A massive show of gratitude is given to Flicks And The City, the incredible cinema and pop culture site that put together the vast majority of the Hall H footage used in this post. I’ve been a huge fan of their brilliant video coverage of cons and panels and it was through talking to Cup O’ Tea alumni Mark Searby that I discovered some astonishing facts: 1. Flicks And The City are from the UK, they make the journey just like the rest of us ‘norms’, 2. There’s two of them, that’s it, and while the pair have press badges, they line up like everybody else (which is amazing considering they land footage that a studio’s own PR team would be envious of), and 3. They record their incredible video footage using standard equipment, they don’t plug straight in to the Hall H sound desk (so I have NO clue how the hell they get the audio as clean as they do in that echo-ey cavern of a Hall) and they just work their arses off all Comic-Con to achieve incredible results, all of which is evidenced in this very post. Please, show due respect and appreciation by heading to their website, here.
NOTE: This post is intended to serve as a virtual run-down of the events in Hall H on Saturday 11th July. I’ve included as much of the panel video footage as I can here, along with the released trailer content as I can – as, and when, the footage is released by the studios in the coming weeks and months, I’ll edit to suit…
San Diego Comic-Con, Saturday 11th July 2015 – that was one long and arduous day… But let’s be honest, when is it not when faced with the behemoth which is SDCC’s own Hall H? Fanatic audience attendees had been queuing up from 9pm the previous Thursday evening, spending a sun-soaked Friday, cooking slowly in the searing California heat and then a cool and calm camp out in preparation for that exciting full day’s programming.
All of this sounds quite idyllic and civil, of course, but neglects to mention:
- the worry of getting a definite – and an advantageous – seat inside the hallowed Hall, meaning the new addition of a Next Day Line (situated outside of the Hilton Bayfront Hotel, alongside the FX/[adult swim] off-site) became a fully sanctioned Comic-Con International line-up space a lot sooner than anyone expected.
- the stress and strain of acquiring Hall H Wristbands in what is already a contentious manner (on the ‘Friday night for Saturday’, supposed to be distributed at 9.45pm but eventually being handed out just before 11pm, when campers were lead across to the tents erected on Plaza Park – the grass area outside of Hall H. Yes, it has a name. An Englishman In San Diego: informative and educational.)
- the inconsiderate, rude as hell interruption of any attempts at a nights sleep by one Zack Snyder, who decided in his infinite wisdom to roll up the monstrous and evil-sounding Batmobile from his upcoming Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice behind the Plaza Park tents, revved it to the nuts, making sure everyone was awake, jumped out to say hi and hand out t-shirts to a lucky few and then proceeded to leave the thing parked there for photo ops for an hour, making sure everyone was too excited to settle. Snyder – you utter, utter bastard!!
However, somehow, we all managed to stir ourselves the next morning to file into the Arena Of Delights© and watch what most will agree was a pretty solid day of content, courtesy of Eddie Ibrahim (CCI Director Of Programming), his team and the invited studios – some of which came to Hall H with plenty to prove…
- 10:30 am – 12:00 pm – WARNER BROS. PRESENTATION (Moderated by Aisha Tyler)
First up was Warner Bros. who had a lot of ground to make up from a 2014 presentation which left superhero fans waning – regardless of bringing a Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice teaser trailer (surprisingly for Comic-Con, still to properly see the light of day) and the films core cast to the stage for the infamous ‘Smile And Wave, Boys, Smile And Wave’ from HENRY CAVILL, Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck (in his San Diego Comic-Con debut, no less), many who were in the room that day still cringe at the wasted opportunity. Now, in 2015, WB had some incredible material to show off, Marvel Studios weren’t in the room and they had the opportunity to own Hall H – they were never going to let the opportunity slip idly by.
