Moviecon Marvel Presentation Report

Thursday, December 09, 2010 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

Thor, Captain America and Marvel's slateWith the news that the official Thor trailer will be online shortly I thought I would throw out some thought on Thor, Captain America, The Avengers and Marvel’s upcoming slate.

These are based on my thoughts after Marvel's presentation at Empire's Moviecon back in August.

Marvel Presentation
Traditionally I arrive a little late for Moviecon Day 2 (Saturday) and usually miss what turns out to be one of the highlights of Movie-Con. This year was no different and as Marvel kicked off their presentation - which started with a short teaser trailer for Captain America: The First Avenger and discussion I was still on my way to Movie-Con.

While the Movie-Con audience were watching the German forces storming a castle circa World War II, and Hugo Weaving before turning into the Red Skull I was on the train into Waterloo.

I’m not too upset to honest as the tone and feel of Captain America: The First Avenger is still a surprise for me and I’m still looking forward to that undiscovered country. Well, at least until the 12 trailers are plastered all over the net anyway.

Marvel Producer Kevin Feige went on to clarify that Captain America would be set entirely during World War II. Which was interesting as I had thought it would be a film of two parts the first half set during WWII and the second half when Cap is unfrozen in contemporary times. So I’m guessing that unless The Avengers is set in the 40s Captain America is going to end with him in some cold water.

Captain America: The First Avenger is scheduled for release on 22 July 2011 in the UK

As I made my way into the BFI as the 3D trailer for Thor had started so thankfully got to see the entire beautiful piece in glorious 3D. This was the same trailer that debuted at SDCC and has been popping up on the net before being shut down every now and then.

The trailer shows the world of Asgard, Thor in conflict with his father Odin, Thor being banished to earth and slowly coming to terms and finding his place on Earth.

In the meantime complications then arise when Loki his evil brother rises up to replace Odin. We end with the The Destroyer surrounded by law enforcement including S.H.I.E.L.D Agent Phil Coulson and being misidentified as possibly one of Tony Starke’s [Iron Men] before activating and all hell breaking loose.

I was ecstatic. Well almost ecstatic. The trailer looked pretty damn fine and I have to say the 3D was great. But I was immediately struck that any of the Thor scenes could have literally been footage cut from one of the Iron Man films. The character dynamics had a very similar feel and tone to Iron Man. Bear in mind that this may be a little premature as this is early footage and the film is still in post production.

Now I know Marvel have put a lot of effort into making sure that Thor’s magical universe fits into Iron Man’s world of science culminating in the seamless integration of the characters into The Avengers. And this is no doubt part of a very well thought out strategy. But I was hoping to see Thor (the god of thunder) stamp his considerable authority all over the Marvel Universe and get a real feel for his awesomeness.

I used to read Thor the comic up until around 1986 issue #363. Don’t get me wrong Thor had his place in my childhood but when ever I got a new pile of comics Thor was somewhere near the bottom of the pile and issues went unread for a couple of months at a time.

Growing up immersed in the mythology of Roman, Greek and Norse Gods I could never really align the gods of old with the modern day comic versions, they always seemed less than they should be. I’m in no way underestimating the task of bringing the world of yore and trying to update it to a credible contemporary world.
Nevertheless I always had a soft spot for the tragic story of a banished son of a god, who was to earn passage of rights through his alter identity as a cripple Doctor. I think the biggest issue I had with the Thor was that he was a mighty god but every month he was tripped up by some regular douche or other, I also struggled with the magic elements of the story and it seemed the plight of Dr. Donald Blake (Thor’s alter ego) and that of the mysterious Dr. Strange (TM) seemed too similar.
[Flashback ends]

After the teaser trailer Marvel Producer Kevin Feige, Director Kenneth Branagh and Loki actor Tom Hiddleston took the stage and held a QA about Thor.

Kevin Feige went onto confirm that Thor would not have an alter ego. As they did not want two actors to play the part of Thor, presumably that would have been the only way his alter ego could have existed with any credibility. So it seems that the new Thor along with Iron Man and presumably Captain America and The Avengers are to be extensions of The Ultimates universe - Marvel’s reinvention of many of their characters in the 2000s. I always hoped that The Ultimates were Marvel’s way of moving their characters away from their “un-filmable” roots to a more modern world. The stories were presented in a very cinematic way and this was after all where we were introduced to a Samuel L. Jackson look alike as Colonel Nick Fury.

