The weekend of Wizard World Atlanta 2014 was packed wall-to-wall with panels, and each one was even bigger and better than the next. From fan panels, to instructional panels, to one-on-one panels with amazing guests; Wizard World Atlanta 2014 had a little bit of everything, and we managed to take in some pretty fantastic panels while we were there.
One-on-One with Stan Lee
No burying the lead here; the big event of Sunday was a one-on-one Q&A panel with Stan “The Man” Lee. Due to his advanced age and resulting hearing issues, he had to have every question repeated to him by moderator Mo Lightning, but he made even that as entertaining as possible. In the 45 minutes Lee was on stage, he delivered line after line of not only jokes but information and even advice. Below is a list of the highlights.
- He says the one character he really doesn’t feel has been done right on film is Daredevil, but he hopes Marvel can reset their “perfect record” by delivering a good take on the character in the upcoming Netflix series.[pullquote]”I love anything that has to do with entertaining people.” – Stan Lee[/pullquote]
- He wishes the film companies would work together for a crossover. I think it’s safe to assume everyone agrees with that sentiment.
- He believes, in the future, all comics will be digital, but he hopes printed books never completely go away.
- Of all his great cameos in the Marvel films, he says his favorite is the scene in Amazing Spider-Man where he plays a librarian who can’t hear Spider-Man fighting in the background.
- Speaking of cameos, he says he has no idea how his cameo fits into Guardians of the Galaxy, but he does have one.
- He says The Big Bang Theory is “the greatest” and wishes they would have him back to guest star again.
- He had to work as a teenager, because his father was so often out of work, and that influenced his comic writing. He gave his characters real, human problems to deal with to let kids think “If things are tough for the superhero and he can still make it, maybe I can, too.”
- At age 91, he continues to work simply because he enjoys it; he enjoys working with friends, including Kevin Smith, Gil Champion, Robert Downey Jr, and Leonardo DiCaprio. I’ve always loved that Stan Lee and Kevin Smith are friends; at once it doesn’t make sense and it makes all the sense in the world.
- His company Pow! Entertainment, while not currently working on comics, is developing The Annihilator, the first Chinese-American superhero; and Chakra, the first Indian superhero.
- Finally, his advice for maintaining a long and healthy relationship like he has with his wife: “Pick the right girl.”
Time-Traveling with Karen Gillan
The terrific Karen Gillan, whom you may (read:better damn well) recognize as Amy Pond from Doctor Who, also held a one-on-one Q&A panel wherein she discussed the most recent film Oculus, her upcoming film Guardians of the Galaxy, and–oh yeah–I guess Doctor Who, too. Among a lot of other things. Below is a list of highlights.
- When posed a question dealing with the possibility of a SuperWhoLock crossover (Supernatural, Doctor Who, and Sherlock), Gillan said she would like to see Matt Smith’s version of the Doctor cross paths and interact with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes. I believe such a thing just might implode the internet, but let’s go ahead and try it anyway.
- Given the choice, Gillan said she would choose Rory over the Doctor; love over friendship.
- Gillan’s favorite companion on Doctor Who is Rose.
- Her favorite Doctor Who villain is the weeping angels and the Silence.
- The fish fingers and custard she ate in the Doctor Who episode “The Power of Three” were actually made of coconut, so she has never actually tried the Whovian delicacy.
- She said she felt like a “Proud mother” when she heard Matt Smith had been cast in the Terminator reboot.
- She grew up playing “Barbies” using an American accent, which she only later realized was weird. Speaking of accents, she learned the accent she uses in Oculus from watching the HBO series Girls.
- The makeup for her role as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy took 5 hours each morning.
Michael Rooker vs. The Audience
As I mentioned in my overall report on the convention, this could very easily be a one-man show on HBO; it is very entertaining, as Rooker forgoes the formality of a table and spends his allotted time–and then some–wandering the stage and coyly connecting with those who are asking him questions. He’s naturally funny and engaging. Below are a few highlights.
- Rooker’s favorite episode of The Walking Dead, where he played Merle Dixon, is the show’s pilot: Days Gone Bye.
