Comic Con: The Marvel Panel! Ant-Man! Avengers: Age of Ultron! Guardians 2!
The much-anticipated Marvel panel in Hall H kicked off with screaming fans eagerly awaiting the arrivel of "the show" as Marvel has been known to bring to the venue. When the lights finally dimmed we were treated to a retrospective mash-up video of all the previous Marvel films, from 2008's IRON MAN all the way up to the most current film, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. It was, as expected, a very cool, goosebump-inducing watch, which culminated with a full-on shot of Thanos, sitting on his floating throne in outer space, a giant shit-eating grin on his face. It was a very clear, full body look at the villain and badass at that.
After that, Kevin Feige took the stage and brought out ANT-MAN director Peyton Reed, along with stars Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll (introduced as Darren Cross/Yellowjacket), and finally Evangeline Lilly, who was introduced as Hank Pym's daughter, Hope Van Dyne. It was the first official confirmation of Lilly's involvement and the first mention of Yellowjacket as a villain for the film. Host Chris Hardwick chatted with the stars briefly about their involvement in the project, bringing up that it was both Paul Rudd (who plays Scott Lang) and Michael Douglas' first Comic Con and that they were "popping" their "cherries" to which Douglas replied in a smooth, cool voice: "I've popped a lot of cherries."
Douglas (who plays Hank Pym) elaborated on his involvement with the film, saying that he had "looked at the Marvel movies with envy" and wanted to be a part of one. He went on to say that ANT-MAN is a "wonderful story" and that he was "just looking forward to a real trip." In addition, Douglas sounded very well-versed in the history of Hank Pym, mentioning the origins of the character with great detail. Rudd was enthusiastic as well and clearly happy to be a part of something like this.
Stoll's character, Darren Cross, is said to be Hank Pym's former protege who has taken over Pym's company and is now leading it in an "evil" direction, eventually getting his hands on some Pym particles, which leads to him donning the Yellowjacket mantle at some point. Although filming isn't set to begin on ANT-MAN for another two weeks, they did bring along a short teaser/clip. Here's the description of that.
Clip begins with Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd having a conversation underneath shots of a lab. Inside the lab is all manner of vials and such (what you'd expect to see in a science lab) and the camera moves slowly towards a table in the back, which has the ANT-MAN helmet sitting there. The dialogue is Douglas' Hank Pym coaching Rudd about taking on a "small job" but with Rudd's Lang not sure about doing it. Pym came off as perfectly ornery and seasoned, a role befitting of Douglas, while Rudd seemed mostly like a "new" hero that was learning the ropes.
After stopping on the helmet, the footage cuts to Rudd in full ANT-MAN costume running down what seems like a street, but it's something else entirely as he is shrunk down to insect size. He's communicating with Pym throughout, who is guiding him through what seems like some kind of break-in. Suddenly, a flying ant buzzes in and Pym tells Lang to just "tell her what to do." Lang eventually gets on top of the ant and starts to fly (much like the oft-used image below), a swarm coming in behind him. The footage ends with Pym telling Lang to jump as he starts to get overcome by the swarm.
The footage looked cool, but it's too soon to say it looks great or that it's a guaranteed win. The ANT-MAN suit looks good overall (and matches the description of our earlier scoop) and the rapport between Rudd and Douglas is solid, which should make for some fun dialogue throughout, but I can't say that anything we saw for ANT-MAN was particularly jaw-dropping or on a "holy shit" level. And, to be fair, they haven't even started shooting yet. It's an intriguing project, for sure, but still has a way to go to make the final sale.
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON panel:
Next up came the moment everyone was really waiting for: AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. Feige said that Whedon couldn't be there because of knee surgery, but the rest of the line-up was present and ushered onto the stage via Michael Jackson's tunes, starting with Robert Downey Jr., who was handing out roses to fellow castmembers as they followed, including Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Paul Bettany, and Elizabeth Olsen. Once everyone was seated, Hardwick went down the line to chat with each actor about their role with the usual back-and-forth. When asked if there was anything he'd like to do with the Thor character that he hasn't done yet, Hemsworth responded with, "Turn him into a woman," which was met with laughter considering the recent comic book sex change. Chris Evans said that he thinks Captain America is now "up to speed" with the modern world for AVENGERS 2, but that he's "still looking for someplace to belong" and that he's "still searching for a home."
Paul Bettany, who is graduating from getting a "bucket of cash" for a few hours of work as the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. in the IRON MAN films to playing a full-on live-action character known as The Vision, said that his kids simply had no interest in what he did until he started doing the Marvel films, which was met with laughter. James Spader, who is playing the villainous Ultron, said that the opportunity to work in the world these films inhabit "was just unimaginably exciting" and that being at Comic Con may be "the weirdest, craziest place" in terms of the level of fan excitement.
Elizabeth Olsen, who plays the Scarlet Witch said that she was excited to see magic being used in the film "and not just punching people." She also said the word "mutated" which caused the audience to slightly boo, which was odd, but hey, that's Comic Con for ya. Once they went down the line it was time to see what everyone was there for: a motherf*cking trailer. And that's what they delivered.
