Comic-Con 2009: The Hero Complex collection

July 26, 2009 | 10:49 p.m.

So you didn’t spend your entire weekend refreshing this blog and fighting thousands and thousands of people for a glimpses of “New Moon” and “Iron Man 2” at Comic-Con? We don’t blame you, and we’re here to help.

The annual film, television and all-things-geek fest at the San Diego Convention Center is a bit overwhelming. Everything from “Glee” to “Family Guy” to “Avatar” gets a showcase, not to mention your ol-fashioned superheroes (check out these photos from the Times’ Spencer Weiner for a some of the best fan get-ups).

Team Hero Complex — with a little help from writer/director David S. Goyer — is still in San Diego as of Sunday afternoon, and expect more updates to be filed here shortly. In the meantime, here’s a quick guide to bring you up to speed.

Film news:

-‘Iron Man 2’ descends on Comic-Con  “It all started here,” director Jon Favreau told the packed house during Saturday’s “Iron Man 2” session at Comic-Con. “Nobody cared before you guys did.” It was just two years ago that ‘Iron Man’ descended on the San Diego Convention Center and went on to make a staggering $318 million in the U.S., and nearly $600 million worldwide, for a film about industrialist-playboy-turned-fully-armed-superhero Tony Stark — previously one of Marvel’s lesser-known crime fighters.

-Randy’s giant doughnut stars in upcoming blockbuster films. To Angelenos, the distinctive doughnut is part of the city’s charming urban scenery. To theatergoers, it will be larger than life. The giant doughnut that is the emblem of Randy’s Donuts, constructed in 1952, will make appearances in two upcoming blockbuster movies rolling out in 2010.

-Richard Kelly on ‘The Box’: ‘It’s the most personal film’ he’s made. In his relatively brief career, writer-director Richard Kelly has seen plenty of controversy. His 2001 debut, “Donnie Darko,” played the Sundance Film Festival, flopped at the box office and then went on to find a massive and loyal cult audience on home video (not to mention bolster the career of star Jake Gyllenhaal). Just before Kelly debuted new footage at Comic-Con on Friday, he told Hero Complex contributor Gina McIntyre in an interview that “The Box” is the most personal of all his films. It opens Oct. 30.

-Roland Emmerich’s ‘2012’ is ‘the mother of all disaster films.’ Superheroes are all about saving their cities. Superman’s got Metropolis to look after. Batman has Gotham City. Roland Emmerich, on the other hand, destroys densely populated areas for a living. He wrecked Washington in “Independence Day.” He flooded New York City into a watery grave in “The Day After Tomorrow.” Now, the German director is busy laying waste to the entire planet in “2012.”

-Tim Burton on ‘Dark Shadows,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘9.’ Hero Complex contributor Gina McIntyre sat down with director Tim Burton on Friday afternoon in San Diego to talk about the busy schedule the filmmaker is keeping these days. He’s just produced the dark, PG-13 rated animated fantasy “9,” due out Sept. 9; he’s in post-production on his elaborate adaptation of the works of Lewis Carroll, “Alice in Wonderland”; and he’s looking to bring vampire Barnabas Collins to the screen with a “Dark Shadows” movie starring Johnny Depp.

-“Zombieland” keeps the movie genre alive. Zombie movies are pretty straightforward. There are zombies. To survive, you have to kill them. The only surprise is in how you go about it. You’d think Hollywood would get tired of cranking out these films more than 40 years after “Night of the Living Dead.”

-John Lasseter makes his first appearance. Pixar and Disney animation’s John Lasseter arrived in San Diego for his first Comic-Con visit on Friday. In addition to promoting the upcoming 3-D releases of the original two “Toy Story” films and next year’s “Toy Story 3,” Lasseter was also on hand to accompany 68-year-old Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki (who received a standing ovation from the Hall H audience). Disney is releasing the English-language version of Miyazaki’s “Ponyo” on Aug. 14. He spoke to Hero Complex.

-Shane Acker’s “9” snags audience with its “stitch punk” aesthetic. Ever since Shane Acker showed his short film in 2005 at Siggraph, winning the computer graphics conference’s Best in Show award, buzz has been quietly building within the animation community about the upcoming full-length version coproduced by Tim Burton.

-Meet the next boy toy: Michael Keaton in ‘Toy Story 3.’ Michael Keaton will voice the role of Ken, aka Barbie’s boy toy, in “Toy Story 3.” The film’s director Lee Unkrich broke the news Friday at Comic-Con during Disney’s animation panel.

