The Comic-Con Edition
Yes it is that time again when the biggest gathering of nerds takes place in San-Diego California and Hollywood brings some of their most geekily salivating material to the masses. It felt a little more subdued this year, with less of the major reveals we’ve come to expect from the Con but still Marvel, DC and a few other studios brought some new trailers (with most now online) and there were some little nuggets to be found within the panel discussions. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest stories:
- Fox opened the show with the first big panel of the weekend but oddly there was nothing from their major 2018 releases Deadpool 2 or X-Men: Dark Phoenix (possibly because they are still in the early days of filming). That left just one big comic-book project to be shown Kingsman: The Golden Circle, which debuted the new trailer online soon after. Once again Matthew Vaughn has concocted a kinetic, energetic and vibrant piece, with the action looking suitably insane in an effort to top the delightfully entertaining first film. Bringing back the apparently murdered Colin Firth is at this point bemusing but I can imagine the how of his resurrection will be pretty out there. New cast additions Channing Tatum, Julianne Moore and Jeff Bridges seem to be fitting right in with the irreverent tone. Based on the footage shown at the Con it appears Vaughn’s tendency to mix extreme violence with dark humour is present and correct. Cannot wait for this one. The Golden Circle arrives in September.
- In a Con first director extraordinaire Steven Spielberg attended to show off the first footage from his book adaptation Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. A futuristic story set primarily in an absorbing VR world called The Oasis. I have not read the book (although it is next on my reading list) but most praise its terrific imagination and creative world. One that utilises characters from all of pop culture within its world, including (based on the trailer) figures as diverse as The Iron Giant and Freddy Kreuger. In my opinion the trailer is a little chaotic and very very CGI heavy. I appreciate that the film is still months away but nothing about this has hooked me barring the Spielberg name. He has always nailed the building of fantastical universes with a tangibility so I’m hopeful that there is a lot more hidden away. Also of note that he has this and the small budgeted true-life drama The Papers opening mere months apart. The last time he did this we got the double masterpieces of Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List, so fingers crossed for a repeat of this. Ready Player One opens March 2018.
- The Con is not just a place for film, TV has a huge place within those geek halls and as per usual the first trailer for the new Walking Dead season was released. After the all-out war of the season finale it appears this year we will be getting a far more action heavy season. I for one am pleased about this as the last couple of seasons have begun to wane my enthusiasm somewhat, with their repeated themes and sluggish pace tarnishing the shows previous potential. It certainly didn’t help that big bad Negan was so overused and dull last season that all effectiveness was lost. But that is a rant for another day. The trailer is solid, with some pretty epic action beats and the last shot is certainly tantalising. The Walking Dead returns Oct 22nd.
- Continuing the TV theme HBO bought not only the biggest show on Earth to town Game of Thrones, but also challenger to the crown Westworld. Now Thrones did show off some new footage but as the season is currently being aired I’m not posting it as GoT works best knowing as little as possible going in. Westworld on the other hand managed to show off a brief teaser despite having only been filming for a week. Not much can be gathered from such early footage but the vibe is once again one of violence and scale.
- Before Marvel took to the stage for their film offering we got a proper glimpse of the upcoming Netflix team-up show The Defenders. It’s a great tease and really sells the bantering dynamic of the foursome. Sigourney Weaver seems to be having fun as the big bad and while little is known about the threat thus far it definitely looks like The Hand play a major role, having been protagonists throughout the multiple series. Surprisingly the first episode was also shown with a thorough write up available here. The show debuts all 8 episodes August 11th.
- The best TV reveal though was undoubtedly Stranger Things Season 2. Probably one of Netflix’s most anticipated shows, the trailer immediately drops us back into that soft-tinged nostalgia driven warmth that made the first season so successful. Clearly dealing with a larger budget, the story centres on young Will dealing with the consequences of being stuck in the Upside Down as new more outlandish creatures venture through. I am loving the tone here with the 80s beautifully showcased through Ghostbusters references, Amblin vibes and in a terrific move soundtracked by Micheal Jackson’s Thriller. There are many more trailers to come here but I’m pretty sure this wins hands down. Season 2 airs October 27th.
- Now onto the two big hitters of the convention. First up was WB and DC, and not surprisingly Justice League was the focal point of the panel. Before that though WB flashed up an image of all their upcoming DC fare, and there were a few surprises amongst the list. Unsurprisingly Wonder Woman 2 and Suicide Squad 2 feature as does The Batman, but there were also spaces for Shazam and Flashpoint-which will be The Flash solo film. This is a surprise due to the fact that the comic arc that title originates from centres on an alternate universe meaning we could be looking at a unique retconning of the DCEU. The only issue with these titles is no release dates were forthcoming and plenty of times in the past WB have announced upcoming titles that stay in limbo for eternity e.g Green Lantern Corps.
- Although not set for release until Nov next year and barely halfway through production director James Wan and star Jason Mamoa showcased the first footage of Aquaman. Sadly it wasn’t released for the public but those in attendance gave some detailed descriptions of the very brief footage.
- A new poster was revealed for the massive team-up film:
- Recently rumours have been mounting that Ben Affleck was being pushed out by WB as the Batman. This lines up with repeated talk of his desire to leave, not to mention the fact he stepped down as director of the solo film as well as having his self-penned script chucked out by incoming director Matt Reeves. However at Comic-Con he reiterated his love for the character whilst not explicitly saying that he is staying on. It’s all very odd but personally I hope he perseveres as despite the poor material he had in BvS Affleck gave a strong performance and with the eye of Reeves in a standalone film he could get the chance to chomp into something meatier.
