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Hero Complex Film Fest – Richard Donner, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and the DC Reboot

The Hero Complex Film Fest is held at the Mann Chinese in Hollywood and showcases the Superhero genre in film. This was the second year it was being held and they had quite the guest list there to talk about their movies. Today’s films were Superman and Superman II: The Donner Cut and the special guest? None other than Richard Donner himself. There was a great Q&A with Donner and host Geoff Boucher, but he wasn’t the only special guest as Mike Mignola was also there (he created this year’s poster) and of course there was the announced DC Comics interview with Geoff Johns and Jim Lee.

herocomplex_poster.jpgLet’s cover the comic news first since that’s what everyone is wondering about. It began with Jim Lee joking that he ran out of writer’s to work with so he was got stuck with Geoff. They revealed that the first story arc (likely six issues) will take place in the past and not be on the same timeline as the rest of the rebooted books, but that the second will. The arc will be the Justice League’s origin; tthey felt they never really had an origin that grabbed you and was memorable. They joked about one of them involving the JL fighting trees or something. Johns said that the theme for his run is: Art, Humor and Heroics although I could be wrong about art as they were talking over each other at the time.

Jim talked about the reboot or re-launch and about how he recalled when DC and John Byrne had re-launched Superman, that even though he knew the origin it was still interesting to see his take on it to find out the differences. Lee also mentioned that with the Justice League and the reboot that they wanted to modernize them and make them more contemporary so that they could be the superheroes for a new generation. In fact he said it three times so I’m pretty sure that was the main goal of the reboot: Contemporary and Modern. Lee also alluded that Geoff played a big part in the ideas for the different characters across the board.

Geoff Johns and Jim Lee at Hero Complex Film FestivalThey then played a video from Grant Morrison which talked about his run that’s starting with Rags Morales on Action Comics and how it will be the only other reboot title to take place in the past. Grant mostly talked about how he’s returning it to being a big action title and that no one will be able to expect what’s next. It really sounded like they were keeping his small town roots, but redeveloping his past again... for the modern era.

They spoke about the day and date digital and that the main goal was to be on all of those millions of ipad, iphone and android platforms with it. Johns said himself that he even scoffed at digital at first, but thinks it’s viable for the medium and that there is a different type of energy as you go panel by panel with the app. They both said that they’re going to experiment more with the new medium and Lee said that it will do different things and look different then its print counterpart.

The Q&A was full of great stories from Donner himself and started with an intro from Geoff Johns, who worked as his assistant for many years. Donner talked about how he had to do Superman in order to save it from the Hungarians which amused everyone. He talked about how large the original script was and that there was always plans to do three movies, each with a focus on a different city in Superman’s life which would act as a different development with the character, ie: Kyrpton, Smallville and Metropolis.

superman-rags-morales.jpgHe said for Smallville they wanted to find the most Norman Rockwell, Americana town they could and they did in British Columbia, Canada. The location scout found a great farm, but the owner hadn’t kept up with it so they actually planted and maintained the wheat that was grown in the field themselves. That's amazing since the field is huge and they weren't filming anywhere near it at the time. There are several more stories about when he first got the script hung-over on the toilet and when he first met with Marlon Brando, but that was part of the experience of being there. A fan did ask him why he had never directed an X-Men movie since his wife, Laura has produced all of them and he said they don’t work well together so for the sake of his marriage, they don’t. Of course he still gave her a hard time by saying she had also never asked, which wasn’t true. Also there is nothing like hearing Richard Donner say, "Kneel before Zod." It was awesome.

There you have it in a nutshell and I didn’t even go into the small piece on Mike Mignola and Hellboy, they said that the festival was successful enough that they would try to have it again next year (hopefully not at the same time as the Playboy Jazz Festival since it made traffic brutal to and fro). I think it was an interesting mix of comics and superhero movies that appealed to comic fans more than movie fans. If anything Comic Con could learn a thing or two when they’re shilling out NBC’s fall line up this year... nah.



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