Saturday’s Iron Man 2 panel was preceded by Mike Judge’s Extract, Zombieland, and Roland Emmerich’s 2012, from which a clip was shown that can only be described as eye-searing disaster porn at its very HUGEST. And while nothing quite prepared the audience for 2012‘s rampant, wanton, wall-to-wall destruction — during which, in the span of five onscreen minutes, John Cusack literally outran an earthquake in a stretch limo while all of Los Angeles crumbled around him (more on that below) — the day clearly belonged to Jon Favreau, who once again wowed the Hall H crowd with a montage of Iron Man scenes culminating in a shot of War Machine that brought the room to its feet.
Our day began with an attempt to catch the presentation of Extract, the first movie to come from Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead) since his little-seen Idiocracy. But since Hall H was already packed (with thousands waiting hours in line to fill in), the best we could do was crash the backstage green room. There, we watched the panel via video feed and watched as the day’s stars ambled through.
Mila Kunis sat for lunch. Jason Bateman chatted with Jon Favreau. Hurley from Lost dropped in. Woody Harrelson, sunburnt in a breezy yellow shirt, looked like he’d just wandered in from the beach.
Extract seemed to go over well with the crowd. It’s like Office Space only set in a factory, where Jason Bateman (whose character is married to Kristen Wiig, who couldn’t make it because she was filming Greg Mottola’s Paul) becomes interested in a new temp (Mila Kunis).
Described by Sony’s overexcited moderator, who would later earn boos for Q&A nerd abuse, Zombieland is a “road trip coming-of-age romantic comedy zombie movie.” Judging from the red band clips shown, he’s not far off. Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland) finds himself one of few survivors of a zombie outbreak, teaming up with a banjo-toting Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin to fight off the monsters. Somehow, he finds himself again in an amusement park. In a scene from the film, Eisenberg “rescues” his hot neighbor (Amber Heard) only to find her transformed into a zombie shortly after. Neurotic voice overs and a comic chase around his apartment ensue, culminating in what might be the world’s first zombie death-by-toilet lid.
Director Ruben Fleischer shot the film in 42 days. Zombieland features the speedy type of zombie, and fun-gross-awesome moments that play up the odd couple dynamic between Eisenberg and Harrelson. But though entertaining, it’s hard to tell if Zombieland will be the next landmark zombie movie, or just another black comedy horror pic (think Shaun of the Dead) — although it does star two Oscar nominees, so there’s that.
On to Roland Emmerich‘s 2012, a film that most certainly will live up to its over the top trailer. True, I’m basing this on five minutes of footage, but what five minutes! Allow me to recap, as best I can.
Jackson Curtis (John Cusack) tracks down a renegade hippie radio jockey who broadcasts from a trailer in the woods, warning all that the world is fast approaching its “expiration date.” Said jockey is played by none other than Woody Harrelson (what a coincidence!) in long shaggy locks with a cockeyed craziness about him. Yes, he’s a wise eccentric. Will the world listen??
The answer is no, as we find when Curtis frantically races through Los Angeles to warn his ex-wife (Amanda Peet) and their two children. Naturally, a new husband complicates things, but not as much as the impending wave of plate tectonics that are about to decimate LA! Rumbles shake the house as Cusack arrives just in time to pile the family in…a stretch limo. Then, as they drive down the street, earthquakes LITERALLY chase them, swallowing up the ground right on their heels. A car of senior citizens get in Cusack’s way, of course. A wall of pavement erupts in their path, and their car is creamed; Cusack JUMPS THE PAVEMENT, and the limo becomes airborne. Folks, this is only the beginning.
Peet, Cusack, and their co-stars mug their best (one can only imagine they were acting against green screens; think Nic Cage in Knowing) as their limo races through the fast-crumbling streets, taking them from the ‘burbs to the crashing down freeways of Los Angeles, and then to downtown LA. A gas station explodes. Thousands of extras are killed. Entire neighborhoods fall into cracks in the earth. The giant donut from Randy’s Donut rolls down the street. As their limousine magically drives a path in the exact correct direction (headed toward a waiting airplane), all of civilization tumbles down. It’s like a Where’s Waldo puzzle; everywhere you look on the screen, something is being completely destroyed.
And then, something amazing happens. Racing through downtown LA, the group sees two enormous buildings crashing inward. There’s no where to go! But just when you think the limo is going to crash into the side of a building, THEY DRIVE THROUGH THE BUILDING, bursting through its windows. Oh. My. God.
