It was indeed a giant block of presentations for Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. Taking up over two and a half hours in Hall H on Saturday at Comic Con, they had plenty of amazing things they were prepared to show audiences. Following a look at what Legendary had to offer, it then became Warner Bros. turn to add all of their work into the mix, which included heavy hitters that many people camped out the previous night to see – Man of Steel and The Hobbit. Along with one surprise that began this panel presentation, everything presented was very entertaining to see and featured a lot of exclusive looks that hopefully got people wanting to see a whole lot more. Continue on to read more about what went down under Warner Bros. watch, during these presentations.
Before really getting into the heavy hitters, it should be noted that a big surprise came by way of The Campaign. This is the upcoming comedy that features Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as rivals in an upcoming election for Congress. Both Ferrell and Galifianakis came out on stage, with their election ads plastered on the secondary screens located next to the main screen. This being unexpected, the crowd was getting pretty wild, as they got to see what was basically a hilarious sequence of events that came from Ferrell, Galifianakis, and panel moderator Chris Hardwick all making jokes, cracking each other up, and heckling those who were coming up for Q&A.
After some initial fun an extended preview of the film was shown, which actually got me more excited to see it, given that I was not exactly dying to see The Campaign beforehand. I just wish the preview did not show so much of what happens in the film. One thing is for sure though, as briefly seen in the trailer, there are going to be full on punches to babies delivered in The Campaign. One other thing of note about the panel, before I move on, it seemed very clear that Galifianakis has not yet accepted how popular he is, as he was very awkward in his seat, as he faced 6,600 fans and was not incredibly ready to be put on the spot for making with the funny. Fortunately Will Ferrell was plenty game for keeping things under control and, combined with the awkwardness, the panel was still pretty hilarious.
Moving in a completely opposite direction, Man of Steel was the next presentation. Director Zack Snyder and star Henry Cavill were both present and eager enough to be there to present the first look that anyone was able to see of the film. It helped that Cavill was there in person as well, because Snyder is not the best when it comes to peaking at panels, despite the enthusiasm he clearly has for the material he gets to work on. This is opposed to Cavill, who seemed just fine being in front of a huge crowd and looking as strapping as he did. Eventually they announced that there would in fact be a trailer for Man of Steel playing in front of The Dark Knight Rises, but rather than play that, Snyder thought he should do something special for Comic Con, which led to him announcing that the audience would get to view an extended version of the trailer, which would give a general idea of what the film is going for.
To describe the footage, the best point of reference is Batman Begins. For those unaware, Christopher Nolan is on board as a producer for Man of Steel, and the way the trailer played felt very much similar to what watching Batman Begins felt like. Now Man of Steel is not an origin story film again, as far as I can tell, but the footage certainly indicated that we’ll be seeing a period of time that shows a younger Clark Kent all the way to a Superman who is challenged with problems, including a menacing looking figure played by Michael Shannon, who some may have to kneel before. Throughout the footage Russell Crowe, who plays Jor-El, can be heard speaking, seemingly in the same way that Marlon Brando had been addressing Clark in Superman: The Movie. There are glimpses of the other characters in the film as well, including Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent. The look of the film felt very much like a Christopher Nolan film in the way shots were presented, the cinematography, and the somber tone seen in it all. The Nolan-ness of the footage was further aided by the fact that Hans Zimmer’s score from The Thin Red Line was being played throughout. As far as Cavill’s presence goes, he certainly looks the part when in the tights, but it also seemed like the Man of Steel was definitely facing some problems, while also showing off his super abilities. Overall, it was a fine trailer in terms of looking like a good film could come out of this.
Now in saying that a good film could come from this, I am referring to the fact that it does not necessarily seem like a typical or “expected” Superman film, but one that is more contemplative, which can either work out well or poorly. I am admittedly not a big fan of Superman as a character. While I love the first two Superman films and find that with the right story, he can become interesting, I am generally not one to get excited about Superman-related stories, until I am given something that seems to be worth it. A film directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Christopher Nolan, let alone the strong cast involved, is an easy way to have me approach excitement, but there is still something for me to consider regarding Superman’s portrayal. It is sort of a Catch-22, as when I think of Superman, I tend to think of an uplifting character with artwork that utilizes bright coloring, but with that said, I think I find the character boring because he is such a good guy. I am of course aware and have read some of the legions of comics that challenge this sort of way of thinking in regards to the character, but that’s basically where I stand. So anyway, with this movie, the last time a film attempted to bring Superman into a more somber place was Superman Returns, which is a film that a majority of people did not, overall, respond too favorably to and one that I personally found to be filled with way too much super angst. Hopefully, despite continuing to be a film grounded in a certain level of reality, it can still manage to be both a really entertaining Superman film, while also a very engaging one.
