Warner Bros. brought a roster of superheroes and a little magic to its Hall H panel Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con, kicking things off with the DC Films universe and casting a spell with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
The panel, moderated by Conan O’Brien (“I had to sleep in line and I’m moderating this thing,” he joked), began with directors David Ayer (Suicide Squad), Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman), Zack Snyder (Justice League), Rick Famuyiwa (The Flash), and James Wan (Aquaman). But then, they were joined on stage by none other than Ben Affleck, the actor who most recently brought the Caped Crusader to the big screen in Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Affleck is directing and starring in a standalone Batman film, it was officially announced after months of rumors that he was working on the project.
“It’s really inspiring. It’s like taking on a great play. It’s been reinvented so many times, it’s terrifying but it’s exciting,” Affleck said. No release date was confirmed, but the Batman logo was slotted between standalone films for The Flash (2018) and Cyborg (2020).
Wan said of Aquaman, “This was the opportunity to explore this universe, and bring a bit of my horror element into this deep sea, the scary world.” Famiyuwu also told the crowd this was his first time at Comic-Con: “I had to pull out my Flash underoos from back in the day.”
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The panel also brought the first trailer for Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot as the titular hero. She was moved after seeing the trailer. “I’m shaking. I’m out of control. I’m dancing samba from within,” Gadot said.
Jenkins said the time is right for a female superhero generally, and Wonder Woman specifically, saying that the world needs more forgiveness, and that we need superheroes who are capable of being kind and loving.
“Be a hero, but be a beautiful, loving, kind person who’s fighting for the right thing always,” she said.
Chris Pine also revealed more about his role as Steve Trevor, a man who has witnessed the darkest parts of humanity, but finds hope when he meets Gadot’s Diana Prince.
“Diana Prince is a newbie to the world of men and had great humanity,” he said. “Steve Trevor lives in the heart of darkness of men. Between the hopeful and the hopeless state they learn about each other.”
During audience questions, more tidbits about the film were revealed, including that the Invisible Jet won’t feature in the movie — partly because it’s too early in DC’s history to create the jet that fans want, Jenkins said.
Following Wonder Woman’s presentation, Snyder returned to the stage to introduce the cast of Justice League, including Affleck, Gadot, Ezra Miller (who came dressed as Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings), Jason Momoa, Henry Cavill, and Ray Fisher. The group then showed the crowd a Justice League teaser, which got a standing ovation. The footage didn’t feature Cavill’s Superman, though Snyder confirmed the Man of Steel will be back for the film.
Justice League was followed by Suicide Squad, with Ayer bringing the full cast on stage. The film, due in theaters Aug. 5, unites a team of DC villains who are recruited to do dirty work — for the good guys.
Will Smith, who plays Deadshot, said that Ayer stressed the film isn’t about good vs. evil; it’s about bad vs. evil. The actor, who also briefly demonstrated his beat-boxing skills, spoke about his children’s reaction to the role, saying Suicide Squad is the first of his movies that Jaden and Willow are excited about.
Margot Robbie, who plays Harley Quinn, talked about the extreme physical demands of the role, including learning to hold her breath underwater for five minutes. She added of the film’s stunts, “Whatever anyone did him this film, I did in a pair of heels.” Smith also recounted the story of the infamous gift Jared Leto, who plays the Joker, sent Robbie: A box containing a dead rat.
“I was playing Deadshot,” Smith said, “But if I had pearls on, I would have clutched them.”
Speaking of Leto, Ayer had high praise for the actor who plays the Joker. “Besides just nailing the role, he’s the guy who galvanized the cast,” the director said. “He’s the hammer that made the sword sharp.”
Next up was LEGO Batman, which sees Will Arnett reprise the role from 2014’s The LEGO Movie. A video clip recreating the Hall H stage (and moderator Conan O’Brien) completely with LEGO also introduced Barbara Gordon (a.k.a. Batgirl) — “My platonic bat-friend, by night, wink wink,” LEGO Batman said — and showed footage of LEGO Joker and LEGO Robin, the latter of whom calls LEGO Batman “dad.” A new trailer was also shown to the crowd.
Following LEGO Batman was Kong: Skull Island, with director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and stars John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Brie Larson, and Tom Hiddleston. Hall H was treated to the film’s first trailer, which culminated with the reveal of the eponymous ape.
The film is set in the 1970s because it felt to Vogt-Roberts like a time when the world still held some mysteries, he said.
Kong: Skull Island filmed on location in the jungles of Vietnam — a fact that fueled the cast’s performances, Mitchell said, but also led to some intense shooting conditions. Goodman also joked about acting alongside Kong himself. “I heard a lot about Kong over the years. I didn’t know which Kong would show up. He was one of those guys who would stay in his trailer. I had to call him Kong, or Mr. Kong. I couldn’t call him by his real name, Leo,” Goodman said. “But when the chips are down, he’s one hell of a performer. He’s earned the right over the years to be a little cranky. He was never drunk on set. But he turned out to be a good guy. He just won’t do press. He’s earned that right.”
Goodman kept the laughs coming later in the panel, joking that he likes to watch Roseanne and say the lines before his character does.
After Kong, another king took the stage: Charlie Hunnam, who plays the titular character in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. The actor debuted a new trailer from the Guy Ritchie-directed film.
Hunnam teased the film’s magical realism (earlier Saturday, he told EW the film is a cross between Lord of the Rings and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), and extensive world creation.
The panel concluded with a presentation for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the upcoming spin-off of the massively popular Harry Potter franchise, starring Eddie Redmayne as magizoologist Newt Scamander.
Director David Yates took the stage, along with Redmayne. To the delight of the magic-loving Muggles — er, No-Majes — in Hall H, Yates proceed to hand out wands to the audience. After everybody got one, Redmayne proceeded to lead the crowd in casting a spell (“Lumos Maxima!”).
Then, stars Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller and Colin Farrell joined Yates and Redmayne on stage. The director went on to tease the various fantastic beasts featured in the film, including one that can change its size and another that can sniff out treasure.
Dan Fogler, who plays Jacob Kowalski, a No-Maj factory worker, says he isn’t unhappy about playing a non-magical character. “Han Solo wasn’t a Jedi,” he told Hall H.
And the panel capped off with a new trailer for the latest film from J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world, which you can see below.
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