Comic-Con 2010 Pick Up

2011 already seemed old at this weekend’s Comic-Con.

ok, that's a little impressive

ok, that's a little impressive

Just a couple years ago, it was considered pretty groundbreaking when a movie cast/team would show up at Comic-Con to promote a movie that wasn’t premiering for another year. When the Iron Man cast did it in 2007 to tout the 2008 release, trailer in hand, people thought it was kinda weird — until fans kept talking about it for 10 months, the movie opened at over $100 million and it turned into the surprise franchise of the decade.

After that? Not so weird. So on they came, every movie with any semblance of comic book/sci-fi/pop culture interest, some for movies that ended up failing to live up to expectations (Watchmen) and others who used the venerable pop culture overload to springboard to fame and fortune (Twilight: New Moon from last year).

Now it’s common practice. Summer blockbusters for 2011 almost need to have some kind of presence or risk falling behind on the geek buzz meter. If you’ve never seen that meter, it’s an old C3PO watch, btw. Jon Favreau said as much on Stern this morning when he randomly called in to talk Cowboys & Aliens. He said no one really knew that much about the project — an obscure graphic novel — so he practically begged Harrison Ford to show up at this thing to make sure people put this movie on their radar. He did, reluctantly.

soon to be playing louis ck in the movie

soon to be playing louis ck in the movie

But forget about 2011, it’s already old news, especially when Marvel trots out the entire cast of its 2012 Avengers movie, director Joss Whedon finally announces he will be the director and runs a “future of pop cutlure” panel with JJ Abrams. The future? Apparently it’s to saturate a movie in the public psyche so hard that we show up like zombies at the ticket window, practically stretching our arms in front of our chests. At least that has to be Marvel’s idea by bringing the cast of a movie not scheduled to shoot for another year to a place where people will ask nothing but questions like, “So what’s the movie gonna be like?” What’s it gonna be like? NOBODY KNOWS! The script isn’t even finished yet.

That doesn’t stop people from wanting to know what’s next … you know, like what will happen after the three movies that won’t be fully released for two years. I’m all for looking to the future and trying to find out as much news as you can, but wow. Let me dissect 2011 before we start worrying about the 2014 movie slate.

Couple other items of note:

–Still nothing from X-Men: First Class. This should have been the coming out party for the new cast. Instead, not even the confirmed actors like James McAvoy, Kevin Bacon or director Matthew Vaughn could show up just to tell fans, “Don’t worry guys, everything’s under control.” I’ve been thinking it’s 50-50 the movie would make its June 3 release date and be good. Now I’d say it’s 25-75.

TV panels would be my favorite part Comic-Con. Yeah, it’d be cool to have seen The Avengers cast gather together for the first time, but I think I’d actually like to hear the process of how the episodes of Fringe come together more.

just to be clear, this was the smile and look on jimmy dugan's face when he told the crowd to kiss his rosey red @ss

just to be clear, this was the smile and look on jimmy dugan's face when he told the crowd to kiss his rosey red @ss

–If I was someone like Angelina Jolie, who would stir up such a crowd at a place like Comic-Con it should be illegal for her to go there, I’d go out of my way to make sure I never have a movie released anywhere near that weekend. She should have it in her contract that every movie she makes should be released July 16 so that she never has to go to this thing. She looks like she’s having about as much fun at this thing as me right before a dentist appointment. Now Leonardo DiCaprio — he’s got it down. Premiere with a $65 million a week before and you don’t have to sniff that place. Inception has a legitimate shot to stay on top of the box office until mid-August after another big weekend.

–I’m starting to think I’m the only one in the world who saw the original Tron to know how much it sucked. I guess I was only 8 when I saw it, so maybe I just didn’t get it at the time. but I have no interest in seeing Tron Legacy in December, an updating of the 22nd biggest movie of 1982.

we'll never know who he is, but it's probably better that way

we'll never know who he is, but it's probably better that way

The only thing important enough to tear me away from Comic-con news is a question: “Who is Don Draper?” If it weren’t such a perplexing question, then it would be the cheesiest opening to an anticipated TV show season ever. In the hands of lesser people, it would have been. It should have been. But when you’re talking about Sunday’s incredible season four premiere of Mad Men, you’re talking about the best TV minds in the business somehow turning the pratfall of a hokey, obvious opening into a revealing process of inner thought. The truth is, no one knows who Don Draper is. He’s led so many different lives — literally and figuratively — that question throws him so far off his game he can’t concentrate. That question clouds his judgement for a week of the show’s time, until finally he fixes his wrong by puffing out his chest and blasting the Gospel of Don so loud that every one can hear it. And just like that, we’re stuck behind another veil of Don Draper secrecy that we may not ever see our way past. It’s like Paul from Beautiful Girls telling Willie, “You never let them see the little old man behind the curtain working the levers of the great and powerful OZ.” On the other hand, we now know exactly who Betty’s new husband Henry is. He didn’t get enough screen time last year to get a good read on him, he was more window dressing or a means to an end than he was a character. He was there just to get Betty away from Don and nothing else. Sure, he was self-assured and confident in his wooing of a married woman, but he never deviated from what any other wooing has ever looked like in TV and movies. But now we know. That self-assured, almost cocky thing he had going on? That was an act. He’s really a sniveling little mama’s boy without financial means to buy his own house despite a seemingly high-profile government job. He’s perfectly content to “live in someone else’s dirt,” perhaps the most eloquently beautiful words of Sunday’s incredible premiere episode. Now that we know who he is, it’s back to trying to figure out Don. But why bother trying? They’re never going to let us know, and that’s probably a good thing. It’s fun trying to figure out on our own. GRADE: A

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