Comic-Con 2012: Feature Film Highlights

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Last year’s Comic-Con was a sensational, multi-sensory experience with endless presentations attended by stars such as Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Stewart, Collin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Henry Cavill, Kellan Lutz, Luke Evans, and many more.  Directors Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Francis Ford Coppola and Tarsem Singh were also in attendance, just to name a few.

This year Marvel, Warner Bros, Disney, Sony, Lionsgate, Legendary Pictures returned with some of the most anticipated movies in the next couple of years.  I had to forgo a guaranteed seat at the Marvel press conference at the Hilton Hotel to ensure that I would get into Hall H in time for some of the biggest movie panels.  It was worth the trade-off and the wait. On the TV side, CW, Fox, ABC and NBC brought out fresh new series for the upcoming fall season.  An article on fall TV previews is coming up.


Below are the feature film highlights: “Pacific Rim” (July 12, 2013)

In attendance: Director Guillermo del Toro, Ron Perlman, Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi.

When monstrous aliens (Kaiju) attack the earth, humans fight back with giant robots (Jaeger).  A robot’s mind is controlled by two pilots; one pilot controls the left hemisphere and the other right one.  When asked what would happen if it’s just one pilot only controlling the robot, Del Toro replied that this question would be fully answered in the movie.  He also mentioned that, when presented with a budget, one could get “crazy or lazy.”  He chose to get “crazy” and demanded “110%” from the cast and crew.  Hopefully, this translates into a quality story beyond a monsters vs. robots.

“Godzilla” (2014; release date unknown)

In attendance: Director Gareth Edwards

Not scheduled in the lineup, a “Godzilla” teaser sneaked ine.  The teaser shows a fearsome Godzilla rises amidst smokes and ruins, roars and looms over a destructed city.

“The Campaign Movie” (August 10, 2012)

In attendance: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis Another surprise preview, it was the most hilarious one.  This is a comedy of political rivals tangling with each other in a campaign. The audience was treated to one comedic scene after another,  A hysterical baby-punching moment in slow-motion was the highlight.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (December 14, 2012)

In attendance: Director Peter Jackson, co-writer Phillipa Boyans, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, and special guest Elijah Wood.

Warner Bros initiated the presentation by unexpectedly unfurling long side screens alongside the center screen with stunning images of majestic Middle Earth.

In this illustrious presentation, Jackson brought 12.5 minutes of behind-the-scenes reel of the last five days of production of the prequel to the “Lord of the Ring’s trilogy.  It showed interviews and clips of stars such as Luke Evans, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom doing their scenes.  There’s a mention about the difference between the way dwarves and elves move.  The appearance of Gollum on the screen brought on cheers from fans. The footage also showed the hobbit finding the magical One Ring in Gollum’s lair. Serkis talked about how he was supposed to be on location for two weeks but ended up being called for a year and a half.  Wood gushed that he was “blown away” by the footage.  In response to the question about the majority of the cast being male, Boyans mentioned that she wanted to add a “feminine energy” into the film while staying true to the J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, and that’s the reason that another female character was introduced (Evangeline Lily).

Jackson made sure that fans knew how much they’re appreciated as by proclaiming that this was, “a movie made by fans for fans.”   






“Superman: Man of Steel” (June 14, 2013)

In attedance: Director Zack Snyder, Henry Cavill “What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than society intended?  What if he aspired to be something greater?”  The narrator continues that Clark Kent needs to decide what kind of man he wants to grow up to be, because “good character or bad,” he’s going to “change the world.”

Synder introduced Cavill as the new Superman, along with the highly anticipated footage.  The screen opened with Clark Kent as a child wearing a homemade red cape.  A young Clark can also be seen lifting a drowning school bus.  Flashing back, a baby Clark floats in the air laying inside the pod of his spaceship.  Then a grown-up Superman readying to fight in front of a crushed vault door.  Later he gets handcuffed and escorted by security officers.   There’s a cool scene of Superman fast-flying through the skies leaving a sonic boom behind.  The sneak preview also showed co-stars Russell Crowe as Jor-El (Superman’s biological father) in a gray Krypton suit and a misty-eyed Amy Adams (Lois Lane) facing Superman.

Cavill was very humble and gracious for the fans’ support.  Responding to a fan’s question regarding the pressure of playing Superman, he said, “It’s a dream come true,” at the same time, he’s well-aware he’s wearing the ‘S’ (symbol) on his chest.  Speaking of the widely debated costume, the chain-mail costume with muted colors turns out great.  It looks better on the screen than when we first saw it from the initial vault-breaking promo photo put out by the studio months ago.

