It’s Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, which traditionally means the most anticipated panels of the convention. It started again this year with the Warner Bros. Pictures Presentation in Hall H, providing major new looks at upcoming films in the DC Extended Universe, namely Justice League and Aquaman.
But it’s not just DC Comics-based films that got the Comic-Con spotlight: Ready Player One and Blade Runner 2049 are also on the docket, and some surprises are likely along the way. Among those scheduled to be in attendance: Justice League stars Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher, Aquaman director James Wan, Blade Runner stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford and Ready Player One director Steven Spielberg.
The presentation started with a dramatic unveiling of the massive video screens that wrap around the perimeter of the Hall H walls — on which a sizzle reel played highlighting Warner Bros. hits ranging from Lord of the Rings, Inception, Mad Max: Fury Road, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Suicide Squad, The LEGO Batman Movie, Gravity and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Moderator Chris Hardwick then entered, and after a quick introduction, cued up a Ready Player One video; a stylish, ’80s arcade-style animated logo treatment. Ernest Cline and Steven Spielberg joined Hardwick on stage.
Cline said that, like a lot of people in the room, he grew up watching Spielberg’s movies. “It’s been the most amazing and gratifying experience of my life,” Cline said. “When I read Ernie’s book, it was like the most amazing flash-forward and flashback at the same time, to a decade I was very involved in — the 1980s,” Spielberg said. “But to a future that I think is awaiting all of us, whether we like it or not. The creation of the virtual world took almost two and a half years of preparation.”
Hardwick asked if Spielberg still ever feels challenged by a film, and he responded, “I read the book and thought, ‘They’re going to need a younger director!'” Spielberg then introduced a short teaser for the film, which he said will give fans a “slight look at things to come.” Here it is — including the Iron Giant and “Tom Sawyer” by Rush!
— Ready Player One (@readyplayerone) July 22, 2017
Following the teaser reveal, cast members Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn and T.J. Miller joined the panel, along with co-screenwriter Zak Penn.
“This was definitely the most complex movie I’ve ever worked on,” Penn said. “There’s so much material. There’s so much stuff in the book you can use. To be honest with you, I thought, ‘Well, this will never happen, we’ll never be able to make this movie, because we need like, Steven Spielberg to direct it.’ That made everything a lot easier.”
“Just to even be involved in the smallest increment, I think, would have been so fortunate,” Sheridan said. “I’m so happy to be here.”
Miller pointed out that he’s wearing a red hooded sweatshirt in honor of Elliott in E.T., and an E.T. t-shirt. “Steven Spielberg, he doesn’t like to reference in a meta way, his own movies so much,” Miller said, so it was up to him. “I’m in the spirit of Comic-Con.”
Cooke discussed the difference between playing a character in the film’s real world and virtual world. “We had to adopt different characteristics and different physicalities, so to work with that was fun, and unlike anything I’ve had to do before.”
“I was so gratified when the only two guys who could make the movie came on board,” Cline said, adding that Penn’s Last Action Hero is one of his favorite films.
“If you turn up for work, and Steven Spielberg is your boss, come on, everything else is just gravy after that,” Mendelsohn said.
The first fan asked if Sinistar from the ’80s arcade game of the same name would be among the video game references in the film. Cline said maybe not that one, but, “There’s so much classic video game stuff in this movie, it’s going to make you happy.” (He specifically mentioned references to Joust.)
“I feel very fortunate writing a book predicting the potential of virtual reality, right around the time it was coming out,” Cline told the next fan at the microphone. “It’s a little bit more accurate than Lawnmower Man,” Miller said.
“For me, the thing that really made me want to tell the story more htan anything else was the kind of world that 2045 gives to people, which is so dystopian,” Spielberg told the next audience member to ask a question. “Virtually reality, you can do anything in that world. That interaction between real life, and virtual life, by the third act is almost nonexistent. That, in the book, made me want to jump into the movie.”
The last fan to ask a Ready Player One question asked about the real-world pop culture references in the film, such as The Iron Giant (who appears in the teaser). Cline said that having Spielberg and Penn on board helped encourage more participation. “The Iron Giant is a real major player in this story,’ Spielberg answered.
Next up: Blade Runner 2049, starting with a video timeline of the events between the Blade Runner films, wrapping around the Hall H screens and narrated by Edward James Olmos. Next, a hologram projection of Blade Runner 2049 actor Jared Leto appeared on stage, giving a statement on how the film potentially reflects the real-life future.
That led to a screening of the latest trailer, then the introduction of director Denis Villeneuve, cast members including Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas and Lennie James, and screenwriters Hampton Fancher and Michael Green.
Hardwick asked why Villeneuve wanted to direct such a high-profile follow-up. “I didn’t want somebody else to fuck it up,” Villeneuve said, adding that original Blade Runner director Ridley Scott was very generous to him, and didn’t loom over his shoulder — which was essential for the film moving forward.
Ford complimented the film’s script. “I felt when I read the script that it had great depth, and it was a fantastic opportunity,” Ford said. “I was delighted to be involved.”
Hardwick asked if the sequel clears up questions Ford may have had about the original. “It doesn’t matter what I think,” Ford said.
Gosling said that the original Blade Runner was one of the first films he watched where he wasn’t sure how to feel at the end; who was the hero and who was the villain. “It’s like being on a football team with the Avengers,” Gosling said. “Maybe a football team with the Justice League,” Hardwick said jokingly, given the Warner Bros. nature of the panel.