-‘Trick ’r Treat’ and ‘Kick-Ass’: Two violent movies, two unusual paths. When filmmakers come to Comic-Con, it’s usually with the full backing of a major studio and a release date looming a few months ahead. Michael Dougherty and Matthew Vaughn both visited the convention with new movies in tow, but neither arrived with the typical backing most Comic-Con movies enjoy.

-Miyazaki breaks his silent protest of America’s actions in Iraq with visit to the U.S. In 2003, Hayao Miyazaki decided not to attend the Academy Awards, even though his film, “Spirited Away,” was up for Best Animated Feature. He did not give a reason at the time, and it was conjectured that the Japanese animator’s absence was related to President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq that year.

-Peter Jackson says a ‘Hobbit’ script is 3-4 weeks away. Peter Jackson is making his first-ever Comic-Con trip to draw attention to the alien invasion thriller “District 9,” a film he produced but did not direct. He even took a few pictures of the crowd. (“Smile at the back, please. Smile! Now we have to do it again.”)

-Video: 4 questions with Bobb’e J. Thompson of ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.’  One of the stars of Columbia Pictures’ and Sony Pictures Animation’s “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” 13-year-old Bobb’e J. Thompson is an old soul. As he approached us for the interview, we were told by Mr. Thompson that we were only allowed three questions. Time is money.

-Miyazaki brings “Ponyo” to America. Hayao Miyazaki brought in psychedelic vision to Comic-Con this afternoon, debuting footage of his latest film, “Ponyo,” to an audience of adoring fans.Before he even uttered a word, thousands welcomed the silver-haired grandmaster of Japanese animation with the kind of standing ovation and sustained applause reserved for rock stars. For this particular crowd, Miyazaki was a rock star. Even John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Pixar Animation Studios and the director of “Toy Story,” couldn’t help gushing.

– ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ gets an intro from its pint-sized star. Max Records is 11, and he’s never been in front of a Comic-Con-sized crowd before. So it’s OK if he reads notes about his movie, “Where the Wild Things Are” off of the palm of his hand. “Wow, this is a lot of people,” he said, a little startled. “I haven’t really done anything like this before.”

-Love is in the air for ‘Book of Eli’ stars Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman. “It was like good sex!” That what it felt like to act opposite Gary Oldman, Denzel Washington told the Comic-Con crowd today. The two stars were on hand to promote their latest, the Hughes brothers’ Albert and Alan Hughes’ post-apocalyptic thriller “The Book of Eli.”

-Josh Brolin tries to explain ‘Jonah Hex.’ How to describe what you can expect from “Jonah Hex”? Star Josh Brolin says it is “a phantasmagoria of insanity.”

-To Robert Downey Jr., Sherlock Holmes is no mystery. It’s official: Robert Downey Jr. is still the king of Comic-Con. The actor bounded into the San Diego Convention Center’s Hall H on Friday morning, his second trip to massive weekend fest. This time, he was here to promote “Sherlock Holmes” and was welcomed with an even more breathless and deafening response than “Twilight’s” own Robert Pattinson. “I love you guys so much,” he told the raucous crowd. 

-Paul Bettany talks ‘Legion’ and ‘Priest.’ Paul Bettany comes into Comic-Con sporting a trifecta of movies that fanboys are looking forward to seeing at midnight screenings when they’re released: “Iron Man 2,” “Legion” and “Priest.” We spoke with him at the WIRED Cafe as he prepared to be announced at the huge Hall H for “Legion.” It’s cheating a bit to say “Iron Man 2” is among his films with Bettany only doing minor voice-over work as Jarvis, Tony Stark’s snarky home computer (meaning his home is the computer), but we had to get “trifecta” in there somehow. 

-VIDEO: ‘Kick-Ass’ red carpet. 

-Peter Jackson — secret Stormtrooper? Here’s something most movie fans might not know about Peter Jackson: Yes, he really does own his own Stormtrooper costume. Unfortunately, he opted not to bring it with him to his very first Comic-Con International in San Diego — meaning that unless he can procure another suitable disguise, he probably won’t get the chance to wander the convention floor and do some shopping, though he’d very much like to. “It’s very frustrating because I am the sort of guy who’d love to go and buy stuff. I do buy models and collectibles, and it’s frustrating not being able to do that.”

