The minds behind Legendary Comics assembled at New York Comic Con, with Editor-in-Chief Bob Schreck, writers Matt Wagner and Grant Morrison, screenwriter Travis Beacham and director Guillermo del Toro gathering to discuss the Legendary Entertainment imprint’s upcoming publishing slate before the panel’s full attention turned to del Toro’s upcoming Legendary film, “Pacific Rim.”
Schreck started the panel by giving a brief overview of the still-new comics company, the result of Thomas Tull, founder of Legendary Pictures, deciding he wanted to do a comics project with Frank Miller. “Holy Terror” was the result, the first Legendary Comics release. “It was the number one graphic novel in September last year,” Schreck pointed out.
Upcoming projects include J. Michael Straczynski’s “The Majestic Files” and “Shadow Walk” by Max Brooks, Mark Waid and Shane Davis. “Shane is already 56 pages in, so it will be out on time,” Shreck stated. “Don’t ask when, but it will be out on time!”
“The Tower Chronicles,” by Matt Wagner and Simon Bisley, debuted in September. Co-created by Tull, the book clocks in at 68 pages per volume, with a planned three books split into a total of twelve volumes. The next volume, which continues to follow the adventures of John Tower, a supernatural bounty hunter, will be out in November with a cover by “Kingdom Come” artist Alex Ross with Tim Bradstreet covering volume three.
“Every time we get the pages in, Simon’s done it even better than we expected,” said Wagner.
“I know where all the bodies are buried, so he’s already started the fourth volume,” Schreck joked, poking fun at Bisley’s supposed occasional lateness.
“I’m done with the first two books, so I’m 500 pages in to the script,” Wagner continued. “Simon has just started book four, so he’s over 200 pages in. This train has left the depot and it’s gonna hit every station on time. We’re gonna ship on time, no problem.”
Schreck then introduced Grant Morrison, writer of Legendary’s recently announced creator-owned project, “Annihilator.”
“This is casual wear on my home planet,” said Morrison, as he walked onstage in a sharply tailored suit.
“Annihilator” tells the story of Ray Spass, a down-on-his-luck screenwriter who gets the chance to write a big-screen film based on Max Nomax, a classic pulp character from that world. When Nomax appears in the real world via a black hole, the FBI tracks Spass down for answers.
Morrison described the basic theme of the series as “What happens when deadlines become expanded to cosmic scope and if you don’t hit your deadline the entire universe is destroyed.” “The title came from the fact that at the center of the galaxy where we live, there’s a supermassive black hole the entire galaxy revolves around. Science, in one of its most wonderful moments, decided to call that black hole The Great Annihilator. So at the center of all our lives lies this monster named The Great Annihilator. I just thought it was a great title.”
The artist of “Annihilator” was not announced at the panel, but Morrison said, “This is the one person I wanted to draw this story and we are getting close to ensuring that will happen.”
Guillermo del Toro and Travis Beacham, the director and writer behind next summer’s blockbuster film “Pacific Rim,” took to the stage next, Del Toro telling the audience he had good news and bad news for. The bad news, said del Toro, was that he was advised not to show the “Pacific Rim” trailer at NYCC this year.
“The good piece of news is that I don’t give a fuck!” he shouted as the crowd went absolutely insane. The lights went down and the panel attendees were treated to a teaser trailer for the giant robots vs. giant monsters film due next year.
The trailer featured Idris Elba and Charlie Hunnam suiting-up in giant 25-story robots to battle equally giant monsters in Japan. A few brief shots showed a highly-stylized, angular monster doing battle with a robot. Elba’s character had a standout moment, telling a group of soldiers, “Today, we are canceling the apocalypse!”
As soon as the trailer ended, the entire audience rose to their feet for a standing ovation.
“Now I’m happy I don’t give a fuck!” del Toro said happily, as he absorbed the reaction.
“I’m upset with adventure films not existing anymore,” del Toro stated. “I wanted to avoid the sleek, military blue look of metal where everybody is handsome and we are all super-cool. I really wanted a movie where there was a spirit of romance and corrosion and beauty in the rust.”
Legendary Comics will team up with their film division to release a “Pacific Rim” prequel comic book which will “explore the backstory that is only insinuated in the movie” according to Beacham.
“We don’t want it to be easy or cool,” added del Toro. “We want it to be a human struggle.”
“It’s like a supplemental guide to the world of ‘Pacific Rim,'” Beacham concluded.
Asked why he decided to make a monsters vs. robots movie, del Toro said growing up “whether it was ‘Thunderbirds’ or a kaiju movie, I was obsessed with, ‘Please, please, please destroy that building!’ Over the years, I’ve compiled a wishlist of what a proper robot-kaiju fight would be.”
The scale of the robots was devised by comparing them to the Golden Gate Bridge, eventually ending up at 25 stories high. “There are set pieces in this movie where the scale is truly mind-boggling in some instances.
“As my pants size shows, when given freedom I eat all the donuts,” del Toro joked. “This has been the best film-making experience I have ever had. For 48 years of life, as of two days ago.”
Beacham said the comic book wouldn’t necessarily be the plot for a film sequel. “The idea was to have a world. That definitely doesn’t rule out a lot of material for other movies, should it come to that. It’s not just a movie, for any of us.”
“If the playground opens, I’ll be there first thing in the morning with my balls,” del Toro added.
While the director is sure there are going to be “Pacific Rim” video games, he feels “you need three years to really do it properly.” That said, del Toro would love a sandbox style game where players can run around the city, destroying and doing whatever they liked.
Asked about the reported post-conversion to 3D of “Pacific Rim” and if it was hard to get good 3D shots with such large scale creature, del Toro said he had final cut and the say on whether it would be 3D or not, ultimately deciding to “go for it” after seeing a test-conversion StereoD did with the screened Comic-Con International footage. “We shot the movie with wide-angle lenses, [so there’s] always something in the foreground,” del Toro said, explaining this allowed for great 3D. Since all of the special effects shots are in post-production, those shots will actually be in native 3D.
Before agreeing to use 3D, however, del Doro insisted on at least 40 weeks to do the conversion so it wouldn’t feel rushed. “Ultimately, all those conditions were met and agreed upon.”
Del Toro said, that although he used to be against 3D technology in his movies, he has reversed his position. “I did a full Romney!” he joked. “I have to apologize, I pulled a Romney on you!”
The “Pacific Rim” creatures were the result of del Toro getting together with a bunch of fellow monster-loving artists, including Guy Davis. For the first two weeks, he let the artists design freely to see what they could come up with before giving them more direction.
“They look like they crawled out from another universe and they’re gonna eat your hometown,” Beacham said.
“They’ll take your collection of toys and eat them!” joked del Toro.
One of the monsters from those sessions that didn’t make it in to the film was The Karloff, based on classic monster-movie actor Boris Karloff. The Karloff will, however, appear in the comic book.
“I wanted to make a movie by fans,” del Toro concluded. “But I didn’t want to make a fan movie.”