Marvel Studios have constantly raised the bar each and every year at San Diego Comic-Con, so it had a lot of high expectations to live up to in Hall H on Saturday night. Judging by reactions from fans and the amount of content the studio presented, they unfortunately didn’t quite reach the heights that attendees were hoping for.
The studio is known for announcing handfuls of films in advance, showing off footage, and bringing the majority of its casts on stage, but this year they didn’t quite do as much as early buzz and wishful thinking anticipated. There was a very quick panel about Ant-Man, a huge chunk of time devoted to Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the announcement of Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
Other than that, there was no mention of upcoming projects like Doctor Strange or an announcement about what films the majority of their newly claimed release dates (that push all the way into 2019) were being saved for. That means no updates on films like Ms. Marvel, Black Panther, Iron Man 4, the next solo Hulk film, or long-rumored projects like The Inhumans and recently-hinted at films like Thunderbolts.
Rather than pine after what could have been, let’s examine the films that Marvel did bring to SDCC, shall we?
The studio was twenty minutes late to their own panel, which seriously angered some Hall H attendees, but all of that changed once the Marvel logo came up and a big retrospective video of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe was shown. After that, the first movie on the docket was Ant-Man, the film with the most to prove.
It didn’t take up much of the studio’s allotted time, but did come with a few casting announcements and some shiny new test footage. New director Peyton Reed was brought onto the stage (with a small smattering of applause), followed by the Ant-Men themselves, Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas. Then Kevin Feige introduced two actors who have been circling the film, House of Cards alum Corey Stoll, and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug‘s Evangeline Lilly. Stoll will play the film’s villain, Yellowjacket, while Lilly will take the role of Hope Van Dyne, the daughter of Michael Douglas’ character Hank Pym.
Each actor talked a bit about the film, revealing small plot details and character motivations. Stoll’s character, Darren Cross, was once a protege of Pym’s, but the two had a falling out and Cross stole Pym’s Ant-Man technology after taking over his company. That leads Pym to enlist the help of a crook named Scott Lang (Rudd), who dons the Ant-Man suit to steal back Pym’s tech.
Hope Van Dyne is the daughter of Pym and Janet Van Dyne, who in the comics is the Avenger known as Wasp. It’s safe to say that Lilly will take on the Wasp role in or after this film, and strike up a relationship with Lang. Her character is estranged from her father, after his tumultuous relationship with her mother.
It was then revealed that filming will start on August 18th, 2014, despite there not being a completed script yet (why they decided to drop that little detail, and strike up more fan suspicion, is beyond me). However, it’s not like the studio to show up empty handed, and so, as Feige put it, they “filmed a little something to show you guys.”
The following clip was more test footage showing off Ant-Man’s abilities, with some voiceover from Lang and Pym demonstrating their relationship. Lang tells him that he’s not a superhero, while Pym scoffs at the very idea of heroes by saying, “Superheroes. What a goddamn joke.” Overall the footage was met with positive feedback, but I’ve noticed one recurring comment: It feels less “Edgar Wright-y” than the previous VFX footage. Wright’s test reel was kinetic and overtly comedic, while audiences described Reed’s footage as more straightforward and humor dependent. Take that as you will.