Tuesday, August 07, 2007

At the Con - Marvel panel

As I said before the biggest showing at the entire SD comic convention had to be for the Marvel panel, and in particular the Iron Man footage they showed. Not that there wasn't other very exciting stuff elsewhere to be found. And of course the announcement that Karen Allen would be in the new Indy movie was also huge news, but of all the movie studios and of all the films present that showed off their wares to the comic crowd, Iron Man outshone them all.

The first half of the Marvel panel though was dedicated to The Incredible Hulk movie. I was at the same time both impressed and left wanting more with this panel. The panel was attended by producers Gale Hurd and Avi Arad, as well as the director Louis Leterrier, of Transporter fame, and the main actors Ed Norton, and Liv Tyler. As they'd literally only just begun shooting the film 2 weeks prior to the con they didn't have too much they could seriously discuss. But they did show one brtief glimpse of the newly redesigned Hulk....

And they went into a bunch of stuff about the direction, plotting and their general 'take' on the character. I was really surprised and impressed to learn that Ed Norton actually wrote the screenplay himself! Yeah seriously, that was kind of out of left field. But it was actually really cool. it helped me accept that he really understands the character extremely well. Norton was drawn to the character because of the issues of duality but wants to make this film more straightforward action, that the last film. Avi Arad discussed how this new design for the Hulk is all part of their approach at a restart. He's not an apologist for the Ang Lee Hulk movie at all, but he does recognize that this film is a new start. I really liked how he put it after someone in the audience posed the question of why do the Hulk at all after the "debacle" of the last one. He said in a very matter of fact way, and excuse me for paraphrasing here, that 'this is The HULK, you don't just give up on a character with such a rich 40+ year history just because a version or story doesn't please all the fans. This character has been extremely popular in the past and no matter what, will be again at some point. There's just so much to work with.' Louis Leterrier also referenced the old 70s Incredible Hulk tv series as a lot of his personal inspiration. And while I'm not overly familiar with that series in particular, I understand what they mean when they talk about the themes from that series being really on the right track, despite the technical hurdles of the time. Overall I was pretty impressed that they have a good sense of what they're doing and where they're going. Unfortunate that there wasn't any footage to see, but I'm definitely looking forward to more on this film as it develops.

Moving onto Iron Man I have to say I was very excited. Favreau has made a surprise appearance at the Paramount panel on Thursday and shown his Iron Man footage to rave reviews. Now at the Marvel panel, where he was actually scheduled to appear alongside the cast, he brought the goods and definitely did not disappoint. The panel started off with the amazing footage which I cannot currently find online to share with you, but take my word, was completely awesome. Basically an extended trailer, the footage shows the highlights of Tony Stark as an industrial tycoon, being a playboy jackass, getting captured and thrown into some foreign jail, building the Mark 1 Iron Man suit, and busting his way out of captivity. How to put this.... it was AWESOME. I hope it shows up online again sometime soon because it would be great for everyone to get a chance to see it. The footage was just so sweet. Everything looked great, and Robert Downey Jr is perfect for the role of Tony Stark.

On stage for the Q&A afterwards, we had director Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrance Howard, and Robert Downey Jr. They were great too. All of them were joking and laughing together, really creating a very fun atmosphere for us. Robert Downey Jr in particular was especially charming and he did a great job fielding questions. Everyone was really stoked to be there, and then they brought out their special secret guest, Stan 'the Man' Lee, and the crowd went nuts. It was very cool to see the legend right there. Anyhow, Favreau began by making a point to mention how the Iron Man film is really different than any of the past Marvel movies, or at least how it was made. This is the first film that Marvel has produced on it's own. All of the past movies have had serious external studio involvement, but now that they can do it alone and then just shop it out to studios for distribution, they have MUCH more creative control of the end product. That can be seen in Iron Man by things like the inclusion of secondary characters Nick Fury and Black Widow. Marvel can now really go after creating a whole universe; and maybe fingers crossed we'll actually get that Avengers movie eventually. Favreau described Iron Man as a really big independent movie. He felt like he could do what needed to be done to best service the character. Oh, and as for the character himself, Downey commented on the need to balance an empathetic, really human character with a business man who demands our respect. He also said that he loved the role. Which is good news because as far as I've heard, the plan assuming Iron Man is successful, is to make a full trilogy of films.

If you want you can watch the entire Iron Man panel, obviously without the trailer, on Youtube, in parts one, two, three, and four. Oh and check out these sweet picture I took of the Iron Man Mark 1 armor which they had unveiled and had on display at the Marvel booth. Click to embiggen. Very cool :)

So it was pretty great news all around. They ended the panel session by showing the Iron Man footage again. Which kicked just as much ass the second time around. I was very happy and very impressed with the session over all. Maybe they'll do another panel session at the next Wondercon and have more fun stuff to show. As it was, this was really great though.


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