Hero Complex Film Festival: A weekend guide with wax-pack fun

May 11, 2012 | 11:01 a.m.

The third Hero Complex Film Festival runs May 18-21 at LA Live, but the event began (above) in 2010 in Hollywood. (Los Angeles Times)

This year the Hero Complex Film Festival begins May 18 with a 7 p.m. screening of "Dawn of the Dead" (2004) and a highlight reel from "The Walking Dead." Then "Dawn" director Zack Snyder and "Walking" creator Robert Kirkman hit the stage to celebrate -- and debate -- zombies. (Sean Hartter / For Hero Complex)

There's more Friday night zombie fun when director Edgar Wright hits the stage at 10 p.m. on May 18 for a lively discussion of the genre's undying appeal followed by the deadly funny "Shaun of the Dead." (Sean Hartter / For Hero Complex)

"RoboCop" was screened at 2012 Hero Complex Film Festival. (Sean Hartter / For Hero Complex)

The bruising Saturday bill continues with the 4 p.m. Q&A with Malcolm McDowell about the 50th anniversary of the novel "A Clockwork Orange." McDowell then introduces Stanley Kubrick's "Clockwork" at 4:45 p.m. (Sean Hartter / For Hero Complex)

"Super" starring Rainn Wilson was one of the 2012 Hero Complex Film Festival screenings. (Sean Hartter / For Hero Complex)

The Sunday program on May 20 starts with a 2 p.m. preview of Pixar's "Brave" and then soars into space with the poignant sci-fi tale "WALL-E." Oscar-winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton then arrives on stage for an animated chat. (Sean Hartter / For Hero Complex)

The Sunday night finale of the Hero Complex Film Festival: "Serenity"(Sean Hartter / For Hero Complex).

May 21, the final night of Hero Complex Film Festival, delivers a living Marvel to the stage. An Evening with Stan Lee begins at 7:30 p.m. with some surprises, goes into an onstage chat with the comics icon and finishes with an 8:30 screening of "X-Men." (Sean Hartter / For Hero Complex)

It’s almost here — we’re just one week from the start of the 2012 Hero Complex Film Festival and with the franchise in its third year we’ve moved to a sweet new home (Regal Cinemas at LA Live, where in September we brought you a 30th anniversary screening of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with Steven Spielberg and surprise guest Harrison Ford) and expanded the program (four days now with more than a dozen guests, including three that haven’t been announced).

To get a bead on the festival, peruse the photo gallery above — be sure to click the “CAPTIONS ON” option if you don’t see text across the bottom of each image – and you’ll get a snapshot description of all of eight of our separately ticketed screenings. The box here on the right leads to the ticketing page.

And how about those fun images in the gallery? They take each of our screenings and repackage their personas as vintage trading cards or the wax-pack packaging those cards were sold in. All that’s missing is a petrified plank of pink Topps gum that was as enticing as a tongue-depressor dusted with cheap sugar.

The cards and packs are the handiwork of Sean Hartter, the Massachusetts illustrator and designer who comes up with sly pop-culture mash-ups and collage creations that function as satire but without sourness — there’s just too much fan-infused celebration in his work. (If you missed it, by the way, check out February’s series of Batman movie posters he did for Hero Complex.)

Jim Lee’s artwork for 2012 Hero Complex Film Festival. Fans who buy weekend passes will get it as free poster. (Los Angeles Times)

And yes, we have a few surprises that might be coming during the festival. When I say might I’m not being coy; there are some well-know filmmakers and actors who say they will try to drop by but that their schedules are not always their own. I felt like my schedule was out of control as I spent months trying to line up directors and actors I could pair with films that meet two standards – it had to be a movie I love or a movie I want to see on a  big screen; and, second, it had to be a film or genre we write about on Hero Complex. The pieces were still moving around and changing in late April!

The first year we did this I got Leonard Nimoy, Ridley Scott and Christopher Nolan to  join me on stage for Q&As after we screened film such as “Blade Runner” and “The Dark Knight.” That set the bar pretty high — but also gave me confidence that we could deliver something smart, polished and fun and use the weekend as a wellspring of content across multiple platforms.

So how does this year’s festival match up? Well, that’s for you to decide — tell us in the comments section  or — better yet, — buy a ticket and come see me over at the Regal on May 18.

– Geoff Boucher


HCFF: McDowell and  ‘Clockwork’ on May 19

HCFF: Zombie!: Zack Snyder, Robert Kirkman

HCFF: Rainn Wilson unmasks ‘Super’”

HCFF: Pixar Sunday: ‘Wall-E,’ “Brave’ preview

HCFF: Robocop, reloaded for 25th anniversary

HCFF: An Evening with Stan Lee, May 21

HCFF: Jim Lee unveils Film Festival poster

Whedon fills ‘Avengers’ with heroes, humor

Ridley Scott: ‘Magic comes over the horizon…”

‘Prometheus’: Ridley Scott revisits canvas

‘Spider-Man’: Denis Leary dazzled by Emma Stone


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