For the last big Hall H film panel, 20th Century Fox brought out the next three movies from its version of the Marvel Universe.
Fox really does have its own Marvel sandbox to play in at this point, with Fantastic Four, Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse, the third Wolverine movie and Gambit all due out within the next two to three years. And all were represented in some way at the Fox panel in Hall H on Saturday (July 11), along with non-Marvel movies The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and Victor Frankenstein. So let's just get right to it:
Following short presentations for The Scorch Trials and Victor Frankenstein (more on those below), host Chris Hardwick introduced Fantastic Four director Josh Trank, producer/writer Simon Kinberg and the cast: Miles Teller (Reed Richards), Kate Mara (Sue Storm), Michael B. Jordan (Johnny Storm), Jamie Bell (Ben Grimm) and Toby Kebbell (Doctor Doom). Trank -- who was missing from his last panel at Star Wars Celebration, shortly before dropping out of that franchise -- said that Fantastic Four was a chance for him to explore some of the same ideas he tackled in his found-footage breakout, Chronicle, but on a bigger scale. Mara praised the "family aspect" of the movie while Jordan made it clear that they wanted to "respect the legacy" of the comics.
A final trailer for the movie was premiered, utilizing much of the same footage we've seen before with a few more shots of Doom and perhaps a hint of the large-scale destructive plan for world subjugation he intends to undertake. The trailers have gone a long way toward making us feel that this is going to be worth at least a chance (it has to be an improvement on the two films from last decade), and the audience in Hall H seemed to acknowledge that as well.
Next up was one of the most anticipated films of the con: Deadpool. Following a short video teaser of Wade Wilson in costume, sitting in a leather chair, trying to smoke a cigar through his mask and wondering aloud "why the f**k Fox sewed my lips shut?" (a jab at the much-derided version of the character we saw in X-Men Origins: Wolverine), it was on. Ryan Reynolds, director Tim Miller, Morena Baccarin (Vanessa), Ed Skrein (Ajax), Gina Carano (Angel Dust) TJ Miller (Weasel) and Brianna Hildebrand (Negasonic Teenage Warhead) all trotted out for a panel as notable for its rampant use of the F-bomb as for everyone's enthusiasm about the movie.
The trailer that played was pretty much what everyone would want from a Deadpool movie: foul language aplenty (they threw out the "family-friendly" qualifications for this panel, it seems), lots of gore, violence and action, and Deadpool breaking the fourth wall to speak directly to the screen. It starts with Wade getting a terminal cancer diagnosis, moves to him receiving an offer from a mysterious organization to go through a procedure that will turn him into a superhero ("Just don't make the costume green or animated, okay?" he quips on his way into the lab), and then turns into a wild barrage of shots of him blowing away bad guys (quite explicitly), quipping his way through every situation and revealing his scarred head to Weasel ("You look like Freddy Krueger f**ked a topographic map of Utah," the latter says unhelpfully).
Reynolds told the crowd that the movie was "the most faithful" adaptation of a comic book character he's ever seen -- throwing a little shade at his previous attempt with Green Lantern -- while Tim Miller explain that they got to make the movie exactly the way they wanted to. The theme of the panel -- expressed at the beginning by Reynolds -- is that the Deadpool movie exists purely because of the fans, and they are going to get exactly what they want.
As Deadpool departed, a video montage rolled on the big Hall H screens that tripped through the history of the X-Men on film, starting with Hugh Jackman's screen test and a surprising bit of footage showing a startled Jackman getting offered the role on camera by Bryan Singer. Then Jackman himself came out, noting that he had "aged" and saying, "Old Man Logan -- read into that what you will." He did reiterate that his next appearance as Wolverine, in his third solo movie, will be his last, but that although the character was recently killed off in the comics, "he's still alive in the movies."
Jackman then left the stage -- a symbolic hand-off to the new generation of X-Men, perhaps -- as Singer and the cast of X-Men: Apocalypse filed in. As with 2013's equally huge X-Men: Days of Future Past panel, there were simply too many cast members for anyone to make more than a quick comment. Jennifer Lawrence said she's "more Raven than Mystique" in this movie, while Oscar Isaac, who plays Apocalypse/En Sabah Nur, described his character thus: "This world that we have, it’s not the world that should’ve been. God’s just been asleep, and God wakes up and realizes what’s happened and says 'It’s gotta change.'"
The idea of mutants as gods is prevalent in the trailer -- based, Singer tells us, off just five weeks of shooting -- which opens with Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) waking up from a vision of the end of the world. "It was just a dream," says Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) to reassure her. But then Moira McTaggert (Rose Byrne) informs Xavier that a cult has sprung up around the myth of a mutant who first emerged 10,000 years ago -- the first mutant. That first mutant, Apocalypse, is real and we soon meet him as he draws other mutants to his cause: "Everything they’ve built will fall and from the ashes of the world, we will build a better one."
The first full reveal of Apocalypse is amazing: he's blue and his costume looks like it could come right out of the comics (at least from the quick glimpse we got). The trailer also hints that his Four Horsemen might consist of Magneto (Michael Fassbender), a young Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Angel (Ben Hardy), with Mystique wavering at first but then going over to help the X-Men. Apocalypse's massive pull is hinted at in a late scene where Xavier, his eyes turning black under the Cerebro helmet, says, "I've never felt power like this before." The trailer's final shot is of McAvoy, his head bald, dressed in a suit and seated in his wheelchair in what is the iconic image of the Professor.
The footage looks very much in the same vein as Days of Future Past, although Singer acknowledges that it's set 10 years after the events of that movie. With Fassbender, McAvoy and Lawrence all supposedly at the end of their X-Men contracts with this film, will a true changing of the guard take place as Turner, Shipp, Tye Sheridan (Cyclops) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Nightcrawler) step up? We have yet to know that, but the presentation here suggests that the X-Men films are hitting a new peak.
For the grand finale, Hardwick assembled all the cast members from all the films onstage for a group shot, with Stan Lee coming out as well and surprise guest Channing Tatum -- carrying his Gambit cane -- taking the actual picture. It wasn't quite an Avengers-on-stage type moment, but the meaning was clear: Fox's Marvel franchise is not going anywhere and only getting bigger.
A brief word on the afternoon's first two offerings: The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials looks bigger and completely different from the first film, taking the cast out of the maze and thrusting them into a post-apocalyptic landscape of ruined cities and horrifying underground mutants. The first film was surprisingly effective and original so we're interested in this one as well. As for Victor Frankenstein, director Paul McGuigan described it as a "love story" between McAvoy's title doctor and Daniel Radcliffe's Igor, who is portrayed almost as the intellectual equal of his scientist boss. The trailer -- premiered at Comic-Con -- had all the period trappings of the novel and seems somewhat faithful at first, but as more CG and action were introduced our interest began to wane. We'll still give it a shot though, on the strength of its two leads.