SDCC 2012: Marvel Studios Kicks Off Phase Two With a Packed Panel

Saturday, 14 July 2012 18:03 Written by  iamrogue
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SDCC 2012: Marvel Studios Kicks Off Phase Two With a Packed Panel

A Guardians of the Galaxy announcement!  Snazzy new titles for Captain America and Thor sequels!  Edgar Wright's Ant-Man test reel!  Robert Downey Jr. dancing!  A whole lot of very revealing footage from Iron Man 3!  All this and more was put on front street during the Marvel Studios panel at Comic-Con in San Diego, proving once again that Marvel knows how to play the world's biggest comic convention for all it's worth.

After sitting out Hall H last year, Marvel's reappearance in the Convention Center's singe biggest venue this year was one of the most eagerly anticipated events of Comic-Con, and the studio behind The Avengers didn't disappoint, using the forum to roll out the beginning of "Phase Two," which will presumably lead up to an Avengers sequel.

Disney and Marvel Studios brought the figurative thunder for the presentation, which ran from 6:00 to 7:00 in Hall H this Saturday evening.  As was expected, Iron Man 3 was the showpiece, with a collection of footage that confirmed some big information on the sequel, but the presentation went above and beyond, announcing new sequel titles, an new interstellar movie, and some very cool footage for an unappreciated hero's first film.

The panel began with a video collection of moments from the long road to The Avengers, after which Kevin Feige, the head honcho and public face of Marvel Studios, took the stage.  Feige skipped the foreplay entirely and revealed that Thor 2 and Captain America 2 will, in fact, be titled Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  Being relatively unfamiliar with Thor lore, I assume that the titular dark world is one of the Nine Realms. 

Feige also confirmed that Chuck actor Zachary Levi will be taking over the role of Fandral for Josh Dallas in the Alan Taylor-directed sequel.  The next Thor has started principal photography in London.

This new title for the Captain America sequel directed by Joe Russo and Anthony Russo, meanwhile, is a whole lot more informative, confirming as it does the presence of a major character.  Creating by comic book badass Ed Brubaker, the Winter Soldier is actually Bucky Barnes, Cap's longtime best friend played by Sebastian Stan in The First Avenger.  After meeting his apparent demise during World War II, Bucky is dredged up by the Soviets and turned into Winter Soldier, a superhuman black ops specialist kept on ice when not out assassinating people.  Naturally, when Steve Rogers is unfrozen in modern times, the amnesiac Bucky ends up tangling with Cap.  The First Avenger set up the sequel with some unspecified stuff happening to Bucky while he was in Hydra captivity, and it looks like that will pay off in the next installment.

For weeks now, rumor has been that Marvel's mysterious summer 2014 movie would be announced at Comic-Con and would most definitely be Guardians of the Galaxy.  If you were betting on that, you just won, as Feige went on to drop the confirmation bomb on the project, which will arrive in theaters on August 1, 2014.  This will be the most cosmic of Marvel's movies to date, following the lesser-known comic book team from the future.  Since the ensemble has featured a variety of different characters over the years, Feige helpfully explained that the movie's team consists of Starlord aka Peter Quill, woodman Groot, Drax the Destroyer, Gamorra, and Rocket Raccoon, who is, of course, a talking, gun-wielding racoon.

Check out concept art of the team from Hall H and Marvel.com right here:


Another rumor about Marvel's Comic-Con plans that turned out to be accurate is the one asserting that the recently-shot test reel for an Ant-Man movie would make its debut during the panel.  The big surprise, though, was that director Edgar Wright showed up, too.  Wright, an avid and entertaining tweeter, deceived us all, claiming to have been in London doing location scouting for his next film, The World's End, but the man himself appeared onstage to a suitably rapturous reception.  A con favorite, Wright joked that he and Attack the Block director Joe Cornish have been taking a slow, Malick-like approach to writing the Ant-Man screenplay, which they've been toiling on for the last several years.  Wright then introduced the test reel, explaining that the visual effects and whatnot are very much unfinished, since he only shot the thing few weeks ago.

The footage shows two guards doing sentry duty in front of an elevator at the end of a lengthy white hallway.  Ant Man is shown in teeny tiny mode sitting in a ventilation grate.  He's wearing a red and metallic costume, while the helmet allowing him to communicate with ants is not exactly like the comic book version, instead more directly calling to mind an insect's head.  Ant-Man aka Henry Pym leaps down from his spot to the floor and stands running at the guards, growing to normal size mid-stride and shocking the guards, who promptly open fire.  Ant-Man immediately returns to tiny size in order to avoid the hail of gunfire.  Still miniaturized, he leaps from one of their guns up to punch a guard right in the face.  His grown-man strength is maintained despite his miniscule size, and the impact sends a ripple across the guard's face and drops him against a wall.  Ant-Man returns to full size and knocks the other guard through a pane of glass.  In a typical expression of Wright's nimble wit, he then enters the elevator as muzak drones.

Wright made way for the evening's biggest event: the Iron Man 3 panel.  Human confetti bomb and self-described "King of Comic-Con" Robert Downey Jr., in a Stark-ian bit of totally welcome grandiosity, entered from the back Hall H, high-fiving ecstatic fans and dancing his way to the stage, all while wearing an Iron Man glove.  Once again wasting no time, footage from the movie stars right away, picking up with Tony in his garage, where he's telling the collected suits in his Hall of Armor that they're about to meet their baby brother.  That little brother would be a new set of armor that rockets across the room at him piece by piece, leading to a superheroic crotch injury. His demand for some seasonal music and the use of "Christmas in Hollis" by Run DMC suggests that, like Lethal Weapon, which new director Shane Black scripted, will be set during the holidays.

We see a video chat exchange between Stark and his now ex-chaffeur Happy Hogan, once again played by Iron Man helmer Jon Favreau.  Hogan amusingly refers to the Avengers as "Super Friends."  More importantly, there's then some rapid-fire stuff including a peek at the Iron Patriot armor and – spoiler alert – Tony's lavish Malibu estate getting blown up right good by a missile barrage from several helicopters, destroying Tony's garage and sending Iron Man tumbling into the Pacific.

Finally, the footage concluded with Ben Kingsley in costume as Stark's most famous and insidious nemesis, the Mandarin.  He's wearing ten rings, reminding everyone about the nefarious Ten Rings organization alluded to in the first film, and looking very much like the familiar comic book version of the character.  Stroking his beard, the Mandarin pulls out a pistol and fires it at an unspecified target.

Yep, as rumored, the Mandarin will finally go up against Tony on the big screen.  Black confirmed it explicitly in the panel that followed, a panel that also included Downey Jr., Favreau, Feige, Don Cheadle, and Gwyneth Paltrow.  The panel was enjoyably spirited, filled with no small amount of joking and even the cast singing "Happy Birthday" to a young fan during the Q&A.  Still, there was some salient information, such as a confirmation that Rebecca Hall will indeed be playing Maya Hansen, a scientist straight from the pages of Warren Ellis and Adi Granov's Extremis comic book story.  Black also mentioned that Iron Man 3 is halfway through production, saying, "If we don't fuck up the rest, it's going to be great."  It's worth noting that Tony will not be going full-blown alcoholic in this chapter.  Downey Jr. and Cheadle also revealed that their contracts are up after this sequel, meaning there may be some negotiating in the future.

And that's all she wrote, ladies and gentlemen.  Check out logos for Thor: The Dark Planet, Captain America: Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ant-Man on your way out:


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