- What made him accept the role of Merle was the fact that the character cut his own hand off to escape a pair of handcuffs.[pullquote]”I don’t go to bars to pick up people; I go to bars to consume alcohol.” – Michael Rooker, when asked his favorite pickup line[/pullquote]
- Going into the series, he genuinely only thought he’d be on for the three episodes he originally signed on for.
- He said he prefers, when he’s finished with a role, that he leaves the audience with more questions than answers; as he says, “I’m not here to give you answers”, which I thought was a hilarious thing to say during a Q&A session.
- Rooker had multiple ear surgeries as a child and told a story about how he was once given too little anesthesia and woke up mid-surgery; that was the second-most painful experience he’s had, behind filming the movie Slither (because of prosthetics and makeup, etc). Despite that, he has still worked with Slither‘s director James Gunn (on Guardians of the Galaxy) because he considers Gunn a close friend.
Inside The Boondock Saints II
Stars Sean Patrick Flanery, Clifton Collins Jr, and David Della Rocco reunited for a panel discussing their shared film The Boondock Saints II and the rest of their careers. Following a hilarious series of moments where David Della Rocco could not hear a single thing that anyone was saying, a few interesting things came out of the panel.
- Sean Patrick Flanery is an interesting storyteller, and he is not Irish, no matter how many fans of The Boondock Saints believe he is.
- The Boondocks Saints III is definitely happening.
- When discussing his role in the film Capote and how he was able to get into the mind of a killer, Clifton Collins Jr dropped an awesome quote that I have to relay here, “You get naked with your demons and let them dance together.”
One-on-One with James Marsters
Perhaps known best for his role as Spike on both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel, James Marsters many films from the likes of Dragonball Evolution, all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum with P.S. I Love You. Marsters was not only a cordial host for his fans, but he was also quite candid.
- About the Dragon Ball series, “[It] is the best representation of manhood.”
- About Dragonball Evolution, a film based on the series and a film in which Marsters starred as Lord Piccolo (an awesome character), “It’s terrible. I don’t kid myself; that was not a masterpiece.” Agreed, Mr. Marsters. I love that he is genuinely a fan of the series, though; except, that makes me feel bad for him that he had to star in that awful movie.
- [pullquote]”I love this woman.” – Marsters on Kathy Bates[/pullquote]He told a story about being on the set of P.S. I love You with Kathy Bates; Bates was sick, and it was the end of a long day of shooting. Just as the camera was set to turn onto her, she says to Marsters, “This is what separates the men from the boys, James. Men from the boys.”
- One more thing that made me like James Marsters even more: upon seeing that a fan was wearing a Green Lantern shirt, he exclaimed, “Green Lantern rocks!”
The Best Action Figure Sets from the ’80s
This panel was held by RetroBlasting, the pop culture archaeologists. I loved this panel because action figure sets used to be HUGE, both literally and figuratively. As the RetroBlasting crew mentioned during their panel, video games basically killed action figure sets, and that’s a shame because they are awesome.
- When the panel began, they joked that they would talk about anything up to and including Batman: The Animated Series (ostensibly meaning their expertise extended from the ’70s, through the ’80s, and into the early ’90s). I nearly asked if they were aware of the Jakks Pacific Maximum Sweaters line of WWF action figures; I thought maybe the idea of action figures that actually sweat would pique their interest. And, yes, I do still have several of those. Don’t judge me.
- The 1991 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Sherwood Forest playset is actually a repurposed Ewok Village from 1983. This was apparently a common practice for toy companies to save money on their playsets.
- Girls playsets always have an overabundance of furniture.
Comics to Film with J.M. Dematteis, Bob Layton, and Aaron Sagers
Dematteis, Layton and Sagers spent some time discussing what it’s like to work in both comics and film, plus the inherent difficulties that come about when attempting to convert one to the other.
That’s it for our coverage on the fantastic lineup of panels at Wizard World Atlanta 2014. Be sure to check back here all week for our continued coverage of the convention; tomorrow: the Cosplay Costume Contest.