The first day of Comic-Con proper started with some friends and me waiting in a line outside Hall H while the gray misty morning kept everything damp. The organizers put canopies up on the lawn that helped keep people fairly dry, but the humid air still gave everyone a sheen more often seen in the South than the Southwest. Finally there was movement in the line and we headed indoors. As we walked in, we were handed a Megamind bag containing a comic book, instructions for a contest and a watch, and a pair of RealD glasses. We found a seat and got comfortable since the next several hours were going to be spent here.
The usual announcements were made and finally it was time for Megamind. The 3D glasses were on for the trailer and footage from the movie. It looks like pretty funny stuff. Dreamworks Animation has finally made a superhero movie of their own and it has a great subversive twist. Director Tom McGrath was barely introduced before some guy dressed as Megamind wandered up. Of course it’s Will Ferrell and he’s brought breakfast…for six people. Throughout the panel he mentioned the blue paint on his face and how it got him high / burns / makes him pretty conspicuous. Tina Fey, lovely as always, manhandled a cardboard standee of Brad Pitt, who did not attend. Jonah Hill randomly threw his support for Mel Gibson until he found out what Mel actually said, then retracted about 75%. They all kept hinting at this great twist involving Hill’s character, even though it was telegraphed on the bags we were given. All in all, a very entertaining start to the day.
Disney was next to showcase Tron: Legacy. This was the one most of the audience had been lining up for. Eight minutes of the movie were screened to the audience in 3D, along with a new trailer. What we saw looked absolutely amazing. Seriously, they had Jeff Bridges looking exactly as he did nearly three decades ago and the CGI was seamless. Stars Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde and Michael Sheen, along with director Joe Kosinski, and producers Sean Bailey and Steven Lisberger (who created the original) discussed using real lightsuits, special effects, and keeping true to the original movie, among other topics. After a bit of panel discussion, the audience was recorded for crowd sounds in the movie. I can now truthfully say that I have done work for ILM! The Comic-Con audience has been very supportive of this movie for the past couple of years and it definitely showed today.
As a bonus, since this was the Disney Studios panel, they included bits from other movies in the pipeline. First, there was a clip of Captain Jack Sparrow addressing the audience with a small tease about Pirates of the Carribbean: On Stranger Tides. Then moderator Patton Oswalt announced that Guillermo Del Toro would be helming a new Haunted Mansion movie. He came out and talked about how much he loved Disneyland and that ride and how this job was a dream come true for him. He also promised to make the movie scary and true to the ride and that he would ignore all calls from Eddie Murphy. Burn, but the audience loved it. I think if anyone can make a movie about a theme park ride scary, it’s the guy behind Pan’s Labyrinth.
After a mass exodus of the people who were only there to see Tron, Sony Pictures had a panel showcasing Salt and Battle: Los Angeles. Director Phillip Noyce and producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura were joined by stars Angelina Jolie and Liev Schreiber. They discussed fighting with everything from fists to fire extinguishers, how it is to do a straight action movie vs one with fantasy elements, and how challenging it was to change the lead character from male to female. Surprisingly, the audience questions did not involve lots of geeky fanboys drooling over Angelina, but some questions were repetitive. Professional that she is, Jolie managed to answer each question thoughtfully. Scriber was quite funny in his response of how he decides to do his own stunts vs. letting the pros handle it (will it result in injury / damage clothes / etc.). Battle: Los Angeles followed with some footage from the movie. The clip showed some Marines in the heat of urban warfare with barely a glimpse of the extraterrestrial enemy. Director Jonathan Liebsman and producer Neil Moritz were joined by stars Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez for discussion about boot camp training, shooting what was essentially a war movie with the enemy being alien rather than human, and how this movie had a very micro focus as compared to other movies involving alien invasion.
Next up was Summit Entertainment for RED. After a fairly kick-ass clip package from the movie, producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, graphic novel creators Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, and stars Karl Urban, Mary Louise Parker, Bruce Willis, and Helen Mirren came out to discuss the film. Bruce Willis mentioned how this was his first Comic-Con and it was crazy. Helen Mirren was wearing a Harvey Pekar tribute shirt. She learned how to shoot guns for this movie and had to work on doing it without making faces. Karl Urban bonded with Willis from all the fight scenes where they beat the crap out of each other. All talked about the joys of working with Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Richard Dreyfuss. A new trailer was screened to much applause from the audience. Having never heard of this movie before, it is now near the top of my list of things to see, so I guess the Comic-Con promo monkeys have done their job.
The final panel for me today was Entertainment Weekly’s The Visionaries with J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon. Jeff “Doc” Jensen moderated and the three of them had a lot of interesting discussion about the future of Internet based entertainment, writing styles, and the good ol’ days at the WB. Joss announced officially that he would be directing the Avengers movie. The audience went nuts. He also drooled over how good Star Trek was. J.J. hated the fact that Joss could write such good scripts in the first draft. Audience questions ranged from J.J.’s thoughts about Lost to whether it was appropriate in this day and age to attend film school. J.J. didn’t go and said it was not necessary with the technology available today. Joss went and felt it was still worthwhile for building a network. The two of them were hilarious together and it was a great end to my marathon Hall H session.
Check out our media gallery for pictures from the day.