Marvel is famous for its Saturday Comic-Con International panel, and this year, the comic book studio didn’t disappoint — confirming that “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” will open on July 28, 2017, and debuting new footage from Joss Whedon’s highly anticipated 2015 release, “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
Represented on stage by movies guru Kevin Feige, Marvel brought out the members of its sprawling A-list “Avengers” cast — Robert Downey Jr., Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Paul Bettany, James Spader and Elizabeth Olsen to wild applause (the crowd in the 6,500 seat Hall H had been chanting “Marvel” and doing the wave, rock concert-style, before the session even began).
(If you’d prefer not to know anything about the “Avengers” sequel, this might be a good time to stop reading.)
Although writer-director Whedon was unable to travel from London where the production is filming due to a recent knee surgery, his voice was well represented in the clips from the movie, which featured the group casually hanging out (with Don Cheadle’s James Rhodes), testing their worthiness by trying to pick up Thor’s hammer.
The party is interrupted by the appearance of Ultron, the menacing foe played through performance capture by Spader.
“I play an 8-foot robot in this movie,” the actor clarified. “I’ve always played humans.”
Each of the actors had a turn to speak about their position in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though it was Hemsworth who possibly came up with the most intriguing quip of the panel in response to moderator Chris Hardwick’s query about what the Australian actor had not yet had a chance to do as Thor.
“Turn him into a woman,” Hemsworth said, referring to the recent decision to change the character’s gender in the comic books. “I don’t want to speak too early and jinx it, but I think it could be my Oscar. I’ve got a couple of nice wigs.”
The session began with the cast of “Ant-Man” — Michael Douglas, Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Corey Stoll — joining Feige and director Peyton Reed on stage, with Reed making a point to mention that this year commemorated the 20th anniversary of his first trip to Comic-Con (no mention was made of the film’s original director, Edgar Wright, who left the project over creative differences with Marvel).
Set for release July 17, 2015, “Ant-Man” will star Michael Douglas as original Avengers member Hank Pym, a scientist who in the comics invents a shrinking serum that allows him to sneak around in miniature form and surprise foes. The film also will star Paul Rudd as reformed thief Scott Lang, the second superhero to take the name Ant-Man.
Lilly confirmed that she’ll be playing Hank Pym’s daughter Hope, while Stoll will play Darren Cross, a former ally of Pym’s who becomes the villain known as the Yellowjacket.
Although the movie has not yet begun filming, Marvel and Reed screened a short bit of footage featuring Douglas speaking in voiceover, helping guide Rudd’s Scott through a tricky escape.
While it seems unlikely that diminutive hero will appear in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” there is a comic book connection — in the comics, Pym is the creator of Ultron, an automaton that becomes a supervillain.
Before the panel concluded, another supervillain from the Marvel universe took the stage: Josh Brolin, who will play Thanos in “Guardians of the Galaxy” took the stage near the end of the presentation, just before a clip of “Guardians” star Chris Pratt and director James Gunn was played in which the two announced the date for the sequel.
– Gina McIntyre | @LATHeroComplex
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