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Comic-Con 2010: 'Expendables' swim in testosterone, 'Battle: Los Angeles' burns our retinas, and Jeff Bridges really doesn't like Arrowhead

July 22, 2010 |  8:34 pm


We're down at Comic-Con, in the land of Batman capes and Chewbacca-Storm Trooper fights, writing primarily for our colleague Geoff Boucher's Hero Complex blog. But at the end of a long day of dodging the costumed masses, we wanted to offer a little sample of what's been happening in and around the grounds of the San Diego Convention Center.

Earlier today, we watched as the cast of "Tron: Legacy" offered some motivations for the new film. Star Jeff Bridges and original "Tron" director Steven Lisberger described the need for "new myths," with Lisberger also citing the prophetic qualities of his film.  "The generation that grew up with 'Tron' accepts it as the founding myth of the Internet and technology that's theirs," Lisberger said. "The story came true."

A surreal moment -- Dude-like, even -- came when Bridges took a turn to talk about the "darker side of technology,"  that is, how he's repulsed by the use of plastic water bottles. (He held up an Arrowhead bottle, called for the product's elimination, and directed attendees to a website offering information about the cause.) The Hall H panel also saw an unusual moment in which the entire crowd, numbering about 6,000 people, was asked to quiet down, and then instructed by some text on a giant screen to shout out various catchphrases and stomp their feet in unison. We could have sworn it was an elaborate psychological experiment of group behavior, but director Joseph Kosinski said the idea was to mix some of the sound into the final cut so the Comic-Con attendees would essentially become vocal extras.

Meanwhile, as our colleague Alex Pham wrote, Jonathan Liebesman's "Battle: Los Angeles" showed itself to be a kind of first-person shooter with a heavy dose of destruction porn. Readers who live in Los Angeles and are feeling a little self-flagellating might relish the latter; as Pham writes, "Angelenos who enjoyed watching their city crumble in '2012' will be treated to scenes of its sandy beaches, concrete freeways and skyscrapers blown into smithereens in this upcoming movie from Sony."

Almost as explosive was a panel for "The Expendables," what with its footage of half of Brazil getting blown up, lots of talk of how Sylvester Stallone, Steve Austin, Randy Coutoure and Dolph Lundgren all broke each other's necks on the set; indeed, there may have been more testosterone on that panel than there is anywhere outside of a BALCO lab.

If attendees' retinas were burning after watching all that footage, they were glowing as Angelina Jolie made a rare Comic-Con appearance to promote "Salt," in a gambit that has the studio trying to flog a movie that opens in just 24 hours.

An odd moment came with the day's biggest news: that Guillermo del Toro would direct a movie based on Disney's Haunted Mansion theme-park attraction. (It was considerably more exciting than the other bit of fanboy news: Joss Whedon's announcement he would direct "Avengers," which everyone and their cousin knew.) The Del Toro news came at the "Tron" panel, after another surprise, a Johnny Depp video teaser for "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," which itself came after the "Tron" panel. A good number of fans were filing out before they realized the genre legend was on stage talking about his vision for the haunted house.

Some of the the biggest non-surprises, meanwhile, came when two big personalities didn't show. Despite teasing of same, neither Brad Pitt nor Arnold Schwarzenegger turned up for the panels for their respective movies ("Megamind" and "The Expendables"). "Megamind" co-stars Tina Fey and Will Ferrell brought out a cut-out of Pitt, but the actor never turned up. It was a rare moment of absence in a day filled with over-the-top presences.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: "Tron: Legacy." Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

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