As if that weren’t enough, Cusack and Co. instantly (inexplicably) make it to his waiting personal airplane, which is parked on an airstrip. BUT THE EARTHQUAKE IS STILL COMING! As Peet alternates between looking back at the approaching destruction and shrieking at Cusack, the plane literally takes off seconds before the quake reaches it. Peet’s new hubby (actor-director Tom McCarthy) is flying the plane — but he’s never flown before! Narrow miss after narrow miss ensue, as the heroes fly between exploding things, collapsing Hollywood Hills mansions, and then, downtown skyscrapers.
We see images of disaster from around the world, including the complete destruction of the Sistine Chapel and other global landmarks and entire cities sliding into the ocean. Roland Emmerich has destroyed the entire world. (Next, he wants to adapt Isaac Asimov’s Foundation — a film he calls “a very ambitious project, bigger than 2012.)
Next: What could possibly top 2012? Get Tony Stark on the line!
Finally, Favreau walked into Hall H. And he topped the 2012 clip, big time.
After leading the Hall in a round of “Happy Birthday” to his son, Max, Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. cut right to the chase — showing the thousands of fans in attendance about five minutes of footage from Iron Man 2.
Tony Stark lounges in his Iron Man suit, sitting in the giant donut at LA landmark Randy’s Donuts (where Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans got stuck in Earth Girls Are Easy). Below him, we see Nick Fury from behind. He wants a word with Stark.
They have coffee talk inside Randy’s, where Stark says, “I don’t want to join your superhero boy band” — by which he means the Avengers, the superhero team that will indeed get its own movie in a few years.
Later, Stark is questioned in a public Senate inquiry into his “Iron Man weapon,” which he revealed to be his at the end of the first Iron Man. His secret’s out now, and while he hams it up to the press (“You’re welcome. I just privatized world peace!”) Senator Stern (Garry Shandling) is most definitely not amused (“F*** you, Mr. Stark!”). When Stark refuses to hand over the Iron Man technology to the government, Stern calls in a familiar (and at the same time, unfamiliar) face: Colonel James Rhodes, now played by Don Cheadle. Favreau addresses the infamous re-casting with subtlety.
“It’s me, I’m here. Deal with it. Move on,” Rhodey tells Stark, in effect telling us all to quit asking about how or why Cheadle replaced Iron Man actor Terrence Howard in the role.
Next, we see a montage of Russian thug Ivan Venko (Mickey Rourke) working in a dank room papered with articles about Tony Stark and his peace-keeping crusade. Venko slaves away, soldering metal parts and welding iron; simultaneously, Stark works in his high-tech laboratory. On the speedway set, amid fresh destruction and fleeing onlookers, Stark (outside of the Mark 2 in a blue Stark Industries body suit) lays on the ground, disoriented and bloody. Venko approaches him, long haired and grimy with a cig hanging from his mouth; he’s in full Whiplash mode, twirling supercharged cables in both hands. The audience gasps in delight from seeing the previously released Whiplash image fleshed out on film.
Lastly, we were given a warehouse scene, where government officials led by Col. Rhodes are meeting with weapons dealer Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell, in classic smarmy Rockwell mode). Rhodes buys everything Hammer’s got. We cut to a full look at Rhodey’s own Iron Man-style suit, War Machine, with automatic guns blazing in both arms and a third weapon blasting from the back of his suit!
The lights go up, and the entirety of Hall H leaps to its feet.
But while most of the Con-goers lucky enough to see it walked away raving, the Iron Man 2 footage didn’t quite seem to repeat the sheer, explosive reaction of 2007’s Iron Man panel — at which Favreau debuted the first look at Iron Man, soaring above the clouds, and started a wave of buzz that Paramount rode out to the following year.
A similar thing happened at Thursday’s presentation for The Twilight Saga: New Moon, where Summit unveiled two smartly-chosen scenes: one featuring Taylor Lautner, another featuring Robert Pattinson, both featuring each actor shirtless. Though Twilighters did line up hours early (some a full day ahead of the panel), the reaction to New Moon was practically subdued compared to the one that packed Hall H with — gasp! — women and announced to the world that Twilight was to be taken seriously.
Still, Iron Man earned the biggest standing ovation yet this year, and May 2010 can’t come fast enough.
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