NYCC: Legendary Comics/Pacific Rim panel


Even though there was cool news about comics projects from Matt Wagner and Grant Morrison, the Pacific Rim portion of the Legendary Comics panel stole the show. The panel was moderated by Chris Hardwick and also featured Legendary Comics EIC Bob Schreck.

Guillermo del Toro and screenwriter Travis Beacham were the final panelists who took the stage. Del Toro began by saying he had some bad news and some good news. The bad news was that he had screened a teaser for Pacific Rim at the San Diego Comic Con and he’d been told that he shouldn’t show it again. The effects weren’t complete, the sound was a little off, and ideally they planned on radio silence for any Pacific Rim footage until a proper trailer release around December.

“The good news is I don’t give a f**k,” del Toro said, and then proceeded to show the Pacific Rim teaser.

A full rundown of the panel is after the cut.

After Bob Schreck took the stage, he gave a brief rundown of Legendary Comics before introducing Matt Wagner, probably best known for Mage and Grendel. (Wagner’s two Batman stories from a few years ago, Batman and the Monster Men and Batman and the Mad Monk, were great as well.) Wagner talked about The Tower Chronicles, the project he’s writing for Legendary with artist Simon Bisley. The story focuses on a supernatural bounty hunter who’s more than what he seems. The series a trilogy being published in prestige-size (roughly 70 pages), with four prestige volumes going into each book. By the end, The Tower Chronicles will be over 800 pages long.

Next up was Grant Morrison, looking dapper as usual. Hardwick and Schreck said they both wish they could look as good as Grant, to which Morrison replied, “This is just how they dress on my home planet.” Sean and I had seen Morrison walk by prior to the panel while I was talking to my friend Steve from Unseen Films.

Morrison’s project for Legendary is called The Annihilator. The story follows a down-on-his-luck screenwriter who’s been asked to do a tent-pole studio film called Annihilator. The movie has something to do with a pulp hero fighting a massive black hole at the center of the universe. If the screenwriter isn’t able to complete the screenplay, the real world is doomed. It’s a deadline with cosmic implications. The artist for the project is in negotiations so was not announced, though Morrison said it’s the person he wanted to draw the book.

At this point, del Toro and Beacham took the stage and did the preferatory spiel. The Pacific Rim teaser is phenomenal. It opens with two people combing an icy, stormy sea shore with a metal detector. The metal detector goes bonkers, and one of them digs up a peculiar metal object. The person holding the metal detector then holds the detector out to the water and it goes nuts. Horror and awe fill his face. We cut to a long shot of the shore where the two figures on the beach are dwarfed by an enormous robot with a spinning turbine in its chest. The robot itself is a reminiscent of those big anime robots of the 1970s and 1980s. The robot is missing an arm and eventually, after stumbling, collapses.

This is followed by a lot of mayhem. A gigantic monster which might be lobster-like or crab-like mauls the Golden Gate Bridge as jet fighters zip across the screen pelting it with missiles. We see people in suits gearing up and getting ready to pilot a giant robot. There are multiple pilots in each robot, and it looks as if they need to synch their actions in order to move it. Any time the robot hits a monster, the sound is thunderous. The teaser ended with Idris Elba shouting, “Today we are canceling the apocalypse!”

There was an enthusiastic standing ovation from a good portion of the crowd.

Del Toro then shared a new bit of poster art from Pacific Rim inspired by WWII iconography (seen above) as well as scans from his personal notebook for the film. If you’ve seen some of del Toro’s other movie notebooks, they’re these beautifully illustrated artifacts that help him piece together the look and feel of his films. That’s no exception with Pacific Rim. You can also view the poster and these notebook images in the gallery, though my bad camera doesn’t do the notebook images justice.

Del Toro said that he wanted to avoid sleek blues in the movie and instead wanted Pacific Rim to have a romantic vision of corrosion. He was looking to make an adventure movie full of romantic imagery (e.g., storms, crashing waves, vibrant colors) and humility. Wolrd War II also informed the movie’s look and design. Del Toro prefaced all this by saying he hates that the contemporary dream is to be famous, like “Boo Boo whatever the fuck.” Hardwick chimed in, “Did you just make a reference to Honey Boo Boo by calling her ‘Boo Boo Whatever the Fuck’?”

As for the Jaegers, the giant robots in the film, del Toro explained that there’s a pilot for different hemispheres of the robot and that the pilots are able to feel the pain of the Jaegers when something happens. The monsters and the Jaegers are 25-stories tall, and they used the Golden Gate Bridge in order to fix a scale. Fixing the size of the creatures helped del Toro figure out a budget for the movie so he could work within a reasonable limit without going overboard. Del Toro said, “As my pants can show, when I’m given freedom I eat all the doughnuts.” Del Toro said that Pacific Rim was the best filmmaking experience he’s had in his life.

The comics for Pacific Rim will be prequels to the film, explaining how these giant robots came to be. Beacham described them as a “supplemental guide to the world of Pacific Rim.” Steering the comics is a 1,000-page film Bible for Pacific Rim, which includes a detailed timeline of events, blueprints of all the Jaegers, and much more. Beacham said that the film Bible was so big that it’s impossible to carry the whole thing, that it must be broken into sections. The artists for the three Pacific Rim comics are currently under negotiation and will be announced at a later date.

Somehow the idea of del Toro releasing his own fragrance came up. I think it had to do with the idea of vanity and becoming famous. Hardwick suggested a cologne name: “I Don’t Give a Fuck.”

“For Men,” del Toro added. He said he didn’t know what it would smell like, though bacon was a possibility.

Later in the panel, Hardwick suggested “Smellboy” as a fragrance name.

Del Toro replied, “I would have to split the royalties with Mignola.”

During the Q & A session, del Toro dropped a few interesting details. For one, they constructed a four-story tall monster hand for the film, as well as massive monster foot and, if I heard right, part of a monster head. Ellen McLain (the voice of GLaDOS in Portal) will be the voice of the Jaeger AI in the film.

Del Toro mentioned that he’s okay now with the 3D post conversion. He was initially against the idea because of how 3D might affect the scale of the monsters and Jaegers. The studio has given the film the time and the money to make sure that a coversion is done right. Del Toro even gave some difficult scenes to convert to 3D for a test run and was very pleased with the results. So, on the topic of 3D, del Toro said he “did a full Romney.”

As for the design of the monsters, del Toro said he initially got a bunch of artists he liked in a room to sketch and design anything they wanted. Eventually he clamped down on the creative freedom and had two major stipulations: the monsters needed to look like they could be real creatures, and that the artist couldn’t be too referential to existing monsters. The result is creatures that are unique and have clean silhouettes. One monster that was referential was called “Karloff” during the panel. Karloff will not be in the movie but will appear in the Pacific Rim comics.

As for a Pacific Rim sequel, del Toro said he’s up for it. “If the Mayan calendar doesn’t fuck with us.”

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.