April 20, 2014 | 8:19 p.m.

WonderCon: Zack Whedon, Christos Gage on ‘Serenity,’ ‘Buffy’ comics

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Before the “Dark Horse: Whedonversity” panel got started, there was an impromptu singalong among fans in line. A man with a guitar and a female singer performed the theme song from “Firefly,” and then fellow Browncoats joined in the singing of “The Hero of Canton,” the mistaken celebration of the man they call Jayne. Fans’ fervor for the short-lived Joss Whedon sci-fi western series, its follow-up “Serenity” film and the “Avengers” director’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV show endures, and in the pages of official canonical further seasons in Dark Horse comics, the characters’ adventures continue. Zack Whedon, who is writing the six-issue “Serenity: Leaves on the Wind,” which is set nine months after the events of the 2005 film, that series’ artist Georges Jeanty and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10″ writer Christos Gage talked with the crowded room, […]
April 20, 2014 | 12:00 p.m.

WonderCon: Valiant First opens up; Robert Venditti on Armor Hunters

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After re-imagining a universe first seen in comics in the 1990s, the revived Valiant Entertainment is marking its third year by launching a series of books intended to give potential new readers a spot to jump on. The Valiant First books, detailed at the publisher’s Saturday panel at WonderCon, begin with April 30’s “Rai” No. 1, by writer Matt Kindt and artist Clayton Crain, which Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani said is set in 41st century Japan, a land ruled by an artificial-intelligence figured called Father, and will have the title character investigating the first murder in a thousand years. Armor Hunters, which “X-O Manowar” writer Robert Venditti described as a “Seal Team 6 of outer space” including “cuddly-looking death robot” Ginger, plays a major role in Valiant titles over the next several months. Their self-titled four-issue miniseries by Venditti […]
April 20, 2014 | 10:00 a.m.

WonderCon: Mark Waid on ‘Original Sin,’ more from Marvel panel

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Marvel’s next big comics event is “Original Sin,” and the concept — the Watcher has been murdered and familiar superheroes have terrible secrets — could give some pause. Eisner Award-winning “Daredevil” and “Hulk” writer Mark Waid would be one, if he wasn’t privy to the plans. The self-described “hard-core traditionalist” said his first instinct was to worry that the story line would make the heroes “look like jerks.” But that’s not the case, he told the All-New Marvel Now panel crowd Saturday at Wonder-Con in Anaheim. “I am proud of being part of a team of writers and artists and editors who didn’t take this opportunity to make the characters uglier, that ‘Original Sin’ is not about tarnishing the nobility of the Marvel characters, not about just screwing with and overriding stuff you already know just for the shock value,” […]
April 20, 2014 | 8:00 a.m.

WonderCon: Batman 75 celebration has Jim Lee, Bruce Timm, Kevin Smith

In 75 years of stories, Batman’s greatest obstacle has always been his humanity, Kevin Smith told an applauding capacity crowd in a Bat-cavernous space Saturday at WonderCon. “That’s the only thing that stops him,” the filmmaker said, “and you see the frustration as he’s portrayed throughout every medium…. It’s only when he hits the ceiling of his humanity that he can possibly be stopped. And, as we’ve seen, even then sometimes he overcomes it.” Smith, who hosts the “Fatman on Batman” podcast, was joined on the Batman 75 celebration panel by his “Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet” comic co-writer Ralph Garman, superstar artist and DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee (“Batman: Hush,” “All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder”), essential Caped Crusader animator Bruce Timm (“Batman: The Animated Series,” “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm”), longtime popular Bat-voice actor Kevin Conroy […]
April 19, 2014 | 11:00 p.m.

WonderCon 2014: Fox bets big on dystopia with ‘Apes,’ ‘Maze Runner’

Twentieth Century Fox is trading heavy on dystopia this summer. During its panel Saturday at WonderCon, the studio presented three not-so-optimistic views of the future with “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “The Maze Runner” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” “Dawn” is intended to be a bridge between the studio’s surprise hit “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and the 1968 classic “Planet of the Apes.” Director Matt Reeves was joined onstage by cast members Keri Russell, Gary Oldman and Andy Serkis, who returned as the intelligent ape, Ceasar, from the previous film. The new movie, which is set to open July 11, picks up years after the end of “Rise,” which concluded with a lethal virus wiping out most of the population. Reeves said the first third of the new film and the opening of the […]
April 19, 2014 | 9:35 p.m.

