The first major spectacle of the San Diego convention finally arrived on Friday  afternoon as Sony rolled out the big guns for its presentation of The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Following a riveting RoboCop panel – more of which later – the curtains to either side of the main stage drew back to allow side screens to extend in a manner reminiscent of Warner Bros’ The Hobbit presentation here several years ago.
The audience watched footage as Spider-Man evaded a Hall H security guard and clambered up the side of the building. Moments later Andrew Garfield entered the Hall dressed as the webslinger, high-fiving audience members as he sauntered through the throng.
Staying in costume, Garfield [pictured in The Amazing Spider-Man] took his place on stage next to director Marc Webb, Dean DeHaan as Harry Osborn and producers Matt Tolmach and Avi Arad.
“I come to Comic-Con every year because it’s the only place where I feel normal,” a masked Garfield said. “No-one hassles me because I blend into the crowd.”
Emma Stone, who plays Peter Parker’s love interest Gwen Stacy, was in France to shoot Woody Allen’s new comedy and sent greetings via a video link. Her words were cut short by images of electrical interference as Jamie Foxx, cast as the villain Electro, walked on.
“I loved Django,” quipped Spider-Man, moments before he left the stage to answer the call of his Spider Sense.
Foxx spoke about Electro, who starts out as Max Dillon, a quiet, overlooked genius in his 40s whose mother even forgets his birthday. “You immediately see he is in a hole so that when he turns into Electro it makes sense he has so much venom and so much anger,” said Foxx. “I wanted to make him a serious individual who wants to burn Spider-Man down and burn the city with it.”
Webb wrapped the shoot three weeks ago and spoke of how much he enjoyed the experience of venturing into new stories free of the demands of an origins narrative. “Once we finished [telling the origins story] it felt incredibly liberating,” he said. “There was this exhilaration.”
The director rolled a tape that showed the start of the sequel, set to open through Sony on May 2 2014, in which Spider-Man swings through the city demonstrating what Webb called his “physical virtuosity” and “cocky” demeanour.
What followed was a brief confrontation with The Rhino, played by Paul Giamatti, and a sequence where Spider-Man saves Dillon from certain death amid Rhino carnage.
The focus shifts to an angst-ridden Dillon in a laboratory who tumbles into a giant laboratory cylinder filled with electric eels and is later seen as a blue-faced Electro, wreaking havoc on the city as he tosses thunderbolts this way and that.
By the time the lights came back on Garfield was on stage as himself. The British actor recently opined that Spider-Man might want to explore his sexuality in future episodes and this promoted an openly gay audience member to express his gratitude.
Garfield went on to say: “Spider-Man stands for everybody: black, white, gay, straight, Asian, bisexual. It would make sense if in the third movie I was with a black guy.”
Garfield, a vocal supporter of gay marriage, continued: “To me, love between two consenting adults is love and nobody outside them has the right to judge.”
The star added that he would like to see Spider-Man join The Avengers – that drew a huge cheer – and recalled how he felt when he first met Marvel guru Stan Lee. “It was like being in a room with Mickey Mouse. He was so iconic it was like he wasn’t there.”
Earlier in the Sony presentation Brazilian director José Padilha showed first footage from his RoboCop reboot, set to open in 2014. Padilha declined to call it a remake, adding that Verhoeven’s 1987 thriller was “a brilliant film… perfect as it was.”
The aim here, he explained, was to bring the story into the present. Footage showed a news crew accompanying a patrol in Tehran by robotic law enforcers and drones that escalates into a deadly skirmish between a handful of locals and their mechanised overlords.
Michael Keaton plays Raymond Sellars, the massively influential head of the corporation that manufactures artificial intelligence entities. Keaton joined Padilha and Sam Jackson on stage and said his character was an ideologue who believed he was right to be hawking his wares.
Jackson’s character Pat Novak is a firebrand TV news show host while Joel Kinnaman plays Alex Murphy aka RoboCop,reconstructed after he is seriously wounded in an accident. Abbie Cornish plays his wife and was also present.
“Our movie is fun and has a lot of action,” said Padilha. “But it’s also a movie that talks about drones being used in war and if you think about it we will soon see robots in wars. It has an impact on society.”
The first two presentations involved The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones starring Lilly Collins and set to open on Aug 21. Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 leads Bill Hader, Anna Faris and Terry Crews appeared on stage in a lively exchange to kick things off. That film opens on Sept 27.
- Metallica shook Hall H with a decibel shredding appearance in support of the concert film / mystery Metallica Through The Never. The audience got to see the new trailer. The film opens on 27 September on IMAX and arrives one week later in conventional theatres.