Batman, Superman, and so much more at the Warner Comic-Con panel

07.11.15 2 years ago

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So… Warner is running a little late.

Maybe Zack Snyder is still exhausted from driving the Batmobile around San Diego last night.

As always, Warner Bros. has added more screens, and it wraps around the audience further than every before. Aisha Tyler was brought out as a moderator of the panel, which is a nice change-up.

The first big blast of footage was for “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”, and it looks like a party. I have a huge fetish for '60s spy films, and it's pretty obvious Guy Ritchie does as well. Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill look like a really solid comic and action team, and Alicia Vikander continues her triumphant 2015 with a role that looks like it's going to be huge fun.

Cavill, Hammer, and Vikander walked out to sit with Tyler, and they jumped into talking about the tone of the film, which is blatantly funny but also a very real spy thriller. Elizabeth Debicki, who plays the bad guy in the film, is also on the panel, and probably the least known of the people up there. Talking about the style of the '60s, though, it's clear that one of the things that was fun for the cast is the glamour and the costuming and the fashions of the era. Everyone got to play big accents, and Hammer talked about how his Russian accent “made everything sound more badass.”

I was surprised by the length of the clip, and in some ways, I feel like this is perfect movie for what Guy does. There's so much style inherent to the era, and he gets to stage real action scenes even as he takes the piss out of the machismo driving all of it. Just like that, though, they were done with “U.N.C.L.E.” and on to the next thing.

Is this Joe Wright's first Comic-Con? The director takes the stage with Levi Miller, who is making his film debut as Peter Pan. Garrett Hedlund and Hugh Jackman also take the stage as Hook and Blackbeard. The clip they showed to bridge the introduction features the pirate ship against a bunch of WWII fighter planes in the sky over London, which is certainly not an image I would expect from the story.

Joe said, “My young son has been having nightmares, so I want to make this film as dark as I can to show them that no matter how dark a vision is, you can survive it and come through it intact” when he first pitched the film to Hedlund. Jackman went on to explain that everything in the film is as physical as possible, with sets built to the horizon if at all possible. At one point, they couldn't find Joe on the set for almost 15 minutes because of just how big the stage was and how intricate the set was. Jackman used the word “visionary” repeatedly.

The new footage is very pretty, which is no surprise based on Joe Wright directing, but I will admit that the more emphasis they place on “the prophecy” and turning Peter Pan into “the chosen one,” the more uncomfortable I get. It's the same mistake they made in Tim Burton's “Alice In Wonderland,” and it demonstrates a paucity of narrative imagination and a misunderstanding of the original text. I am very, very tired of “chosen one” narratives, and I don't understand why that is the only story studios seem to understand.

Having said that, I like the way the cast looks in the new trailer, and I'm excited to see Garrett Hedlund having fun on film. Jackman's going very big as Blackbeard, and Rooney Mara appears to actually be able to smile. Go figure.

They also screened the introduction of Blackbeard, which is about as big as I've ever seen Jackman go in anything. The scene is all about the way all the abducted children are brought to Neverland to serve as pirates for Blackbeard, and he lays out the rules for them. Seeing the way Jackman dug into the role makes it look like fun. Garrett Hedlund's Hook is also in the scene, silently watching what's happening, and the big tension of the film is watching how he goes from sympathetic friend to Peter to his greatest enemy by the end of the film.

Joe Wright talked about how odd Barrie's book is and how that's still his main source of inspiration for this film. He likes how the characters are drawn without any definitive sense of good or bad. Peter is a bit of a creep in the book, which is one of the things I've always loved about Barrie's writing.

Again… very quick. Just like that, “Pan” is done, and we're on to the next thing.

And that “next thing” is the DC Films presentation. First of all, “Green Lantern Corps” appears to be the title of the Green Lantern film they're going to make. Second of all, “Suicide Squad” looks bonkers. As it should.

David Ayer walked out, fresh from the Toronto set, to introduce his cast. “It's all about canon. It's all about the source material. You guys know what you freakin' want. And you're going to get it with this shit. This good versus evil shit is played out. It's time for bad versus evil.”

