Plus: 'Captain Marvel' casting and new details on 'Black Panther' and 'Doctor Strange'

By Anthony Breznican
July 23, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Marvel

After a year away, Marvel Studios brought the old magic to Comic-Con’s Hall H on Saturday night.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige kicked off the panel, introducing a new company logo with music by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino.

“We only want to come when we have a lot to show you,” Feige says. “We actually have a lot today.”

He led with Black Panther. “We don’t start filming that movie until January, but I don’t want you to hear me talk about it much longer; ladies and gentlemen, the director of that movie: Ryan Coogler.”

The Creed director said he’s working “crazy hard in the script right now,” diving into the world of Wakanda. “The coolest thing about the world of Wakanda is they have a king, and we have an incredible actor playing that part,” Coogler said. “and we have him here.”

Chadwick Boseman then took the stage and thanked fans for telling him what they want from the historic first black superhero. “I cannot wait to unmask all of it for you,” he said. This is Boseman’s first time at Comic-Con. “I am literally vibrating inside,” he said.

Then, Coogler introduced some more big names: the secret service squad Dora Milaje. “One of the most amazing things about Wakanda is they have these women who are the best fighters in the kingdom,” he said, before introducing Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia and The Walking Dead‘s Danai Gurira as Okoye.

Michael B. Jordan, Coogler’s Fruitvale Station star, will play the villain of the story: Erik Killmonger, a name that doesn’t suggest villainy at all. Jordan said he wishes he could say more, but Coogler hasn’t shown him the script yet.

RELATED: Black Panther director on importance of representation in superhero movies

The talk then turned to Thor: Ragnarok. Director Taika Waititi is busy shooting overseas but made a Thor mockumentary in the style of his vampire spoof, What We Do in the Shadows, with Chris Hemsworth having a dorky roommate who helps him send peacemaking emails to Captain America and Iron Man during their Civil War clash.

“Am I disappointed no one invited me to fight with them?” the Thunder God asks in the parody. “… No,” he answers softly.

Thor has a conspiracy theory bulletin board trying to figure out what the “big purple guy” who “doesn’t like standing up” is trying to do with a big golden globe and the infinity stones. He also has lunch with Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, who complains he doesn’t understand why he keeps “waking up in cut-offs.”

The joke ends with flags of pre-vis special effects and concept art, including Hulk charging into an arena wearing a gladiator helmet and armor and wielding a massive battleaxe — the look of his warrior monster in the Planet Hulk comics.

Next up was footage from Doctor Strange. Mist trickled down from the ceiling of Hall H to enhance the projection of ethereal magic being blasted over the crowd.

The lights lifted and Benedict Cumberbatch was onstage, minus the cloak and high collar — just a T-shirt and jeans. More like Doctor Casual.

Director Scott Derrickson says the film is a “left turn in the Marvel universe,” focusing on magic instead of sci-fi tech.

“He doesn’t know anything,” Cumberbatch said of Doctor Strange. “He’s just at the beginning of figuring out what reality is.”

Chiwetel Ejiofor said Mordo “becomes a real mentor, with the Ancient One, dealing with him and understanding his power. Stephen Strange is every unique, very special and surprises everyone.”

Tilda Swinton, who plays the Ancient One, said, “The truth is, any of us could be the Ancient One. It’s a title, and all the things the Ancient One teaches and teases out of people, anyone can do. The Ancient One is there pulling it out of people.”

Mads Mikkelsen, playing the villain, of course said he’s not a villain. “My character believes in a better world, a better path for the universe,” he said.

A teaser from Doctor Strange then played, showing the wounded doctor hero meeting the Ancient One for the first time.

He’s scruffy, dirty, lost, searching. Mordo tells him to “forget everything you think you know.”

The good doctor can’t get over the fact that someone he is looking for is called The Ancient One. “Doesn’t he have a real name?”

When he meets the bald woman, in a gray cloak, he is taken aback. She pours him a cup of tea. He wants to know if it’s true she healed a paralyzed man. She asks if he repairs a body after surgery or if the body does it on its own.

The Ancient One tells him: “I know how to reorient the spirit to heal the body.” He is incredulous. “I do not believe in fairy tales… There is no such thing as spirit. We are made of matter and nothing more.”

