The biggest panel day of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con was Saturday, and it kicked off with a bang with Warner Bros. and their films The Seventh Son, Godzilla, Warcraft, 300: Rise of an Empire, Gravity, The Lego Movie, Edge of Tomorrow, and the Man of Steel sequel. You may have heard all the big news already, but we’ve got the first hand highlights from the panel after the break.
Chris Hardwick from Nerdist was the panel, so we knew that we were in for a treat. Hardwick is one of the best moderators and very funny on the fly. The first movie featured was The Seventh Son, based on the novel The Spook’s Apprentice. The panel included director Sergei Bodrov (whose accent was so think that he was hard to hear), and stars Jeff Bridges, Antje Traue, Ben Barnes, and Kit Harington. They showed a sizzle reel that looked alright, but didn’t feel fresh or original in any way. The questions from the panel weren’t that interesting, but Bridges was a hoot.
Now to the good stuff: Godzilla. They started off playing the “mood piece” from last year, then introduced the panelists. Director Gareth Edwards and stars Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Bryan Cranston were in attendance. Edwards informed us that they just finished filming two days prior, and that Warner Bros. and Legendary gave them great creative control. Johnson described Godzilla as almost like a big budget art film. Cranston said that Godzilla was his favorite monster when he was young because he was so unapologetic. However, Cranston wasn’t sure if this was the right film for him because it’s so big. However, he changed his mind after talking to Edwards and seeing Edwards’ debut film Monsters. Edwards talked about how it took a long time to come up with the story, and they decided to feature characters who would naturally be in that situation. They are all aware that everyone has been waiting for a real Godzilla movie, and Edwards told a humorous story about it. He was crossing the US/Canada border and the immigration workers figured out he was directing Godzilla (it was codenamed Nautilus at the time). They told him not to f*ck it up. Edwards put a lot of pressure on himself to be faithful to the Toho Legacy, saying you have to view these big budget films as passion projects.
They finished up the panel by showing a sizzle reel. It starts off mostly just showing the chaos and destruction going on, featuring the cast on the panel. Then we see this big bug-like monster (possibly Mothra) terrorizing a city, and from the inside of an airport we see the foot of Godzilla come into frame as it looks to be taking on Mr. Big Bug. After the title card, the camera pans up the body of Godzilla briefly. Overall, this had a much more serious and ominous tone than say Pacific Rim. It’s also bigger and wider shots that really give us some great scope on what is going on. I was already excited to see this film, but this footage sealed the deal for me.
Next, we got a surprise clip from the World of the Warcraft movie, which might be just titled Warcraft. Director Duncan Jones came out to present the clip, which shows a warrior and a green orc about to face off in the desert. It looks pretty cool, but it’s too short and simplistic to infer anything about the movie, which doesn’t start filming until next year.
300: Rise of an Empire had the next panel. Here, we learn that the film takes place around the same time as the original 300, but on a bigger scope. The panel included director Noam Murro and stars Eva Green and Rodrigo Santoro. Green said that Artemisia is the toughest character she’s ever played. She’s like a ruthless Joan of Arc, which is very different from her personality. Santoro doesn’t see his character Xerxes as evil, partly because he had some influence in whole he became. Murro talked about working with producer Zack Snyder, who directed the first film. Snyder would help whenever needed, but otherwise took a step back to allow Murro to do his thing. The film is again almost all green screen, and while the visual style is very similar to the original, there is the added dimension that this is mostly on water. The new trailer shown looked very much like 300. I’m not a big fan of that movie, but if you are, then this should be right up your alley.
Sandra Bullock made her first appearance every at Comic-Con for the Gravity panel. She was joined by director Alfonso Cuarón and producer David Heyman. The film is about two astronauts, played by George Clooney and Bullock, who get stuck in space during a spacewalk. They are the only two people you see on screen. Cuarón’s goal is to make the audience feel like they are floating in space with the actors. We saw a clip from the film that shows the accident that caused them to drift in space. While on a spacewalk, debris from a Soviet satellite crashes into their ship. It’s a tense scene, and the only audio you hear is from the radio communication. There is no sound in space, and they made a point of trying to be as realistic as possible. Bullock and Cuarón talked about how Bullock’s scenes were shot. She was strapped into an oscillating rig where she wore the helmet. In order to get over her claustrophobia, Bullock would listen to music that put her in the right mood for the scene. She prepped for the role by trying to look as androgynous as possible to fit the character’s background.
The Lego Movie was a fun break from these serious films. The panel included writer/directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. They explained that with so many Lego universities, they had to choose only a few and cross their fingers that they could do more later. They actually used fan films as a reference as well. The film uses a hybrid of computer animation and real Legos, but they don’t want people to know when they used which. They announced some cameos in the film: Channing Tatum is Superman, Jonah Hill is Green Lantern, Cobie Smulders is Wonder Woman. Everything in the film is LEGO, from the water, to explosions. The original ensemble featured 14 characters, but they had to narrow it down. They actually used Miller’s original space set from childhood in the movie. The footage we were shown started with audition tapes of the characters, then we got what was essentially a trailer. The humor in it all was safe but still funny, so I think this will be a hit with fans of all ages. The quality of the cinematography is also worth noting, considering the entire set is Lego.
Edge of Tomorrow was the last full panel for Warner Bros. Based on the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill (which was the film’s original title as well), the film stars Tom Cruise as man who relives a day over and over again. Unfortunately, this day is during a pivotal battle of an alien invasion. On hand for the panel were Cruise (who got huge applause from the crowd), director Doug Liman, writer Christopher McQuarrie, producer Erwin Stoff, and co-stars Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton (who came up from the audience. The trailer we see for the film looked good (though Caleb wasn’t impressed), but the plot was still unclear until the panel explained it. Blunt’s character is very strong, and Cruise actually goes against type to play a coward. The mech suits weighed anywhere from 80-120lb, but Cruise is up to do anything himself. The highlights of the panel, however, were not about the film. First, Cruise and Hardwick sang part of “I Want To Know What Love Is” to each other, since they have both played the Rock of Ages character Stacee Jaxx (Hardwick in a play, Cruise in the movie). After Cruise brought Paxton on stage about halfway through the panel, Paxton said his famous “Game over, man” line from Aliens. Cruise even convinced him to do a line as Chet from Weird Science.
Just when it seemed like it was all over, Zack Snyder came on stage to talk about Man of Steel. He confirmed that Warner Bros. had greenlit a sequel, but there was an added element. He brought on Henry Lennix from the film to say a little something before revealing the big news. Watch below.
That’s right, we are getting a Batman/Superman movie! There’s no title yet, and it’s presumed that Batman will be recast as the character is likely to be rebooted for this new DC continuity. The film is scheduled to be released in 2015.