Warner Bros Studios was first to take the stage in a long day at Hall H. While they advertised Jupiter Ascending, Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, fans were also rabid for any DC Comics movie news they would get during the show.
After Comic-Con reps welcomed fans and thanked them for the long wait, the curtains pulled back to reveal a screen that wrapped around the entire front of the room.
Chris Hardwick came out to moderate the panel, dressed as Marty McFly. "Thank you for sleeping on the sidewalk. It will well be worth it, I promise you! Let's just get this started!"
With that, the first footage ran, on the wraparound screen.
And it was Superman. And Batman, it's concept art for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Batman in Gotham, Superman landing in front of him. Insane applause.
Zack Snyder took the stage and said, "Yeah, hey! How's it going? So we were shooting last night, I jumped on a plane to come here this morning. I couldn't be happier with the way everything is going. Normally when people come to these things, they bring SOME shots, SOME footage or something, but we're shooting right now!"
"Okay, okay, we have a teeny little thing!"
And now a little teaser. It's raining, and Batman is in an armored suit. He turns on the bat signal. It looks STRAIGHT out of a Frank Miller drawing. The Bat signal illuminates Superman hovering over him in the sky. His eyes start to glow red, and they zoom in on Batman staring him down. Huge applause.
"Also, I thought I'd bring a couple of my friends here." Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill took the stage. "Also we brought one other person, I brought our Wonder Woman," and Gal Gadot took the stage, and a shot of her as Wonder Woman was revealed! The costume is dark red top with a blue skirt and red boots, gold on the top, and she's holding a sword.
They showed the footage one more time, to screams and applause.
Next up was Jupiter Ascending, from the Wachowskis. A wrap-around intro video ran to kick it off.
Channing Tatum came out, and said he plans to walk the floor with a mask on. "Take your clothes off and do Magic Mike cosplay," Chris joked.
Tatum said, "It's the Wachowskis, so you never know what you're getting from them. They're out of their minds. It's something brand new and they really tried to push it." Mila Kunis wasn't able to come because she's "super pregnant."
Tatum then cued the footage. It's an extended trailer, revealing the larger scope of the movie, with its multiple families who rule over the galaxy, and Kunis's character as a reincarnation of an ancient princess.
Good applause for the footage and Tatum. "Oh my god, so much, and we just started!" Hardwick said.
Next segment is Mad Max: Fury Road with the tagline "Fire, Blood, Oil."
A video message from Charlize Theron played next. "I'm really sorry I couldn't be out there, I'm in South Africa filming another movie right now. Working with George Miller is so excting. Here's a look back at Miller and Max."
A video showcasing the original Mad Max played next. "30 Years Ago, Director George Miller Broke Every Rule." After the video with the old movie's footage, George Miller took the stage.
Why revisit the franchise? "The story popped in my head and just wouldn't go away! I always love chase movies - I think they're the purest form of cinema. I wanted to make one long extended chase and see what we could pick up about the characters along the way."
Filming felt "Familiar, but a lot of things have changed, technology has changed."
Miller praised his cast, and then said "This is my first Comic-Con!" and had Hardwick take a picture of him standing on the stage in front of the crowd to prove to his family that he was there.
"I grew up in a small rural town, and always got in trouble for drawing cartoons and reading too many comic books. I never thought it would lead to this, coming to this spiritual homeland."
They storyboarded the movie as "One long comic book! It's 7500 panels." There aren't many words in the movie, and he praised Brendan McCarthy's work on making such a visually-focused film work.
After Chris made a joke about Mel Gibson becoming Mad Max, Miller stuttered around it a bit, but then moved on and said, "Every charismatic person has a strange mixture of being extremely lovable but a little dangerous. Tom Hardy definitely has those qualities."
The movie is meant to happen "40 years from next Wednesday," so all the vehicles are ones from right now and meant to be rundown but without a lot of new technology or anything.
Miller said that when he looks at his old films, he can "barely remember how I made them." When he was filming the new one, "I went back into this same thing, this instinct."
The world premiere of footage came next. It starts with audio of news agencies reporting oil, then water shortages. "My name is Max. My world is fire, and blood." He steps on a lizard and gets in his car, driving off. Several more vehicles follow him, and a road battle begins - with Max's car getting turned over and him being taken as a slave. Extremely creepy designs for the characters. Theron has her head shaved and is the leader of a band trying to resist - and find out who killed the world. Large outdoor shots, lots of chasing, a crazy storm, crazier vehicles and improvised weapons. This storm makes Michael Bay action sequences look tame (and is much more visceral). There are a lot of very close-cut shots. Action, Action, Action. Huge applause at the end.
