SAN DIEGO – Saturday is traditionally the biggest day for Hollywood in Hall H and that means kicking off with Warner Bros. and ending the day with Marvel Studios. WB scheduled three panels for their two-hour block, which meant lots of room for surprises. 20th Century Fox psyched us out yesterday with no big revelations. Did WB deliver what fans were hoping for? Let's find out!
10:04 AM – Warner Bros. likes to go bigger and their huge full screens from left to right are unveiled to dramatic music. And this year…they go even bigger across the entire convention walls!
10:14 AM – Hardwicke then brings out “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” director Zack Snyder, who just flew in from set. “I was shooting last night, jumped on a plane to get here. Couldn't be happier with the way everything is going. Just the way the talent and the special effects and the set are going. Couldn't be happier. Normally, when people come to these things, they bring footage. But we are shooting right now, so, I mean…” Crowd screams wanting a tease. “OK, OK, we have a teeny little thing. It's a little teaser.”
The footage! We see Batman in a suit very similar to the “Dark Knight Returns” comic book. It looks like armor. He turns on the bat signal. Camera tilts up and we see the signal in the clouds – and then we see Superman himself hovering in the symbol. The Man of Steel's eyes get very red. Cut to Batman also looking pissed. Cut to logo. Roar.
(Actually lots of roars from the audience.)
Then we have Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and our new Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, come out on stage. They don't say anything; they have to get back to shooting. But the crowd gets to see the footage again and they love it. Duh.
10:15 AM – Moving fast and furious it's time for Channing Tatum to talk about “Jupiter Ascending,” a movie that was supposed to come out this summer, but was pushed to February. “We really tried to do something different. It's really not a book or a comic book, so they really tried to push it.”
Why isn't Mila Kunis here? Tatum, bluntly: “She's super pregnant. The Wachowskis are also shooting a TV show so they apologize for not being here.”
Tatum then introduces a new extended trailer which has many more finished effects and space battles than anything Warner Bros. showed previously. It looks much better than the initial trailers, but the rumors that Kunis couldn't carry the movie as the lead character? Getting harder to hide that.
10:23 AM – We've moved on to “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Charlize Theron can't make it (she's shooting in South Africa), but she shot a video introduction that talks about the brilliant legacy of George Miller and the Mad Max character. Lots of Mel Gibson who supposedly isn't in “Fury Road.”
10:26 AM – Miller comes out and notes, “The story appeared in my head like an imaginary friend and just wouldn't go away. I love chase movies. I wanted to make one long, extended chase and see what we could pick up along the way.”
This turns out to be Miller's first Comic-Con and he says his family doesn't believe he's here so he's taking a photo. Hardwicke offers to take a photo of him in front of the crowd. Lots of cheers. “I grew up in a small rural town and was the kid who always got in trouble for reading too many cartoons and never dreamed something like this would be the case.”
10:40 AM – Hardwicke pings Miller to introduce some footage from the film, the first anyone has seen publicly. It begins with a long shot of Hardy in the distance. We hear him say, “My name is Max. My world is fury and blood.” In a montage he's chased and then captured by someone with freaky white skin and a mask of teeth covering his mouth. Cut to Theron's striking character (in case you forgot, she shaved her head), who appears to be protecting three beautiful girls. Hardy, as a captive, gets caught in a huge chase, which falls into an electrical sandstorm. The movie looks truly mad and like a music video (in the best way possible). Indeed, the studio's tagline is “2015 WILL BE TRULY MAD.”
Miller says the movie is closer in tone to “The Road Warrior” than any of the other “Mad Max” films and scoring will happen sometime over the next few weeks.
10:50 AM – Hardwicke says he's leaving and that another moderator is on the way for something special. Graphics come up for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and then finally, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” (Whew, for a minute I thought I was going to have to watch both movies again. We'd never get this day over if that was the case!).
10:54 AM – Stephen Colbert – yes, Stephen Colbert – is out moderating the final “Hobbit” panel and the crowd starts chanting “Stephen, Stephen, Stephen!” He jokes, “If I could only go back in time and show this to my 13-year-old self.”
Colbert, who appears in the movie in a cameo, introduces a montage of bloopers from the first three “Lord of the Rings” films and the “Hobbit” films. Most feature a very campy and scene-stealing Ian McKellen. Lots of banter between McKellen and Jackson. And lots of doors that won't open. Martin Freeman in particular has problems with them. Christopher Lee complaining about his clothes and dark steps. Lee says “Something vaguely familiar about this situation” after Saruman falls to his death in the “LOTR” trilogy. Sadly, no Orlando Bloom or Evangeline Lilly bloopers.
