Director Zack Snyder and his cast of Sucker Punch, his follow-up to his successful Watchmen adaptation, was on hand for the Warner Bros panel at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con.
Snyder noted that, with his co-writer, he’d been working on the story for 8 years. He was motivated by the desire to create an original property “not based on a breakfast cereal or superglue, or anything like that.”
He then introduced the panel which included Carla Gugino, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Jena Malone, and Emily Browning.
Browning plays Baby Doll, whose mother dies, and is placed by her father in an insane asylum to be lobotomized and needs to discover a way to escape, if only through the world inside her mind. Hudgens plays Blondie, who fires some of the biggest guns in the film. Malone plays Rocket, who rallies the troops toward the idea of escape. Chung plays Amber, who’s loyal to Baby Doll. Gugino plays Polish psychiatrist Dr. Gorski, a dominatrix/choreographer/madame-type.
The film has been described as Alice in Wonderland meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets The Secret Lives of Walter Mitty. Snyder was inspired by the idea that a stressful situation like being in a mental institution can inspire a reverie into an alternate world to escape. In the alternate reality, the girls create a montage of what they’ve been doing, which manifests itself as a dance sequence for the girls. Dr. Gorski’s sound therapy (in the real world) inspires the dances in the fantasy world. Gugino described the dance sequences as similar to scenes in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge.
Snyder then rolled exclusive footage, which played over Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks.” It was a quick-cut montage which included scenes of Baby Doll entering the asylum, followed by scenes from within her mind, including a WWII gun battle with German zombies, Scott Glenn in a David Carradine-esque sensei role, a feudal swordfight, an off-planet setting, dragons, a Chicago-style dance number, and more gunfights. Anyone who’s seen trailers for 300 or Watchmen won’t be surprised by the breakneck pacing of this trailer.
Q & A attendees asked Snyder what it was like to work with an all-female cast, as opposed to the all-male cast in 300. Snyder praised the actresses’ unflinching ability to step up to whatever he threw at them. Jamie Chung learned how to fly a plane and helicopter in preparation for her role. Jena Malone credited Snyder with his ability to create the girls as three-dimensional characters on top of just ass-kicking archetypes. Vanessa Hudgens said she had no hope of getting the part when she auditioned, and when she did, felt it was the most memorable experience of her career.
Snyder was asked if he leans more toward complicated stories like Watchmen and Sucker Punch as opposed to the simplicity of Dawn of the Dead or 300. He felt there was a certain complexity in any film he’s a part of. Snyder hopes the film will be PG-13, but suspects it might be R due to the violence of mowing down scores of “zombie German soldiers.”
Snyder was asked how it felt to working on his own material. He said that no one would criticize a director of being too faithful to the source material if it was a book as opposed to a graphic novel (referring to fan criticisms of Watchmen), but once his own script was finalized, he treats it with the same reverence as if he were adapting someone else’s property.
Snyder announced that he and screenwriter Kurt Johnstad are working on a followup to 300, Frank Miller’s Xerxes.
Photos by Dave3.
Andrew Sorcini is a film editor and social networking enthusiast who produces and hosts the technology podcast The Drill Down.