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SDCC: Abrams and Whedon: The Visionaries Panel
Geek Gods Unite at Comic Con
By Robert T. Trate
July 26, 2010
J. J. Abrams and Joss Whedon are two minds that have shaped our collective pop culture. Whether it is creating new worlds or re-inventing old ones their names on a project easily draw our attention. Entertainment Weekly brought them together at Comic Con to discuss exactly where pop culture is headed. Their discussion covered everything from comics, 3D to the first time they “think” they met. Entertainment Weekly’s Jeff Jensen moderated the panel and made sure such topics as Super 8 and The Avengers were talked about.
Joss Whedon made the official announcement that he was indeed directing The Avengers movie. When asked when he actually got into comics he revealed that his father (Tom Whedon) worked on the old Electric Company TV program when they were about to bring Spider-Man to the show. Huge stacks of Spidey books suddenly were everywhere. Though when asked what his favorite Avengers story was he replied the Death of Warlock, “a very underrated comic story arc”. What drew Whedon to the film was how none of these characters should be in the same room together. It is the “very definition of family”. Whedon answered a question from the floor that put many at ease. It had to do with finding the voice of the characters that were already in the Marvel Universe movie world. In writing those characters Whedon has found it easy because he already knows who is playing those parts. His biggest fear is living up to Abrams Star Trek reboot. Which he referred to as the new “gold standard” in summer blockbusters.
A quick side note: The rumor around Comic Con was that Nathan Fillion, from Weldon’s Firefly (along with a few other things) was cast as Ant Man. At this point it is still a rumor since he did not appear at the “Avengers Assemble” moment at the Marvel panel.
There wasn’t any footage screened, including the trailer, for the super secret J.J. Abrams/ Steven Spielberg project. Abrams stated that he hasn’t even started shooting yet (September) let alone cast any of the roles. What did come out was how Abrams and Spielberg got together. When Spielberg needed his original films from his childhood repaired Abrams and a friend spliced them back together (a sum of $300 which they were paid by the studio) during college. Abrams got to study early Spielberg first hand and feels as if now he has worked on those early films as an editor. The inevitable question (the most popular one at Comic Con this year) came up, would Super 8 be in 3D? Which Abrams promptly replied “no”. This, as it was for most of the panels, drew a huge round of applause from the audience.
Whedon is totally into 3D but hasn’t been writing his screenplays for it. When asked if Cabin in the Woods would get converted he didn’t have an answer. With MGM in crisis mode his film is on the back burner. Which seems appropriate since MGM can’t even mount a James Bond film at the moment. The fad of 3D is something that is making many of us cringe. Our two geek gods had little opinion on where it is going.
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Whedon is open to the possibility of the sequel. In fact he is sure that it will happen. The main issue is time. A project that Whedon was working on with Warren Ellis, called “Waste Landers” even got put on hold because of The Avengers. Everyone is extremely busy and since they are all owners of the property we can all feel safe about the quality of this one-day, it will probably happen, sequel.
This was our second year sitting in on EW’s Visionaries panel. Last year Peter Jackson and James Cameron gave us their outlook on the future of film and their own personal stories about working in the movie industry. As it was with this year it wasn’t all about the razzle-dazzle of footage and big announcements (outside of Whedon telling us what we already knew). It was a chance for our culture to see two extremely talented individuals and ask them questions about what they see happening in film, television, the Internet and comics. It has become one of our favorites and a must see for next year.
Robert Trate writes two weekly columns for Mania the DVD Shopping Bag and the Toy Maniac. Look for his coverage of The Walking Dead, The Expendables and the JJ Abrams/ Joss Whedon Comic Con panels.