WonderCon 2014: ‘Lucy’ director Luc Besson on ScarJo, strong heroines

Luc Besson’s return to full-tilt action filmmaking with “Lucy” revved up the crowd at the Universal presentation at WonderCon on Saturday. Set for release Aug. 8, “Lucy,” written and directed by Besson, stars Scarlett Johansson as a drug mule who ingests some contraband and finds herself with enhanced abilities, apparently because the chemicals enable her to access more of her brain. (Johansson has been on a professional run lately, with turns in films including the Academy Award-winning “Her,” in which she gave voice to a sentient operating system; April’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Under the Skin”; and next month’s indie restaurant movie “Chef,” directed by Jon Favreau). In Anaheim on Saturday, Besson screened two sequences from “Lucy,” the first of which showed Johansson’s character learning to exploit the powers she’s unlocked by taking advantage of more of her […]
April 19, 2014 | 5:30 p.m.

WonderCon: ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past,’ no questions, no Bryan Singer

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” director Bryan Singer had been scheduled to take the WonderCon stage Saturday to tout his upcoming mutant sequel. But Singer canceled his promotional plans in the wake of a teen sex abuse lawsuit filed against him this week. So it was writer-producer Simon Kinberg who spoke to fans about the film, stirring excitement with an extended clip showing mutants of the future, including Sunspot and Iceman, facing off against the destructive Sentinels. Notably, no audience questions were allowed during the “X-Men” portion of Fox’s arena presentation. “Days of Future Past” adapts one of the most popular storylines from “X-Men” history, a two-part story from Chris Claremont and John Byrne that originally ran in 1980. The story takes place in two time periods: in a dystopian future in which mutants are hunted by the deadly Sentinels, […]
April 19, 2014 | 5:00 p.m.

WonderCon 2014: Bill Paxton talks ‘Edge of Tomorrow,’ ‘Avatar’ sequels

“Godzilla” might have made the most waves at the Warner Bros. WonderCon panel in Anaheim on Saturday, but the audience in the arena of the Anaheim Convention Center still had lots of love to give to Bill Paxton, famed for his roles in “Weird Science” and “Aliens,” among many other genre favorites. Paxton was on hand Saturday to discuss his role in the upcoming Tom Cruise sci-fi action film “Edge of Tomorrow,” and he told the audience that he suspected it was “Aliens” that got him the job: “They needed someone to yell ‘Game over, man,’” Paxton joked, recalling his famous line from “Aliens” as panicky space marine Hudson. In “Edge of Tomorrow,” Paxton plays a platoon sergeant who must whip a new soldier (Tom Cruise) into shape to stage a Normandy-style retaking of Europe from a conquering alien horde. […]
April 19, 2014 | 4:46 p.m.

WonderCon: ‘Godzilla’ director Gareth Edwards shares monster secrets

Elizabeth Olsen as Elle Brody in "Godzilla." (Legendary/Warner Bros.)
Director Gareth Edwards appeared at the Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures presentation at WonderCon in Anaheim on Saturday to unveil footage from his upcoming “Godzilla” remake, due in theaters May 16. The glimpse fans saw provoked a wild reaction. “And that’s why we make movies,” he said as the lights came up after the screening of the footage. What drove the fans into a frenzy? It wasn’t just the glimpses of Godzilla rising from the Pacific to lay waste to Honolulu, although the footage, even with incomplete visual effects, was impressive. It was the presence of a creature that, until now, has not been seen in any of the film’s marketing. In the new film, fans will get to see their Godzilla fight Mothra, or at least a giant winged creature that bears a vague resemblance to a moth. Edwards […]
April 19, 2014 | 3:00 p.m.

‘Star Wars Rebels’: Composer Kevin Kiner channels John Williams for new series

Kevin Kiner will be the composer for "Star Wars Rebels." (Lucasfilm)
When “Star Wars Rebels” debuts this fall, fans will hear some very familiar sounds. Yes, the ever-present “Star Wars” fanfare will be there, but for the first time in a “Star Wars” TV series, the beloved John Williams themes featured throughout the original trilogy will be back — in slightly different form. “I’m using a lot more of John’s themes, but more importantly I’m using the little motifs he had,” says Kevin Kiner, the man picked to score the new series. Fans are already familiar with his work as the longtime composer of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” but for “Rebels” he’s digging back into the Lucasfilm audio vaults, using bits of music that will instantly conjure images of Han, Luke, the Death Star and more. “I never used John’s music before on ‘Clone Wars’ under specific instructions from George […]
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