So, after a delayed start of fifteen minutes (which the Hall’s programming struggled to catch up with for the duration of the day), Eddie did his usual admin duties, the lights dimmed, 6,500 people sat at the edge of their seats and the Hall H side curtains pulled way, way, WA-AAAAY back, revealing vivid, dynamic, panoramic graphics – Warner Bros. first introduced this use of side space back in 2013 and haven’t been topped in how to exploit it since. Once the audience had been blinded and deafened into submission – ahh, the old Queen concert trick! – charismatic moderator Aisha Tyler, as much a nerd as the rest of us, strode out onto the stage in a gorgeous white pant-suit and introduced an explosive new trailer for GUY RITCHIE‘s adaptation of 60’s spy romp, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.…
After a short, and rather funny, video from Ritchie, apparently shot from a very noisy location set, the cast were brought out to the baying crowd. Tyler was charming and effusive throughout, if a little constrained by the script that what was so obviously laid down for her in advance by WB – still, she was able to tease the usual soundbites from cast members Armie Hammer (as Illya Kuryakin), HENRY CAVILL (as Napoleon Solo), Alicia Vikander (as Gaby Teller) and the gorgeous Elizabeth Debicki (as Victoria Vinciguerra)…
So far, so good – hit the crowd with something vivid but don’t shoot your load too soon. Next up: PAN, the latest attempt at bringing the J.M. Barrie classic characters to the screen (yes, yes, yet another one – let’s not dwell on that too much…). This is a prequel version, presenting the development of the relationship between a newly-flying Peter Pan, a pre-uni-dexterous James Hook and some new additions to the Neverland roll call.
After a trailer which succeeded in getting everyone’s attention…
…Hall H favourite Hugh Jackman (a very flamboyant Blackbeard, almost Capt. Jack Sparrow-like in his individuality) lit up the stage, as per usual, bringing with him fellow cast members Garrett Hedlund (Hook), Levi Miller (Peter), and director JOE WRIGHT, which everyone couldn’t stop saying nice things about.
There was also a debut clip of the film, showing Blackbeard in full flounce, welcoming a new batch of potential Lost Boys to Neverland which I’m not going to even try to describe – suffice to say, this is going to be a Hugh Jackman character which you will either embrace with all your heart or find utterly bizarre and unsettling! See, I told you there was a dash of Sparrow in the mix!
Once the PAN team left the stage, it was time to move on from the foreplay and get stuck into the Main Event – the DC Comics lineup! The screen lit up with concept art, film titlecards (including ones for Cyborg, Aquaman and, most excitingly, Green Lantern Corps), video soundbites from Zack Snyder (“There’s a massive DC universe just ready to explode.”) and then a very breathy Aisha Tyler introduces SUICIDE SQUAD director David Ayer to the stage, all fired up and in very bullish mode, pretty much tearing up the ‘Warning: Under 18’s May Be In The Audience’ notice on the back of the Hall H namecards from the get-go.
After rolling the world’s first glimpse at the film (a trailer which then hit the ‘net, almost as soon as the thing had stopped screening – and boy, would I like to meet the bastard that leaked that little nugget. Thanks for pretty much risking us never seeing stuff like this in Hall H agin, you f*cknut), Ayer brought out his team, flown in especially from location in Toronto: Karen Fukuhara (Katnana), Adam Beach (Slipknot), Cara Delevingne (Enchantress), Jay Hernandez (El Diablo), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Killer Croc – yes, you can watch that stage intro, over and over, to try and get his name right yourself if you like), Jai Courtney (Captain Boomerang), Joel Kinnaman (Rick Flagg), Viola Davis (Amanda Waller), Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn) and the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith (Deadshot).
To be fair, it was this team’s turn to do the ‘Smile And Wave’ routine – it’s a lot of names to bring out on stage – but you had Smith say a few encouraging words and a first look at Jared Leto’s Joker. What more did we expect? Leto to show up in costume?! (Er, well, we had our fingers crossed, yeah!) The trailer was run twice and lapped up by the audience, with the stage looking very empty when it finished…
Aisher Tyler wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to get a cheeky Suicide Squad snap of her own backstage, meaning that she found herself caught short to bring out the next section: certainly NOT repeating the ‘Smile And Wave’ of 2014 was the cast of BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE with a more expanded cast on stage this year. No full Justice League turn-out, true, so absent were Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Ezra Miller (The Flash) and Ray Fisher (Cyborg), and no revelation of who they have playing Green Lantern in the film.
