<p>You'll believe a man can... fish?</p>

You'll believe a man can... fish?

Credit: Warner Bros/Legendary

'Man Of Steel' kicks off its campaign with an oddly muted first teaser trailer

You'll believe a very, very tiny man can fly

I'll say this much for the initial teaser trailer for Zack Snyder's upcoming "Man Of Steel"… they made a big choice, and they went with it.  I'm just not sure that choice was the right one in terms of reintroducing this iconic character to mainstream audiences.

One thing this campaign appears to be selling is reverence, and while I certainly appreciate that Zack Snyder is careful to play into the classic notions of what a character looks like and does when he adapts something, I think reverence is exactly what did not work about "Superman Returns."  That movie was so busy tiptoeing around the fondness people have for Richard Donner's original film that it felt like it had no pulse at all.  If this movie's going to work, it's going to have to have a life of its own.

It's also a dangerous first trailer because it is distinctly possible audiences won't know what they're looking at.  The distinctive "S" logo shows up at the end of the trailer, sure, but to tease your giant-budget reboot of the single most important superhero character you own with a trailer that spends most of its time showing a bearded dude working on a fishing boat and a little boy running around the yard of his house seems a little odd.

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<p>Guillermo Del Toro and Charlie Hunnam take questions from the audience during the 'Pacific Rim' panel at the San Diego Comic-Con</p>

Guillermo Del Toro and Charlie Hunnam take questions from the audience during the 'Pacific Rim' panel at the San Diego Comic-Con

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Photo

Guillermo Del Toro and his 'Pacific Rim' giant monsters conquer Hall H

Giant robots and giant monsters pretty much sell themselves

SAN DIEGO - The first sign attendees had that Warner Bros. had something special planned for their Comic-Con 2012 panel came at the start of the event when the curtains at the front of the room rolled back, wider than normal, revealing two extra screens that extended out from the front screen, creating a sort of Cinerama effect, with both side panels featuring graphics designed to evoke the world of "Pacific Rim."

Of course, that wouldn't have been the first thought for many people in the room, since "Pacific Rim" is still a year away and before Saturday's presentation, very little was known about the film.  Last year, Guillermo Del Toro came to tell fans that they could expect a movie about "giant f**king monsters against giant f**king robots," but since then, there's been almost nothing revealed in public.

I visited the set for the film, and at that point, I realized just what sort of scale Guillermo's trying for with the movie, and I was curious to see what sort of showing they'd make with 7000 people who walked in cold.

It's safe to say the response was enthusiastic.

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<p>'Finding Nemo' remains one of the most popular movies that Pixar has ever released, and now Andrew Stanton is set to begin work on a sequel.</p>

'Finding Nemo' remains one of the most popular movies that Pixar has ever released, and now Andrew Stanton is set to begin work on a sequel.

Credit: Walt Disney/Pixar

Andrew Stanton returns to 'Finding Nemo 2' for Disney/Pixar

Is this really a retreat?

No matter how good the eventual film is, people are going to categorize the notion of Andrew Stanton returning to Pixar to direct a sequel to "Finding Nemo" as a retreat of sorts on the heels of the commercial drubbing of "John Carter."

It's a tough move for Stanton no matter what he does.  I have no doubt at all that the reports are correct in saying that Stanton brought Disney a pitch that they loved.  I think of about 870 million reasons Disney would be pre-disposed to loving any story idea they heard for a "Finding Nemo 2."  But beyond that, Stanton is indeed one of Pixar's strongest story guys, and if he's got something he's excited by, then I'm absolutely willing to see it.

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<p>This image of Captain America and The Falcon just screams dark and gritty, doesn't it?</p>

This image of Captain America and The Falcon just screams dark and gritty, doesn't it?

Credit: Marvel Comics

Anthony Mackie will take wing as The Falcon in 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'

What does this mean for the sequel?

A little later, I'll have my thoughts on the "Marvel: Phase Two" panel from Comic-Con, which certainly indicated an organized approach to what they've got planned for the next few years, but it seems like they've already got more news than they announced on Saturday, and it suggests another interesting expansion for the potential roster they're looking at for "The Avengers 2."

Anthony Mackie has been showing up on fanboy wishlists for pretty much everything since "The Hurt Locker" was released, and when we ran a piece about a month ago about the possibility of a Black Panther film, Mackie seemed to be clear favorite for many of you.  He's done nice work in a number of films, but so far hasn't really found that role that pushes him over the top and establishes him as a bankable star.

That could change now that it's being reported he is in final negotiations with Marvel Studios to join the cast of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" as one of the most significant supporting characters in Captain America's ongoing comic history, The Falcon. 

