With the divisive "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" released earlier this year, "Suicide Squad" out in just a couple of weeks, "Wonder Woman" on the horizon and "Justice League" in production, there's been a lot of talk recently about Warner Bros.' DC Comics-based film lineup -- which only increased after Warner Bros. Hall H panel this Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Along with the DC Films slate, upcoming Warner Bros. movies such as "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" were also in the spotlight.
The panel started -- to the approval of roaring fans -- with the unveiling of suoer-wide screens running across both sides of the hall, showing a sizzle reel with highlights from WB franchies and films including "Lord of the Rings," "300," "Harry Potter," "Inception," "Godzilla," "Mad Max: Fury Road" and, of course, "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." This led to the introduction of the panel's moderator, Conan O'Brien.
First up in the spotlight: DC Films, with a reel of clips combined with comments from actors and directors from the franchise. Will Smith, who plays Deadshot in "Suicide Squad," praised "That marriage of well-thought out story" in a "big blockbuster package." "I want 'Flash' to reflect the world we live in," "The Flash" director Rick Famuyiwa said in the reel.
In the reel, a series of logos for the upcoming films was shown, including one for the Batman solo film -- a textless Bat-symbol -- and "Green Lantern Corps," which was just about identical from the comic book logo. (It's very likely both are not final.)
Joining the panel in person: "Suciide Squad" director David Ayer, "Wonder Woman" director Patty Jenkins, "Justice League" director Zack Snyder, "The Flash" director Rick Famuyiwa, "Aquaman" director James Wan and Batman solo director (and star) Ben Affleck.
Ayer praised "Suicide Squad" as a movie about some rather imperfect people doing "amazing things with their lives." Jenkins talked about seeing the original "Superman" film: "That movie made me have an experience I never had before. I wanted to be good, I wanted to change the world -- I thought, 'That's my most powerful artist experience as a child.'" Jenkins praised the "universal emotions" of the film, while also being big and fun.
Snyder on directing "Justice League": "It's amazing. I've been blessed with these amazing actors, I have an awesome Batman, down there -- I have an awesome Wonder Woman, I have an awesome Superman. As the rest of the group comes along to join, they each have something amazing to give. It is fun, as a fan, to just stand there and see them all in their costumes. looking how you hope they'd look."
"I am very excited to be a part of this," Famuyiwa, who is at his very first Comic-Con, said. "DC is the foundation of what we all know about comic books and heroes. They've had great storytellers, great illustrates, as a part of that tradition. To have my voice be a part of this is really exciting. To bring Flash to the screen in a new way is pretty exciting, as well."
"I've brought a lot of movies to Comic-Con, but I've never been in Hall H before," Wan said. "Listen -- fucking Aquaman! What can I say! He's never been portrayed in the feature world before. The opportunity to explore this universe, bring a little bit of my horror element into this, the deep sea, but also the wondrous world of Atlantis."
"Taking on something like this character, the only analogous thing in drama is like taking on a great play that's been done many times before," Affleck told the crowd. "It's terrifying, but it's inspiring, and it's really, really exciting." Affleck called Batman "one of the most fascinating characters created in contemporary American drama."
As the directors left the stage, "Wonder Woman" was in focus, with images from the film shown on the screens, culminating in the film's logo and these words: "Power. Grace. Wisdom. Wonder."
Jenkins joined the stage again, taking the podium from O'Brien. "This was one of those incredible experiences," Jenkins said. "We have such an awesome cast overall, but the three people here are near and dear to my heart." Those three: Connie Nielsen (Hippolyta), Chris Pine (Steve Trevor) and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman, natch), who all joined the presentation.
Next up was the debut of the first "Wonder Woman" trailer -- it starts with Diana discovering Steve Trevor on the shore, saying with surprise, "You're a man." Later, Trevor asks, "You've never met a man before? What about your father?" Diana responds, "I have no father. I was created by Zeus." Trevor: "Well, that's neat." Another exchange from the trailer sees Trevor saying, "I can't let you do this," and Wonder Woman replying, "You don't tell me what to do." There are scenes of Amazonians fighting soldiers, and Hippolyta talking to her daughter, saying the man's world "doesn't deserve" her. It ends with the introduction of Lucy Davis as Etta Candy, describing the duties of a secretary with Wonder Woman saying, "Where I come from, that's called slavery."
