got it I cried like a little baby.  I’m 44 years old, but I’m still the baby on set in terms of acting experience, so I go everyday and learn something new and try to stretch my range.”
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Lee Pace didn’t have a lot to say about his role as Ronan The Accuser because “It’s early days. He’s a very complicated Kree. He’s a beast.  He’s an iconic character for Marvel since 1967, and I don’t want to say too much because we’re going to put it on the screen.”  For Hounsou, he said he had to deal with the disappointment of not getting the role of Drax.  As he said, “I wanted Dave Bautista’s role, but when I met him in London and saw how big he was I understood.  But I’m playing Korath, and he’s a great ally to Ronan and Thanos.”  Another big surprise for this panel was when Karen Gillan took off her wig and threw it into the audience, an action that she immediately regretted.  She had to shave her head for her role as Nebula but she’s grown to enjoy her new look.  ”I was a little worried that I was going to look like an overgrown fetus, but it’s liberating.”  Other highlights include Michael Rooker telling the audience to move on and accept his character’s two deaths from “The Walking Dead.”  Benicio Del Toro let us know that he hadn’t started filming yet and he had just met the cast backstage.  All in all, this may have been my favorite part of the panel just because it was so unexpected and well done.
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If these panels had been all that we saw that day, we all would have walked away immensely satisfied, but Marvel wanted to close out their panel with a bang and so they brought out Joss Whedon to officially announce:
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Avengers: Age of Ultron – With “The King of Comic-Con” Joss Whedon on stage, the crowd went wild but they went absolutely crazy once the teaser for the next Avengers movie started.  We see Iron Man’s helmet spinning around as it takes damage that starts to deform it until it reforms into the image of Ultron followed by the logo for the movie.  The audience just went crazy and I was just as excited.  Without a doubt, this was the best panel I saw at Comic-Con and I can’t wait to see these movies in finished form. 
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If you’d like to experience this awesome panel for yourself here is the video:

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