WonderCon 2013: Warner Bros. Panel Recap Featuring Guillermo del Toro’s PACIFIC RIM, the New Trailer, Character Details and Updates on DARK UNIVERSE

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Today at WonderCon, the Warner Bros. panel featured a presentation from Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim.  Not only did the visionary director debut a new trailer exclusively for the WonderCon crowd, he revealed an extensive amount of detail on the mythos of the world, its setting, the character backgrounds and even the origin of the Kaiju themselves.  For those of you who are already fans of Pacific Rim, they also shared a new image from the prequel graphic novel which will give further backstory on the movie’s characters.  In a surprise move, del Toro revealed quite a bit about the progress of his Dark Universe project, featuring such comic book characters as Swamp Thing, Etrigan the Demon and a blond John Constantine.

Pacific Rim, opening July 12th, stars Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Ron Perlman, Charlie Day and Clifton Collins Jr.  Hit the jump for our panel recap.

pacific-rim-poster-stirker-eureka-jaegerThe first thing del Toro treated fans with was a brand new cut of a trailer for Pacific Rim that revealed a bit more of the plot and featured some epic battle scenes.  It started off with the activation of the Jaegers and a scene showing how the pilots, called jockeys, sync up with each other via shared memories; similar fighting styles help to create a stronger neural link. The trailer shows off a few more Kaiju, who swim, crawl and even fly across the city.  While the earliest iterations of the Jaegers appear fairly successful against the Kaiju, eventually the monsters battle their way back and wreak havoc on the battle suits; Russia’s Cherno Alpha and America’s Gipsy Danger appear to suffer the most damage.  There are some truly massive Kaiju present that dwarf even the largest Jaeger.  The final scene of the trailer shows a climactic battle where a Jaeger drags a freighter ship down main street to smash into a Kaiju like a gigantic metal baseball bat, but these Kaijus are made of some surprisingly tough stuff.

During the panel, director Guillermo del Toro revealed a ton of information about the upcoming rock ‘em sock ‘em flick along with news on his project, Dark Universe (also called Heaven Sent and Justice League Dark).  The following is a recap of the presentation:

  • Del Toro wanted to convey a sense of awe and scale since “25-story tall motherfuckers were kicking the shit out of each other.”  To do this, the production built and destroyed several blocks of Hong Kong, a four-story tall practical Jaeger head that would respond physically to a Kaiju battle and one foot of a Jaeger which was the size of the convention room itself.
  • Del Toro revealed that the only actor who didn’t break down during the course of filming was Rinko Kikuchi, who said she “thinks about gummy bears and flowers” when things start to get overwhelming.
  • Del Toro said that Ron Perlman’s character acts as a reflection of how society changes in the face of the arrival of the Kaijus.  Named Hannibal Chau (for his favorite historical figure and second-favorite Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn), he’s a black-market dealer in Kaiju organs.
  • Del Toro was visually inspired by World War II.  He incorporated the rust, decay and oxidation of elements in the environment and included them in Kaiju warning and refuge signs and informational flyers.
  • charlie-day-pacific-rimDel Toro spoke about Charlie Day’s performance, saying that throughout the movie he “looks like Rick Moranis, J.J. Abrams and a short brother of Bradley Cooper.”
  • Since del Toro is a fan of Always Sunny in Philadelphia, he thought of Day as a sort of “punk rock scientist, like a Buddy Holly geek.”  His character acts like a collector who gets very excited when he finds a Kaiju part in mint condition.
  • Day has a two to three page monologue that he delivers straight, but still manages to find humor in the character.
  • Del Toro revealed that each Jaeger is controlled by two pilots, called jockeys, because the neural link would overwhelm just one pilot.
  • The Chinese robot Crimson Typhoon is piloted by a set of triplets.
  • Del Toro revealed that they originally designed twelve Kaijus and nine Jaegers  and then held an American Idol style elimination process to narrow them down.  The extensive detail work included placement of technology in each of the suits along with distinctive fighting styles; for example, the massive hydraulic presses on Cherno Alpha’s arms that deliver a forceful punch.
  • Del Toro commented on not using motion capture to animate the Jaegers, saying that the weight of the robots would prevent them from moving in a normal human motion, so he left it up to the animators to bring them to life.
  • Del Toro also commented on the origin of the Kaiju themselves, saying that they were sent by an alien race who has a habit of consuming planets.
  • pacific-rim-news-footage-footprintDel Toro reviewed Travis Beacham’s initial pitch and loved it, then taking increasingly crazier pitches to the studio.
  • Del Toro also revealed the availability of a graphic novel prequel based in the world of Pacific Rim that was also written by Beacham.  It will give background on the characters and introduce some more of the world’s mythology, as well as giving a look at some of the early Mark I versions of the Jaegers.
  • On Dark Universe, del Toro said that he’s finished the bible for the film and hopes to start in on the screenplay soon with an unnamed writer he also hopes to announce soon. A blond John Constantine will be the lead character who tries to recruit the other heroes.  The story will include elements of the Demon Knights and Merlin. The team members’ origins will be revealed over time instead of presented up front: Swamp Thing is already at peace with his lot in life and Deadman is still in search of the man who shot him. Del Toro said that his favorite characters growing up were Etrigan the Demon and Swamp Thing so he’s loving the experience on this film.
  • Del Toro revealed that his worst movie experience was on Mimic due to miscommunication and creative differences between himself and the studio.  He called Pacific Rim the most enjoyable and freeing experience he’s ever had.

pacific-rim-graphic-novel-tales-from-year-zeroThe cover of the graphic novel Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero was also revealed during the panel.  Here’s the press release along with the image:

PACIFIC RIM: TALES FROM YEAR ZERO Art Created by Alex Ross

Legendary Comics and Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro gave WonderCon attendees a surprise treat today as they revealed the cover art for the graphic novel, PACIFIC RIM: TALES FROM YEAR ZERO. The fully-painted cover was created by Alex Ross.

Hitting stores June 5, PACIFIC RIM: TALES FROM YEAR ZERO serves as a prequel to the highly-anticipated motion picture – Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures Pacific Rim.  Chronicling the very first time Earth is menaced by incredible monsters known as Kaiju, these inhuman beasts rise from the ocean depths and threaten to extinquish all mankind! Witness the race to develop massive robot fighting machines called Jaegers, each one controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. This action-packed book features many of the key characters from the film as we follow them in their early careers. Written by Pacific Rim screenwriter himself, Travis Beacham, and with del Toro’s hands-on supervision, this volume is beautifully illustrated by Sean Chen, Yvel Guichet, and Pericles Junior; inks by Steve Bird and Mark McKenna.

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