A fan asked Miller if this one was more fun to make or how it was different.
Miller, "The first Mad Max was the most difficult movie I've ever made. I didn't know what to expect. This movie is a very high percentage of being the movie I really wanted to make."
Answering the next fan, the tone of the movie is more like "Mad Max 2" than "Road Warrior," because it's almost entirely a chase, and takes place in the span of just a few days.
Mad Max: Fury Road comes out in May 2015. Miller goes to a recording session for the orchestral score next week, and then it's mixing and final edits. "The interesting thing," as far as character reveals, "is that Immortan Joe is played by a guy, Hugh Keays-Byne that was in the original movie thirty years ago!"
Hardwick then left the stage, saying "The next part here, it's much cooler than me!" The Hobbit came up on screen next, with scenes on the side screens recapping the first two films.
Huge applause for Hobbit. A trailer ran showing major moments from all five Tolkien movies released so far, recapping the epic moments of the journey. Suddenly, Stephen Colbert was on the screen, "geeking out too hard at them. I can't believe I get to do this." He and his wife and two boys are in the movie.
And then he came out on stage, in costume. "Stephen, Stephen" chants started. "If I could only go back in time and show this to my thirteen year old self. Welcome to the panel for The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies and a celebration of Peter Jackson's Middle Earth: The Battle for Six Movies."
Colbert talked about when the first movies started to get made, and then came out, and how excited he was that suddenly people wanted to talk to him about Tolkein. "The only problem as I saw it, was that with a total running time of 11.5 hours, they were too. damn. short! We wanted more! We had to wait nearly a decade, but our patience was rewarded."
The Laketown Spy then introduced a few new clips, before bringing out the panelists. The clips were mash-ups, with Mr. Smith in Rivendell, people saying things like "Come on you little bastards, we haven't got all day." A good gag reel got thrown in as well.
Lots of laughs from the audience during the long gag reel full of Ian McKellan mistakes, often with Peter Jackson's voice coming over and making fun of him for it.
"Thank you for coming on the journey with us" the video finished, and the panelists came out to a standing ovation and thunderous applause.
Peter Jackson said, "I have to send apologies from Martin, Ian, and Richard who couldn't be here. They do send their love."
"We're still working on the last movie. The creation of the movie never really stops - it's editing, but much more than that. We have battle sequences to do, so we're doing motion capture or animation, so I'm supervising that. So I'm still shooting the movie in essence. They haven't stopped me shooting it yet!"
Benedict Cumberbatch and Cate Blanchett "did scenes together, but we didn't meet until well after we were finished with our work," Cumberbatch said.
Colbert asked Jackson if he imagined he'd work on this franchise for a generation of his life, and he responded, "No, but it's been great. Our very first pitch back in 1995 was for a single film of The Hobbit, then if we were successful we'd do Lord of the Rings in two movies. So things worked out differently, didn't they?"
Elijah Wood was addressed next, and Colbert asked him, "Why don't you age?" Wood, "Maybe I have a painting in my attic that's aging."
"The same thing goes for the elves, Orlando, and Cate," Colbert said. Evangeline Lilly told Stephen he can just call them "Elves. You don't have to call us people who play elves. We like being called Elves."
Blanchett and Bloom were both "surprised to get a job in this one. I thought my time in Middle Earth was over," said Cate. "Elves are incredibly generous, it's a bit of a stretch for me."
The tone of the final film gets darker, "it's not as comical as the first film. It gets closer to the tone of Fellowship."
Screenwriter Philippa Boyens said that they thought about Tom Bombadil quite a bit. "We even wrote it into the script. But that will have to be for another generation of filmmakers, I suppose." She also said, "We did a wishlist I remember of casting and Cate Blanchett was on it as Galadriel, from our very first list."
Cumberbatch plays both Smaug and the Necromancer, and he really liked doing motion capture. "It's really freeing, you can be as crazy as you want. I was just throwing myself around a carpeted floor like a lunatic."
Andy Serkis said his advice was to "make sure not to get carpet burns."
Graham McTavis said, "I've often thought the entire journey is to find a female dwarf" to laughs. "It's an extraordinary experience being a dwarf when you're 6 foot 3. That alone is an experience I'll never forget."
Luke Evans can actually shoot a bow and arrow. "I learned at a working class holiday resort I used to go to when I was a kid with my family. But when I went to New Zealand I learned more, for real."
