Reporting From The Floor of Comic-Con 2017
Article by Justin T. Bowler & Paul Preston
PP: The 5 Freeway from Los Angeles to San Diego is always a good drive. Portions of it give you a great beach view, and as soon as you see the tabernacle I like to call “Galaga Church”, you know you’re close to your destination.
JB: The most interesting thing about Galaga Church is that sometimes when you drive by, there’s only one tower. Other landmarks include the San Onofre Power Plant, which give you a hint of the racier things to come.
JB: Getting to Comic-Con by itself is an amazing feat (tickets sell out instantly), and it is jam-packed with passes from industry professionals. The absolute Holy Grail of Comic-Con, as long as we are not referring to parties, is getting into Hall H on Saturday.
PP: Getting into Hall H on Saturday is the modern-day equivalent of Led Zeppelin backstage passes. Bring lip balm, ’cause you’ll be doling out a lot of hummers to get inside. Conversely, on Thursday you can walk right in, which is exactly what I did, and Thursday pretty much delivers the goods. With Warners and Marvel permanently ensconced in the Sat. schedule, on Thursday, you often get 20th Century Fox, DreamWorks, Lionsgate and more with no shortage of cool projects.
PP: Hall H launched with Fox’s presentation of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, a panel that had everything you want – tons of footage (the first ten minutes of the movie are action city, and the other scenes they showed bring the sense of humor and tendency towards the bizarre that the first film reveled in), big stars (Colin Firth, Jeff Bridges, Taron Egerton, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry and Pedro Pascal with writer Jane Goldman and artist Dave Gibbons, who worked on the source material) and a classic moment – Halle Berry chugging a PINT of whiskey (The Kingsman’s American counterparts, The Statesman, use a whiskey plant as a front for their organization). There was even a Kingsman bar (they took over one at The Hard Rock Hotel) where they served up free whiskey and PoppyBurgers (oh, they’re made of human…the clips explained…)
JB: The actual humans used for the burgers were faux comic fans who thought Brie Larson was going to play Shazam.
PP: With Disney sporting their own Con and Universal and Paramount nowhere in sight, this allowed Netflix to hit the ground running as a big-time player, bringing two films to Hall H – Death Note and Bright.
PP: Terry Crews was guest moderator, who brought the energy, but his MC skills need polishing (questions like “Uh, what was it like, you know, being in the movie?” aren’t that much of an exaggeration of his interview style). Director Adam Wingard showed clips from his horror film Death Note, but they were upstaged by the bizarre behavior of his cast members, Keith Stanfield and Margaret Qualley. Qualley didn’t seem to know she was in front of an audience or understand that she was in a movie and Stanfield seemed to get a charge out of being weird for weird’s sake, leaving an already under-prepared Terry Crews flailing. Young actors piss me off.
JB: The last time a group of young actors were allowed into Hall H, it was for Twilight. None of them have ever been back.
PP: Bright fared much better, as director David Ayer showered Hall H with cool footage from his action film that looks like Training Day meets Alien Nation. He also showered Hall H with F-bombs, but such is Ayer. The above pics show how high-end this sci-fi action film has cast itself, landing the talents of Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace and Edgar Ramirez to join Will Smith, who knows how to talk to and fire up a Hall H crowd – young Death Note punks, take note.
PP: Elsewhere in panels, there was a great one with the VFX team behind War For The Planet of the Apes. They examined and broke down the opening hilltop battle sequence and the steps from location scouting and previz to final layers of effects that go into making the film happen. If you’re not really, really, really impressed by these movies, you should be.
JB: And if your not really really pissed off at young actors, you are probably one of them.
PP: And lest you forget, Comic-Con is also about COMICS, so I took in a conversation with the great Frank Miller (center,
The Dark Knight Returns, Give Me Liberty, Ronin) because that felt like a rare opportunity. His take on Batman and the mugging that inspired him to go dark with the character were fascinating stories. He was dry and funny and you get why he’s a legend.
