By Josh Rottenberg
Updated July 22, 2011 at 12:00 PM EDT
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

This year’s Comic-Con has been noteworthy in some ways for the number of high-profile geek-bait movies not showing off early footage: There’s been no Hobbit footage here. No Avengers footage. No Dark Knight Rises footage. No John Carter of Mars footage. But at its super-sized, two-and-a-half-hour panel in Hall H, Sony bucked the trend, trotting out an impressive array of talent and showcasing early looks at two of its 2012 summer tentpoles, its remake of the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi film Total Recall and its reboot of the web-slinging superhero franchise, The Amazing Spider-Man, along with the Ghost Rider sequel and the comedy 30 Minutes or Less.

Though the new Total Recall, which hews closer to the original Philip K. Dick story than the 1990 Paul Verhoeven movie, is only midway through shooting, director Len Wiseman gave the crowd a peek at an action scene featuring star Colin Farrell, who’s taking over Schwarzenegger’s role of Douglas Quaid. In the clip, McClane, a purveyor of “brain vacations,” played by a dyed-blonde John Cho, places Quaid in a virtual reality chair to implant some ostensibly pleasant memories in his brain. Before the procedure can begin, though, McClane suddenly stops and claims that Quaid is a spy. Within seconds, security forces storm into the room, guns blazing. Quaid insists he’s not a spy but just a nobody — and then proceeds to take out a half dozen soldiers in a flash while seeming completely surprised at his own badass fighting abilities. Though the clip was only a few minutes long and the digital effects were unfinished, the crowd, ever-hungry for fresh sneak peeks at Comic-Con, ate it up. And they also ate it up when Farrell — who was in attendance along with castmates Bryan Cranston, Jessica Biel, Cho, and Kate Beckinsale — offered this description of his character: “I play Douglas Quaid, who’s an Austrian ex-pat who rises to prominence in the world of bodybuilding and continues into a very successful career in film, only to find that to be a perfect foundation for a budding career in politics.”

As the Amazing Spider-Man presentation got underway, it seemed at first as if a rogue audience member was going to hijack the proceedings. A jittery, nervous-seeming guy in a cheap-looking, poorly fitting dime-store Spider-Man suit stepped up to a microphone, seemingly intent on bum-rushing the panel, only to take off his mask and reveal himself to be — tada! — the new Spider-Man himself, Andrew Garfield. Cue wild applause. Reading some prepared comments from a piece of paper in an excited, breathless rush, Garfield charmed the crowd with his abundant enthusiasm and humility. “I needed Spider-Man in my life as a kid and he gave me hope,” Garfield said, calling his appearance at Comic-Con “definitely the coolest moment of my life.” Cue a collective awwww.

After showing the recently released teaser for the movie — which looked far more impressive on a big screen in 3-D than it does on a computer screen — director Marc Webb, joined by stars Garfield, Emma Stone (who plays Gwen Stacy), and Rhys Ifans (who plays the villain, Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard), treated the crowd to several minutes of additional footage from the movie. We first saw Peter Parker as a sheepish but brilliant high schooler with a crush on Stone’s Gwen and some evident daddy issues. Then, to the strains of the Rolling Stone’s “Street Fighting Man,” we watched as he discovers his radioactive-spiderbite-spurred superpowers emerging in surprising and awkward ways (for example, blasting the entire tube of toothpaste out of the tube with a single squeeze and ripping off the bathroom faucet due to his Spidey strength). We saw glimpses of him working on his mechanical web shooters, taking out his first criminals, and facing off against a SWAT team. But one major component was missing from the footage: Where was the Lizard?

Finally, after a few more minutes of chitchat, Webb gave the crowd the first look at The Amazing Spider-Man‘s marquee baddie. We’re first introduced to Ifans as Dr. Curtis Connors, a herpatology researcher with a missing arm who is conducing experiments in cross-species genetic engineering — including, ill-advisedly, on himself. We see a montage of him growing back his lost arm, growing scales across his face and body, and thrilling at his newfound super-strength — and then we cut to, of all places, a girls bathroom, where two teenage girls are gossiping about a boy in one of the stalls. Suddenly, the water is sucked out of the toilet, the toilet begins to shake, the floor collapses, and the Lizard bursts out in all his creepy, seven-foot-tall Lizard-ness, pinning the girls up against the wall and slowly, menacingly extending his reptilian tongue at them. Paging Spider-Man to the girls bathroom!

For a video of fan reaction to the footage Sony presented from all four movies, check back later on

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