We ahven't gotten to see Cate fight as an elf, can we this time? "I actually played the Bard in a high school production of the Hobbit so I was prepared for a bit of fighting. Under the gown I had on these big disco heels." Jackson added, "We do get to see Galadriel lose it a bit," Blanchett said, "I lose my shit. My Elven shit." Colbert said, "I bet it sparkles" to laughs. "Yeah, we get to see her kick a little Sauron ass," Jackson finished.
Stephen and Philippa had a Tolkien trivia-off that he won, and Jackson said, "none of us really knew what was right, because they got so deep." Colbert started reciting a poem by memory... huge pop.
"Normally winners are very modest, aren't they," Jackson joked.
Colbert said, "There seems to be a couple of classes of Elves, and Orlando, your father doesn't want you to date down..." Lilly deadpanned, "Yeah, I'm a low-class elf. But my shit still sparkles!"
Lee Pace talked about enjoying New Zealand, and Colbert said it made him feel like a man, being there.
Did anyone come to these stories for the first time through the films?
Elija Wood, "I actually haven't read the books. I read the Hobbit when I was a child and it was a big, big book for me. I had The Lord of the Rings on my shelves and never got around to it. I felt like I lived it in such a unique way that I haven't gone to read it."
Lilly loved reading the books so much as a kid, "I got to the last 25 pages of Return of the King and I closed my book and wouldn't read it. I have never read those last 25 pages because I wanted the story to go on forever. So I've read it many times, but not those last 25 pages."
"You've never been more attractive," Colbert said.
Serkis said the epiphany for him on "where I'm at today came in the last days of shooting for Return of the King. Peter asked me that day to play King Kong. I thought my life was going to go back to normality of playing normal roles. I thought, 'wow, I played a 3 foot tall ring junky, and now I'm playing a 40 foot tall gorilla - typecasting no longer exists!'" He also praised Peter and WETA for being an "amazing bunch of people to work with."
Colbert praised Serkis and Jackson for changing what a "normal film" meant. "After the battle in the third movie, I immediately said that nothing can be called spectacle on film again without being compared to that battle. Do you see your work being echoed?"
"Yeah, I do see it coming through a bit in other films. There's no greater compliment as a filmmaker than to see that happen. I'm in the middle of a big battle right now, in fact, a Battle of Five Armies." And that's when the world premiere of the teaser trailer ran.
"This December. Witness. The Defining Chapter. Of the Middle-Earth Saga. "Will you have peace, or will you have War?" "I will have war." A few quick-cuts of Sauron's eye. "Will you follow me, one last time?" Huge applause again.
Blanchett had all-new costumes for the new movie, and divulged that she "didn't wear underwear with the costume. It wasn't part of it, so I didn't."
Jackson said he hopes to open a Lord of the Rings museum and put all of the costumes, props; they've saved a lot from all six films. There are warehouses in Wellington with most of the actual sets in them, still, too.
Q: Does Legolas teach Bard archery, or does Bard teach Legolas archery?
Bloom: "He's got longer arrows and a bigger bow, but he's not as good of a shot."
Evans: "All my arrows are sharp. And very long."
Lilly: "Is that all metaphor?"
Q: Female Thor cosplayer, who Colbert adressed as "The young goddess," asked about actors and their technique when they don't necessarily have someone to play directly off of thanks to the new technologies.
Serkis: "While the technology is all different, really, the technique is exactly the same. All you need is to look in the eyes of another actor. Any of that stuff is just about the ability to lose yourself in a world, in a character, and really believe that you're that person or whatever."
Pace said, "It's layers of imaginiation. We have Tolkein's imagination, then our imagination, then the CGI and whatever comes on top of that, it's just layers."
Blanchett: "I had a lot of trouble playing an elf at first, but Peter would come in and tell us about the given circumstances of the world."
Q: Andy and Benedict - if you could bring your character to Comic-Con, whwere would you bring them?
Cumberbatch: "Probably hall H, I don't think I'd fit anywhere else."
Serkis answered as Gollum, saying he wants to go back stage with Colbert and see what's in his costume.
Q: Will we ever see a longer cut of the Lord of the Rings films, or have we seen the definitive version?
Jackson: "There are a few scenes left that haven't been seen - but very few. It's not without its issues, as the cuts of the film are in a Nuclear-proof vault that Warner Bros has. But if there's enough interest from people, maybe they will release those."
The "Hobbit Fan Fellowship Contest" was announced, and you can go to TheHobbitFanContest.com or Facebook/com/TheHobbitMovie for details, - 75 winners each with a plus one will get a trip to New Zealand to watch the final film with Jackson and go on a tour of the set. Two fans were actually chosen out of the crowd as the first winners and that ended the panel (well, with one more look at the teaser).