Synder thought of this Superman as the first one in his mind, and he and Cavill wanted to create something that would be relatable to the new generation.  He sidestepped the answer about whether or not General Zod would be the villain in the movie.

There was no clear answer either of whether this Superman would be part of a larger effort to launch the “Justice League” (DC’s superhero ensemble, like Marvel’s “The Avengers”), but Synder realized that Superman was the “crown jewel” (of the DC Comics) so he would like to get “his house in order” first. When coaxed by a fan about who would win in a battle between Superman and Christopher Nolan’s Batman, Snyder lightheartedly replied that he thought Batman was awesome, but, “Really?” (as in, no contest).

“Iron Man 3” (May 3, 2013)

In attendance: Marvel President Kevin Feige, Director Shane Black, Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle

The most fun panel of the day!  Downey (RDJ), always a crowd pleaser and real entertainer, had a lot to do with it.  Favreau was speaking as if he was going to show the trailer, all of sudden, rock-and-roll music blared and in walked RDJ! Wearing one of the Iron Man gloves with glowing light, he wowed fans by making a grand entrance like a rock star, through the isles of the audience.  Imagine the hyper-mania with 6,500 people suddenly leaping to their feet, standing atop their chairs, screaming and cheering wildly and flooding the scene with blitzes.  RDJ nearly brought down the house again when he took the stage, gleefully asking three questions, “How much do I love you?,” “How much do you love me?” and “How much do you want to see some footage?”

The footage rocked big time!  It began with a comical scene of Tony Stark (RDJ) trying to suit up in his new armored suit (with reverse color scheme; the majority being a whiter gold and specs of red).  Piece by piece, the suit flies as if on command, assembling and attaching itself to Tony’s body.  Then it’s nonstop action with Tony and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) looking on through their glassy, clifftop mansion, as it gets hit by missiles and crumbles into the sea below.  The closing scene reveals Kingsley in his ornate getup as the villain, the Mandarin.

While Favreau (director of the first two movies) no longer directs this installment, there’s no bad blood between him and Black (current director).  He demonstrated his support by attending the panel, and even made a returned cameo as Tony’s bodyguard in the upcoming movie.  Favreau gave a tongue-in-cheek tip to Black that the key to gain more Comic-Con love was to play the preview twice.  Of course, he followed the advice and received thumbs up from fans.

At the start of the panel, cut scenes from the individual superhero movies (“Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Thor,” “Captain America“) were rolling.  The opening ended with “The Avengers,” capped with “Thank you for making ‘The Avengers’ the biggest superhero movie of all time!” before fading into black. The sheer frenzy continued with the reveal of the projects-in-progress and new titles.  “Iron Man 3” (May 3, 2013), “Thor 2: The Dark World” (November 8, 2013), “Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier” (April 4, 2014), “Guardians of the Galaxy” (August 1, 2014).

Another surprise move was director Edgar Wright stopping by for a quick Q&A, as well as rolling out test footage of “Ant Man.” While this panel was billed as the “Iron Man 3” (currently still filming in Wilmington, North Carolina) panel, it’s a Marvel celebration.  It’s obvious that Marvel recognized the power of its fanbase in the last five years.  It’s the perfect panel to end the day. The films lineup also includes trailer park, featuring trailers of “Frankenweenie,” “Dredd,” “Finding Nemo” (in 3-D), “Resident Evil: Retribution.”

Other notable presentations from the previous days include futuristic thrillers “Total Recall” and “Looper.”  Click on the links for highlights and photos from 2011 Comic-Con for “Total Recall” (attended by director Len Wiseman, Collin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel) and 2012 WonderCon for “Looper” (attended by Joseph Gordon-Levitt).


Experiencing the biggest pop culture phenomenon in the world didn’t stop with the panels. Let’s not forget the exhibitions!  The halls were brimming with crowds, filled with excitement and energy.  Displays include Total Recall’s avant-garde vehicle and robotic soldier, The Dark Knight (Batman) tumbler and batcycle , Iron Man’s new armored suit, Man of Steel’s (Superman) costume, James Bond’s cars, the Hobbit’s colossal trolls, the Hulk, Optimus Prime (Transformers), life-like figurines of the Avengers, and hundreds of props and models.        










Outside, downtown San Diego was transformed, Comic-Con style.  The Grimm’s foggy forest, Revolution’s plant-covered car and ferris wheel, spaceship landing near the Hard Rock Cafe, and downtown skyscrapers draped with giant banners.






And that’s a wrap.  2013 can’t come soon enough!

Photos by Nathalia Aryani.

Copyright (c) 2012. Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, travel/lifestyle writer and film columnist. She can be reached at Nathalia owns a movies blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter:

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].

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