Mike Fleming

Update: Ian McKellen broke up the crowd when he said he had returned to Comic-Con because “you struck down Proposition 8, and now I am looking for a husband, so hello Michael Fassbender.”

For its Hall H panel, 20th Century Fox trotted out two of its big tent poles in Dawn Of the Planet Of The Apes, and The Wolverine. The studio began its panel with the second installment of the Apes saga, which we’ll get to. But the fireworks happened on The Wolverine. After director James Mangold and Hugh Jackman explained the next chronicle of the angst ridden talon clawed Logan. Jackman surprised the crowd by bringing out original X-Men director Bryan Singer, who showed a sharp 3D sizzle reel of the film he is shooting now and which Fox will release next summer, X-Men: Days Of Future Past. The clip showed Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen’s Professor X and a contrite Magneto asking Wolverine to go back into the past to convince their younger selves (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) to open their minds toward avoiding a mutant war against humanity. The crowd went nuts and Singer then introduced a long list of cast members, both old and new, including Omar Sy, Ellen Page, Halle Berry, Stewart, McKellen, Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Anna Paquin, Evan Peters, Shawn Ashmore and Peter Dinklage. There was huge applause for the latter, who has become beloved from Game Of Thrones. Moderator Geoff Boucher said the assemblage was more impressive then when The Avengers cast assembled for Comic-Con.  Jackman said the lineup of the two casts was something he would never forget and it was clear from the rousing standing ovations that the Comic-Con faithful felt the same way. Most of the banter was playful but Jackman did get the crowd going when he said that he got dressed up as Wolverine and toured Comic-Con this morning and did not get stopped. “One guy sized me up and said, ‘not bad,’ and another said, ‘too tall dude.’ Definitely a high point of Comic-Con, judging from the raucous crowd reaction and Fox has given Marvel and Disney a high bar when it commences its panel right after this one is over.

The Fox presentation started with a short preview of Dawn Of the Planet of the Apes, a film that is still shooting for a July 18, 2014 bow. Director Matt Reeves said he and stars Jason Clarke, Keri Russell and Andy Serkis flew to San Diego from their set at 5 AM to show only a short clip because they are still shooting and he said, it takes WETA 10 weeks to turn around each ape shot. Still, the clip depicted Gary Oldman playing a revolutionary and Clarke playing a leader who tries to engage ape leader Caesar into a truce where both species can coexist. From the look on Caesar’s face as he unleashes his primate sources, it doesn’t look like we are all going to get along.

Next up was The Wolverine helmer James Mangold and Jackman, who had a lot more to show of a film that bows July 26. They showed a clip filled with action, and a shredded and jacked Jackman as he sliced and diced his way through Japan, leading up to a battle with a samurai that ended with Wolverine run through by a sword. When he doesn’t die, the samurai says, “What kind of a monster are you?” After unleashing and retracting his claws through the samurai, Jackman grunts, “The Wolverine.” The crowd went nuts, especially when Jackman took the stage. Noting that another actor (I recall it being Dougray Scott) was originally given the Logan role and that actor pal Russell Crowe teased him unmercifully that he and others were courted for the role, Jackman said he has never taken his great fortune of the Wolverine role for granted, particularly after being told that after Days of Future Past, his character will have appeared in as many superhero movies as Superman which puts him just behind Batman. Those characters have been played by multiple actors while Jackman has been the only one to wield the mutant claws.

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