With the San Diego Comic Con 2014 having now come to a close, Dru and Dave give their thoughts on the news to spill out from the massive annual event.
DAVE: Boy, Mad Max: Fury Road looks fantastic!
Oh wait, we are supposed to be talking about the comic book cinema news which came out of SDCC, aren’t we? Well, I would be happy to if it felt like Marvel, Warner Brothers and others had really delivered anything worth talking about this year. While I am sure the Con attendees had a blast, and the footage screened at the various panels was interesting, from a news perspective the whole event feels underwhelming. We had confirmations of things we’ve already heard about, a few minor revelations, but nothing of much substance. No major casting announcements, no surprise films in development, no damage control Fantastic Four panel and—despite various rumours—no major Justice League news.
What about you Dru? Were you surprised at all with what information did (and did not) come out of San Diego this year?
DRU: Yeah, I guess I was. At the very least I was expecting Marvel Studios to announce at least a few films to go with the release dates they started squatting on last week, and for Warner to officially announce whether their rumoured film slate is the legit or not. And wasn’t The Rock dropping hints about Shazam? No announcement there either! It’s all very strange, and perhaps speaks to the fact that while Hall H is a good place to sell a movie to people that are already in the bag, it’s a terrible place to sell movies to the general public, and studios are getting wise to that fact and not trying so hard. (Case in point: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World‘s box office failure.)
While announcements were few and far between, some significant reveals were made: most notably, of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman (which didn’t take long to find its way online) and of footage from Avengers: Age of Ultron. The former looks great, the latter sounds pretty good (though the footage descriptions all suggest that Ultron basically crashes an Avengers party with a giant record scratch, which sounds really terrible and awkward, though I’m sure it plays better as directed by Joss Whedon than as imagined in my head). We got another look at Ben Affleck as Batman—still dour—and the reveal of a thirty-second teaser for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that more or less confirms that Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is the reference guide for Snyder’s characterization of Batman, armoured suit and all. It all sounds cool, but none of it sounds worth the Hall H queue and likely sunburn.
Beyond that, The CW screened the pilots for The Flash and Constantine—both of which have already leaked online—and Fox screened Gotham, which airs in a few months. Marvel showed a bit of Ant-Man footage that sounds fairly underwhelming—at least compared to the test footage that Edgar Wright screened in the past—and announced Guardians of the Galaxy 2, surprising no one. A couple of scenes from Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, both of which are coming out within weeks, round out what happened in Hall H in the comic book movie world.
I’m probably most disappointed by the lack of Marvel announcements—tell me one of those dates is for Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, or She-Hulk!—and Fantastic Four footage. I’d love to get a look—ahem, a description of someone else’s look—at the designs they’re working with on Josh Trank’s reboot. How about you, Dave? In what specific ways did SDCC leave you wanting?
DAVE: If I had to guess, my bet is that Marvel was suffering from some bad timing this year. If Dr. Strange (or anyone else) had been cast, I can not see Marvel passing up the chance to announce it at Hall H, so chances are new casting choices haven’t been finalized. Likewise, Ant-Man doesn’t start shooting for a few weeks, so really the best Marvel could hope for was having its stars on hand for a brief meet and greet. Of course, 2015 is also the next D23 Expo, so I imagine most of Marvel’s next round of major announcements will happen there (have to keep the corporate overlords happy!).
Hands down though, Warner Brothers’ lack of announcements about their DC Comics properties is what surprised me the most. It is no secret that Warner has been trying to set their plans in stone for how to combat Disney and Marvel’s superhero monopoly, and this Comic-Con seemed like it was the year they were going to get aggressive. They could have confirmed what their schedule is (though given how dubious their ability to meet the rumoured schedule is, it probably was a good idea not to commit to anything); they could have made some sort of development announcement about Justice League, or walked out Dwayne Johnson to charm the audience and confirm the Shazam! film being in the works. Hell, they could have even turned some heads their way by making some sort of really strange announcement, like an animated Kingdom Come film or a Wonder Twins movie. Instead they said nothing, a tactic which will just let the rumour mill run wild while continuing to craft the narrative that they have no real idea what they are doing. And given how mute Marvel was this year, I can only imagine Warner Brothers and DC are now looking at this Comic-Con as a lost opportunity.
To step away from the cinema side of things for a moment, another bizarre thing to me was just how limited DC Comics celebration plans for Batman’s 75th Anniversary have been and likely will continue to be. Aside from the confirmation of the release of the 1960s Batman series on disc (yes, I’ve pre-ordered), DC has made very little noise over the event. Beyond a retrospective panel at SDCC (which, from the sounds of it, wasn’t particularly interesting), what has there been at the convention? I figured a documentary, special event, or even a full-blown animated special might have been announced, but nothing. If this is what DC is doing for its biggest icon, just imagine how poorly Wonder Woman is going to be treated in 2016.
Still, there was some news to come out of SDCC we should talk about. So let’s start with the biggest one: the first photo of Gal Gadot in the full Wonder Woman costume. What are your thoughts Dru?
DRU: To be honest, it looks basically exactly as I thought it would, give to take a few inches on the thigh-high boots. I honestly have very little to say about it. I’m more interested in what Gadot’s performance will be like. Frankly, I think that the bigger announcement would have been something about the story of the film, but maybe they still haven’t quite nailed that down yet. (This is the kind of negative speculation that not bringing the goods to Comic-Con gets you, WB!).
DAVE: I’m pretty much in agreement. There was little doubt that visually Snyder would get Wonder Woman right (though I tend to agree with those saying she should have pants instead of the skirt), but whether the character actually seems like Wonder Woman in her behaviour is another question altogether. I guess we’ll have to wait until Comic-Con 2015 to see about that.
Beyond the Warner Brothers and Marvel “news,” the only other real snippets of information to come out of Comic-Con this year were the announcements that Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez do want to make Sin City 3 and that Guillermo del Toro and Legendary “will talk” about the possibility of maybe making Hellboy 3. The musings of Miller and Rodriguez strike me as wishful thinking which seem to ignore just how unlikely Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is to succeed in the crowded August market. Indeed, reading over the descriptions of the panel, it seems as if everyone is fawning over Miller like The Spirit never happened, a point which is perhaps indicative of the comforting bubble SDCC audiences can be in. As for Hellboy 3, I think we’re far more likely to see del Toro’s In the Mountains of Madness than another Hellboy adventure, but if anyone can prove me wrong, del Toro is the one.
So, when all in said and done Dru, what are your final thoughts on SDCC 2014?
DAVE: Yeah, that about sums it up for me as well.