But why describe it when you can watch?
After the trailer played, Gadot said it was important for her that Wonder Woman was a character that "everyone can relate to." Jenkins said Wonder Woman si a "big, loving character." Pine contrasted the different worlds Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman are from. Nielsen talked the sword training she underwent for the film.
In a brief fan Q&A, the first audience member at the microphone asked if Wonder Woman would fly in the movie, or use an invisible jet. "The invisible jet isn't in the movie," Jenkins answered, but pointed out the film takes place very early on in Wonder Woman's superhero career, so who knows what may happen.
The next question, from a young girl, asked about preparation for the role. "I did a lot of work," Gadot said. "The most important thing for me was to present this character in a way everyone can relate to. Not only girls, not only boys, but men and women as well, because she has such a beautiful, relatable story."
That wrapped the "Wonder Woman" segment; the film is scheduled out June 2, 2017.
Next up: "Justice League," with a short reel of zoomed-in logos from the team's costumes shown, before Snyder joined the stage. Affleck and Gadot returned to the stage, joined by Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller (in a Gandalf costume) and Jason Momoa. "Traditionally, the Justice League has an additional character," Snyder said. "We all know that character died," O'Brien replied.
You can guess what's next -- Henry Cavill, DC Films' Superman, joined his cast mates on stage, leading to a reel of footage from the film, narrated by Affleck's Batman, discussing bringing the Justice League together, with a specific focus on recruiting Aquaman. Watch it here.
"Suicide Squad" is up next, with Ayer introducing Karen Fukuhara, Adam Beach, Jay Hernandez, Jai Courtney, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Cara Delevingne, Jared Leto, Scott Eastwood, Margot Robbie and Will Smith.
Ayer said he wanted to make a movie that looked like a comic, with characters that had "as much soul as I remember growing up."
Smith related Ayer's perspective on the film: "This is not a movie about good vs. evil, this is a movie about bad vs. evil." "I thought that was a very interesting distinction," Smith said. "What's the line between bad and evil? It's fun for us trying to find that line where you do bad things but you do them for good reasons, and sometimes you just do it because it's fun to hurt somebody. It's really great walking that line."
O'Brien asked about the cast's chemistry. "[Ayer] does a really interesting, extended rehearsal process where you really don't realize your rehearsing," Smith said. "We've all shared deep stories about ourselves and our pain and our triumphs in this process. Then on set [Ayer] throws your deepest childhood trauma back at you and says, 'Dude, the Joker did it.'"
Next topic of discussion was the cast's training that went into the film. "Whatever anyone did in this film, I did in heels," Robbie said, also pointing out they learned "random skills." "I learned how to hold my breath underwater for like five minutes."
O'Brien called Davis' Amanda Waller one of the most 'tough-minded" characters he's seen. "Thank you," Davis said. "I played myself." O'Brien praised Ayer for the use of music in the film, and the songs he was able to include in it. Ayer said he had people in the cast with experience in music, leading to a brief beatbox from the former Fresh Prince.
The first (and only, it seems) fan question for the "Suicide Squad" talent asked what the cast's family thought of them being in the film. "No matter how cool you think you are, your kids think you suck," Smith said. "This is like the first time where I'm cool for real. The Suicide Squad, I don't know what it is, but something about this idea, and something about this cast, has really captured something."
Smith told a story about Leto having a live rat sent to Robbie, from "Mr. J." While Smith said "if I were wearing pearls I would have clutched them," he admitted that Leto's method performance "really kicked everybody to another level of focus."
"Jared has an incredible contribution in the film," Ayer said, adding that Leto is "standing on the shoulder of giants" by playing the role. "He was the hammer that made that sword sharp." That led to a new "Suicide Squad" reel, made specifically for the panel -- and you can watch it right now!