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<p>It all comes down to this, both literally and figuratively, in Christopher Nolan's final Batman film, 'The Dark Knight Rises'</p>

It all comes down to this, both literally and figuratively, in Christopher Nolan's final Batman film, 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Credit: Warner Bros/Legendary

Review: 'The Dark Knight Rises' closes out Nolan's trilogy with brains and bombast

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It's more clear than ever that all three films are one big story

"Are you so desperate to fight criminals that you'd lock yourself in so you can fight them one at a time?" - Ra's Al Ghul

So began "Batman Begins," Christopher Nolan's first Batman film.  At the time, it felt unlike any film ever attempted with these characters, and strikingly different from superhero cinema in general.

This trilogy is exactly that:  three films that work as one, a story told in three movements, and with "The Dark Knight Rises," it seems that Nolan has finished out his time with this icon in the only way he could based on where it began.  I would argue that his so-called "real world" approach has never been particularly realistic, but it has always felt plausible based on the rules that he establishes for his world.  The first film starts with an angry billionaire climbing a mountain so he can join a ninja death cult.  That's not exactly Errol Morris.  But there is a sincerity, a sober direct quality to the way the fantastic is handled, that makes it all feel like it could happen, and that's an enormous gift that should not be discounted.

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<p>The entire 'Hobbit' panel poses together for a photo at the end of their triumphant Hall H presentation during the San Diego Comic-Con</p>

The entire 'Hobbit' panel poses together for a photo at the end of their triumphant Hall H presentation during the San Diego Comic-Con

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Photo

Gollum and Gandalf take center stage in twelve minute presentation for 'The Hobbit'

An amazing production serves to give the best look so far at what Jackson's done

SAN DIEGO - Gollum dropped some f-bombs, Elijah Wood made a surprise appearance, and the slightest glimpse of Orlando Bloom dressed as Legolas elicited shrieks of pleasure from the J.R.R. Tolkien fans who packed into Hall H today specifically to catch a glimpse of footage from part one of what may yet grow into a full trilogy of films based on Tolkien's enduring classic, 'The Hobbit."

In short, it was a perfect Comic-Con moment.

Before I recap what happened, let's talk about what didn't.  There was no demonstration of the 48 frames-per-second process that will be used for special engagements of "The Hobbit" when it opens this year, and the footage wasn't even shown in 3D.  I think it was a poor decision all the way around to avoid revealing the process here, but I think Jackson's stated reasons are right.  He knows that almost any conversation about the footage would focus on the technical if he did bring it, and good or bad, that's not really the point of bringing the material to show to the faithful.  These are fans, and what they're concerned with is the content of the movie, not the mechanics of how it will be shown to them.  Disappointed as I was, and frustrated to still have not seen a demonstration of the process, I do think it probably served them well in the end.

Warner Bros went all out this year, bringing a real sense of showmanship to their presentations.  Obviously, one of the most anticipated moments for many people was a detailed look at what Peter Jackson's been up to with "The Hobbit," a two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved book, and they were rewarded with over twelve minutes of footage.  The way the panel opened, though, was immediately immersive.  Warner put in two screens flanking the stage, extending out into the audience, and as the lights went down, the song of the dwarves filled Hall H and the various images from the recently released banner filled the screens, surrounding us with characters both familiar and new.

It immediately set a mood, and then, in the center panel, a new "Hobbit" production diary began to play.  You'll see it soon, I'm sure.  Basically, it covered the last five days of the production, and it was carefully cut because much of the work in those last five days is for material that will appear in the second film, which is still well over a year away.  

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Robert Downey Jr. certainly seemed right at home playing King Of Hall H during Saturday's appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con.
Robert Downey Jr. certainly seemed right at home playing King Of Hall H during Saturday's appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con.
Credit: Marvel Studios

Robert Downey Jr. shows 'Iron Man 3' footage during his Hall H victory lap

A rowdy panel turns out to be as much a celebration of success as hype for next year

SAN DIEGO - There was little doubt left after Robert Downey Jr. danced his way triumphantly through Hall H to the sounds of Luther Vandross singing "Never Too Much" as to who the King of Comic-Con truly is.  

Marvel's victory lap to celebrate "The Avengers" becoming the highest grossing superhero film of all time was capped off on Saturday afternoon by the appearance of the man who could well be credited with setting the tone for the entire interconnected universe that Marvel is building from film to film now, and Downey seemed winded but exhilarated by the time he finally reached the stage, one hand encased in an Iron Man glove with a glowing palm.

"I have three questions for you," he said, and the crowd roared at him, cheering.

