Live from Comic-Con: The Marvel Studios Panel!

One of the most anticipated presentations at the 2007 Comic-Con International, if not the most, was the Saturday afternoon Marvel Films panel where they’d reshow the footage from Jon Favreau’s Iron Man that was shown on Thursday, this time with Favreau joined by some of the cast, and to bring out the cast of Louis Letterier’s The Incredible Hulk for the first time anywhere.

Here are some of the highlights, which were updated live at the presentation. Although it’s done, Superhero Hype! will be doing interviews with Favreau and his cast which will be posted soon.

First up was The Incredible Hulk. Production started two weeks ago in Toronto so they had no footage, but they flew in just for the panel and will fly back immediately afterwards. Present were producer Gale Anne Hurd, Avi Arad, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, director Louis Letterier (who was there with a broken foot), Liv Tyler who plays Betty Ross, and the film’s Bruce Banner Edward Norton.

Kevin Feige said where this fits into movie mythology: “This is Part 1, the beginning of a whole new Hulk saga.”

Gale Ann Hurd: “We have a Hulk who’s not going to be three different sizes in this movie. I think everybody will be very happy about that.”

Edward Norton rewrote the screenplay and both he and Letterier talked about the influence of the “Hulk” TV show and the performance by Bill Bixby. Liv Tyler also said that she was a fan of the TV show because of the “humanity and what the man is going through.” She was drawn to the love story between Bruce and Betty.

After they showed a concept sketch of the direction they’re going for, which looked similar to the previous version but with longer, mussed-up hair, Edward Norton told everyone why he was interested in the project “I came into this and wrote the screenplay. I was a Marvel kid. I had subscriptions to a lot of Marvel comics. I loved the early incarnation of the Hulk and then the television show, and then in later years, where they took it in the Bruce Jones Return of the Monster series. I always felt like it was like one of those great contemporary myths. Comes right out of the tradition of Greek mythology, notion of suppression of your inner demon. Initial idea of starting from scratch and reconceiving the story as a mythic saga was really appealing to me and I liked the idea of the lonely fugitive aspect of it.”

Norton will be playing both parts of it, which makes one assume he’ll be doing some sort of performance capture.

It was mentioned that in this story, they’re looking for a cure for Banner.

Hurd on the new direction of the movie: “We have a great character story to tell in the tradition of the Hunchback and Frankenstein. We have a terrific misunderstood character at the heart of it. We have the technology now to have the Hulk come to life. We’re very confident in Rhythm and Hues and Kurt Williams as our visual effects supervisor, that we’re going to bring the humanity.”

When asked whether there’ll be a new origin story in the movie and whether it’ll be based on the television show version, Norton replied, “I’d say two things about that. I don’t even like the phrase origin story and I don’t think in great literature and great films, that explaining the roots of the story doesn’t mean it comes in the beginning.”

He wasn’t into the idea of doing an origin, rushing though it to get to the heart of the film. With that in mind, the origin will probably spool out over the course of the story rather than be at the beginning. It won’t be completely based on the TV series, though, but spun together from all different versions of the Hulk.

There will definitely be a respect for Bill Bixby “in one way or another”, and Letterier says to look for easter eggs.

Feige and Arad were then joined by director Jon Favreau, who introduced Terrence Howard, “a true fan of the books” who wanted to play Rhodey even before Favreau was involved who’s dying to play War Machine if the franchise continues, Gwyneth “Pepper Potts” Paltrow who was escorted out by Robert Downey Jr. AKA Tony Stark, because she’d injured her foot.

They showed the footage that they showed on Thursday, which you can read about here, and we’ll have an update on that in a second. Update on footage description: On second viewing, we noticed that James Rhodes was one of the military men being addressed by Tony in the opening scene. The first question that Stark is asked by the Vanity Fair journalist was how it felt to be the Da Vinci of his time. His response: “Utterly ridiculous. I’m not an artist.” (It also looked like Rhodey was in this scene next to Favreau as Stark’s bodyguard.) During the fighting sequences, the grey Iron Man armor is shot at a lot, but one guy shoots a rocket launcher at him (which misses), and we also get to see Iron Man using the armor’s flame throwards. We also get see a glimpse of Jeff Bridges who plays the main baddie in the movie.

They’ve wrapped principal photography and because they used so many practical FX–they actually built a suit and haven’t done any CG on the footage we saw and a lot of it was in-camera–they were able to show so much. They’re pulling the CGI together with ILM.

Each of them talked about why they wanted to do the movie and mostly, they wanted to do it because of the other actors involved.

Jon Favreau talked about the casting: “Chris Nolan really opened the door a lot with Batman Begins. To have a filmmaker cast a movie like he would one of his independent films. If you make a good movie, the box office will be there. That’s why we have the cast we have up here.”

They were asked about how they researched their roles, and they gave fairly general actor responses.

Favreau then brought out Stan Lee who has a small part in the movie, just like he has in all Marvel Films. He was pretty excited to be there.

Downey Jr. said that he didn’t have any apprehension about filling this character’s shoes, but he took Stan to lunch and picked his brain, asking about the impetus to write this. Lee claimed he was the biggest name-dropper in the business and that he’d try to drop into every conversation, “as I said to Robert Downey Jr. just the other day.” When Lee made the reservation, he said he’d be with Robert Downey Jr. “You’re just happy I wasn’t in the bathroom the whole time this time,” Downey Jr. quipped. “I told you when I met you that I don’t like to be topped,” Lee responded without missing a beat.

Favreau said that Iron Man was never made to be a likeable guy. It was about how to push the person in a direction but still make him empathetic to the public. He then made a reference to how he liked Han Solo better when he shot first.

Stan Lee praised Favreau’s writing, said that he wished they had him at Marvel Comics back in the days when they were losing business to DC.

The last question posed was about an “Avengers” movie and when Kevin Feige asked the audience if they’d like to see it, it got a huge round of applause, and he remarked, “That’s the plan.”

They then showed the footage again and ended the presentation to a standing ovation from a good majority of the 6,500 capacity audience.

Source: Edward Douglas