San Diego Comic-Con 2012 | Saturday
For a room of 6,000 people who had been waiting in line for a minimum of five hours (many began camping out the previous night), the crowd showed great energy in welcoming Quentin Tarantino and the cast of Django Unchained. Tarantino presented an eight-minute sizzle reel from the film. This same footage was shown at Cannes a few months ago, and it's full of Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz shooting a lot of people and just looking generally badass. The film still has a week left of shooting and the reel was put together several weeks ago, so there's still plenty more of it to see, but what we've been shown looks incredibly bloody, fun and exactly like the type of pulpy entertainment we've come to expect from Tarantino.
Open Road Films presented several scenes from End of Watch, directed by Training Day screenwriter David Ayer, about a pair of cops played by Michael Peña and Jake Gyllenhaal who get on the bad side of a drug cartel. If you've seen the trailer, one of the first things you'll notice is the strong use of first-person point-of-view shots, as well as other kinetic film techniques. Ayer had cameras specially built and strapped to the actors to accomplish some of these effects. While the writer-director emphasized the importance of the human element of the story, the cinematography proved very distracting, and made it difficult to focus on the characters. The best scene shown involved a still camera inside the patrol car capturing a witty conversation between Peña and Gyllenhaal, razzing each other about their ethnicities. Unlike the other scenes of a meandering car chase and the rescue of a child from a burning building, this one actually had some of that humanity that Ayer mentioned.
Director Guillermo Del Toro is always extremely popular at Comic-Con, not only because his films are perfect for the audience, but because his presence at panels is always guaranteed to include gleeful and hilarious use of profanity. Del Toro's next film, Pacific Rim, is an epic battle of gigantic monsters versus gigantic robots. The robots are so huge that they must be manned by two pilots, one controlling each side of the gargantuan machine. The footage shown at Comic-Con featured some breathtaking glimpses of the combat between the massive opponents, which were described as being 25 stories high. After the applause died down, Del Toro quipped that what we had seen was "just the tip" and later responded to a fan question by promising lots of "obscene robot porn" in the final movie. The monsters in the film are all brand-new creations, and Del Toro was adamant that they not use motion capture to create them because he didn't want them to move like human beings. The director said the film will be going "radio silent" until the end of the year, when general audiences will be able to see some of the crazy images shown today.
While Legendary and Warner Bros. were already sure to please fans with the three films they were bringing to Hall H today, they also surprised attendees with a glimpse at a previously unannounced movie and a visit from a pair of comedy stars. The first shock was a teaser trailer for a new attempt at Godzilla, directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters). The teaser was edited in a beautifully bleak way, with distant shots of a city plundered by the beast; there were images of dead bodies and a building that looked like it had a huge Godzilla-shaped hole in it. The single shot of the monster shrieking at the sky was quite impressive. After that, Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis dropped by to take a few questions and show an extended trailer for their new film The Campaign, in which the two of them compete for a congressional seat in a small town. It was a bit of a weird fit with the rest of the day's programming, but it meant that the two comics got to riff onstage for a bit while responding to a series of fairly awkward questions from fans, which was a nice bit of entertainment.
Nothing is sure to impress the fans at Comic-Con like a superhero film, and the first glimpse at Zack Snyder's Man of Steel went over quite well in Hall H. The trailer, a longer version of the teaser that will premiere in front of The Dark Knight Rises next week, features the same sweeping emotional score used in the Pearl Harbor trailer, and featured glimpses of all of the film's major stars, including Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon. While the trailer was perfectly fine, there was nothing that made Man of Steel stand out amid the strong content put forth by the other films presented today. All of the pieces looked impressive, but none of it really seemed to give a good impression of what will set this version of the Superman story apart from the others we've seen in the last few decades.
Prior to showing off 12 minutes of footage from both installments of The Hobbit, Peter Jackson and company treated fans to a featurette summarizing the last days of shooting on The Hobbit films. It included the director's final speech to the cast and crew, praising their work and support, and several peeks at characters and locations both old and new to the cinematic universe of Middle Earth. Of the several scenes that were screened, the best bit showed Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) about to tell Gandalf (Ian McKellen) about the ring he's found (yes, that ring), only to make the sudden decision to keep it to himself. It's a small but wonderful peek into Freeman's portrayal of Bilbo and how the famous ring first took hold of him. Of course, the other highlight was a slice of Bilbo's exchange of riddles with Gollum (Andy Serkis, who also served as director on the film's second unit).
Marvel Studios has always been very good at spoiling Comic-Con audiences, so it was quite disappointing when they failed to make an appearance at last year's convention to promote The Avengers. Perhaps attempting a bit of an apology, the studio's panel opened with a montage of Marvel's appearances in Hall H since the first Iron Man film, culminating into a thank-you to the fans for making The Avengers the most successful superhero film of all time. After that, producer Kevin Feige presented the audience with series of special gifts, including announcing the release dates and complete titles for the next four Marvel movies in what Feige referred to as Marvel's "Phase Two": Iron Man 3 (May 3, 2013), Thor: The Dark World (November 8, 2013), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4, 2014) and Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1, 2014). Much like the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy are team of heroes who have had many different members. The lineup for the film will include the characters Star Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Gamorra, Groot and Rocket Raccoon. In the lead-up to Comic-Con, rumors were flying that Marvel would screen the test footage director Edgar Wright had recently shot for an upcoming Ant Man film. However, Wright had been tweeting that he was London, making that seem unlikely. Turns out that was a bit of misdirection on his part, as he did visit the panel to show off his first bit of Ant Man. The test scene showed the superhero making his way across a hallway and fighting off two guards who were blocking an elevator. To achieve this goal, Ant Man shifted back and forth between his human and ant sizes, disarming and defeating his opponents with moves that were both awesome and quite hilarious. Unfortunately, Wright won't begin working on Ant Man anytime soon, as it was recently announced that his next film will be The World's End, based on the screenplay he wrote with longtime collaborator Simon Pegg.
After all that, it was time for Feige to talk about the film the program said Marvel would be promoting: Iron Man 3. As Feige began to discuss Marvel's next movie, he was soon drowned out by the sound of music, then the sound of cheers as star Robert Downey Jr. entered Hall H from the back, donning a pair of light-up Iron Man gloves, and danced his way down the aisles and up onto the stage—an entrance worthy of his character. While Iron Man 3 still has several weeks of shooting left, writer-director Shane Black provided an impressive collection of footage that began with an extended scene of Tony Stark testing out a new version of the Iron Man suit that would fly onto his body piece by piece, as if magnetized to him. Other scenes included Iron Man and Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau reprising his role as Happy Hogan and mentioning the events that took place in the third act of The Avengers. We saw shots of Stark's Malibu mansion getting pummeled by missile-armed helicopters, with the older version of the Iron Man armor being destroyed. The dramatic voiceover during the latter part of the trailer was done by Ben Kingsley, who was finally confirmed as the Mandarin, the villain of the film.