[Note: scroll down to see the King Arthur trailer]
It began humbly. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them‘s Eddie Redmayne asked for more light.
Moderator Conan O’Brien told him no. He’s been in Hall H before, and this is as light as it gets. So Redmayne produced a wand, and cast a Lumos spell. Things got mildly brighter, but that wasn’t enough. Redmayne said he was going to need a little help.
So he went into the crowd, and with the aid of some dapper, 1920s-dressed employees of Warner Bros., handed out wands to everybody in Comic-Con‘s Hall H. With everyone in the room raising theirs, it was time for a group “Lumos Maxima!” Up came the lights, and onto the screen came the blue crackle of magic energy.
The reason for the light? So Redmayne could take a group photo and launch the Fantastic Beasts snapchat. Alas, his phone found no internet connection. Technology beats magic again! But we still have the new trailer, and well, just LOOK at it, above. As a fan of the whole ’20s gangster vibe, I really enjoy seeing a fantasy element added to it, as well as implications that magic-users may have been like the freemasons or Illuminati.
The panel kicked off with the giant side screens opening up and an immersive WB sizzle reel featuring the likes of Harry Potter, The Matrix, Mad Max, 300, and…getting the most cheers, Batman v Superman. Mainstream critics be damned–the Hall H fans popped huge for both BvS imagery and Zack Snyder.
Conan said he’d been sleeping in line all night, and his ruffled leather jacket made it look like that might have been the case. He admonished us not to record, but said we could sketch the footage realistically if we were thusly gifted.
Following a montage of existing DC movie-verse footage interspersed with talking heads (like the BvS Blu-ray supplements, but longer), the directors were introduced: David Ayer, Patty Jenkins, Zack Snyder, Rick Famuyiwa, James Wan, and Ben Affleck.
Ayer, in a “Make Mexico Great Again” hat was asked how he turns bad guys into heroes. “Two words: Amanda Waller.” He touted the family aspect of misfits coming together to do good things
Jenkins recalled how she first felt when she saw Superman (the Reeve version), and it was a powerful experience—she wanted to be Superman, wanted to do good, was moved by him. And Wonder Woman is now her favorite, and she thinks it’s the best time to be making it.
Snyder gave props to his “awesome Batman down there,” said it’s so exciting to just see everyone in their costumes. He initially called the Justice League a fraternity, then corrected himself and said “now a sorority.”
Famuyiwa gave his bona fides as having Flash Underoos, saying there’s a great storytelling tradition in DC and he was honored to be part of it. Wan was super-pumped to be in Hall H, having been to Comic-Con before with movies but never the big room. Wan loves the fact that Aquaman has never really been done as a feature and that’s really exciting to him, and he will be bringing his horror experience to bear on the scariness of the deep ocean. O’Brien begged him not to use “Fish assemble!” as his superhero catchphrase.
Affleck compared Batman to a great play that has been done dozens of times before by many great artists in different ways. “It’s terrifying and it’s exciting and it’s really really inspiring.” He thanked everyone for the opportunity to be Batman.
Wonder Woman imagery filled the surround-screens next, with amazons, WWI iconography and a romantic embrace between Diana and Steve Trevor at the center of it. Jenkins came back out, sounding hoarse with excitement, and calling the concept “big ideas, big things,” but having been in the editing room so long, she’s now excited again to see the enthusiasm.
“Noble, strong and beautiful” is how she introduced Connie Nielsen (Hippolyta) to the stage, followed by “one of the hardest and scariest castings I’ve ever done in my life” Chris Pine, whom she said she never wanted to come off as a sidekick or emasculated, because he thinks having a stronger woman around is cool. “I cannot wait for the world to love her as dearly and passionately as everyone who worked on this movie does,” said Jenkins of Gal Gadot, whom she thinks embodies Wonder Woman not just onscreen but as a good human being,
And then it was time to premiere the trailer. It begins heavy on the fantasy imagery, with Steve as bemused comic relief wondering why Diana has never seen a man and has no father. Then things segue into a beach battle between Amazons and soldiers, Diana in a formal blue dress with her sword tucked in the back, Wonder Woman in full costume on the trench war battlefield, deflecting machine guns with her shield, Some lasso action, and yes, some Zack Snyder-y fights where things slow down and speed up to show how much faster she is. It ends with a joke where Steve’s secretary explains her role doing what she’s told and going where the boss goes, and Diana replies that where she comes from, that’s called slavery. If you haven’t seen it, we have it for you.
Be a hero, but be a beautiful, kind loving person who can be forgiving and move forward. That, said Jenkins, is what she loves about this Wonder Woman. Pine said Trevor lives “right in the heart of darkness” of mankind and is hopeless, while WW is optimistic and hopeful about mankind, teaching him their could be a better future. Nielsen did two hours of weight training, two of riding, and two of sword training per day. She did the swordplay outside, and describes how at one point, an electrician on a telephone pole saw her in action and nearly fell off.