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON trailer rundown (as best as my memory serves after only one viewing):
Trailer opens on New York skyline then cuts to Avengers tower, where Thor, Iron Man/Tony Stark, James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), Captain America/Steve Rogers, Black Widow, and Hawkeye are mingling around a table, dressed in civilian attire. Thor sets down his hammer on the table and Tony Stark decides that he wants to try and pick it up. Stark: "If I can pick it up then I'll rule Asgard?" Thor: "Of course." He tries, but can't budge, so goes and starts grabbing Iron Man gloves, eventually having Rhodes do the same, with both of them tugging on Mjolnir. Rhodes: Are you even pulling? Hawkeye gives it a try as well with no budge and then Cap steps up, smiling. He gives it a strong tug and it moves ever so slightly with only Thor noticing. His face goes from smiling to straight shock, but he quickly laughs it away uncomfortably, while Cap steps back not noticing that he actually just moved Mjolnir. Thor picks the hammer up with ease and says to the group, jokingly: "You're not worthy."
The playful moment is broken up, though, when a battle-damaged robot comes limping from the back of the tower, speaking in a menacing voice (James Spader's). He has an Avengers logo on his arm, which suggests he is one of Stark's drones, likely damaged in an earlier battle. Ultron: "I know you're 'good, I know you mean well... but you just didn't think it through... There is only one path to peace... your extermination." While Ultron is talking, each Avenger is preparing to throw down, some of them grabbing weapons. As he finishes speaking a bunch of drones come smashing through the wall and the trailer kicks into high gear.
A lot of images of civilians in peril/running away in populated areas (reminded of the New York shots in first film, but at new locations) as explosions and mayhem erupt around them. Shots of Ruffalo as Bruce Banner (pants, no shirt), looking injured and crawling through the woods. Shots of tanks in a woodland area (Thor landing atop one and smashing it with his hammer), Hulkbuster armor in broad daylight with Hulk rampaging after it. Hulk throws a car at the Hulkbuster and then punches through the car. Hulkbuster throws a punch, but Hulk catches it. (An epic battle in the streets is what we're in for). Black Widow drops out of the bottom of a Quinjet while riding a motorcycle, lands and rides off. Captain America bursting through a door (no mask, but otherwise costumed up). A few shots of Quicksilver doing his speed thing, but not enough to get a sense of how it will play in the film. Scarlet Witch falling to her knees yelling; another shot of her tossing red magic from her hands. A LOT of explosions, flipping cars, etc., but no buildings crumbling to the ground. Seemed to be battle-focused mayhem.
The entire trailer plays with a malevolent version of Pinnochio's "I got no strings" (an ode to the theme of Stark/Ultron's relationship) that culminates in a shot of a fully realized and upgraded Ultron looking to the camera, shiny, metallic body with the red internal glow. Ultron: "I got no strings on me." CUT TO BLACK. Then, as the stinger, we see a shot of Cap's shield, severed in half, and as the camera pulls back we see all the Avengers laid out on a rock, seemingly unconscious (or dead) with Tony Stark standing over them. The camera pulls back to reveal they are on a floating rock in outer space. END TRAILER.
Overall, the film looks epic, awesome, and everything you would expect from Whedon and co. for an Avengers sequel. I highly doubt anyone will feel underwhelmed. The tone is much more sinister and the threat feels very different than the alien invasion led by an Asgardian villain, which is good. The last thing we want is more of the same. Well, except for the same consistency in awesomeness and that was certainly present here. I look forward to everyone being able to see this as I know it will bring down the house.
Thanos in the house:
The last bit after the trailer, Feige revealed that there will be more threats for the Avengers and introduced the most prominent one to the stage: Josh Brolin as Thanos. Brolin walked out wearing a faux Infinity Guantlet and went up to Robert Downey Jr., saying: "Where's my rose?" to which RDJ handed one over with Brolin eating the petal. That's our Thanos.
The final bit from the Marvel panel was a "message from London" which popped up onscreen with Chris Pratt and James Gunn sitting down and in conversation. The topic was about an "already greenlit" sequel to GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, which the both continued to discuss as if the camera's were not yet rolling. Gunn was joking that "we should just say it" and Pratt egged him on, saying, "I can just imagine Kevin's face, going 'Nooooo!'" It was a playful little moment that led to James Gunn announcing GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 and it's official release date of July 28, 2017.
And that was the close of the Marvel panel. There was some cool stuff, but it was ultimately underwhelming in terms of their track record as there wasn't any major reveal that we haven't already heard, which is usually the thing that a Hall H crowd is looking for (or camped out for 24 hours to hear). No DOCTOR STRANGE or BLACK PANTHER or any new announcements that we hadn't already known (we scooped a GUARDIANS sequel a while back, although the date obviously has changed). The AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON trailer was the obvious highlight, ANT-MAN was interesting, and the GUARDIANS 2 announcement was kind of a no-brainer (although still good news, of course). Hopefully next year we will get some mind-blowing news that's befitting of the Hall H Marvel experience.
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON hits theaters on May 1, 2015, ANT-MAN hits theaters on July 17, 2015, and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 hits theaters on July 28, 2017.