However, representing the film in Hall H were director Zack Snyder, Holly Hunter (Senator Finch), Gal Gadot (Diana Prince/Wonder Woman), Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), HENRY CAVILL (Clark Kent/Superman) and Ben Affleck (Bruce Wayne/The Batman). Almost forgotten, a late addition to the line-up was also brought out on stage: the one and only JEREMY IRONS (Alfred). Awkward!
A lot has been said about Eisenberg‘s take on his Hall H experience. ‘Holocaust’, indeed. (C’mon, man! It’s not like he had to experience the madness himself from ‘inside the train’ like we all did, as it were…!) Fellow Comic-Con debutante Amy Adams was a lot more confident in front of the 6,300 capacity room than her Lex Luthor co-star while Ben Affleck looked, if not bored then certainly distracted until he was pointedly engaged in a question – I’m going to give the guy a break, he hasn’t exactly had the most controversy-free personal life, leading up to this Comic-Con! Affleck also proved that he can pull out a pretty impressive Christian Bale impression at will, if required…
And that was the end of that – all in all, a rollicking great start to the day. A couple of disappointments, to be sure – no news or updates from Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, no ‘rest of Justice League’ announcements and, aside from the trailers, no grand revelations to speak of – but still, some great new footage, a better sense of what Snyder has planned for his capes stand-off and David Ayer finally giving a proper look at our new Joker. All very tasty. A stand up, a stretch of the legs, and look at the schedule to see what’s next. Ooh, another Brit…
- 12:15 pm – 1:15 pm – PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (Moderated by Dalton Ross)
Yes, it’s for the MATT SMITH hour as everyone’s favourite Doctor presents two totally different zombie/’don’t call them zombies!’ movies. – also a chance for Smithy to rock out his American accent in Patient Zero …but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First things first is a very new take on an English literary classic – PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, a radical fusion of JANE AUSTIN‘s romantic banter and rollicking zombie lore, featuring a cast finer suited to a Sunday evening BBC costume piece.
Expect a lot of Cup O’ Tea capitalised name checks right here: book author Seth Grahame-Smith, director/screenwriter Burr Steers, DOUGLAS BOOTH (Mr. Bingley), JACK HUSTON (Mr. Wickham), Bella Heathcote (Jane Bennet), MATT SMITH (Mr. Collins), SAM RILEY (Mr. Darcy) and LILY JAMES (Elizabeth Bennet) …
MATT SMITH returns to the stage to join a couple of other English fan favourites as he presents PATIENT ZERO, joined by Game Of Thrones alumni JOHN BRADLEY and NATALIE DORMER, along with Vikings/Doctor Who star CLIVE STANDEN, the films director Stefan Ruzowitzky and screenwriter Mike Le.
After the explosive bells and whistles of the Warner Bros./DC Comics panel, these two muted, more intricate films fell a little flat with the Hall H audience, with only the stars of the films rousing any kind of impression – this was partially down to the lack of any kind of knowledge and anticipation for the projects. For me I found myself in complete reversal by the end of the panel: Pride And Prejudice And Zombies was a book conceit that I enjoyed reading and yet found this adaptation a little dry and stilted, even with the promise of seeing some balls-out zombie slaying – almost like a cheap BBC mini-series, thrown together to fill out the schedules and certainly not suited to a big screen presentation. On the other hand, there was Patient Zero which started off coming across as your typical, low-budget, low-imagination American monster B-movie which, somewhere along the way, made you sit up and take notice. Then again, Stanley Tucci has this habit of being able to do that!
Still, a lull in the storm. But, in all fairness, it did allow us to get our breath back after Warners/DC – and boy did we need it, what with Hollywood’s favourite motormouth heading for the stage…
- 1:30 pm – 2:15 pm – QUENTIN TARANTINO’S THE HATEFUL EIGHT (Moderated by Chris Hardwick)
In 2013, Quentin Tarantino lolloped onto the Hall H stage, decked in shades that never came off, and presented his latest film Django Unchained with a full cast roster on stage, seeming tired, guarded and coming across either under the influence/post-surgery – while very gregarious as expected, certainly not in full force.
This was not the Quentin Tarantino we got in 2015. This was a man energised, a man on a mission, not only to show off a project that was very obviously close to his heart (considering the script had leaked to the wider world the year before, bringing him to chastise the internet, along with presenting a live script read in Los Angeles), but also demonstrate his commitment to classic film-making with a big video presentation regarding THE HATEFUL EIGHT being shot on 70mm, using the same lens and camera equipment from Panavision that was used to shoot Ben-Hur, Mutiny on the Bounty and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
After the 70mm ‘love letter’ screened, Tarantino came to the stage – after effusing generously about Comic-Con, his experiences attending in the 80’s and how the event has grown and developed (see if his description of his Comic-Con early years sound as familiar as it did to me!) – and talked about the reasoning for shooting on such a format, the evolution of the shooting process and then presented a trailer/sizzle reel for the film, edited especially for Comic-Con. The geniuns that is Ennio Morricone‘s score for John Carpenter’s The Thing complimented the snowy landscapes and desolate situation that the Eight find themselves in wonderfully and it certainly brought a chill to my spine to hear it (and a huge grin to my face to then learn that Morricone would be scoring the film himself!) Intriguing, compelling characters in a small, intimate setting – yup, it’s a Tarantino movie!
Moderator Chris Hardwick then brought out the film’s star-studded cast: Kurt Russell (John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Daisy Domergue), Walton Goggins (Sheriff Chris Mannix), Demian Bichir (Bob), TIM ROTH (Oswaldo Mobray), Michael Madsen (Joe Gage) and Bruce Dern (General Sandy Smithers) – a number of this cast appeared in the live reading were enthusiastic to return to the cinematic version and spend a large portion of the panel to rave about their director…
This was a gem of a panel, in which we all basked in the glow of some phenomenal talent, one of those experiences in which you stare at the stage and are blown away that you are sharing the same space as these incredible actors, actresses and filmmakers who have embarked on a creative journey. A great experience.
- 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm – LEGENDARY PICTURES (moderated by Chris Hardwick)
Yup, in case you hadn’t worked it out at this point, Chris Hardwick was Grand Lord Wizard and Master of Hall H this year, easily and effortlessly creating a warm and inviting atmosphere to the panels he was in charge of – certainly a stark contrast to Nerdist News‘ Jessica Chobot‘s weak efforts last year. There was also a more humble Thomas Tull out on stage, determined to roll out as the man at the top of the Legendary tree but he certainly wasn’t as brash as he was in 2014.
Of course, it also helps when you have some world-class content to present, and you don’t get much classier than Guillermo del Toro – well, certainly much classier than usual. 2015: The Year Del Toro Came To Comic-Con… And Didn’t Say The Word ‘F*ck’. Mark the day in your diary, everyone – it’s the kind of thing you end up telling your kids. Joining del Toro for the CRIMSON PEAK panel was Mia Wasikowska (Edith Cushing), TOM HIDDLESTON (Sir Thomas Sharpe) and Jessica Chastain (Lady Lucille Sharpe).
KRAMPUS is the latest project from X-Men/Superman Returns scribe Michael Dougherty and I’m certain this was a brilliant and insightful panel with stars Toni Collette and Adam Scott. (I’m going to have to take your word for it, though, because it had been a long time at this point and this was the opportunity I took to, er, ‘utilise the facilities’…)
I certainly to make sure I was back for this next panel, though: this was the third visit to Hall H that DUNCAN JONES‘ WARCRAFT had made and now, finally, the British filmmaker had something to show for it. The side curtains rolled back (not as far as they did for Warner Bros. but, hey, it was an improvement in scale from previous years!) and showcased the principle characters from this epic action-adventure. Cue: plenty of cheers and screams from rampant WoW players and begrudging acknowledgement of the sights and sounds on display from everyone else. Oh, and more Brits on stage.