A fan asked if Wonder Woman flies or has the invisible jet. Jenkins confirms the jet isn’t in this one because it’s an earlier time period that makes sense, but it could be in the sequel. Gadot, calling Jenkins her “new sister,” said the most important thing was to play the character in a way that everybody could relate to: girls and boys, men and women. June 2, 2017 is the release date.
A montage of the chests of the JLA costumes hit the screen, followed by Snyder returning to the stage and bringing out the entire Justice League cast…except Henry Cavill. Miller was in Middle-earth cosplay, while Momoa wore a GNR shirt and a wide brimmed hat.
“I don’t wanna ruin it or anything,” said Snyder, “But I mean, you gotta have Superman!” And with that, Cavill did come out to complete the gang. A pic was shown of them all in costume – Aquaman has a new fully armored look. Same aesthetic, mostly gold, but less skin shown.
An all-new piece of footage was shown, incorporating the scene between Bruce Wayne and Barry Allen that we reported on from the set visit, but also a scene of Bruce Wayne in a northern fishing village, looking for Aquaman, who shows up and basically manhandles him. There are moments between Diana and Bruse in the Batcave, where she asks if Aquaman is with them.
Bruce: “More or less”
Diana: “More more, or more less?”
Bruce: “More less”
Diana: “He said no, didn’t he?”
There’s also a scene with Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and Flash together in some kind of underground pipe, and then things end with Aquaman picking Bruce up by the throat.
Bruce: “Arthur Curry. I hear you can talk to fish.”
Cut to logo on black. Again, if you haven’t seen it, we have that too.
David Ayer then emerged to bring out the whole cast of Suicide Squad. Ayer said he wanted to make a movie with the feel of a comic book, not just aesthetically but with the soul of the characters he remembered. “This is not a movie about good vs. evil; this is a movie about bad vs. evil,” said Will Smith about how Ayer described the movie for him, and he loved walking that line.
O’Brien asked how the cast bonded; Smith replied that David Ayer’s superpower is helping actors fall into characters. They did an extended rehearsal process that was informal and involved sharing very personal stories; during the shoot, Ayer would then bring up actual traumas the cast had admitted to him, adding, “…and dude, the Joker did it!”
Asked about training, Margot Robbie pointed out that everything everyone else did, she had to do in heels. There was a lot of jumping off things; she did her own fighting and stunts, and learned how to hold her breath for five minutes.
“I played myself!” said Viola Davis, after O’Brien touted the toughness of her character.
Time for one audience question: how do the cast’s kids react to the characters? Smith said it was the first time he was cool for real to his kids, as normally they think he sucks no matter how cool he thinks he is. He praised Jared Leto for kicking things into another gear—Leto sent a thuggish guy into rehearsal who said he had a message from Mr. J. He gave Margot Robbie a box “From Mistah J, in honor of your relationship!” She opened it, and there was a live rat inside. “If I had had pearls on I would have clutched ’em!” exclaimed Smith. Ayer praises Leto and his method acting as “the hammer that made the sword sharper.”
Leto wrapped the conversation up by asking the audience what their favorite movie was, getting them to yell “Suicide Squad!” louder and louder. Ayer empahsized the movie was very filmmaker-driven, before showing a new, longer trailer that showed a bit more of a look at villain Goliath, and Harley beating the crap out of a CGI stone thing. Missed it? Here you go.
Cosplay contest winners were then brought up to take selfies with their celebrity doppelgangers.
The screens filled with Lego Batman fighting villains–among them one who looked like a Billy Dee Williams Two-Face!–then the main screen became a Lego animated panel hosted by a Lego Conan in a Lego Hall H, with Batman, Joker, Robin and Barbara Gordon. Batman, of course, hogged all the attention, called Conan George Lopez, and interrupting a question to Barbara, proclaimed there should be more women superheroes, and that Barbara (Rosario Dawson) is making eyes at him. Robin, who says he watches Walking Dead with his eyes closed, boasted about how he just got a selfie with Ben Affleck. “Yeah, well, he’s no Will Arnett,” says Batman.
Director Chris Mclay and Will Arnett then emerged to show the new Lego Batman Movie trailer:
It begins as Alfred locks out Batman from the Bat-computer, saying he has to take responsibility for the boy he just adopted at a gala. Batman is shocked; he thought everyone knew the “adoption” was only sarcastic. But now the young boy is here, and he’s pumped. He asks, “Does Batman live in Bruce Wayne’s basement? “No, Bruce Wayne lives in Batman’s attic,” replies Batman. Wanting a costume, Robin goes to Batman’s wardrobe, passing by variants like Mariachi Batman, before settling on “Rasta Batman.” Ditching the dreadlocks and ripping off the panst that he finds too tight, he gets the Robin suit, and now you know what that “R” really stands for. There are some gags in the Batwing that play like Frank Miller parody, with no seatbelts leading Robin to hit his head a lot. Flying back to base, we learn that the password to land the Batwing is “nanananananBatman.” End trailer
Ralph Fiennes was super-serious about playing Alfred and “researched the role. For real.” said Arnett.
The movie isn’t just about Batman beating the enemy, but beating his own demons. Arnett said the overconfidence he plays Batman with stems from his issues as an orphan.
