As part of the Warner Bros Studio panel at Comic-Con International, a highly-anticipated film was unveiled to the audience. This movie had various qualities that appealed to many different CCI attendees for many different reasons: it was part comic book adaptation, part action-thriller, part spaghetti western and contained supernatural elements. And all present would agree that the film delivered on its main promise - it was fun!
The movie is "Jonah Hex," and it was presented to a packed conference hall by its director, Jimmy Hayward. The filmmaker explained that they just finished shooting their final footage for the project, and added that they literally filmed actress Megan Fox's last scenes just 48 hours ago.
Hayward said they put this special trailer presentation together for Comic-Con, and, as a fan of comics, it was a dream for him to be presenting in San Diego. The filmmaker made one final promise to the fans gathered - "Jonah Hex" would not be "a slow, dusty western." And with that, he let the trailer roll...
The bits of the film clips shown seemed to include everything a fan of the character could hope for. It showed actor Josh Brolin (as "Jonah Hex") prior to the accident which leaves Hex with a hideous facial scar. Fantastic gunfighting action was on full display...in addition to the display of Megan Fox's body (she plays a prostitute named Leila in the film). Additional shots included John Malkovich's villain Turnbull, zombies (of some sort), and a full display of Hex's deformity.
One of the characters in the film describes Hex as someone who "has one foot in this world and one foot in the next." And in addition to gunplay by Hex and a few other cowboys, the audience was able to see Megan Fox do a little shooting of her own in the presentation.
The trailer ended with Hex confronting a villain who asks the gunslinger, "What happened to your face?" Hex then throws a knife into the fellow's forehead and responds, "I cut myself shaving. What happened to yours?"
With that, the lights came up and actors Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, and Michael Fassbender (who plays the villain Burke) came out onto the stage and began answering questions - both from the panel moderator and from fans.
The first query was directed toward Brolin and concerned the reasons he wanted to play Hex. The actor confessed to not being familiar with the comic and admitted, "I used to read Richie Rich." However, upon learning more about Hex, he said, "I liked how the comic went through three major manifestations. I liked how the studio was a little nervous about (making a movie with the character). I liked how he was an antihero and that the film was a spaghetti western. The whole thing has got circus and absurdity elements to it, and all that got me really excited to do it."
Megan Fox next talked about how she came to the film, and confessed that she wasn't sure how it happened. She said, "I talked to Josh about the film, and for some reason he felt I was the right actress for it."
Josh chuckled at this and winked to the audience, "Yeah, for some reason..."
Fox then explained she plays Leila, the love interest of Hex. She's a prostitute that the hero has been visiting for years, and although he does love her, everyone close to Hex dies so he keeps her at a distance. She doesn't understand why he refuses to let her in, and therefore they have a "push and pull" type of relationship.
The director then talked a bit about the style of this movie, and said they used spaghetti westerns as a "jumping-off point" for what they were trying to do. He promised action elements blended with supernatural elements; however, contrary to online reports, he wanted to inform fans that there are no voodoo practitioners or armies of the undead (despite the few zombie-like folks that did appear in the trailer).
When asked about the most difficult part of the making this movie, Brolin jumped in and responded, "New Orleans - just getting the crew to the set was tough." Then the actor added that the whole film was challenging because "you don't have a model for this particular movie. It's a different type of movie. It once came out of my mouth, and I don't know why, but I've said it's a 'fantasmagorium of insanity.'"
"We didn't have a ton of money to do it. It's a movie that - looking at the teaser we were just shown - looks like a $70 million film. It looks pretty amazing, and yet we had less than half that to do it...so we had to get creative. We had to do things on a practical level, and that's what we resorted to. This wasn't a big paycheck for the actors by any means, so the actors who did it...it was truly for the love of insanity."
Insanity, and possibly the fun of it - at least according to Fox. When asked why she seems to be attracted to action films, the actress said, "I love the physicality of it. If you want to smack me or beat my ass, do it."
"And I said to leave your fetishes at work," Brolin slyly remarked, to boisterous laughter from the audience.
The next audience member to approach the microphone asked the question many Hex fans were wondering: what comic book adventures were used as source material for the movie?
Hayward answered and said that they used a bit of everything from Hex's mythology - from both his old comics and his newer ones. He even mentioned that current "Jonah Hex" writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray came to the set and gave some input. Brolin seemed pleased to add that the daughter of John Albano (who created Jonah Hex) also came to the set and gave her blessing to the production.
Brolin closed by describing how much fun he had making the film. "There's an absurd element to this and it allows actors to have a lot of fun because you can get into extremes that you normally wouldn't get into. I really enjoy breaking new ground with things that you don't know how they're going to be embraced by audiences.
"Considering studios are always asking, 'What can we model this after?' - it seems that when you do something truly original, audiences really appreciate it...I think audiences are a lot smarter than studios give them credit for."
On that note, the uber-intelligent crowd of the CCI gave the director and cast of "Jonah Hex" one last round of applause before they disappeared into the fading sunset...otherwise known as stage right of Hall H.