She said modern technology allows doctors to see only part of reality. He pushes past her, she pushes his astral form out of his physical form. “You entered the astral dimension, a place where the soul exists apart from the body,” she says. He thinks she spiked his tea.

“Have a nice trip, Mr. Strange,” she says, pushing him further — the outer reaches of reality and spirituality.

He ends the experience cowering before her. “Teach me,” he says.

After Strange Kevin Feige took the stage and talked about comic book history, but was interrupted by none other than Spider-Man. It’s the webslinger’s first appearance at Comic-Con since joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a license-sharing deal with Sony.

Hall H was shown a brief clip of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker exploring a digital projection of a Spider-Man face on his ceiling — some piece of mysterious tech.

Feige said principle photography has just started in Georgia. “Everybody loves Spider-Man,” the producer said.

Director Jon Watts called it “a straight-up high school movie, about a 15-year old kid. We know what it’s like to be a billionaire playboy inventor. We learned what it’s like to be an alien God… We’re going to learn what it’s like to be kid in 10th grade going through puberty.”

A teaser reel showed high school images of Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, and Chris Evans as teenagers while “I Don’t Give a Damn About My Reputation” played on the soundtrack. Marvel literally went old-school with a John Hughes vibe, showing Parker and his friends hanging around. Girls talk about which superheroes they have a crush on; one says she has fallen for Spider-Man and Peter Parker stops dead in gym class.

The teaser ends with a quick shot of the villainous Vulture, descending from above.

“There is one other movie we just finished filming… A little movie called Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2,” Feige said, introducing director James Gunn — who ran out screaming love for Comic-Con: “This is the petri dish where Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 was born!”

Taserface and his thuggish Ravagers stormed the stage and took over the seats, insulting the audience and jeering Feige and Gunn.

Eventually Gunn retook control of the stage to introduce Star-Lord actor Chris Pratt, Gamora’s Zoe Saldana, Drax’s Dave Bautista, Nebula’s Karen Gillan, Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha, and newcomer Pom Klementieff as Mantis — who were soundly heckled by the villainous Ravagers.

Also new to the cast is Kurt Russell, who introduced a clip: The rioting Ravagers are busy unleashing chaos but decide not to smash Baby Groot. “He’s too adorable to kill,” Taserface says.

In another scene, Michael Rooker’s Yondu sports a new antenna-like orange Mohawk — and casually walks through the Ravagers’ lair demolishing them.

Rooker then took the stage in full blue makeup and metallic hairdo, demanding a chair and unleashing more fury on the cast, like a demented, deep-space Larry the Cable Guy.

Pratt said Star-Lord has evolved since the last movie. “Well, he’s famous now!” he said. “After saving so many people in the galaxy, we’re well known now. He’s a little bit more responsible and trying to stay out of trouble, but not doing the best job.”

Saldana got sarcastic when asked about her favorite part about reprising Gamora: “Waking up early to get four hours of green makeup.”

Gillan, whose last appearance at Comic-Con involved her pulling off a wig to reveal her shaved head, said she was allowed to keep her hair. “So I look like a female now, instead of a long baby,” she said.

Klementieff said Mantis originates in the care of Russell’s secret character before encountering the Guardians.

Bautista said Drax is still grappling with idioms and metaphors. “There’s not much of a time gap between the movies, so he’s, if anything, more confused.”

The Guardians presentation ended with a new video clip, featuring the galactic teammates working on a Disneyland California Adventure theme park attraction called Mission: Breakout, coming in 2017. Feige said that Benicio De Toro will also return as The Collector for the ride.

At the end, Pratt coaxed the audience into cheering for another clip from the movie — a trailer-like teaser that features Rocket Raccoon insulting galactic beings, the team bickering, and then Sylvester Stallone!

Finally, a giant space pod floats to the ground, with Russell walking out. “Who the hell are you?”

“I thought my good looks would make it obvious,” Russell says. “My name is Ego. And I’m your dad.”

Then the entire “Marvel family” posed for a group photo… and Feige introduced the newest member: Brie Larson as Captain Marvel!

And that’s a wrap from Marvel Studios for Comic-Con 2016.

Entertainment Weekly is on the scene at San Diego Comic-Con. Go inside with all our coverage, available here.

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