- All this was preamble to the big drop of the night, the new extended Justice League trailer which we’ll discuss more afterwards:
Hmmmm. Whilst there is much to like here. The lighter tone, playful humour (particularly from Ezra Miller’s Flash) and actual flashes of colour rather than the oppressive greys BvS utilised to dulling effect. But the story seems non-existent-based on this all we know is someone bad is coming (Ciarian Hinds CGI behemoth Steppenwolf is briefly glimpsed here) and the team need to pull together. The action messy and bombastic as per the norm. And not one moment that feels tangibly exciting. It feels surprisingly leaden. Also, and I’m aware we are still a few months out, but some of the CGI is truly awful. Just rewatch the sequences with the atmosphere lit up red as a chimney falls to the ground, it is almost bargain basement poor. I’m just not enthused, and it certainly doesn’t help that the trailer is quite badly edited, unlike the very effective BvS and Suicide Squad trailers this has no sense of rhythm or pacing. Although the spotlight on Wonder Woman is no surprise after her huge box office success last month. I want to remain optimistic but I’m starting to get real concerns that this will be all noise no heart. We will see come November.
- With DC underwhelming it was left to the big boys to show them how it’s done and Marvel did not let us down. First up we got some neat casting reveals for the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp, and the neat concept art you see above. Michelle Pfeiffer is set to join the fray as Janet Van Dyne, wife to Hank Pym and original Wasp. Although her face was not seen, she did make an appearance in the first film before disappearing into the Quantum Realm. Long thought dead it is clear she will be far more alive than her husband, played by Micheal Douglas, thinks. Also joining is character actor legend Walter Goggins in an unspecified role, but based on his wiry slightly crazed persona I’d presume something villainous will be in the pipeline. Lastly Laurence Fishburne will be involved as a Dr Bill Foster. A colleague of Hank Pym and known to become Giant Man in the comics, whether that is the case here is not known but it is great to see Marvel have not lost their touch when it comes to casting. The film opens next July.
- Next up was some cool reveals about Captain Marvel, set to star Brie Larson and open in March 2019. Producer Kevin Feige announced that the film will be set in the 90s, way before the Avengers ever assembled and will see her face off against notable villains The Skrulls. Nick Fury will play a key role and due to the 90s setting he will feature both eyes probably giving Samuel L Jackson a sigh of relief in not having to wear the eye-patch. Carol Danvers is a US pilot who finds herself endowed with superhuman powers after coming into contact with the Kree, a race last seen in Guardians of the Galaxy. It is a surprising move on Marvel’s part, the first period setting they’ve had since the first Captain America meaning she is somewhere out in the universe at the time of the current MCU. Rumours swirl that she’ll be making her first appearance in May’s Infinity War, before her solo film leads into the Untitled Avengers film in 2019.
- Speaking of Infinity War the sizzle reel that so excited everyone at D23 was re-shown to delightful reaction. But as mentioned in the previous Movie Shots the footage is never going to be released publicly. The Russo Brothers mentioned only yesterday that they want the footage to be 100% audience ready as opposed to the unfinished stuff the Comic-Con crowd lap up. Expect something either with Thor Ragnarok or Star Wars in December. They did however show off this fancy poster which offers some tantalising hints, predominately the bearded Captain America wearing his Nomad suit from the comics.
- Black Panther leaped into action with some exclusive footage shown at the Con, which sadly was not available online, but sounds incredible. Earning the biggest applause of the night for its visceral, exciting and unique imagery. You can read a more detailed breakdown of what was seen here and I’m chomping at the bit to see what Ryan Coogler will bring to the table. The use of deep African culture and a truly phenomenal cast will mark this project out as something fresh in Marvel’s oeuvre.
- The bulk of new footage and discussion was of course centred on their next release Thor Ragnarok. Debuting both a new poster and a new trailer, they also showed off an extended sequence which you can read about here. Here is a few other nuggets revealed on the panel:
- Hulk has not been Bruce Banner for 2 years when we meet him here, hence the advanced vocabulary he displays in the trailer. His unwillingness to turn back to Banner is due to the immense success he has had as the Grandmaster’s prized gladiator.
- The Grandmaster (played by the eloquently awesome Jeff Goldblum) is the brother of the Collector, the weirdly accented artefact lover played by Benicio Del Toro and last seen in Guardians of the Galaxy, whether he plays a role here remains to be seen.
- We then got the rather brilliant new trailer to showcase what Taika Waititi has brought to the project and suffice to say it is colourful, characterful, humorous and like nothing else seen in the canon so far:
Doesn’t that look just brilliant. Vibrant, light but lashings of potential drama. A great cast, notably Cate Blanchett having terrific fun as villain Hela and oodles of personality could leave this third outing being the best one yet! The film is said to feature some major shake ups to the universe, with this one leading almost directly into the events of Infinity War. Not much is known yet as to how Hulk ended up in deep space but the CGI has certainly taken a major leap forward with the big green fella bearing some uncanny resemblance to his human counterpart. It appears there are many secrets still being held back including the appearance of a certain Sorcerer Supreme, but I’m calling this already as having the potential to be Marvel’s best outing of 2017!! It arrives October 27th.
We will leave this densely nerdy post with the new poster for Thor and I’ll think you’ll all agree that it is an absolute doozy. The colours, the layout and the style is just wonderful!