Comic Con: Thor, Capt. America, Avengers

Thor

The biggest turnaround of the con was for the God of Thunder. After early stills last week drew online criticism for looking cheesy, Marvel suddenly had quite a bit to prove with their “Thor” adaptation. In the space of a few minutes, the footage soundly quashed concerns with an epic-looking adventure that’s more grounded in reality than you would expect.

Action swaps between scenes on Earth and in Asgard, portrayed here as a grand human civilisation from another planet or dimension. Asgard is a world of luscious beauty and polished cathedral-like palaces wrought of gold, glass and steel. These scenes specifically highlight why Branagh was hired as it plays out like a Shakespearian drama – the noble & stubborn king, the arrogant exiled first son, the loyal but scheming other son plotting to take over, and so forth. There were also glimpses of blue-skinned, red-eyed creatures who seem to be a threat to Asgard (Skrulls?), and plenty of Thor and Loki wearing their trademark helmets.

The Earth-set scenes are more familiar – a shirtless Chris Hemsworth showing off the bulging new muscles he’s put on since his “Home and Away” days, some glimpses of Natalie Portman, and extended versions of the scene of him trying to take his hammer out of rock Excalibur-style.

The clip started with his character being interrogated by Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and then escaping that facility. The clip ended with The Destroyer turning up and proceeding to firebomb various S.H.I.E.L.D. cars, before that Coulson is asked if the tall robot is one of Tony Stark’s creations to which he responds “he never tells me anything”.

The film has undergone a post-3D conversion process and we watched it in action here. As it goes it’s the best 3D post-filming conversion I’ve yet seen, but it still had quite a few shots that didn’t really work in the format.

During the panel Portman confirmed she won’t be in “The Avengers” but will appear in future “Thor” movies should they be made. Branagh says the design and story are influenced by various eras of the “Thor” comic from Jack Kirby to the Donald Blake storyline, not to mention Shakespeare’s “Henry V”.

Overall an impressive panel and clip that stems much of the concern.

Captain America: The First Avenger

The curious one of Marvel’s panel, “Captain America” went over huge with the crowd who lapped it up including some of my fellow journos. Maybe being one of the few Australians in the room though… I don’t know but while I mostly enjoyed it, I didn’t share that enthusiasm for either the hero or what was shown.

Two bits of footage were screened. The first was a teaser using the shield and various WW2 imagery for the background before quick shots using Chris Evans in his get up. It’s a teaser that’s decently cut, a nice war doco feel to it before the money shots – the Captain himself.

We see three shots – one of him in silhouette and one throwing the shield at the camera which both seemed fine. However there was also a quick face upper torso shot with the mask on which, quite frankly, was atrocious. Later it was revealed to be footage from a costume test shot which makes sense, still – not good. A crappy bootleg quality copy of the picture is up at Bleeding Cool.

More promising was a scene from the dailies, best described as “Raiders” meets “Hellboy” in tone. Considering it was very rough footage from a production only eight days into filming, it was quite impressive. Hugo Weaving’s pre-Red Skull Nazi officer breaks into a crypt and retrieves a glowing cube. The film ties in with “Thor” as the cube is mentioned as belonging to Odin while a carving of the mythological Norse tree of Yggdrasil is a key component of the scene.

The biggest issue the film still faces is not being laughed out of the global market. Making the film ‘less patriotic’ does little to mitigate the problem of a cheesy character who started out as a piece of patriotic propaganda and never really evolved. The period setting actually helps rather than hinders in this case, keeping the action distinctly of another era which makes it slightly easier to swallow. It doesn’t help that director Joe Johnston’s recent films aren’t exactly good cinema.

The Avengers

After a short logo teaser trailer hinting of an evil threat that forces the world’s greatest heroes to assemble, the major cast members of “The Avengers” came out for a line-up with photos including Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and director Joss Whedon.