Joining JONES were Travis Fimmel (as Anduin Lothar), Paula Patton (as Garona), Ben Foster (Medivh), TOBY KEBBELL (Durotan), DOMINIC COOPER (King Llane Wrynn), ROBERT KAZINSKY (Orgrim), Ben Schnetzer (Khadgar), Clancy Brown (Blackhand), Ruth Negga (Lady Taria) and Daniel Wu (Gul’dan). That’s a lot of fantasy character names, species and landscapes to take in, completely alien to the standard audience, and Legendary are betting on some of that Lord Of The Rings/Avatar goodwill to bring in similar returns as those films.
All in all, this was a return to form for a studio that has been on the backfoot in recent times, fighting high-profile company restructuring (following the departure of Warner Bros. as a financial and distribution partner in 2013; Universal Pictures has subsequently filled that role), new and uncertain business ventures (the purchasing of Nerdist Industries, Geek & Sundry and Asylum Entertainment, along with the formation of Legendary East and Legendary Comics) and some pretty big bombs, such as Michael Mann‘s Blackhat and the disappointing horror As Above, So Below, two films that made up part of the companies presentation last year. (The good news is that Godzilla, Interstellar and Jurassic World did, meh, okay, I guess. Won’t have hurt the bank balance much.)
This was a panel of strong content, impressive characters, entertaining panel guests and massive visuals – Legendary, stepping up to the plate as one of the major players in Hollywood, once again.
- 3:45 pm – 4:30 pm – ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: WOMEN WHO KICK ASS (Moderated by Sara Vilkomerson)
This panel has become a staple of the Hall H programming schedule; a line-up of some of the most impressive women working in film and television, all presenting their take on the gender politics being played in Hollywood today. I missed the 2013 edition of this panel (what with t’Missus being laid up with a broken leg back in the condo and me playing the marty… er, playing the dutiful husband by her side!) but I was told it was quite the man-hating vitriol; in 2014, I wasn’t looking forward to the panel for that very reason but the experience became thoroughly entertaining as the hardline feminist agenda being rammed home by moderator Nicole Sperling and panel guest NATALIE DORMER was completely deflated by fellow panellists Katey Segal, Sarah Paulson, Tatiana Maslany, Nicole Beharte and MAISIE WILLIAMS who insisted that, despite any struggles they may have faced for their sex, it was nothing compared with the struggle of knuckling down and just getting the work done. It was marvellous.
Not so much the aggressive stance here as alternative moderator EW’s Sara Vilkomerson talked to Game Of Thrones GWENDOLINE CHRISTIE, Marvel’s Agent Carter‘s HAYLEY ATWELL, Batman V Superman‘s Gal Gadot, Doctor Who‘s JENNA COLEMAN and venerated acting legend Kathy Bates talked about what it took to be a strong woman in the limelight, their influences, their motivations and what they hope to achieve as role models for women everywhere.
I loved this panel. To be programmed right in the middle of the big flashy, headlining grabbing content which sets entertainment websites ablaze shows real commitment and confidence and faith in the Hall H audience by Eddie Ibrahim and his team. (Also helped that the panellists were, without exception, utter hotties. Shallow, moi?)
- 4:45 pm – 5:30 pm – DARK HORSE: AN AFTERNOON WITH JOSS WHEDON
This, at first glance, seemed to be an odd one. Yes, the Nerd King Joss can fill any room he sees fits and the Whedonites will always come out in force. However, now that his tenure at Marvel Studios has been and gone, following a tiring and arduous production on Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Joss doesn’t actually have any product to sell, so to speak, other than a new comics title – Twist – being published by panel hosts Dark Horse Comics in the near future and the further adventures of the Buffy/Angel/Firefly universes on the horizon at some point.