Some of this was touched upon in the panel as well, following the extended preview. During the Q&A, some notable bits of information included Snyder responding to the lack of John Williams classic theme by stating that he very much wanted to make this Superman its own movie. Henry Cavill stated that his performance in the film was very much inspired by what he read in The Death of Superman and The Return, as well as Red Son. There was also plenty of hinting around at the character of Zod, but Snyder was not willing to actually confirm that he was in the film (despite the fact that Zod has been known to be in the film for months now thanks to just about any news outlet that had a story about it). I should also note that this Zod-related question was brought up by a fan (an adult male), who literally started crying on camera when asking his question, only to have Chris Hardwick come down and help him get through it. Lastly, a question was brought up about Justice League, which had Snyder respond by stating that Superman first needs to get his own house in order, before going anywhere else.
Man of Steel opens June 14, 2013
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey-From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Jackson returns to Middle-earth in an adventure that begins 60 years before the events depicted in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The first of two films adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s enduringly popular masterpiece, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey follows titular Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who-along with the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and a band of 13 Dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage)-is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. The film’s ensemble cast includes Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lily, and Andy Serkis as Gollum.
Last up for Warner Bros. was The Hobbit presentation. Before Comic Con started a brand new poster banner for The Hobbit was revealed, which was brought to life on the secondary screens in Hall H as motion posters appearing in pieces, one by one on the screens, only to be merged into one seamless picture by the time they were all revealed. Following this introduction, the audience got to witness the latest production diary, which Peter Jackson is always happy to put out for his films, as they are being made. The diary consisted of footage from the last days of filming, interspersed with various members of the cast introducing themselves and having fun on the set. The audience was very excited for all of this, getting to see some behind the scenes footage and a lot of fun with the actors. Following the end of this diary, Peter Jackson came out and explained that he was very happy to be back filming in Middle Earth again and was prepared to show nearly twenty minutes of footage from the film.
The footage seen was explained to be from both Hobbit films; An Unexpected Journey, arriving this December and There and Back Again, which arrives December, 2014 . We were also told that it was not all necessarily completely finished, but done well enough to be presentable for the audience. What followed was a number of extended scenes as well as a lot of montage footage from throughout the films. One scene featured Bilbo being talked into going along with Gandalf and the Dwarves. Another scene featured Gandalf in a labyrinth, be stalked by some sort of large creature. Gandalf had another seen as well, where he was engaged in conversation with Galadriel (Cate Blanchett’s character). Gollum was given screen time as well, as we watched he and Bilbo interact. Lastly, a seen involving Bilbo and Gandalf talking, with the undercurrent of danger, as Bilbo was now in possession of the one ring and being tempted by its power.
The best thing I can say about this footage was that it very much felt like Lord of the Rings was being brought back to the big screen but in a whole new way. Anyone who was pleased the first three times will likely be happy with these films as well. The universe is still wonderful to look at, with what seems to be even more wonderfully creative looking worlds and characters to behold. I did find it unfortunate that the film footage was only presented in 2D and at 24 fps, as opposed to 3D and in 48 fps, the way it was filmed. It was reported some months back that the reaction by many at CinemaCon to seeing The Hobbit footage in 48 fps was not exactly positive, given the short amount of time to see this in action, as the realistic sheen was seen as off-putting. As a result, it appears that Warner Bros. backed off showing the film in this manner at the last minute. Still, in keeping the focus on the film being presented, regardless of the technical aspects involved, I was certainly happy with what I saw. I may not be more or less excited than I was before, but I am really looking forward to seeing the whole film.
Following the footage, Jackson, Boyens, and a portion of the cast came out on stage, which included Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, and Elijah Wood, who was not supposed to be present, but happened to be hanging out in the area, so why not. Everyone was obviously excited to be there, with special mention going to McKellan, who seemed to be having a ball and was constantly being given gratitude by those with questions, regardless of the fact that no specifically had a question for him. It was great to see Andy Serkis as well, who was originally supposed to be filming on set for just a couple weeks, before actually becoming the second unit director for the film. There really is nothing Serkis can’t do. Two more questions had answers worth noting. There will be extended cuts for the films, just as there was with the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. Additionally, Jackson has no plans on filing anything from the Silmarillion (an assortment of chronicles set in the same universe, written mainly by J.R.R. Tolkien), as it is owned by the Tolkein estate and not Warner Bros./New Line, and they apparently hate the movies made by Jackson. To end on something a little more lighthearted, while the panel was plenty enjoyable, the highlight was easily getting to see Serkis perform as both personalities of Gollum, on stage, stating things that were quite lewd.