The Marvel Studios presentation kicked off with a simple title card: Phase Two Begins Now.
The screaming heard in Hall H for the next hour came from Marvel dropping news bombs onto 6,000 die-hard fans in what can only be considered Comic-Con 2012’s grand finale.
The biggest reveal was official confirmation that Guardians of the Galaxy would be Marvel’s Aug. 1, 2014 film – which came with a dazzling piece of concept art.
Check out the full image, as well as new details about Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2, and Ant-Man‘s test footage.
The Guardians of the Galaxy series began in 1969 and focused on super-powered team of humans, extra-terrestrials and bio-engineered creatures who police the entire Milky Way. Feige revealed the team, from left to right:
Drax The Destroyer – An Earthling who was killed and resurrected as a knife-wielding green warrior devoted to battling Thanos (the alien death-dealer seen grinning at the end of the Avengers film.)
Groot – a giant, anthropomorphic tree-being (imagine a warrior version of the Ents from The Lord of the Rings.)
Star-Lord – Some people would call him a space cowboy. (Sorry, Steve Miller Band.) He’s a half-human, half-alien intergalactic sheriff whose special combat suit protects him in deep space as he draws his twin guns on evildoers.
Rocket Racoon – a genetically engineered critter from a planet used as a dumping ground for the insane. He may be small, but he carries a very big gun.
Gamora – Nicknamed “the most dangerous woman in the universe, she last of her alien species, adopted by Thanos (him again) and trained to be a weapon who does his dirty work.
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First, we got an update on man with the hammer.
Thor 2 is in pre-production, with plans to debut on Nov. 8, 2013. Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige confirmed that Zachary Levi (NBC’s Chuck) would be taking over the role of Fandral, the god of thunder’s sword-swinging celestial pal. (Josh Dallas, who played the role in the original movie, had to bow out due to his commitment to ABC’s Once Upon a Time.)
Feige then revealed the official title of the sequel – Thor: The Dark World.
Okay … what exactly is The Dark World? That question remains unanswered.
Captain America 2 got a far more revealing subtitle.
Who is The Winter Soldier? It’s a character created by Marvel writer Ed Brubaker, who was spinning him off from an earlier creation by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Remember Cap’s childhood friend Bucky, played in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger by Sebastian Stan? When last we saw him (And be warned … here is a spoiler alert) he was plummeting off the side of a train during a World War II raid, and vanishing into a snowy void — apparently dead.
In the comics, Brubaker brought Bucky back to life decades later, resurrecting him as a Soviet assassin who was rescued from his state of frozen, suspended animation (what’s with people in the Cap universe being stored like frozen peas?) given a bionic arm to replace the one he lost, brainwashed to erase his previous identity, and sent on various kill-missions.
In short, he’s a tragic villain. And with Chris Evans’ Captain America now in the present day, we’re likely to find out that Sebastian Stan’s character was similarly preserved and restored decades after being lost in the snow.
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After pimp-walking into Hall H to the sound of Luther Vandros’ “Never Too Much,” Robert Downey Jr. had the thousands of fans in the palm of his hand — which happened to be encased in an Iron Man glove.
Iron Man 3 is currently half-way through principal photography in North Carolina, and Saturday’s panel (expertly moderated by Geoff Boucher of The Los Angeles Times) brought in Downey, Don Cheadle (as his Air Force ally War Machine,) Jon Favreau (the director of the last two Iron Man films, who now executive produces and co-stars as driver/bodyguard Happy) and director and co-writer Shane Black.
“I have three questions,” Downey said from the stage. “How much do I love you?”
“Question #2: How much do you love me?”
“Question #3: Why aren’t we watching any footage yet?”
The first scene in the series of clips confirms longstanding rumors that this movie would take some storypoints from the Extremis comic book series, in which Tony Stark is implanted with nanobot technology that allows him to draw his armor to his body remotely. (In other words, his mechanical assistant, JARVIS, no longer needs to dress him like George Jetson.)
“Good afternoon, ladies,” Stark says to his Hall of Armor, which now includes seven Iron Man suits. “Welcome to the birthing suite! I’m pleased to announce the imminent arrival of your bouncing, bad-ass baby brother.”
Something’s not working, however. Stark taps his bare forearm (A-ha! The mechanism is driven by something inside his body now, instead of the bracelets we saw in The Avengers.)
