There may not be two bigger heroes for many of the Comic-Con faithful than Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams.
The mood was set for most of the crowd as songs from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s” musical episode and “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”played over the Hall H loudspeakers. The announcer rattled off a list of the duo’s separate accomplishments, each cheered to varying degrees, but the loudest roar came when Whedon and Abrams walked out to a packed house as part of Entertainment Weekly’s Visionaries series, answering a variety of questions from the audience and from moderator Jeff “Doc” Jensen.
A question about influential props led Abrams into a talk about receiving a tongue prop from “The Exorcist” in a box as a gift. Whedon said that he couldn’t top that. “I do have an alien egg, but I had to bury the franchise in order to get it,” he said, referencing his turn as writer on “Aliens 4.”
That sort of self-deprecating humor was a big part of the duo’s chat. They first met when Whedon was doing “Buffy” and Abrams was working on “Felicity” at the WB. A mutual admiration and respect was apparent, and as they answered questions, you could see their differing styles and their similarities as storytellers.
Whedon, and his now official status as director of “The Avengers,” was quickly asked about his take on the Marvel heroes. “I have to have a take? Well, it is a little early. I’m still writing an outline. These people should not even be in the same room let alone on the same team, and that to me is the definition of family,” Whedon said. He also mentioned that Jim Starlin’s Death of Warlock storyline in “Avengers” “is one of the most underrated things in comics.”
For Abrams’ part, his new film, “Super 8,” is a “dream come true” in that he gets to work with Steven Spielberg. The “Lost” exec recounted a story about how he and his brother repaired a couple of movies — “Firelight” and “Escape to Nowhere” — that Spielberg had done as a kid, and it was that experience that he thinks allowed him to get a glimpse into Spielberg’s mind.
With that, he knew that Spielberg would be interested in the project. A trailer for the movie features some sort of creature or experiment breaking out of a downed train, and has generated plenty of curiosity among fans. Abrams famously kept details about the 2008 monster movie “Cloverfield,” which he produced, under wraps, and he appears to be doing the same with “Super 8,” telling the San Diego crowd that it’s still too early in the process to reveal anything further.
Other topics discussed included:
Whedon: “Honestly, I’m totally into it. I love it. The technology is good and it doesn’t give me a headache.”
Abrams: “The thing about 3-D, though, is that as soon as you put on the glasses, everything gets dim…. I’m not totally on board yet.”
The status of his upcoming MGM horror film, “The Cabin in the Woods”:
Whedon: “They put James Bond on hold, and I don’t think we come before him.”
The Internet’s opportunities:
Whedon: “I definitely feel like I missed my window a little bit. I was waiting for everybody to show up at the party. ‘Dr. Horrible’ worked as a model. It made money, though obviously less than TV and movies… I was just at the cusp of getting something. I even started to work on an Internet piece with Warren Ellis that I was going to direct. But then he saw that I was doing ‘Avengers’ and he said ‘OK, I’ll sort of wait on that.’”
Abrams: “I think the studios are not into it. They want shows that they can syndicate.”
Who’s inspirational to them now:
Abrams: “I love Edgar Wright. “Scott Pilgrim” is awesome. And Chris Ware is an amazing comic artist.”
Whedon: “Making “The Avengers,” that’s cool, so I must be awesome. Not inspiring, but [Abrams'] “Star Trek.” I keep watching it! I have had moments of sheer —– panic because I love it so much. This is the gold standard.”
Coming to Comic-Con:
Whedon: “It’s a little bit of an unreality check.”
Abrams: “I just really love it here. It’s an odd second home.”
– Jevon Phillips
Photo: Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams wave to fans. Credit: Reuters
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