-Next ‘Batman’ film on track for 2011 release? Gary Oldman is at again. The actor shocked Comic-Con attendees in San Diego this morning when he revealed that the next film in the “Batman” franchise was to start filming in 2010, and potentially be released in 2011.

VIDEO: ‘Avatar’ red carpet with Sigourney Weaver and Jon Landau.

-Peter Jackson stumps for ‘District 9.’ Lord of all geeks Peter Jackson turned up Thursday night at the first public screening of the new film “District 9” to let the audience know just how proud he was to have produced the first feature from “exciting new filmmaker” Neill Blomkamp, one that hearkens back to his “old splatstick days.” He had reason to trumpet the South African’s debut. 

-Terry Gilliam on Heath Ledger’s last performance. British movie polymath Terry Gilliam this afternoon unveiled clips at Comic-Con of his latest project, “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.” The lush and bizarre fantasy movie co-stars Heath Ledger, in his final role before his death, as Tony, a silver-tongued showman modeled after former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

-Chris Pine phones in. At a panel for the animated movie “Quantum Quest,” the new Captain Kirk, Chris Pine, called co-director Dr. Harry Kloor, who promptly put his cellphone up to the microphone — so that Pine could address the crowd and promote the movie. 

-James Cameron gives fans a lengthy look at ‘Avatar.’ It’s his first commercial film since “Titanic,” and judging by the 25-minute preview unveiled at Comic-Con,  James Cameron’s “Avatar” will be every bit the spectacle as his Oscar-winning film from 1997.

‘Twilight’ at Comic-Con: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Chris Weitz and more introduce ‘New Moon.’ The shirts were off, the spoilers came fast and the “Twilight” fans lucky enough to attend a midafternoon panel on the film at San Diego’s Comic-Con couldn’t get enough. For many — those who had camped out overnight — the “New Moon” Q&A was The.Event.Of.Comic.Con.2009, as director Chris Weitz and stars Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Kristen Stewart and Ashley Greene were all in attendance. 

-Hello Comic-Con! Greetings from Johnny Depp. English heartthrob Robert Pattinson wasn’t due to arrive in Hall H of the San Diego Convention Center until later in the afternoon, but he was in real danger of being upstaged by the screams that met Johnny Depp’s surprise appearance Thursday morning at the first panel of the day at Comic-Con International.

-There’s strong women, then there’s Sigourney Weaver. The reverence was apparent from the moment the crowd gave Sigourney Weaver a standing ovation. In a panel called “Wonder Women: Female Icons in Pop Culture,” Weaver is clearly in a class by herself.

-3-D hits the stage. This is not your father’s 3-D movie. Disney dished out sneak peeks of its upcoming 3-D blockbuster bets Thursday morning in Hall H, including “A Christmas Carol,” “Alice in Wonderland“ and “Tron Legacy.” Disney kicked off the presentation with “A Christmas Carol,” and an interview with director Robert Zemeckis. Think of it as Disney’s savory 3-D appetizer that prepared the palate for the main course — “Alice in Wonderland” — and topped off with a short and sweet showing of “Tron Legacy.”

-‘Twilight’ stars face the press, with restrictions.While thousands camped outside of the San Diego Convention Center for access to one of Comic-Con’s most anticipated panels — an early-afternoon session devoted to a little franchise called “Twilight” — its stars faced the press this morning just a few feet away at the Hilton Hotel.

-VIDEO: Seth Rogen, Michel Gondry unveil ‘Green Hornet’s’ car. Funny guy Seth Rogen, director Michel Gondry and producer Neal Moritz were on hand after the Con closed to the public to unveil a car who’s shape and mysterious appearance had been enticing Comic-Con participants the whole preview night. Individuals who were manning the Sony booth kept watch over the covered vehicle as onlookers tried to sneak a peek.

– ‘New Moon’ line controversy. Lots of people were interviewing the first person in the sleepover line at Hall H, “Twilight”/”New Moon” fan and 17-year-old Kristin (pictured right, and not sure how it’s spelled, but she said it to numerous bloggers and photographers before settling down to eat pizza), but the real story was the controversy brewing around Kristin and her mom and her mom’s friends.

Television news

-‘True Blood’ at Comic-Con: Yes, ladies, Eric really is that hot. Lest anyone forget, there is more than one vampire-themed entertainment phenomenon in the pop culture universe right now. “True Blood,” HBO’s hit adaptation of the Sookie Stackhouse mystery novels from author Charlaine Harris, has its own legion of devoted fans keen on the show’s sexy, campy aesthetic, and plenty of them turned up Saturday to hear cast members Anna Paquin (on her birthday, no less), Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Rutina Wesley, Nelsan Ellis, Michelle Forbes, Deborah Ann Woll and Alexander Skarsgard and creator Alan Ball talk about what’s in store for season two.

