San Francisco was overrun with superheroes this weekend, as movie stars, filmmakers and thousands of fans — many in elaborate homemade costumes — hit town for WonderCon.
Celebrating its 25th year, the convention is making a name for itself as a less-crazed alternative to July’s San Diego Comic-Con, with a lower number of attendees and a more laid-back atmosphere. And with it’s early April date, the smaller convention offers a much better opportunity for Hollywood studios to promote their summer fare — though three big comic book movies coming out in the next few months, Captain America, Thor and X-Men: First Class, were notably absent.
Gossip Girl star Blake Lively, who hit the convention to promote Green Lantern, in which she stars opposite Ryan Reynolds, was a bit preoccupied with a new career milestone: “Did you guys see the Barbie?” she asked, pointing to a doll version of her Green Lantern character. “It’s so crazy. I feel like I need to go home and buy a Barbie’s magical dream house and play with myself — that doesn’t sound right.”
For Jon Favreau, the smaller event made him a little nostalgic. It reminded him of his first Comic-Con: “It was close to 10 years ago, if not 10,” he says. Favreau was in San Francisco to debut footage of his next film, Cowboys and Aliens, starring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, out this summer. The enthusiastic crowd responded excitedly to Favreau’s presentation, which included a brief glimpse of the film’s alien invaders.
Of course, even if the crowd is predisposed to like his work, that doesn’t mean that as a filmmaker Favreau doesn’t still feel intense pressure coming to WonderCon. “I’ve bombed here before,” he said refering to a time when he showed only the poster for Iron Man. “That’s when I realized you have to understand your audience,” Favreau says. “It’s different from the mainstream. They want to hear insight.”
Another director riding high during the convention was Tarsem Singh, who unveiled footage from November’s Immortals, starring Henry Cavill — recently cast as the next Superman — as a mortal fighting on behalf of Greek gods. But the witty Singh stole the show, donning a homemade “I’ve been media trained” T-shirt.
“The studio’s whole thing was, ‘We wish you had picked better-known names,’” Singh remembers from when he cast Cavill in his film. “When (Superman) happened, they were like, ‘Oh! You picked the right piggy.’”