The panel seemed to be an opportunity for everyone to just listen to the man talk, answer questions, bask in the ever-glowing love of the gathered brethren – which is never a bad thing, of course, I would go and listen to Whedon discuss the opening of a crisp packet. However, given a slightly misleading closing time by the sneakiest of room organisers allowed a very special presentation to take place, and one I was incredibly glad to be in attendance for…
This was beautiful. The look on the man’s face when he realised that he had been completely and utterly stitched up by the Comic-Con International organisation, giving him a shiny bauble, a small measure of gratitude for the sheer ocean on love he has instilled in multiple fandoms over the years, was a treasure and I’m so glad I was able to share it with him in person – along with 6,299 more of his close personal acolytes, of course…
- 5:45 pm – 7:30 pm – 20TH CENTURY FOX (Moderated by Chris Hardwick)
Closing down the daytime portion of the programming was what would have been, in an ideal world, a panel by Marvel Studios, a company that – for all of Warner Bros. efforts – knows exactly how to get Hall H on their feet, kicking and hollering. 20th Century Fox have proven to be no slouches in this department of course; last year, they rolled out compelling panels for The Maze Runner, Kingsman: The Secret Service and Hitman: Agent 47. All well and good but this was the year that any company could have taken the prize of Who Won Hall H? home with them – and Fox were determined not to let WB just walk away with it.
First up, a section devoted to the second chapter in THE MAZE RUNNER saga, THE SCORCH TRIALS, in which a bunch of rather pretty young boys and girls are forced to battle against harsh adversities and difficult landscapes – all while looking really good doing it. (So I’m getting old and bitter. Sue me.)
This was an amusing panel, if anything to watch the cast and Hardwick get sucked into a little rabbit hole of their own creation and have consummate professional and one-man charisma generator Esposito sell the film, the film’s message, the cast, the talent of the cast and live, love and laughter in general. Damn, I’d like to get drunk with that man!!
Next up, a film nobody was really expecting with some firm Hall H favourites – the double team of JAMES MCAVOY and DANIEL RADCLIFFE, with their take on the relationship between the mad scientist and dutiful assistant in PAUL MCGUIGAN‘s VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN. Warning: this panel contains some of the filthiest – and funniest – double entendres ever uttered on a Hall H stage…
What an absolute giggle!
Then it was time to hit the superhero portion of the program and Fox kicked off with a property which as so much to prove. With two pretty ropey Fantastic Four films out there already (okay, they introduced Chris Evans to the superhero milieu so not the total loss!), some challenging casting concepts and one of the WORST marketing strategies (read: car crashes) ever put in motion, Josh Trank‘s FANTASTIC FOUR had a lot on its plate.
Trank lead his producer Simon Kinberg and his eponymous heroes Miles Teller (Reed Richards), Kate Mara (Sue Storm), Michael B. Jordan (Johnny Storm) and JAMIE BELL (Ben Grimm) – along with film baddie TOBY KEBBELL (Victor Von Doom) – to the stage…
Well, at the end of the presentation, they had won me over and you can’t ask any more than that. Miles Teller proved that he wasn’t the next Jesse Eisenberg/’indie movie darling’ by actually having, y’know, a personality and Trank demonstrated that he had a firm grip on what he wanted to present as his Fantastic Four. And any panel where walking ego Max Landis is involved in the project and isn’t invited is Christmas Day for me.
An ideal way to get the whole family into the cinema – however, the next presentation meant it was time to put the kiddie-winks in the Hall H audience to bed because it was time to go all Red Band on Hall H’s arse! A video clip of a siloutted DEADPOOL in smoking jacket/pipe/fireplace surroundings played to a deafening roar which meant I didn’t hear a thing that was said on screen – if anyone else heard it, I’d be stunned. But this wasn’t a panel about the film as such, this was a pleased-as-punch celebration that the damn thing got made in the first place.
Star and all-round lynchpin of the project, Ryan Reynolds, came out first to thank everyone for their support (and to also thank the leaker of that infamous test footage, spread almost a year to the day, for getting the ball rolling in the first place. Wonder how that went down in the marketing departments of studios up and down the land?) before bringing out director Tim Miller, stars Morena Baccarin (Copycat), T.J. Miller (Weasel), Brianna Hildebrand (the superbly named Negasonic Teenage Warhead), ED SKREIN (Ajax) and Gina Carano (Angel Dust).