Next up -- "The LEGO Batman Movie," with that section starting with a short animation of a LEGO-ized panel, complete with a LEGO Conan O'Brien hosting LEGO Batman, LEGO Robin, LEGO Barbara Gordon and LEGO Joker. Director Chris McKay and star Will Arnett (the voice of LEGO Batman) joined the panel, and introduced the first trailer, which is centered on the relationship between Batman and Robin (voiced by Michael Cera, who co-starred in "Arrested Development" with Arnett).
"Batman's an orphan, and he's always been alone, so he's been kind of left to his own devices," Arnett said of LEGO Batman. "I think he has a lot of issues."
First fan question: When will fans see Arnett as Batman in live-action? "I think [Affleck] has a pretty good handle on it right now," Arnett answered.
Second fan question: Would Arnett be interested in a LEGO Suicide Squad movie? "That's above my paygrade, but sure," Arnett said. "There's a slight 'Dirty Dozen' aspect to this movie," McKay said. McKay added that the film goes deep into Batman's rogues gallery, including the Mutant Leader from "Dark Knight Returns."
Next film featured: "Kong: Skull Island," with director Jordan Vogt-Roberts joining O'Brien on stage. The film's cast -- John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston (unsurprisingly a favorite of the crowd due to his role as Loki in the Marvel Studios films) -- followed.
The first trailer for "Kong: Skull Island" was shown to the crowd, focusing on the human cast -- with only a brief glimpse of Kong's very, very large and intimidating head at the end of the clip.
Vogt-Roberts called taking on the King Kong mythology is "an enormous responsibility but an enormous honor." "It really did feel like guerrilla filmmaking," Hawkins said, aware of the pun. "This is a lot about humans battling natural elements and our ability to coexist with them," Larson added.
"We wanted to take this cast and put them in real places," Vogt-Roberts said. "The majority of what you're looking at is real." (With the exception of Kong, of course.)
Goodman jokingly told the crowd about working with Kong. "I think over the years, he's earned the right to be a little cranky," Goodman said.
Update from the show: Tom Hiddleston is not playing "Pokemon Go." That was prompted by a fan asking the panel what they enjoy "geeking out" to -- Larson named "Game of Thrones" and "Stranger Things."
Next up: "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword," and the film's star, Charlie Hunnam, who introduced the Guy Ritchie-directed movie's first trailer.
O'Brien asked how he could get into shape like Hunnam. "You just have to stop eating all the things you want to eat, and exercise until you lose the will to live," Hunnam said. "I'm thinking of hanging up the six pack."
In more serious talk, O'Brien asked about Ritchie bringing his modern take to a medieval legend. "If you're going to tell a story, you need to make it fresh, original and unique," Hunnam said. "He's created this epic, complex world with a huge element of magical realism, but then at the center of it, you have the Guy Ritchie lovable rogues that guide you through this, and take on this unlikely task -- unlikely for them, because they're basically a bunch of degenerates."
Hunnam described his Arthur as someone from the streets who's actually doing quite well for himself, but has to embrace his destiny.
"You can really psyched yourself out taking on the perceived significance of a role," Hunnam told a fan for the only audience question of this section. "The mandate here was to create something fresh, original and new."
Next (and last, presumably) film spotlighted: "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." Director David Yates took the stage, telling the crowd, "we make these movies for people like you." Yates introduced "Fantastic Beasts" star Eddie Redmayne, who went into the crowd to distribute wands to fans in the audience. "Everyone here is going to get their own wand," O'Brien said (Redmayne had some help distributing them).
Redmayne encouraged the audience to hold their wands up for a "lumos maxima" incantation which led a lightning effect on the screen and the house lights turning on.
Yates brought out more of the crowd: Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell and Ezra Miller (back after appearing with the "Justice League" cast earlier.
"It takes the universe further, in a much more exciting and adventurous way," Yates said of the film. "We've got a whole array of beasts that Eddie looks after in his magical suitcase."
O'Brien asked Fogler about playing the only non-magical character with a central role in the film. "Han Solo wasn't a Jedi," Fogler said. "I'm a magical person in real life."
Warner Bros.' presentation -- nearly two and a half hours -- wrapped with the debut of a "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" trailer, which likely will be online soon. Keep reading CBR for that and more from Comic-Con!