"First, how much do I love you?"  The wave of noise that came back at him was huge.

"How much do you love me?" he asked next, smiling as he said it, and if anything, the noise was even bigger.

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<p>Henry Cavill, Zack Snyder, and 'Man Of Steel' made a dramatic entrance today in Hall H at the San Diego Comic-Con</p>

Henry Cavill, Zack Snyder, and 'Man Of Steel' made a dramatic entrance today in Hall H at the San Diego Comic-Con

Credit: Warner Bros/Legendary

Zack Snyder wows with pastoral and powerful 'Man Of Steel' presentation

What did the director bring to make his first impression with the franchise reboot?

SAN DIEGO - One of the last things I would have expected before the panel began would be the amount of emotional impact that Zack Snyder's 'Man Of Steel' presentation seemed to have on the fans who were assembled for their first look at this new version of one of the most famous superheroes of all time.

Warner's set-up this year featured three huge screens that created a feeling of surrounding the audience, and it was definitely one of the most impressive technical set-ups I've seen in this room in any year I've been here.  As a break between the segments of the panel, the Superman logo began to fill the screens, as if the camera was rolling over different parts of it, eventually filling all of the screens with the recognizable "S" logo.

Zack Snyder, who has proven in years past that he understands exactly how to play to Hall H, took the stage, and immediately dropped his favorite word in describing why he signed on to make the film.  "Superman's pretty awesome, as you know."

That made me cackle, because "awesome" is a word that Zack uses often, and in this case, it should be true.  You should feel a sense of awe when you see Superman.  He can't be just another superhero at this point, or the film won't work, and I think Snyder knows that.  "Superman is a big responsibility," he said, "and I felt like Superman needed to be reintroduced to a new generation, and so that's why I did it.  We finished shooting, and now we're working on turning what we shot into a movie."

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<p>This image from 'Rocky 5' is tough to take in the wake of today's wrenching news about Sage Stallone passing away.</p>

This image from 'Rocky 5' is tough to take in the wake of today's wrenching news about Sage Stallone passing away.

Credit: MGM/UA Home Video

Sage Stallone, of Grindhouse Releasing and 'Rocky 5,' has passed away

The oldest son of Sylvester Stallone was only 36 years old

As with many things, the news of Sage Stallone's untimely passing today took me back to my days working at Dave's Video, a laserdisc store that was a major industry stomping ground back in the early '90s.

Sage had an account with the store.  Not his dad, but Sage.  At the time, he was around fourteen or fifteen years old.  He would arrive at the store with his big-ass bodyguard in tow, a guy who also served as his driver, and he'd shop for hours.  He was a voracious film fan, and his interests definitely tended to the obscure.

What blew me away was just how adult he was, even at that point.  It wasn't that smarmy over-precocious kind of adult, either.  Sage carried himself like he was much older, and in conversation, he was just a rabid film lover, someone who had seen at least as much as the older film nerds I knew.  He was constantly on the hunt for some rare title, and any time he could cross a film off his huge list of "things I want to see," it was a major accomplishment.

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<p>Jodie Foster was all smiles during her first appearance ever at the San Diego Comic-Con to help promote next year's science-fiction film 'Elysium'</p>

Jodie Foster was all smiles during her first appearance ever at the San Diego Comic-Con to help promote next year's science-fiction film 'Elysium'

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Photo

Matt Damon and Jodie Foster are Comic-Con virgins no more thanks to 'Elysium'

Neill Blomkamp's first since 'District 9' looks like another mind-bending treat

SAN DIEGO - The first year that HitFix covered Comic-Con, one of the highlights was an early screening of "District 9," which we absolutely adored.  Small wonder one of the most anticipated moments of the convention for us came today when director Neill Blomkamp made his triumphant return to the event with seven minutes of next year's science-fiction action film, "Elysium."  As a sign of just how far he's come in a mere three years, in addition to Sharlto Copley, he also was joined by Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, both new to Comic-Con this year.

Based on the footage he put together, fans of "District 9" have reason to celebrate.

Blomkamp took the stage first, joining KROQ personality Ralph Garman, who hosted Sony's entire event today.  Blomkamp sat down and addressed the audience directly.  "I'm here to debut some footage.  I have this thing where I try to be as honest as I can.  I feel like I belong out there with you guys.  I feel like I'm a fan.  There's an element of salesmanship that makes me feel a little distanced as a fan.  The idea of launching footage here feels honest.  I like it because it's fans.  I'm okay with it."  He paused, looking around at the 6000 people packed into Hall H, and smiled.  "You guys want to see it… right?"

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