While other studios devoted an hour here or there to premiering footage from their upcoming films, Sony Pictures claimed two and a half hours on Friday afternoon for four of their upcoming projects. Los Angeles radio DJ Ralph Garman played host from 4:00 PM to 6:30 as various members of the cast and crew of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, 30 Minutes or Less, Total Recall, and The Amazing Spider-Man appeared in person to discuss their respective films. Check out the highlights of Friday’s Sony panel in Comic-Con’s Hall H.
Spirit of Vengeance cannot possibly suck as much as the original Ghost Rider.
After a short montage of footage from the set of the film ended with a title card reading “fucking your shit up in 3D February 2012,” it was pretty clear that Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor’s follow-up to the 2006 film Ghost Rider would be little or nothing like its predecessor. Nicolas Cage confirmed that their film would have a different tone than the first one: “The first one was more like a Grimm’s fairy tale,” he said. “In this one I really wanted to embrace the nightmare aspect, and hopefully scare you and entertain you at the same time.
Neveldine and Taylor have the right attitude approaching Ghost Rider as a character, much less as a sequel.
Taylor indicated that the fact the character is totally ridiculous made him well-suited to their batshit sensibilities. “We think Ghost Rider is one of the most badass characters of all time,” he said simply. “He makes absolutely no sense at all. He’s not really a superhero – more like a horror character. His power is he sucks out your soul. That’s insane. So the madness and the nightmarish quality as much as the action were the things that drew us to it.”
After two excursions into Marvel mythology, Idris Elba is ready to take on a starring role in his own adventure.
Earlier this summer, Elba appeared in Thor as Heimdall, and shows up in Ghost Rider as the main character’s drunk-monk sidekick. But when asked who he might like to play if given the chance to star in his own Marvel movie, he said, “Luke Cage.
I’m proud to be part of the Thor story and so far that’s where my roots are laid, but if there was an opportunity to pursue another character it would definitely be Luke Cage because there’s so much I could do with that. We just need to know that people want to see it happen.”
Total Recall has the potential to be a little different than the original.
Director Len Wiseman (Underworld) admitted he and his crew weren’t done shooting but they were inspired as much by the source material as the 1990 Paul Verhoeven film. “I was really gripped by the direction that the script went into,” he explained. “That and a love for both the film and the Philip K. Dick story. I’m fascinated by the reality vs. fantasy aspect to it, and wanted to dive a little deeper into that character’s struggle.”
With Total Recall, Colin Farrell is ready to take control of a blockbuster.
Farrell, who spent the last few years playing supporting or at best costarring roles, admitted that part of the appeal of the project was its enormous scale. “I was kind of tinkering with the idea of if something of bigger scope came along, than what I’ve been doing for the past five or six years previous, I’d be open to it,” he said. He also indicated that he liked how different this film was than its predecessor. “I loved the original, and when I rad this I thought it was different enough that I didn’t tread the same ground – and it could have.”
Despite the film’s preponderance of futuristic ideas, Wiseman preferred physical sets to digital ones.
Wiseman explained that he can tell the difference between the reactions of a crowd watching CGI effects and practical ones. “I think there’s an excitement level to something that’s real,” he said. “I think there’s a difference between a really great visual effect and something real, and one’s a response saying wow, that’s a really great special effect, or, oh my god are they going to make it? I think you have more of a reaction to something that’s real and you can feel it.”
Marc Webb’s Spider-Man, played by Andrew Garfield, is as much of a geek as the rest of us.
Although there was ample proof in Garfield’s heartfelt letter about the importance and impact of Spider-Man that evidenced his comic fan bona fides, the footage that Sony screened from the film reiterated that Peter Parker was as much of a misfit as anyone who didn’t feel like they got a fair shake. (It also offered some well-earned wish-fulfillment when he took revenge on his high school tormentors.) Webb, meanwhile, emphasized the universality of the character, and the variety of stories from which they could draw for the film. “There’s such a wealth of material that hasn’t been explored cinematically,” he observed. “The Gwen Stacy saga in the Marvel comics is iconic, and he is a perennial character. I felt an incredible sense of enthusiasm – it was too intoxicating to turn down.”
While the cast and crew took the source material in Spider-Man seriously, they also wanted to distinguish and redefine it according to their own impulses. Garfield explained of his process, “We’re approaching this like it’s Shakespeare, or a greek myth. These are modern myths. For me it’s another chapter in a long history of a comic book story that means so much to so many people.” Meanwhile, Emma Stone said that she wasn’t looking at previous versions of her character but creating Gwen Stacy from whole cloth. “I can’t play a character without making her my own,” she insisted. “I interpreted her my own way, and tried to make Gwen and Peter’s story new and fresh.”
The Lizard is going to be a tough adversary, but he’s also one largely created from CGI.
Footage of Dr. Curt Connors revealed that Webb and the other filmmakers envisioned The Lizard, his monstrous alter ego, as a digital creation that played up his reptilian qualities. Rhys Ifans offered little in the way of insights in terms of playing the role, but the footage shown demonstrated that much of his super-villain screen time was occupied by computer-generated images rather than his own performance (unless of course it was performance-capture).
The Amazing Spider-Man resolves the whole web shooter debate, but does so by putting Peter Parker in a practical context.
Garfield and Webb confirmed that the shooters in the film were indeed mechanical, but the rationale was more about their functionality in the context of a larger story. “We asked, how does a kid make a suit?” Webb explained. “Andrew is fit but skinny, and we wanted to use that – and the suit emerged from that notion. How great is it seeing a skinny guy beating the crap out of big guys?”