What followed was one of the bluest, filthiest, most disgusting and freakin’ hilarious panels in the history of Comic-Con, mostly off the horse/bestiality riffing between close buds Hardwick and Miller, but also with the debut of the first full trailer for the film which, when it finally sees the light of day, will be Red Band to the max. With the panels already running overtime, Hardwick was completely unconcerned with decorum or Comic-Con International guidelines and demanded of the AV boys and girls to ‘play the f*ckin’ thing again’, purely off the crowd response which was phenomenal. Many people have shaken their heads in disbelief over the rampant appeal of this acerbic and anarchic character over the last five years – Deadpool may be the film that shows to the wider world that a comic book character can be fantastical, funny and explicitly adult, all at the same time.
There then followed a video interlude: a clip reel, celebrating fifteen years of X-Men movies, showing excerpts from pretty much every X-Film to date (with the emphasis on the good ones – X-MEN and X-MEN 2 – and giving X-MEN: THE LAST STAND and WOLVERINE: ORIGINS short thrift), and the return to the stage of Hugh Jackman, first to obliquely announce his return to the franchise in ‘one last Wolverine movie’ (teasing his appearance as Old Man Logan along the way), and then to welcome on stage director Bryan Singer. It then got a little weird as the pair of them couldn’t break the cycle of saying who was more amazing, coming very close to having to pull the two of them apart and tell them to get a room.
This segued into the actual panel for Fox’s more tried and tested superhero property in the form of the forthcoming instalment of the X-MEN franchise, APOCALYPSE, with director Singer repeating his party trick of 2013 by bringing out the ENTIRE cast of the movie, forcing the distinct possibility of having Jennifer Lawrence sitting in Michael Fassbender‘s lap, there were so many, before kicking Jackman off the stage! Are you ready? Deep breath, now…
Evan Peters (Quicksilver), Lucas Till (Havok), Lana Condor (Jubilee), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Nightcrawler), Tye Sheridan (Cyclops), SOPHIE TURNER (Jean Grey), NICHOLAS HOULT (Beast), JAMES MCAVOY (Charles Xavier), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), MICHAEL FASSBENDER (Magneto), Oscar Isaac (Apocalypse), Olivia Munn (Psylocke), BEN HARDY (Angel), Alexandra Shipp (Storm), writer/producer Simon Kinberg.
Aside from the Hardwick/Munn lovefest which nearly threatens to derail what needed to be a pretty tight panel to even get to the end, the whole thing goes pretty smoothly and it’s plain to see that most of the cast are jacked about being part of this epic franchise (there are a couple of the younger members that could do with a personality overhaul and a rocket up the jackise but, hey, kids – whaddaygonnado?)
At which point, it was nearly time to say goodbye: Chris was already late for his own live podcast recording in the Balboa Theatre, deep in downtown, but he wasn’t just going to shut the thing down at his expense. Indeed, he was bold enough to ask the gathered casts of all three films – a colossal collection of talent – for one of his now trademark selfies. But when he struggled to get himself and everybody in, there was a surprise guest in the wings willing to help out on pap duty: the one and only Generalissimo himself, Stan Lee. And he brought a friend along with him, too…
Channing Tatum‘s appearance, along with the title card for his GAMBIT movie was a complete shocker, especially as he is also rumoured to be appearing in Tarantino‘s The Hateful Eight – I’m guessing that if he showed up to that panel, it would’ve taken some of the sting out of the Fox reveal. Who knows? All I do know is, for all my concern for Stan Lee‘s health at his advancing years, he still remains one of the liveliest geriatrics on the planet. I salute you, sir, I goddamn salute you.
