After a late start due to, well… a stabbing incident… things got underway with Kevin Feige taking the stage.
"I think by the end of this panel that skepticism might go away," said Feige of the uncertainty that has long surrounded Marvel’s ambitious movie plan. "It’s extremely difficult and it’s never been done before… for a reason. Everyone needs to be assembled properly."
And like the "Green Lantern" panel, this one kicked off with some early footage, offering the first official look at Chris Evans in costume. Here’s what the footage entailed:
– A voiceover repeated the famous Pearl Harbor declaration of December 7, 1941, as a "day that will live forever in infamy."
– Over clips of WWII headlines and footage, the text narration revealed that "one story has never been told," and the camera pans out to show Captain America’s shield.
– "Every army starts with one man," it continues, and we’re given a full-body silhouette of Captain America. The camera then offers up a close-up profile shot of Chris Evans as Cap, as he turns to face the camera.
– The "Captain America" title flashes, and then… a quick shot of Cap slinging the shield!
"Captain America" director Joe Johnston took the stage along with the rest of the film’s major cast members. Johnston says the film is not going to feel like a war movie made in 1942. We have one chance to tell the origin story of Captain America and that’s what we’re going to do."
Chris Evans on playing Cap: "It’s a little intimidating, a little daunting, but it’s exciting. … "The suit’s fantastic."
Hugo Weaving on perfecting his performance as Red Skull: "He’s German, so I spent a lot of time listening to famous German artists. I’ve synthesized their voice into the voice of Red Skull."
Chris Evans on the early debates surrounding his casting: "People here might have had an opinion one way or the other, but at the end of the day I’m trying to make a character come to life. … Hopefully if we do our job right and the movie’s good, no one will have a problem with it. I hope."
Joe Johnston said he was partial to the Ed Brubaker version of Captain America, though "we’re borrowing visually from that version [and] … going slightly more modern than the original Captain America, which was basically a pair of pajamas with the stars and stripes on them."
Kevin Feige was quick to point out that the suit seen in early concept art and in the footage was still just a "test version of the suit." "What you saw was only a snippet from the costume test — it’s something that’s unequivocally the Captain America uniform, but can fit that period."
Chris Evans says he "loves origin pieces" and "I think it’s great when you see who the person was before they’re given these amazing gifts."
Hugo Weaving: "We’ve only been at this a couple of weeks."
According to Weaving, his Red Skull mask is "a pretty extraordinary creation" and is composed of "a series of lightweight pieces on my face."
"It looks fantastic," he added.
And to further whet our appetites, attendees were treated to yet another piece of footage from the film — an unfinished scene that still included the timecodes.
In the footage, a castle wall is blown inward, killing one of the two men inside. As the dust settles, we see a group of Nazis emerge, with orders to open up a tomb in the center of the room. As they struggle to open it, everyone turns to face a recent arrival — a pre-scarring Red Skull.
"It’s taken me a long time to find this place," he tells the caretaker.
"What you seek is just a legend," the caretaker responds.
"Why make such an effort to conceal it," responds Weaving’s character.
The soldiers remove the lid form the tomb, revealing an ancient skeleton holding a sword and a transparent cube (the Cosmic Cube?). Red Skull holds up the cube, calling it a Tesseract — the gem of Odin’s treasures — and drops it, breaking it.
Red Skull then locates a secret panel on the wall and removes a small box coiled with golden serpents. He opens it, and is engulfed in a blue glow.
"Ordinary men were not meant to look upon it," says the caretaker.
"Exactly," says Red Skull.
And thus ends the footage… and the "Captain America" portion of the panel.
Up next was the "Thor" team, with Kenneth Branagh, Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Clark Gregg, Kat Dennings, and Tom Hiddleston.
When asked about Mjolnir, Chris Hemsworth said, "it’s a huge part of the character … [and] wearing the costume does a lot of the work for you."
Kat Dennings said her character, Darcy, is "a new creation" and "she’s not in the comic books — she’s like Jane Foster’s little helper gnome."