JB: Also, if you ask him about female anatomy, you will soon realize he thinks female nipples are a rumor, thus the reason he only draws them from time to time.
PP: Off-site, the Con sprawls throughout the bars, restaurants, theaters and more in downtown San Diego. As I’ve said before in these Comic-Con recaps, when you choose to do one awesome thing, you’re missing a minimum of thirty other things going on at the same time. Two off-site events I attended included a podcast taping of the Half Hour Happy Hour with hosts Alison Haislip and Alex Albrecht. Their special guest was friend of The Movie Guys, Ross Marquand, whose character is STILL ALIVE on The Walking Dead, and he promised big-time action on the show’s upcoming season.
PP: SyFy set up a Geek Love Chapel next to The Gaslamp Strip Club (the greatest steak joint in the lower half of California, where we held court Friday night). At the chapel, actor/comedian Orlando Jones (American Gods), an ordained minister for The Universal Life Church, married people (or renewed vows) on Thu., Fri. & Sat. One wedding on Sat. had The Boobé Sisters, featuring The Movie Guys’ own Karen Volpe, singing a heartfelt version of Queen’s “Somebody to Love”.
PP: And Justin, did you know there is a whole film festival going on during the Con? You could just go to Comic-Con and see nothing but movies the whole time you’re there if you’re fed up with the lines! The Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival offers up over sixty short films to see, like It Began Without Warning, a short I took in Friday night, from the badass team you see above (actress Leslie Gladney, actor Thomas R. Martin, director Santiago C. Tapia and actress Jenna C. Johnson). Review forthcoming, but it was a horror short that skillfully handled a lot going on in six minutes and change. Plus, there are just CONSTANT movies showing all day into the night that include new films like Logan and Kong: Skull Island to classics like The Princess Bride and John Carpenter’s The Thing. Now that I know this, I demand Comic-Con be a week long.
JB: I completely agree, Comic-Con should be extended just for this fact alone. I’ve had many friends in the festival, and their films were fantastic, but sadly, most people don’t even know about the festival, let alone, journey over to the Marriott screening room to see original entries.
PP: PLUS, you can attend loads of panels to help you as a content creator yourself, that focus on everything from getting into the stunt industry to getting projects greenlit to microbudget filmmaking. The above pic features (on the far left) friend of The Movie Guys Mike J. Nichols as part of a how-to panel for making documentaries, spearheaded by Edward Doty (Fighting in Plain Sight). But Justin, we should really get to your passion, and that’s eyeballing all the cosplayers.
JB: Cosplay is King at Comic-Con. It gives an opportunity to those of us who enjoy embodying our favorite heroes, or, those of us that are fame mongers, the opportunity to be bombarded by people who want to take our picture. It is fame in the smallest of ways (but not as small as writing for a movie website).
PP: Just for that, I’m not sharing the hit count of this article with you.
JB: Here, a young man has gone to great lengths to become the demigod Maui from Moana. In addition, if you look over Maui’s right shoulder, you can see actor Shannon McClung photo bombing. Mark my words Mr. McClung, there is no photo bombing a demigod.
PP: I got a picture of that dude!:
PP: I imagine Moanas were stopping him all day for a pic.
JB: Here, we have gone from demigod to Demogorgon.
JB: There are always plenty of photo ops on the convention floor. So if you wish to get a photo of really making the Hulk angry, you can.
PP: Hulk smash paparazzi!
JB: Comic-Con is proudly for nerds, geeks, and pop culture fans of all demographics. For example, let’s say you have $2500 to blow on a watch, themed like Star Wars, specifically like Boba Fett, then here you can find one.
PP: How many did you buy?
JB: ONLY three.
JB: Comic-Con is also the place for unveiling actual props for movies. This is the Batmobile used in Justice League.
