Comic-Con 2009 Wrap-Up: The Best of the Con This Year!
by Alex Billington
July 29, 2009
As a final wrap-up of this year's Comic-Con, I wanted to quickly list off my favorite footage, presentations and experiences from San Diego. There are a few things I saw at the Con that I haven't even had time to talk about at all. So I thought I'd take this moment to talk about them and as much footage as I can. First things first, I didn't get into the Iron Man 2 panel, so it's not going to be on my list at all or mentioned anywhere - apologies for that. Secondly, I'm not a TV guy, so I only caught the movie panels and that's it. However, if you're a fan of Lost, you have to see this Bob Stencil video. With that said, let's get right into the thick of it!
Tron Legacy Viral
Hands down the greatest viral marketing stunt ever in Comic-Con history. Not only was it awesome to actually "play" through the viral (read our recap here), but the payoff was well worth it in the end. I skipped out on a chance to meet Peter Jackson in order to participate in this and I think it was the right decision, as this was so damn cool. I kept thinking to myself, this can't be all there is, but it just kept on going. I kept thinking that there's no way Flynn's Arcade was actually there - but it was! And beyond that, there was an actual lightcycle hidden inside a secret chamber behind the Tron arcade machine - so frickin' awesome!
This is viral marketing at its absolute finest. Not only was it great to be there and participate, but everyone around the world heard about it. And best of all, everyone who went into Flynn's Arcade (as it was open every night until Saturday) walked out with a viral t-shirt. One of the very best experiences of Comic-Con!
James Cameron's Avatar
Oddly, this didn't come out of Comic-Con with the most buzz (that was either Kick-Ass or Iron Man 2 or Tron), but I still think it blew away quite a few people. The reason being that, I think, our expectations were so high that it was almost impossible to surpass them. Here's the thing - it's a very tough world to get into. It took a few minutes for me to get comfortable with Pandora (the other planet where the entire movie takes place). And I have a feeling once I see this in the confines of an actual movie theater (and not in Hall H), I'll be even more amazed. But what we did get to see in roughly 24 minutes of footage was still mesmerizing.
One thing is for sure - the 3D in this will be the best part. It's almost shocking for me to say that, but I felt like James Cameron has finally used 3D in Avatar in a way that no other filmmaker has done before. And now I can't wait to see what the rest of the world thinks about Pandora on August 21st during "Avatar Day."
I'm a big fan of Mark Millar's comics that Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass movie is based off of, so I had high hopes, and this definitely lived up to them. I'm not the only one who thinks the Kick-Ass footage was one of the best surprises of Comic-Con. He showed a few scenes that weren't in the comics and another great scene where Nic Cage shoots the 12-year-old Chloe Moretz right in the chest with a pistol before taking her to get some ice cream. It looked like he had literally adapted the comic exactly as it was written on the page and gave it some great style and substance. Vaughn even got a standing ovation after the footage played.
District 9 Screening
Even more exciting than the actual panel with Peter Jackson on Friday was the super-secret screening of District 9 that Sony held on Thursday evening just before the Tron Legacy viral. This is what built the most buzz, not only because so many people were trying to get into the screening, but because it was actually just as great as everyone was hoping it would be! I didn't have a chance to write a full review yet (I let Andy write one instead), but I pretty much feel the same way about it as he does. It's a great movie that starts slowly but ramps up very quickly as time goes on - and it was incredible being one of the first audiences to see it.
This screening confirmed exactly what everyone was already expecting - that District 9 is one of the few must see movie's this August. And I think that Sony did the right thing screening this at Comic-Con!
Where The Wild Things Are
The Warner Brothers panel on Friday morning was overall a very well done presentation. The pacing was perfect and each movie had just enough time to get a Q&A in with the cast and feature some brand new footage. Where The Wild Things Are was one of the highlights of that panel. If you've been following the movie with us for over a year now, you've probably heard about all the troubles it had. Now that it's finally coming out, though, we got to see an extended look at what Spike Jonze's vision of this beloved book looks like, and it seems more heartwarming and exciting than I could've ever imagined - I can't wait for this!
Dan Trachtenberg and Jeff Cannata from the Totally Rad Show, who were both sitting right behind me the whole time, also fell in love with the footage of Where The Wild Things Are (they talk about it in their latest episode). I think this means we're all in for a very big treat on October 16th once this finally hits theaters.
Another highlight from the Warner Brothers panel was the first raw footage from Jonah Hex. This is being directed by a former Pixar animator named Jimmy Hayward. It's not that I don't trust this guy, it's just that he's going from directing an animated movie to a gritty, western action movie, so who knows if he would actually be able to handle it. Thankfully, the footage proved that he was the right guy for this, as it looks like a great mix of stylized action, western elements, and comic book characters. This is now one of my most anticipated movies coming up in the first half of 2010. I'm looking forward the first official trailer as well.
Disney's Patton Oswalt
Best panel moderator in, well, the history of Comic-Con, I guess. I love Jeff Walker and I think both Jordan Hoffman and Drew McWeeny did a good job moderating their panels this year, but no one compares to Patton Oswalt. Disney brought on Patton to moderate their two panels - one for their Live-Action 3D slate on Thursday and one for their Animated 3D slate on Friday. As a moderator, he had the perfect balance of fanboyish excitement and comedy, and not only kept the panels flowing smoothly but added some much-needed entertainment to the sometimes very dull discussions. I hope they bring him back next year!
Other write-ups from Comic-Con worth checking out include my video response to the A Nightmare Elm Street footage found on SlashFilm (I liked it a lot) and my thoughts on Richard Kelly's The Box. I'm also working on an article about Avatar, since there is a lot of weird buzz coming from Comic-Con, and I'm personally waiting until "Avatar Day" on August 21st to really talk about it. I also recorded a video with SlashFilm talking about District 9 as well - watch that here. Lastly, this article on FilmSchoolRejects nails perfectly what I think are the movies that came out of the Con with the biggest buzz. Until next year!