Tom Hiddleston: "The great challenge for me was that he is both the agent of chaos and the damaged younger brother. [He’s] the jealous brother, the one who’s overlooked. [He’s] the one who could’ve been the guy — but can’t be the guy because I dont have the guns this guy has (motioning to Hemsworth)."
"He’s a great liar," said Hiddleston. "It was fun to play with whether he’s lying or telling the truth."
Clark Gregg said he "loves being the glue that holds the Marvel Universe together." The actor went on to reveal that he had no idea of the role he’d play between all of the Marvel movies, and even had to ask what his line in "Iron Man 2" about needing to go to New Mexico meant.
And now… "Thor" footage!
There’s a lot to absorb here (in 3-D, no less), and it went something like this:
– The footage opens with scenes of Thor wailing on various people while Gregg’s Agent Coulson says, "You made my men look like a bunch of minimum wage mall cops."
"Who are you?" he asks. And the camera goes in close on Hemsworth’s face.
We then get a look at Asgard as the camera flies overhead. We see Odin on the throne, as well as shots of the Warriors Three, Sif, Loki, Heimdall, and Frigga. Odin condemns Thor, who responds by telling him, "You are an old man and a fool!"
Odin casts him out, and the view suddenly flies through a galaxy of stars, finally landing on a shot of Hemsworth crumpled on the ground.
After Darcy and Jane Foster discover him, Thor opens his eyes and tells them, "Oh no, this is Earth, isn’t it?"
We get a few shots of Thor acclimating to Earth and talking with Foster, telling her all her questions will be answered when he finds what he’s looking for on Earth.
Cue: Thor ripping a sheet of plastic off a wall, revealing his hammer. When he tries to lift his hammer, he’s unable to do so — and he falls to the ground, screaming.
We then see Odin dying — a single tear falls down his cheek — and Loki ascending to the throne.
Various battle scenes unfold as Thor and The Warriors Three battle some unknown foe. It all culminates with a shot of Thor throwing a goblet into the fire as everything fades to black. A few seconds later, Agent Coulson is back on the screen, approaching some unseen object in the desert. As the dust clears, it’s revealed to be DESTROYER!
"Is it one of Stark’s?" an agent asks Coulson.
"I don’t know," he responds. "That guy never tells me anything."
Destroyer then open fires on the agents’ vehicles with a massive blast of energy from his facemask, and the screen fades to the "Thor" title — with rain dripping on the letters as they fade toward the camera.
The "Thor" Q&A session then begins:
Branagh told one fan, "We have some Donald Blake surprises in this movie," and "there will be some touches that we think will be pleasing" regarding shout-outs to comic fans.
Asked about future films in Marvel movie-verse, Natalie Portman said, "I am not in ‘The Avengers’ but I am in the future ‘Thor’ films if and when they happen."
A fan then approached the microphone and said he had just one thing to say to Feige: "Ed Norton!"
"He’s not here today," said Feige. "We love consistency and we love continuity, but as he said in his very well-worded statement, Hulk is bigger than all of us."
Feige then added a note that made many fans raise an eyebrow, telling a fan who asked about R-rated Marvel movies that "Frank Castle is under the roof of Marvel Studios now and we hope to bring him into the fray shortly."
And with that, the "Thor" panel ended… but wait, there’s more!
After showing the "Thor" footage one more time, the film changed to a narration by Sam Jackson as Nick Fury, revealing an "Avengers" logo.
Jackson soon appears on stage to introduce Gregg, Hemsworth, and Evans back to the stage as well as a special guest: Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr.
Saying he initially thought Christopher Nolan’s "Inception" was an ambitious movie, he soon changed his mind. "Marvel Studios is going to take all their characters and put them into the same movie? That is most ambitious," he yelled.
Downey then went on to introduce the new members of the "Avengers" lineup: Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, and director Joss Whedon.
"I have had a dream all my life and it was not this good," laughed Whedon. "This is the Avengers!"
The whole group then gathered on stage for the requisite photo op, closing one of Comic-Con’s most impressive panels of the year.