On Saturday, Marvel held their annual nerd rock concert in Hall H and totally buried Warner Brothers/DC’s announcement that the Man of Steel sequel will be a Superman/Batman match-up. That got a lot of screams earlier in the day but by the end of the night, all anyone was talking about was Marvel’s upcoming films, especially Guardians of the Galaxy.
In the tradition of RDJ and Andrew Garfield before him, Tom Hiddleston appeared in full Loki drag to rile up the crowd and introduce the Thor: The Dark World sizzle reel. I can feel you being annoyed by his snarling enthusiasm, but 1) this is exactly when Hiddles should be enthusiastic and 2) given that Thor 2 had no panel, they needed to do something to give people a talking point. That’s right—Thor 2 had no panel. That’s curious isn’t it? Chris Hemsworth was conspicuously absent from the team appearance at the Oscars and now he skips-Comic Con. It does make one wonder.
Anyway, the Thor 2 footage was tight. Very action heavy—including a sequence in which Loki appears to cut off Thor’s hand—and taking place pretty much entirely on Asgard. Thor was the weakest link in Phase One but Thor 2 looks pretty awesome, less like a comic book movie and more like a flat out fantasy film.
After that the cast of Captain America: The Winter Soldier was introduced for a brief panel in which no one said anything interesting. Anthony Mackie tried to have a personality, but nobody else did. This was a boring panel that did nothing except make me think the cast might actually hate each other, there was so little friendly interaction between them. Or interaction of any kind, really.
So it’s a good thing their footage was f*cking sweet. The highlights were Captain America beating some SHIELD agent ass in an elevator and the reveal of Sebastian Stan as the Winter Soldier, who looks every inch as badass as I expected. There was also a glimpse of Mackie as the Falcon and Robert Redford as some kind of honcho, though there was no look at Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter.
After Cap 2 cleared the stage, Marvel boss Kevin Feige introduced director James Gunn and the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy which was a big surprise. The GoG panel was engaged, joking with each other and actually enjoying themselves. Chris Pratt was especially funny, riffing his answers and generally seeming like the heir of RDJ in the Marvel pantheon. And the footage? BANANAS. Pratt gets arrested and ends up in a line-up with the others that will become the Guardians, and it’s genuinely funny and nutty. It’s basically “Marvel does Spaceballs”.
And then, right at the end of the panel, out came Joss Whedon, who kept it short, unveiling the official title for The Avengers: Age of Ultron. This got a HUGE reaction as the crowd immediately knew what Whedon was talking about, but for those of you who don’t, here’s a primer. Age of Ultron is a very recent comic series and is some dark sh*t. Ultron is a robot-entity that wastes Earth, plus there’s time travel. The comics rely heavily on characters that will not be available for the film, like Wolverine and Spider-Man, so Whedon is at liberty to take a pass at rewriting the story. It’s a Hawkeye-heavy plot, which ought to satisfy Jeremy Renner, but you know who is not in the original story?
The takeaway from Marvel’s panel is that where Phase One worked to establish a cohesive film universe, Phase Two is branching out into genres. Iron Man 3 was an action comedy, Thor 2 is a fantasy film, Cap 2 is a political thriller, GoG is Marvel spoofing itself, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron will be a giant mashup of awesome and badass.