-‘Heroes’: Redemption in so many ways, and Spock vs. Sylar. We haven’t heard much from “Heroes” in a while, and when this panel was announced, we didn’t think we’d get much more.  In terms of the story, a new carnival motif with new characters lead by earthmover Samuel (Robert Knepper) will take some getting used to, but it seems to have focus.  In terms of the representation, though it was announced last week, it is always impressive to see so many of the major cast members make it out for the panel.

– ‘Lost’ producers vow ‘everything that matters will be answered.’ Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof are Comic-Con royalty, so when they alluded to this being their last time addressing the throng as the producers of ABC’s “Lost,” a mass groan rose from the crowd Saturday morning in Hall H. Well, everyone knew this day was coming. Cuse and Lindelof had arrived to set up the sixth and final season of their desert-island thriller. And they tried to lessen the pain by billing their appearance as “fan appreciation” day.

‘Glee’ producers spill secrets of Episode 2. For the true “Glee” fans — and there are a lot of them, judging from the standing-room-only turnout for the Comic-Con panel Saturday  — we should get the news out of the way first. The producers of Fox’s quirky new show about a high school glee club premiered the entire second episode to fans (the first was aired on TV in the spring) and the reception was enthusiastic.

-The Emmy-nominated ‘Family Guy’ and the abortion episode you won’t see. Following a rollicking “Chuck” panel that included the actors singing and dancing and pondering the possibility of having action figures, the Emmy-nominated “Family Guy” panel took the stage. Creator/voice wizard Seth MacFarlane led a panel that included actors Mila Kunis, Seth Green and Alex Borstein, who, after receiving an ‘I love you’ from some in the crowd said “I’ll love you when you shut the hell up!”

-Edward James Olmos: ‘The Plan’ is not the end for ‘Battlestar Galactica.’ A grateful and hopeful Edward James Olmos told an enthusiastic crowd that because of their support, he knew this wasn’t the end for “Battlestar Galactica.” “When it comes out, it’s going to be huge,” Olmos said. “They’ll have to do another.”

-Joss Whedon and a ‘Dollhouse’ duo. Joss Whedon — the man, the myth, the lymph node (he said it!) — presided over a “Dollhouse” discussion that broke out after the screening of the not-so-lost episode “Epitaph One.”

-Katee Sackhoff says ’24’ will show ‘sweeter side.’  There were plenty of cheers for Kiefer Sutherland at the “24” panel today at Comic-Con. But the real attraction, at least for the teeming throng inside Ballroom 20, was Katee Sackhoff, who’s joining the espionage drama as a data analyst at the CTU.

-‘Spartacus’ death toll ‘like nothing you’ve seen.’ “This will have a death toll like nothing you’ve seen on television before,” vowed writer-producer Steven DeKnight of “Spartacus,” Starz’s new sword-and-sandals epic coming in January. The premium channel unveiled the trailer during a Comic-Con panel today, and indeed the series looks gory. And full of naked bodies! Imagine the nudity of HBO’s “Rome,” the violence of “Gladiator” and the look of “300,” and you’ll have a good idea of what “Spartacus” looks like.

– ‘FlashForward’ producers downplay similarities with ‘Lost.’  The producers of ABC’s “FlashForward” want to make it clear: Their show is not the new “Lost.” Like the desert-island thriller, “FlashForward” is a heavily serialized drama with complicated character arcs and mysterious back stories that fans will have to unravel. It stars Joseph Fiennes as a Los Angeles-based FBI agent who’s thrown into a vortex after a global blackout causes everyone to see six months into the future.

-Bruce Campbell wows fans amid talk of ‘Burn Notice’ movie. Who was the VIP who elicited such thunderous cheers Thursday afternoon at Comic-Con? Was it Johnny Depp? Had George Lucas suddenly strolled into Ballroom 20? No, it was only Bruce Campbell.


But wait!

There’s more! Check out all things Comic-Con at Zap2It for the latest TV news, and the Chicago Tribune’s television critic Maureen Ryan has been publishing must-read stuff.

Photos: Robert Downey, Jr./ Getty Images; Megan Fox / Associated Press; Jamers Cameron / Associated Press

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