The trailer is pretty damn persuasive. Creepy and weird all the way through, with plenty of perversion of superhero iconography, the trailer ends with a quick shot of Leto's Joker that makes a case for him doing his own thing with the character. “I'm not going to kill you,” he tells someone as he brings out a pair of shock treatment paddles. “I'm just going to hurt you real bad.”

They brought out the entire line-up of characters, minus Joker, so we saw Kitana, Slipknot, Enchantress, Diablo, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, Col. Rick Flagg, Amanda Waller, Harley Quinn, and Deadshot lined up together. Will Smith promised us that the film's going to be insane, and then they were gone. Based on what we saw, I fully anticipate that I am going to get a life-size Harley Quinn tatttoo on my back when the film comes out. Is that wrong?

Zack Snyder came out to introduce his cast for the next segment. Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, and Jeremy Irons all came out to take their seats, and then Zack introduced a piece of footage that was put together for this panel.

And, I'm sorry… I've heard the bitching and the grumbling and the whining for the last two years, and I am tired of it. There has never been any superhero cinema that looks like what Snyder is doing. He's creating massive, amazing mythic imagery, and if you're not onboard, that's too bad for you. This film absolutely picks up from the end of “Man Of Steel,” and we got a glimpse of what begins that conflict here when we see that Bruce Wayne was in Metropolis for that fight at the end of “Man Of Steel.” He watched Wayne Tower fall, and he was right there in the rubble at the end of it. As Batman begins to push back against what he sees as a threat, Clark Kent goes after Batman in print, and little by little, the stage is set for a massive battle.

It is obvious that Lex Luthor ends up with the body of General Zod, and that Luthor manipulates both the government, represented by Holly Hunter's Senator character, and Bruce Wayne. Snyder said that Gotham and Metropolis in this film are sister cities like Oakland and San Francisco, so the geography is a bit different from what comic fans are used to.

Jeremy Irons talked about how his Alfred is not the Alfred we know. “I followed the boss and tried to make him safe and happy and grow up a little.”

Gal Gadot, who we saw in action briefly in the footage, talked about how much she was thrilled to play both strong and beautiful in the film, and then Eisenberg complained that's how he wanted to play Lex Luthor, but she took it from him.

Adams, who has never been to Comic-Con, seemed a little surprised by the energy in the room. She talked about how she wanted to play Lois Lane from when she was five years old. “I was willing and open to bring a very modern take on her and just embrace this really strong women. It's this wonderful thing women have where we have this emotional intelligence that Zack let me bring to Lois.”

“I have this vision of the character that you're perfect for,” Zack Snyder told Ben Affleck. “He's burned out, he's at the end of his rope, he's older.” He talked about taking his kid to get a Batman costume for Halloween, and running into Christian Bale in the aisle where the Batman outfits were. He asked him for tips and Bale said, “Make sure you can piss in that suit.”

Henry added that they gave him a zipper this time, which they did not on “Man Of Steel.”

Alisha brought up the idea that Superman would obviously destroy Batman in a direct fistfight, and asked how they're handling that. “This Batman is almost like MechaBatman.”

“It's a self-preservation concept,” Snyder said. “It's not really enhancing his strength, so much as it's buying him time.”

Affleck responded to an adorable kid's questions about the philosophical side of the film by saying, “Zack and Chris put together some really interesting ideas about Metropolis being successful and Gotham being a city where the downtrodden live. It's about some very smart ideas about wealth and power. It's smart, so I'm even more proud to be part of it.”

He also said, “I remember a day about two weeks in where I read the scene and came in and thought I knew how it would work, and Zack did the whole thing in one shot. I thought, 'Fuck, I would never do that,' and I remember thinking we were in good hands.”

Watching the footage the second time, I'm even more sold. It's gorgeous and gigantic. I am particularly struck by the moments with Lois and Ma Kent both talking to Superman about his role in this world, and how he has to make some big choices. “You don't owe this world anything,” Ma Kent tells him, “and you never did.”

Plus Superman rips the top off the Batmobile. So that happened.

That's wrapping things up for now. I'll be back later for the Legendary Panel. See you then.

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