11:10 AM – Footage then transitions to scenes from “The Battle of the Five Armies” and the cast comes out on stage, including Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch and Elijah Wood! They are joined by writer Philippa Boyens, Orlando Bloom, Andy Serkis, Luke Evans, Evangeline Lilly and Lee Pace. Peter Jackson notes that Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman are stuck in London working, but “they do send their love. I'm sure you will see them sometime on some other projects.”
Blanchett and Cumberbatch wax on about how they have never physically been in a scene together, but are on screen.
Colbert jokes to Jackson that he owes them six more “Lord of the Rings” movies after “The Hobbit” was turned into three. Jackson says Warner Bros will find a way if he can.
Colbert to Wood: “Why don't you age? And Peter did you know he was immortal?”
“Maybe I have a painting in my attic,” Wood replies.
Blanchett: “I am just happy to get a job on this one. I thought my time was over in this Middle Earth.”
Bloom adds, “You and me both.”
11:15 AM – Colbert asks Cumberbatch about whether it's freeing to work in motion capture. Says Cumberbatch, “You are completely free to just make a complete fool of yourself. It's much harder to do what these guys did against green screen. I was just throwing myself around a carpeted floor like a lunatic.”
11:20 AM – Colbert asks whether Blanchett gets to fight in the new movie as the Elves are the Ninjas of Middle Earth. Blanchett replies, “I was an in a high school production of 'The Hobbit.' I played the bard. As an Elf you have to wear these sort of high disco glam boots. They were a little bit tricky to walk in.”
“We do get to see Galadriel lose it a bit in this movie,” Jackson says.
“I lose my shit, is that what you are about to say? Elvin shit,” Blanchett adds.
Colbert zings, “I'm sure it sparkles.”
“She gets to kick Suaron's ass a little,” Jackson adds.
11:27 AM – Uh oh. Wood still hasn't read the books (Colbert: “Elijah, do you know how to read?”) Lilly says she loved reading it so much that when she got 20 pages to the end of of “The Return of the King,” she said, “I will never read the last 20 pages so it won't end!” She still hasn't.
11:30 AM – Serkis talks about how starting to work on the “Lord of the Rings” films changed his life. In 2003 he did the last pickups for “Return of the King” and he was asked to do “King Kong.” He thought his life was going to return to normality. But going from Gollum to Kong meant he would never be typecast again.
11:34 AM – We get our first look at “The Battle of the Five Armies” teaser trailer, which is very serious. Lots of battles. Blanchett kisses Gandolf's head and Colbert asks about it.
“It's an ancient love story,” Blanchett says. “I adore Ian and hardly got to do anything with him at all the first time around so it was so special, and having worked with Hugo so intensely on stage over the past 10 years. So, 10 years later to have such a beautiful loving relationship of understanding…”
Blanchett goes off on a funny tangent about how her young boys are embarrassed to see that elves don't wear underwear. She realizes she might have over-shared.
Jackson reveals he's hoping to do a museum some day with costumes and other things.
Colbert asks Jackson about a wolf statue that has a penis. It might be a sharp one. Jackson seems flabbergasted and embarrassed. And now, fan questions!
11:43 AM – Button Lady says she expects to be back in 10 years watching clips from “The Silmarillion.” She then gets Cumberbatch to say “Button Lady” in his dragon voice and the crowd roars.
Luke Evans and Orlando Bloom go on a very funny tangent on who has the longer and sharper bow. Read into that what you will.
11:49 AM – When asked where they would take their characters, anywhere in Comic-Con, Cumberbatch says the Dragon could only appear, er fit, in Hall H. Serkis then does his Gollum voice joking he'd take Stephen Colbert backstage to see whats in his costume.
11:53 AM – Jackson rolls his eyes when asked about longer “Lord of the Rings” versions. He says very few scenes haven't been seen. “It's not without its issues” because it was shot on film and it's in a vault in Arizona somewhere. It's a big logistical thing. If there is enough interest – cue cheers – maybe they will.
Colbert and Jackson then announce a trip to New Zealand themed around the new “Hobbit” movie. They are choosing people in November to come to Wellington to see the movie before anyone else. And Jackson will watch it with you. Sounds like you might get a tour, too. Surprise: 75 winners and a guest. That's 150 winners! Jackson then announces two winners who are in Hall H. The second one appears to be missing or very shy. The first winner screamed!
12:02 PM – Hardwicke comes back to close the panel (not really necessary).
So, no “Justice League” news except, of course, for the Wonder Woman photo that was revealed online outside the panel. Still, Blanchett? Affleck? “Batman v. Superman” footage? Channing Tatum? A damn good panel from WB.