COMIC CON: Cowboys & Aliens with Jon Favreau and Harrison Ford!

I don’t think there’s a single human being alive that knows how to work Hall H like Jon Favreau. Like he’s done since the first premiere of IRON MAN footage in 2007, Favs brought his “A” game to his brief Comic Con appearance to show off COWBOYS & ALIENS. Even though they’ve just started production on the sci-fi western, it was apparent the kind of early-word enthusiasm the filmmaker likes to generate.

After Favreau came out to a hip-hop remix of his IRON MAN mantra “Back in Black,” he bantered with the geeky crowd and made an important official announcement. They toyed with the idea of shooting in 3D, but in order to do that, they’d have to shoot it digital and as Favs said “Westerns should only be shot on film, so next July, COWBOYS & ALIENS…only in 2D! Use the money you save to see it twice.” Of course that got everybody amped up right before they brought out the rest of the panel: Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach and none other than Harrison Ford (who came out in handcuffs in a joking response to an earlier incident in Hall H where someone was stabbed in the eye over a seating dispute). The crowd went understandably nuts for Ford, who looked kind of stunned at the reaction. Favs said he had told him what to expect but he needed to see it for himself.

Unfortunately the entire thing was rushed due to the aforementioned stabbing incident delaying everything, so not a lot of questions were asked. On the synthesis of the western and sci-fi genres, Favreau said that his plan was always to make a straightforward western in the tradition of Sergio Leone and John Ford, but to add in touches of the old-style science fiction he loved that bordered more on horror. He name dropped CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, ALIEN and PREDATOR as examples.

Favreau explained that they’ve only been filming for four weeks, so there’s really not much finished material to show, but naturally they managed to bring something for us to see:

1) The first clip wasn’t super exciting and just featured a very grimy Daniel Craig ride up to a house on horseback, go inside and wash his face in the sink before inspecting a nasty wound on his stomach. He’s got a weird gold bracelet on his wrist. Before he could examine it closely, he’s stopped at gunpoint by none other than Clancy Brown who says only two people get shot like that: villains and victims. Craig says he doesn’t know which one he is.

2) Craig is sleeping in a jail cell when somebody spits on him from an adjacent cell. It’s Paul Dano, who taunts him and tells him he’s in a world of trouble when his father gets there. Craig pulls a very James Bond move and reaches through the bars and pulls Dano in to them headfirst, knocking him out.

3) Here’s the money scene. Dano and Craig are escorted in a police wagon and chained together, much to Dano’s terror. They’re about to ride off when a group of men on horseback arrive, led by Harrison Ford as Dano’s father. The sheriff tells Ford that they have to take Craig to see the judge but Ford wants Craig for himself, “Either you give him to me or I’ll get him myself.” Ford looks scruffy and pretty great in what little we see of him. Just as things are about to get heated, the men notice something in the sky. There’s a very skinny string of lights making their way towards them.

The lights get closer and closer, before they disappear. All of a sudden they reappear right above the small town as three or four alien ships that immediately start raining fire and blowing up everything in sight. The ships seem to beam down small circles of blue light followed by the fireballs that gave a little WAR OF THE WORLDS feel. In the midst of all the chaos and destruction we see some of the other characters; Olivia Wilde saves a small boy hiding under a house, Sam Rockwell tries to save his wife/girlfriend as escaping horses nearly trample her, and Harrison Ford looks perplexed/terrified. All of a sudden the side of the police carriage is blown open by the same blue light we see from the ships. Daniel Craig walks out wielding some sort of alien weapon on his arm (clearly the weird bracelet from the first scene). He looks down at it as if it’s new to him, then looks to the attacking spaceships and fires a blast that brings down one of the vessels on to the street below. The attack ends and the town slowly walks over to the crashed spaceship, led by Craig, who looks down at his arm as the weapon mechanically shrinks down back to bracelet size. He shares a look with Ford and the scene ends.

Favreau again reiterated that they had barely started filming, but the last sequence had the audience going nonetheless. As a fan of westerns, the world and the characters felt pretty true to the archetype and seeing actors like Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig in it is really exciting. And coupled with Favreau’s enthusiasm and love of the genres, I think we’re in for a good time. I just wished the panel would’ve lasted longer so we could’ve gotten more info out of the talented group of actors on site.

They still have one more Comic-Con before COWBOYS & ALIENS sees release at the end of July 2011, so we may be in for a long wait before more footage is released!

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