Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Here Are a Few Of My Favorite Things: Wondercon 2012

Cross-posted on Film.com

This weekend, Wondercon headed south to Anaheim where fans braved a stupidly intense storm and ridiculous traffic all weekend for the chance to see their favorite writers, creators, publishers, actors, directors, artists and personalities and hopefully take home a few souvenirs. We were on the scene from start to finish and compiled a list of the best this Wondercon had to offer. Details on the best finds of the floor coming in the morning.

Girl Power
Something that really stood out to me during Wondercon, especially in the main ballroom on Saturday, was the hearty amount of female empowerment. During the Sound of my Voice panel, co-writer, co-producer, and co-star Brit Marling talked about being fed up with the bland and sterotypical roles she was being offered, and after realizing her choices were get a sex change or create her own work, she began writing and producing, and soon both Another Earth and Sound of my Voice were born. The extremely well spoken creator struck me immediately as a great role model for disheartened aspiring artists out there, as well as fangirls in general. And fun fact - the film had a female DP in Rachel Morrison! Later panels saw Charlize Theron taking a real ownership of her take no prisoners sass, insisting that Michael Fassbender smells like "musk and chillies with occasional mint thrown in", and telling a small child who asked a question a. if he was single and b. if he would call her when he broke up with his girlfriend, Kristin Stewart talking about how great it was to play a strong character, and while never being unwise enough to insult Twilight, definitely seemed to have appreciated playing such a different character, and Milla Jovovich (headling the first ever series to have five films with a female action lead in Resident Evil: Retribution) discussing her weapon collection and love of She-Ra and Thundercats. Not to mention Maggie Grace and Emma Stone representing their respective movies without their male co-stars present. I felt some sort of unexpected camaraderie with the women on stage during Wondercon's Saturday that I don't recall ever feeling before. And that's not even taking into account the multiple female artists and creators with spotlight panels all weekend long, including Renae De Liz (debuting Womanthology!), Rebekah Isaacs, Carol Lay, Fiona Staples, Felicia Day and Jane Espenson. Hooray for fangirls!

More after the jump

Also very present in the main ballroom was a sense of levity. Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender faux acting out the Prometheus trailer was silly fun and Milla Jovovich knowing all the words to Montage from Team America was a surprising bit of badassery. We also got to see lots of strong friendships inspire fantastic discussion, in the case of Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij and Rian Johnson and Joseph Gordon Levitt, and hearty laughs in the case of Seth Grahame-Smith and Benjamin Walker, and Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. The room had much more of a "I'm here cause I want to be" vibe instead of an "I'm doing what I'm told" one. This increased tenfold on Sunday when panels from Fringe and Community had fans in stitches, more details of which can be found in my articles highlighting those panels tomorrow.

One of my favorite parts of any convention is giveaways, and this Wondercon had an eclectic mix of awesomeness. Fox handed out Weyland Industries business cards and 3D mini posters for Prometheus and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Battleship handed out heavy duty mini posters, Once Upon a Time created notebooks reminisicent of the book from the show, the Sound of my Voice booth had tattoos like Maggie's in the film and posters demonstrating the secret handshake, and the Fringe panel gave out raffle tickets, rewarding 50 of them with a free Fringe comic penned and then signed by Josh Jackson. 

Watchmen Prequels Calming Fears
Wondercon seemed to act a coming out party of sorts for the Before Watchmen series, set to launch in June. The beautiful #1 covers for each character were displayed at the DC booth and at their Saturday panel, the creators showed plenty of concept art as they talked about the process. Lots of people have been complaining about this series, but I am all for it. Why should Alan Moore's characters be untouchable? He who created the League of Extraordinary Gentleman will not condone his characters being used by anyone else? Really? The talent behind the upcoming prequel series is INCREDIBLE and they all radiate passion for this project, Len Wein in particular. Newsarama live blogged the panel and I highly recommend checking it out to assuage any fears you may have. 

Perhaps the best panel of the entire Saturday was Looper. The debut trailer brought the house down, stealing the show for many more than just me, and I felt like I could listen to Rian Johnson and Joseph Gordon Levitt talk forever. The panel was a regular love fest, with Levitt comparing Johnson to Spielberg and Nolan, noting that all three truly love movies, which shows in their work. More than one question directed love for Hit Record towards Levitt, and the admiration for him only grew when he expressed his love of The Matrix, Quantum Leap, and Isaac Asimov. When the audience reacted to his sci-fi shout outs, Levitt noted "You know you're in a cool room when Quantum Leap gets a bigger reaction than The Matrix." Johnson gave a much appreciated shout out to Primer, a film he loves, adding "I'm convinced Shane [Carruth] actually knows how time travel works." Consider this film now in my top five most anticipated flicks of 2012. Well done, boys.

Cabin in the Woods Screening
Although it's a damn shame this movie had no panel, robbing thousands of the chance to hear Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard, and that incredible cast goof off and talk shop for an hour, since this is a movie to best go into totally cold, perhaps it is for the best that my first true exposure to any part of it was a screening itself. Hosted by Geoff Boucher of the LA Times, the Cabin screening held at the Ultraluxe theaters (supposedly the most state of the art theater around, and yet, the screen was too dim...hmmm) was one of the major highlights of our Wondercon experience. Attendees randomly received passes to the event in issues of the Hero Complex magazine being passed out in front of the Convention Center. And this movie. THIS MOVIE. An absolute treat for horror fans, but accessible enough to be enjoyed by everyone, I cannot recommend Cabin in the Woods enough. The film is distinctly a Whedon/Goddard joint, and will fit perfectly into the oeuvre of work from all the Buffy-creators-post-Buffy. Speaking of Buffy creators post Buffy, the lovely Jane Espenson was in the audience as well and we have it on good authority that she too enjoyed the crap out of the film After the screening, there was a Q&A with Whedon and Goddard that answered some lingering questions and provided plenty of laughs. 

Nowhere To Go
Although I disliked everything about the layout of the Anaheim Convention Center (despite there being two sets of two escalators connecting the 2nd and 3rd levels, you could only go up one set and down the other. Why not have one up and one down in each set? WHY?!) and disliked the fact that getting anywhere in Anaheim is a pain in the ass, the fact that no one had anywhere to go actually made hanging out at night a whole lot more manageable. The Hilton Anaheim acted as what the Marriott next to Comic-Con used to be - the main hub for all libation consumption. Being the closest hotel to the convention center, the Hilton lobby was where professionals and fans alike spent their evenings. This led to the afterhours having a nice communal, classic con feel. Oh and the photo of Tintin has nothing to do with this, I just had to put it somewhere because ZOMG CUTENESS.