A short clip from the film, around 90 seconds, was shown to the audience, centered around Gosling’s Officer K. We’ll embed if it becomes available.
James (Morgan Jones on The Walking Dead) said he’s never worked on anything this scale before, “and I don’t believe this is happening. It happened in a tiny little window that it had to fit into, in the middle of shooting The Walking Dead.”
“I’m not sure if it has sunk in yet,” Gosling told a fan during the audience Q&A. “I’m not sure this isn’t an elaborate episode of Punk’d. It’s really hard to describe that feeling, and it really hasn’t quite sunk in yet.”
Last fan question, for Ford: “Is it your goal to reboot every major franchise?” Ford: “You bet your ass it is.”
Next up: DC. A sizzle reel of footage was shown, accompanied by the words, “Where wonder awaits, where justice prevails, where good battles evil, from Gotham to Atlantis, Metropolis to Apokolips, Krypton to Themyscira and beyond, welcome to the worlds of DC.”
That culminated in the reveal of multiple logos (several likely temp) for upcoming films including Shazam, Suicide Squad 2, The Batman (with Affleck’s Batman shown), Justice League Dark, Batgirl, Green Lantern Corps (showing comic book art of Hal Jordan and John Stewart), The Flash — followed by a “Flashpoint” logo, and finally, Wonder Woman II.
Jason Momoa then joined, from the audience — and with trident in hand — to talk Aquaman. “The king is here,” Momoa proclaimed. A message from Wan — filming in Australia currently — was shown, with the director stating, “In a lot of ways this is an origin story, so I want the audience to experience Atlantis the first time Aquaman experiences it as well.” A mix of concept art and comic book illustrations were shown to accompany his words. “This is the reason for the theatrical experience.”
A short sequence from the film was then shown — two older men on a fishing boat then discovering Atlantean ships, followed by a shot of the world of Atlantis. Then, Arthur Curry (Momoa) holding a sword, talking to someone not shown and preparing to fight — then the logo.
That wrapped the Aquaman segment, but Ben Affleck (Batman), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Ezra Miller (The Flash) and Ray Fisher (Cyborg) then joined Momoa on stage to talk Justice League, entering to a cover version of “Come Together.”
“It was a high geek moment,” Affleck said of when the team came together while filming.
Addressing recent reports that his time as Batman might be coming to an end, Affleck said, “Let me be very clear, I am the luckiest guy in the world, Batman is the coolest fucking part in any universe. It’s incredible. I’m so thrilled do do it. I know there’s a misconception because I’m not directing it — it’s fucking amazing. With [War for the Planet of the Apes director] Matt Reeves doing it, I would be an ape, never mind Batman. I’m really blown away and excited. It’s a great time in the DC Universe.”
Gadot spoke on how much Wonder Woman means to her, saying that she will “always celebrate this character and be super-grateful for the opportunity.”
Miller expressed excitement for acting in the first superhero universe, referencing DC’s long publishing history. “The only one that came before us was the Justice Society of America, which was also us,” Miller said of comic book super-teams. “Are there other comic houses?”
“It’s going to be a hell of a good time,” Fisher assured fans of Justice League. Momoa said that Aquaman doesn’t feel accepted in land or in the water, so he may have a hard time fitting in with the rest of the team. “But he comes through, he joins the team, and it’s the greatest thing to ever happen to him.”
Affleck told the crowd he wanted to take a second to absorb everything. “How many people get a chance in their life to come to Hall H and say, ‘I’m Batman’?” This led to the reveal of a new, four-minute trailer, which is now online, and includes a look at Steppenwolf, Commissioner Gordon, trips to Themyscira and Atlantis and a (big) hint of the return of Superman.
In a round of fan questions, the cast talked about where they were when they heard they were cast in their DC roles. Momoa said he didn’t believe at first that Zack Snyder wanted him as Aquaman. Fisher (wearing a “I [Heart] ZS” shirt) said that Snyder called him personally to say that he landed the role of Cyborg, and that the director (who stepped away from the film following a personal tragedy) is “with us even though he’s not with us.”
Next fan question: “What’s with the reshoots — are you guys secretly filming part 2 already?” Fisher said that reshoots have been brief, that Joss Whedon is “a great guy” and Snyder picked the right person to take the film on.
Another fan question: Who from the Suicide Squad would the cast want to fight with on screen? Momoa: “Jai Courtney, Boomerang.” Gadot: “Margot Robbie.” Miller: “Will Smith and I have been planning to have a fight for a long time. It’s going to be a bloodbath. I’m done for.” Fisher: “I’d probably go Croc or Enchantress, maybe some science versus magic on the Enchantress side.”
A young fan asked about Superman’s whereabouts. “I don’t know if your parents showed you the last film, but Superman’s dead,” Momoa cracked. “If you’re a big fan of Superman, then I’m sure you’re going to be very, very happy to watch Justice League,” Gadot assured.
A fan asked for the favorite moments from filming. Momoa cited being “on the Batmobile, surfing it, with my boy B.A. down there.”
The last fan to answer a question asked if the ships in the Aquaman footage were Black Manta’s forces. “That’s Ocean Master’s army,” Momoa answered. “Black Manta’s got nothing like that. That’s my brother. I’m going to be fighting my brother.”
Following another look at the Justice League footage, the panel wrapped — but we’ll have plenty more live coverage from Hall H!
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