PP: I walked into that booth and they fired up trivia about the Batmobile. They asked how much it weighed. Of course, I had no idea. Then, I remembered…I’ve been hosting auto shows for two years, I clearly could make an educated guess – 8500 lbs.! Nailed it, to the pound, and won a handful of Justice League Action figures:
PP: Friend and former guest of The Movie Guys, Jason J. Lewis (above, far right), voices Superman on Justice League Action, a panel about which I attended that same day. I essentially won Jason.
JB: He’s so small he can fit in your pocket.
PP: Everybody should’ve walked with one.
JB: Some people don’t cosplay, they actually build Lego statues of their favorite heroes.
PP: Which has to be harder than just throwing on a robe if you’re a white guy with a beard:
JB: Kick ass cosplay of Star-Lord and Gamora.
JB: This is one of my personal favorite cosplays ever. I am a huge fan of the video game Red Dead Redemption. This is Marsden.
PP: As ever, my favorite cosplayers every year are these dudes out in front of the convention center. Always have to get a pic with them. They love it. And when other cosplayers get involved, the references run deep:
JB: This was one of the most unique cosplays that I saw: Justice for Barb! If you don’t know what this is in reference to, you may not enjoy Comic-Con (and you may end up as a PoppyBurger).
JB: How often do you get to see Gandolf the Grey with Deadpool?
JB: Also on display at Comic-Con are, typically, costumes from movies. This is an up-close look at Aquaman in Justice League.
JB: Batman. If you ask me, that cup looks awfully small. Sorry Ben Affleck.
PP: I was Batman briefly, thanks to the power of the .gif:
JB: This is for you Breaking Bad fans.
JB: This is a pretty clever version of the early days of Spider-Man.
PP: I love that it’s become such lore of Comic-Con now that celebrities will wander the show floor in masked outfits so they can enjoy it without being bombarded by fans. So, this could actually be Tom Holland.
JB: T. Rex Batman… Because why not?
PP: I’ll tell you why not. TOO SOON! Two doofuses dressed in T. Rex outfits scored higher than my wife’s act on The Gong Show, mostly because Elizabeth Banks was a horrible judge, and perhaps a horrible person. Still bitter, so I need to quell my bitterness with this photo of Elizabeth Banks doing cosplay as a ficus tree in Power Rangers:
JB: A female Joker, and…? (I don’t know all of them…)
JB: Supergirl looks effing awesome!
PP: I’m a little surprised, Justin. Normally, your Comic-Con photo spread for TheMovieGuys.net is just pic after pic of Wonder Womans (women?).
JB: I’m trying to branch out.
PP: Well, I’ve got your back:
JB: Actor Shannon McClung apologized for photo bombing a picture with Maui, and bought me a beer.
JB: Comic-Con presents lots of unique opportunities to learn about upcoming shows. Here, you could actually pick an emotion for The Tick, coming soon to Amazon, then see what shape the antenna form.
JB: This Walking Dead T-shirt proudly displays “What Would Jesus Do”?
JB: Winter is coming.
PP: Is this Snow Miser? (I’m not up on GOT)
JB: If I was a woman, I would have one of each of these.
PP: Yeah? THAT’S what’s stopping you?
JB: Sometimes cosplays don’t make a lot of sense when you think about them. Here we have Beauty and The Beast, but it is Mystique and Nightcrawler from The X-Men. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, since they are related. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe it is supposed to be Beast as Beast?
JB: You could text in a favorite song, and the Westworld piano would play it for you. For example, you could hear “House of the Rising Sun”.
JB: What would happen if the Pink Ladies were in A Clockwork Orange?
PP: There’s so much more we didn’t get to – comedy clubs and rooftop parties, board games, that time I finally met a longtime Movie Guys fan from Monterey and more, but I think “What would happen if the Pink Ladies were in A Clockwork Orange?” is a perfectly appropriate place to wrap it up. Or is “Kid in a fez looks at life-size K2SO?” more appropriate?
PP: You decide. Until next year, Justin.
JB: I can promise you more cosplay, more panels, more exhibits, and next year, I am going to do something I have never done before. Any guesses Paul?
(…Paul & Justin’s yearly Comic-Con article will return in July, 2018)