In the Ultimates Thor is not initially believed to be a god, but a delusional eco warrior of sorts. Eventually his mighty powers convince the world otherwise.

Kenneth Branagh went on to say that although the 3D was a conversion all the CGI bits were created in 3D.

Curious to know their thoughts on the similarities to Iron Man I asked the dreaded question: “With the overwhelming success of Iron Man, will that become a template for further Marvel films, or will Thor be darker or have more pathos?”

The gist of it is I felt that the early footage we saw screamed - it worked for Iron Man so we are going to do it again. After the many previous failures Marvel and Jon Favreau created something fresh, clever and special with enough anchors to keep it grounded within the Marvel Universe.

Too be honest I was hoping Kenneth Branagh to pick up the mic. and smack me down with a “Iron Man was good. But forget about Iron Man that’s yesterday’s news. Thor is my story and it’s going to be full of Hamlet or Richard III like darkness and it’s going to a dark place where few have successfully trodden, That’s why Marvel asked me to get involved. I am the foremost Director of this type of film and will bring an overwhelming amount of credibility to Thor’s story.” cue the audience cheering, standing and ovating (not a real word).

Instead Branagh passed it over to Feige. My question of course touching on future Marvel franchises and Feige has a wider and broader sight of the Marvel Universe.

From the Empire Blog this is pretty much verbatim what Feige said “The larger Marvel thing is that we're not going to put every one in a mould. That's a classic Hollywood mistake, where you hit something and try to make everything else like that. But Thor's a very different character”. Wow! Sounds like he had the right answer on every level, lined up to that question.

Branagh continued with something to the effect that the film was customised to the demands of the story and once you have a cast new dynamics come into play that can be incorporated.

Hiddleston jumped in with “Also, doesn't Tony Stark live in Malibu? Thor lives in ASGARD!”

For some reason and I’m not sure why - I wasn’t convinced it all felt a little bit like Stephen J Cannell

saying this episode of the A-Team is different because “it takes place in Texas and they build a boat not a car”. But everyone knows that at exactly 10-15 minutes before the end of the episode (check if you don’t believe me) the A-Team would be in a montage of them building the contraption of the week leading into the finale.

A couple of day later and after some thought After some thought I was looking at this differently this is Marvel, they did make Iron Man by all accounts a great Super Hero film and Kenneth Branagh is no slouch. Hiddleston may have speaking from a stand point of being immersed in the Thor and Asgard world for awhile and already perceiving it as more awesome, bigger and better than “Malibu” whilst we have only seen selected bits from footage so far.

The best bit of the QA session was when Hiddleston revealed how he was cast as Loki. Branagh and Hiddleston were both working on Chekov’s play Ivanov at the Wyndham Theatre when it was announced that Branagh was going to direct Thor. And no doubt Hiddleston had to jump over the casting hurdles etc. before he got the part but I think it’s really cool that Branagh saw something in him and took him with onto the really BIG screen.

Thor is currently scheduled for a UK release in May 2011

The Avengers
After the QA Session Kevin Feige had one last surprise when he (& via voice over Samuel L. Jackson or rather Colonel Fury) revealed the logo from the forthcoming Avengers film. This had been unveiled at Comic Con a little while ago but it was still great to see it in all it’s big screen glory.

Apparently Joss Whedon then delivered a short talk via video about The Avengers. Of which I have absolutely no recollection of this what so ever. Possibly because anything Whedon is involved in is mediocre at best, I’ve maybe watched a couple of episodes of stuff he’s done apart from every lame episode of Serenity - because someone I know said that Fillion’s character was very reminiscent of Han Solo.

This also means that he is largely an unknown quantity for me so anything could happen with The Avengers, hopefully Whedon won’t make The Avengers for the under 14 market (that his other stuff is aimed at).

Marvel are also developing the following titles for the big screen:

Luke Cage
Untitled Spider-Man Reboot
Doctor Strange
Nick Fury
Iron Fist

The Avengers is currently scheduled for a UK release on the 4 May 2012