With “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Ant-Man” and a sequel to “Guardians of the Galaxy” already announced, it was Marvel newcomer Elizabeth Olsen who put it best on Marvel’s Comic-Con panel: “It feels like the beginning; it feels like we’re taking it to another place.”
The Marvel Studios chief was quick to start out the company’s hour-long panel, packed to capacity with over 6,500 people, thanking fans for its success so far on the bigscreen. “It still blows my mind that ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is our tenth Marvel Studios movie,” he said. “It always starts in this room with you guys. I love the notion that you are just as excited about part two or part three as something new.”
The focus on the panel wasn’t on Marvel’s next phase of movies — “Doctor Strange,” etc. — but what’s being released in 2015, although it did announce “Guardians of the Galaxy 2″ for July 28, 2017.
That includes “Ant-Man,” which has Peyton Reed taking over from Edgar Wright. The switch didn’t sit well with Marvel’s fanbase at first, and the director received tepid applause when taking the stage.
But Marvel tried to win the room over with fanboy friendly factoids like Peyton making his 20th trip to Comic-Con and having played in a punk band called Jonny Quest.
New test footage was also screened for the film that starts production in August, revealing an energetic action sequence in which star Paul Rudd’s character escapes on the back of a flying ant.
During the panel, Evangeline Lilly was confirmed as Hope Pym, the daughter of Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas). She had been avoiding the press when it came to the role for days while at Comic-Con. And it was revealed Corey Stoll will play Darren Cross, the villain Yellow Jacket.
Rudd was making his first trip to San Diego, “and it is as advertised,” he said. He finds the chance to be in a superhero film thrilling “but tough to wrap my brain around.”
Michael Douglas, who is also a first timer at the Con, said he “always looked at Marvel films from afar with envy,” given their scale and massive fanbase.
But it was “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” panel that had the crowd on their feet multiple times, especially at the start as Robert Downey Jr. took the stage, throwing red roses at his screaming fans.
He was soon joined by Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, James Spader, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Olsen.
“It just keeps getting better,” Downey said. “This is the longest bench of talent I’ve ever been involved with. I become less significant each time, which is fine.”
A montage of scenes from the film was shown that featured a significant amount of finished visual effects and action sequences that significantly elevates it above the first installment. But it was the humor and camaraderie of the onscreen heroes that stood out the most.
Spader, who plays the robot villain Ultron, said “I’ve always thought life couldn’t get weirder or crazy enough for me, but this place may be the weirdest, craziest place ever,” he said of Comic-Con. “It is really fantastically crazy here. It’s nuts.”
But the film puts him in a new position too.
“I play an eight-foot robot,” he said. “I’ve always played humans up until now. Everything was so entirely new — the process of making (the film), playing this character, the world it was entering and even the world these movies inhabit.”
Watch the “Ant-Man” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” panels below, without the footage that was screened.