The armor won’t fly, then begins slamming onto him, clamping to his arm and leg. A big piece hits him in the crotch, knocking him backward, and another section blasts through one of the glass walls in his armor display case. “Slow it down,” he commands JARVIS, as bits and pieces attach.
Finally, most of the suit is intact, but his faceplate floats into the air — seeming to stare at him — and then Stark beckons it like a bullfighter. “Come on … I ain’t scared of you.”
As it rockets toward his face, the mask hits the corner of a shelf and flips. So Tony has to do the same, turning upside down and hovering there with one repulsor-arm aimed down as he catches the mask with his face.
The next scene is Stark talking with Favreau’s Happy via video chat. We learn Happy has quit his employ. Like any jealous friend, Happy also smack-talks The Avengers gang.
“Now you’re off with your … superfriends,” he says, dismissively. “I don’t know what’s going on with you anymore. My grandmother lives in Manhattan. She jumped out of a second-story window because she saw a giant snake-robot coming out of the sky.”
“Relax – we handled it,” Stark tells him.
Here’s where the fun and games end. The next few shots show Guy Pearce and Rebecca Hall, but its only flashes — no dialogue or action. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts is seen kissing Stark in his new armor — weirdly, with the face-plate down.
A voice begins to speak — it’s Ben Kingsley, playing a character who has not yet been revealed.
“Some people call me a terrorist. I consider myself a teacher,” he says.
“Lesson #1: Heroes – there is no such thing.”
Then we see giant black helicopters hovering outside. It’s unclear if Pepper is still in the house, or if this is a cut to a different scene, but rockets soon reduce Stark’s familiar bachelor pad to rubble. The Hall of Armor collapses into the Pacific Ocean, and Iron Man is shown tangled in cables as he sinks to the bottom.
“As you cry out for mercy … You will be silenced.”
We then see a close up of some massive, mystical-looking rings — and here is where longtime comic book fans began to cheer.
The next shot looks like some kind of anarchist/wizard/hippie — Kingsley in full Mandarin gear, including the alien rings that give him his power. (Here’s an image of him from Marvel’s comic books, but unfortunately no footage of Kingsley’s version was released.)
Although The Avengers all went their separate ways at the end of that movie, Feige was asked about whether we might see mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner (a.k.a. The Hulk) turn up in Iron Man 3, since he and Stark seemed to forge a closer friendship.
“Well, if you remember at the end of Avengers, he jumped into the car with Tony,” Feige said, drawing anticipatory cheers — which he then shot down. “And Tony dropped him off at the Port Authority, and we’ll see him again someday.”
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Ant-Man has finally crawled out of the woodwork.
After nearly six years of anticipation, Marvel Studios and director/co-writer Edgar Wright presented test footage for a feature film about the classic superhero, who can manipulate his subatomic particles to grow large or small at will.
It’s important to remember — the footage is not part of the movie, which doesn’t yet have a start or release date. No actor has yet been cast in the role.
Instead, the footage of the costumed character was merely a way for Wright and Marvel to explore visual effects for Ant-Man’s rapid size shifts, and see how the suit will look on the big screen.
Wright made light of how long this project has been developing. “I’m taking the Terrence Malick approach to superheroes,” he said, referring to the Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line director — who went 20 years between those films.
The scene began with speck-sized Ant-Man emerging from a ventilation grate to do battle with two guards in a white hallway. As he pops back and forth from the size of an insect to the size of a normal man, the shifts give him extra oomph as he throws punches and kicks into them. When they counterpunch, each swing cuts through thin air as he slips back to microscopic size. As they fire at him, Ant-Man leaps, shrinks, and runs across the barrel of a gun to knock out the guard’s tooth.
Time to start stomping like you’re on an episode of Hee-Haw, bad guys!
We know it’s not the same, but this panel from a classic Ant-Man comic kind of gives you the idea. (Sorry, but Marvel didn’t release the footage for public consumption. You had to be in Hall H.)
Wright described the costume, which entirely hid the stunt actor’s face, as a mix of the Silver Age character and the present day incarnation.
Just days ago, Universal gave the greenlight to another movie from Wright, the director of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Hot Fuzz, and Shaun of the Dead. So his next project will be The World’s End with Shaun and Fuzz co-stars Nick Frost and Simon Pegg.
Although that seemed like bad news for Ant-Man, Marvel’s presentation reinforces their dedication to doing big things with the little guy.
“Ant-Man will kick your ass one inch at a time,” Wright promised.
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