A fan asked when we could see Will be Batman in a live-action franchise. Arnett replied he just ran into Ben Affleck, who asked him the same question. But he admires Affleck, so… “no time soon?” McKay praised Arnett as an honest actor, and he would be good as Batman.
A Harley Quinn cross-player asked if a Lego Suicide Squad could happen. Arnett replied it’s above his pay grade, but there is a Dirty Dozen aspect to this one.
Orca, Dr Phosophorous, Mime, DKR Mutant Leader are among the villain roster, for which McKay said “we go deep.”
Kong: Skull Island imagery hit the screens, after which O’Brien asked for a round of applause for Legendary’s Thomas Tull, who didn’t seem to be visible. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and his foot-long beard came out to introduce the all-star cast: John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Brie Larson, and Tom Hiddleston.
Vogt-Roberts called being on the Hall H stage a childhood dream, before showing off the first trailer. While it never gives a great look at Kong, it does give a sense of his new kaiju-size, and the fact that this time, aircraft probably have little chance against him, as they can fit in the palm of his hand.
Vogt-Roberts really wanted to tell a new story and not “beauty and the beast” again. Why the ’70s? “What’s not cool about choppers and napalm and Kong?” There was also still a sense of mystery about the world. Larson praised the better Air bnb and better insoles in her shoes than Room. Hiddleston’s Captain James Conrad is former SAS with special skills in tracking and survival. NASA, in the story, is taking pictures of Earth with pre-Google Earth tech, and they find an island in the Pacific covered by a storm system that they can’t see into, so a teams is assembled to go in. Samuel L. Jackson is the commander in the sky; Hiddleston is commander on the ground.
Corey Hawkins was the first to make the bad pun that the shoot felt like “guerilla filmmaking.” Vogt-Roberts would sometimes just pick up a camera and shoot things. Larson said that it’s not just the movie that’s about humans having a hard time co-existing with natural elements, but the shoot also made them feel that for real, with extreme weather and bugs and such. It was important to have a very real environment to compensate for the CG monsters, so there’d be some real elements to it. Vogt-Roberts was amazed the actors never complained about being up to their chests in water; the environment was so beautiful it took their minds off it.
Goodman joked about Kong being a diva of an actor staying in his trailer, insisting on being called “Mr. Kong” rather than his real name of Leo. “He was never drunk on set…that I could see.”
A questioner asked the catch what their “Netflix and chill” geekout is. Hawkins named Mr. Robot, Vogt-Roberts likes video games and VR.
Goodman: “I like to watch Roseanne and say the lines before Dan says them…and sometimes I come up with better lines. It’s fun.”
Larson and Mitchell love Stranger Things; Larson also loves Game of Thrones and Mario Kart. Hiddleston picks Fawlty Towers when he’s sick.
The King Arthur imagery teased on the side screens looks very Game of Thrones inspired—I’d swear there were Children of the Forest in there. There’s definitely an elephant, and some scary yellow eyes, and a big snake.”
Star Charlie Hunnam apologized for Guy Ritchie not being there, before showing a new trailer for what’s now called King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. And it does have GoT elements visually for sure, though it’s very Ritchie-ish too, with Arthur as a guy from the streets, recounting what sounds like a heist or roguish exploit…to Michael McElhatton (a.k.a. Ramsay Bolton). Here: watch it for yourself right now!
Hunnam said there’s no secret to getting in shape: just stop eating everything you like, and exercise until you’ve lost all will to live.” Ritchie elements depict Arthur and friends as bunch of rough characters who come to realize they’re actually the ones who have to lead the country. He’s not a noble man on a noble quest; he’s a survivor who grew up broke as a street kid, actually doing fairly well as such, and has no desire to be king or fulfill the prophecy.
Hunnam tried not to think of Arthur as an iconic role, not wanting to psych himself out. He tried to look at it as a fresh, new role, afraid that if he didn’t “I’d be afraid to get out of bed in the morning!”
Next up: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Director David Yates brought out Eddie Redmayne, and the aforementioned magic happened. Then the rest of the cast emerged: Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudoll, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell, and Ezra Miller.
The movie is set in 1926, and is described savvily by Yates as an extension of the universe. Redmayne said seeing his Lego figure was the thing that got him more excited than since he was five. Sudoll asked the crowd if anyone was a Harry Potter fan, and Miller raised his hand the fastest: “It’s like getting your Hogwarts letter late in the game, but you’re still getting it.” Fogler described his non-magical character as akin to Han Solo not being a Jedi, then joked that in real life he’s magical, but playing non-magical on screen is something that in this day and age is good. He recalled how everyone on the set just looked like an action figure that he wanted to grab and take home.
Farrell recalled that he had two coat-cloaks that were different by maybe a quarter of an inch, but designer Colleen Atwood insisted they looked different enough from certain angles that both were needed.
The trailer was the big finale, and you can watch it at the top of this very page
(Editor’s note: Legendary Pictures produced Kong: Skull Island, and Nerdist Industries is a subsidiary of Legendary Digital Networks.)
Images: Warner Bros.