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Who Wins and Loses in These Comic Con Match-Ups


The stakes are high at Comic-Con, the pop-culture marathon that took over the San Diego Convention Center -- and much of the surrounding town -- for the past five days.

On one side are the Hollywood studios, looking to win over the hearts and minds of geek tastemakers. On the other side are the self-proclaimed geeks, eagerly inhaling TV and movies but not quite trusting Hollywood to get all the genre fare right.

So who came out on top at this year's edition? Consider some of the epic matchups:

DC Comics/Warner Bros. vs. Marvel. Both companies held forth Saturday, the biggest movie day of the convention.

Warners and DC kicked off their panel for "Green Lantern" with a series of quick shots from its tentpole about an Earthman who joins a galactic police force. Star Ryan Reynolds charmed the audience, but the presentation ran headlong into fan grumblings about the Green Lantern's costume, as depicted on a recent cover of Entertainment Weekly. "It is a work in progress and ... it will eventually look incredibly cool," director Martin Campbell, thrown on the defensive, promised.

Fans had lots of questions, but filmmakers fell back on "We can't tell you about that yet"-style responses. Not what the fans wanted to hear.

Marvel, by contrast, turned its presentation into a rock concert with music blasting over every actor's entrance, generating so much frenzy that the 6,000-plus crowd in Hall H was on its feet screaming for portions of the show.

Marvel knows that if you're appearing at the Con, it's best to give the fanboys something substantial: While "Captain America" is barely a week into production, filmmakers trotted out a good chunk of one scene, with time-code stamps still visible, that showcased the tone and look of its movie, as well as footage of Chris Evans' costume test. Both impressed.

Moving on to "Thor," which doesn't open until May 11, Marvel unveiled an extended made-for-Comic-Con trailer, which drew a response similar to the Con's first look at "Iron Man."

Marvel even staved off a tense moment -- and some boos -- when one fan brought up Edward Norton, who was unceremoniously dropped from playing the Hulk in "The Avengers." Marvel's Kevin Feige addressed it quickly, admitting "He's not here today," but then quoted Norton's own words, saying, "The Hulk is bigger than all of us," before adding quickly, "The panel isn't quite over yet."

A few minutes later, an all-star roster of the actors who have been cast in "Avengers" paraded out onstage -- including Mark Ruffalo, who's been recruited to become the Hulk. For that moment at least, that controversy became moot.

Comic-Con vs. TCA. The struggle for media power between summer's two biggest TV events -- the San Diego fan convention and the Television Critics Assn. press tour -- tipped more toward Comic-Con than ever before this year, with several networks making announcements that normally would have been part of TCA: USA Network's "Burn Notice" will have a two-hour prequel movie starring cult favorite Bruce Campbell; Linda Hamilton will be joining NBC's "Chuck" next season to play the hero's mom; Felicia Day will be on Syfy's "Eureka" for 10 episodes next season, and Polly Walker is coming to "Sanctuary"; "Glee" will do a "Rocky Horror"-themed episode; and next season "The Simpsons" will welcome Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Daniel Radcliffe, Jon Hamm and Cheech and Chong as guest stars.

"Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" vs. "The Other Guys." Two August releases used the Con to pump up their profiles. Universal pulled out the stops for its adaptation of the cult graphic novel "Scott Pilgrim," and Columbia boosted "Guys," Will Ferrell's first movie since bombing last summer in "Land of the Lost."

Universal organized one of the convention's best panels, putting director Edgar Wright front and center to present his large cast in zippy clip packages. He then led fans to nearby theater for the first of several screenings. There also was a "Scott Pilgrim vs. Comic-Con Experience," which saw thousands line up daily for a chance to interact with the movie's stars and make silk screen T-shirts, flipbooks and videos.

"Guys" threw what arguably was the funniest presentation. Ferrell started things off by walking onstage, waving, saying hi, and kept on walking by the movie's Eva Mendes, Mark Wahlberg and director Adam McKay and right off the stage.

He returned to say he was happy to be back in the "whale's vagina," quoting lines from his influential San Diego-set comedy "Anchorman," and Mendes pushed the envelope by flirting with teenage boys in the crowd. The real question is, will the movie be as funny as the panel?

3D vs. 2D. The success of "Avatar," and its 3D presentation at the Con last year opened the floodgates to an unprecedented number of panels requiring 3D glasses. At the same time, other filmmakers hyped up 2D, with battle lines drawn around the 2D-to-3D conversion process.

The "Drive Angry 3D" panel talked frankly about the challenges of shooting a non-CG-intensive movie in 3D, and the 3D "Tron Legacy" presentation had fans focusing not on the format but on the onscreen sci-fi world.

"Priest" director Scott Stewart said his movie's release has been pushed back to convert to it to 3D. "Some films have gotten into trouble for rushing it," he said before showing footage that wasn't half bad.

While Seth Rogen insisted that 3D was part of the conversation since the beginning of "Green Hornet's" development, he acknowledged that that film's footage, converted into 3D, was "by no means 100% finished." The previewed footage didn't convince a lot of the fans.

Meanwhile, such movies as "Cowboys and Aliens" and "The Expendables" boasted of their traditional 2D approach. Director Jon Favreau, who use a few of the Marvel tricks he learned promoting "Iron Man" to preside over a raucous "Cowboys" presentation, said producers considered making the movie 3D but didn't like the conversion process. "Take the money you save (without have to pay for 3D tickets) and see it twice!" he yelled to fans.

Read the rest at Heat Vision/The Hollywood Reporter




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