And that epic piece of Instragramming brought the daytime section of the evening to a cracking close; while not whipping up the crowd into hot, sticky blobs of nerd-gasm that Marvel is famous for – the jokes and banter were a little too inward and all the fun seemed to be happening on stage between each other and not the crowd – the 20th Century Fox panel showed that Hall H remains the place that will bring an unsurpassed amount of talent in one place, along with footage totally unique to Comic-Con, something you just see anywhere else on the planet. Well, not until a sneaky smartphone user screws it up for everyone and spoils everybodys fun, obviously.
The day’s programming will, of course, still have its detractors – all said and done, there were no big, new reveals; everything we’d seen on stage was already public knowledge and there’s still some studios, somehow, bizarrely, that don’t understand how to get over six thousand people on their side. The middle can feel like a drag and some will still question what the need of the Women Who Kick Ass panel is doing in Hall H on a Saturday. Nitpicking. End of the day, Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con remains the epic draw that will pull thousands to camp out over night and suffer the extremities of a San Diego sidewalk. (Well, until the 6,500 capacity arena inside the new construction at the Marriott Marina is completed next year, of course…)
- 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm – WARNER BROS. TELEVISION & DC ENTERTAINMENT SCREEN BLOCK (Moderated by Ian Somerhalder)
Of course, the day wasn’t completely over: many small screen fans stuck around, and many more joined them especially, for the Warner Bros./DC Superhero Saturday programming that took place once a small break occurred after the Fox panel. I’m going to put the videos together and allow you to enjoy them, without comment (mostly because, at that point, I had had my fill of Hall H and I desperately needed some fresh air, some food that wouldn’t send me into a diabetic shock and a pint. Oh my sweet gods in Asgard, a pint…).
GREEN ARROW INTRO: Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen)
ARROW (moderated by Buzzfeed‘s Jarett Wieselman): featuring D.C. Creative Officer Geoff Johns, Executive Producer Greg Berlanti, stars PAUL BLACKTHORNE (Quentin Lance), David Ramsey (John Diggle), Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak), Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen), Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance), Willa Holland (Thea Queen), JOHN BARROWMAN (Malcolm Merlyn), Executive Producers Wendy Mericle, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg.
THE FLASH (moderated by Variety‘s Laura Prudom): featuring Executive Producers Andrew Kreisberg and Greg Berlanti, stars John Wesley Shipp (Henry Allen), Candice Patton (Iris West), Jesse L. Martin (Det. Joe West), Grant Gustin (Barry Allen), Tom Cavanagh (Dr. Harrison Wells), Danielle Panabaker (Caitlin Snow), Carlos Valdes (Cisco Ramon) and DC Creative Officer Geoff Johns.
DC’s LEGENDS OF TOMORROW (moderated by Geoff Johns): Executive Producers Marc Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti, stars Ciara Renee (Hawkgirl), Victor Garber (Dr. Martin Stein), Brandon Routh (Ray Palmer), WENTWORTH MILLER (Captain Cold), Caity Lotz (Sara Lance), Dominic Purcell (Heatwave), Executive Producers Phil Klemmer, Sarah Schechter and Andrew Kreisberg.
GOTHAM (moderated by …): featuring Executive Producers Bruno Heller and DANNY CANNON, stars Ben McKenzie (Det. James Gordon), Morena Baccarin (Dr. Leslie Thompkins), Donal Logue (Det. Harvey Bullock), Robin Lord Taylor (Oswald Cobblepot), SEAN PERTWEE (Alfred Pennyworth), Camren Bicondova (Selina Kyle), David Mazouz (Bruce Wayne), Erin Richards (Barbara Kean), Cory Michael Smith (Edward Nygma), Executive Producer John Stephens and DC Creative Officer Geoff Johns.
SUPERGIRL (moderated by …): featuring Executive Producer Ali Adler, stars Melissa Benoist (Supergirl), Mehcad Brooks (James Olson), Chyler Leigh (Alex Danvers), DAVID HAREWOOD (Hank Henshaw), Jeremy Jordan (Winn Schott), Executive Producers Sarah Schechter, Andrew Kreisberg and Greg Berlanti.