Yesterday during the Visionaries Panel at San Diego Comic Con ’10, which featured two of the most popular names in geekdom today, Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams, Whedon confirmed that he was in fact directing The Avengers for Marvel. But that was just a small-but-crucial part of the panel worth specific mention, and I’m here to recap the rest of the panel here and now!
On Abrams’ side of things, the big topic that he spoke about was he inspired by and collaborated with secret Steven Spielberg movie, Super 8. Along with discussing their big upcoming projects, the duo also discuss big current issues like 3D, where it’s good and not good, and what they’re doing that may or may not use it. They also get into internet-based content, TV shows, and briefly touch on previous and much-loved works like Lost, Dollhouse, Star Trek, and so on.
Keep on reading for the full recap. Be warned: this is incredibly long, but let’s be fair, we all could listen to/read anything these two want to discuss about entertainment.
The panel, moderated by Jeff Jensen from EW, begins with asking Abrams and Whedon what the most extreme fanboy thing they ever done is as people who truly love the realms in which they work. Abrams shares a story about how he used to write letters as a kid to people in the movie business he idolized, but how it was usually makeup/special effects people and not the actors and directors. He goes on to talk about getting a response from Dick Smith — who did the makeup for horror classic The Exorcist — in which he actually sent Abrams the tongue prosthetic used in the movie…and how his mother wasn’t too fond of it. Whedon chimed in that he couldn’t beat “the tongue” but that he did have one of the eggs from Alien, though he had to “bury the franchise in order to get it,” which got a lot of laughs. For those who don’t know, Whedon wrote the screenplay for Alien: Resurrection.
The conversation then goes into what inspired them to become storytellers. Whedon says he always knew he wanted to; he had no idea what type of storyteller, but always knew. Abrams talks about how he was always the kid putting on magic shows for family and such and it just kind of evolved from there.
The next thing brought up is The Avengers, where Joss confirms that he is directing to a massive round of applause. You can read more about the confirmation by checking out yesterday’s story about it (Read: SDCC 2010: Joss Whedon Confirms He Is Officially Directing ‘The Avengers’).
Next up was Abrams’ Super 8, which caught a lot of buzz when a teaser trailer that many first suspected could be Cloverfield 2 showed up online. J.J. talked about working with Spielberg as a dream come true because when he was 16, he and Cloverfield director Matt Reeves got a call from Spielberg’s assistant asking them to restore some films that the legendary director had made when he himself was a kid. He then talks about how he’d like to show footage but they haven’t even shot any yet, despite the teaser trailer being out. Abrams gets a kick out of this because their plan is to shoot in September, which means some young actor out there saw the teaser, thought it was awesome, and has no idea that they’ll actually be starring in it when they get to casting.
The next question to J.J. about Super 8 is whether it will be in 3D or not. Considering that every movie being made is in 3D we expect that they will be in one form or another, but Abrams gave a surprise answer by smiling and simply saying “no,” to which the crowed roared. It feels like 3D is still taking over, but I think this is already a sign of things to come with filmmakers deciding not to use it because it’s very clear that a lot of us are already sick of it. Some movies are fine in three dimensions but not all of them require it, especially just to make more money, and Abrams probably wants to protect the integrity of his movie by avoiding it. How could you make a movie called Super 8, a film dedicated to the works of Steven Spielberg of old, and have it soaking in this current trend? Wouldn’t make any sense; many props to them for not falling into that hole.
This sparks a conversation on 3D in general. Jensen asks the filmmakers what they think about the technology just as fans of movies. Whedon states that he enjoys he; he likes where the technology is and thinks that it adds something to the experience. Abrams’ is on the other side of the fence, thinking that it’s too muted and doesn’t pop like he likes it to. J.J. is much more a fan of the IMAX experience as a fan of movies. The two are also asked whether they think it’s just a fad or not to which Abrams says he thinks it will keep growing and the technology will continue to be perfected. Whedon thinks it is something of a fad right now, but that it’s great when done right.
Whedon is then asked about his horror film with Drew Goddard Cabin in the Woods. This was an exciting upcoming movie, but unfortunately it’s under MGM, who we all know is in a world of hurt that has led to the delay of The Hobbit (and subsequent Guillermo del Toro vacancy) as well as the death of James Bond. When big movies like that are falling, Cabin in the Woods is not a priority, so even though it has completed filming, distribution is on hold. Joss also says that they might still convert it to 3D eventually, but he really hopes that when it comes out, it’s the only 2D horror being marketed. Movies that are filmed in 2D and converted later are the worst ones to come out, so this is no surprise.
Jensen then brings up Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog and what the filmmakers think about making content specifically for the internet. Joss talks about how he loved how it worked and how making something without studio intervention that could still make money for all involved was something he was proud of. J.J. says he’s also working on some internet-based things, and how you can make honest-to-gods movies now with cameras than anyone can buy or rent. No, you can’t pull off a summer blockbuster, but the affordable cameras out there a more than effective enough for making your own movie, and that’s exciting.
As for the Dr. Horrible’s sequel that has been talked about often, Joss sticks to the fact that they would all like to do it, but no one ever has time to these days.
Abrams and Whedon then talk about serialized TV and how they basically don’t have much interest in it now. It’s made clear that TV executives don’t want anything to do with what’s popular and what’s good, but only want whatever it is that they want in their own brains. Apparently most execs want cops and hospitals and that’s it. Strange.
And that about wraps it up. The rest of the panel is fans asking questions about what props and stuff they keep from their stuff, if J.J. was happy with how Lost wrapped up (he knows people are torn, but he was very happy with how it came together), and so on.
A great panel overall and again, we could listen to these guys talk movies and comics and TV all day, so it was awesome to get all this detailed and hilarious insight into the lives and careers of Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams.