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Surprise panel for »X-Men: Days of Future Past« at the San Diego Comic-Con / Viral marketing for Trask Industries from 08/10/2013
X-Men: Days of Future Past

For the weeks leading up to the start of the San Diego Comic-Con International 2013, Twentieth Century Fox had a listing on the Hall H schedule, but nothing about which projects they would be promoting. A day or so prior to the panel on July 20, word was that they would be bringing »Dawn of the Planet of the Apes« and »The Wolverine« to the attendees, but there were still rumors of a huge surprise to come.

Actor Hugh Jackman was already about to leave the stage under frenetic applause at the end of the »The Wolverine« panel, when he unexpectedly turned back to make a plea: "One of the great things about being in a movie like this is the chance to do other things, and particularly being able to do smaller more indie movies, and I'd like to introduce you to the director of a film I've got coming up. It's a small movie, won't take long, hopefully Fox won't mind. Ladies and gentlemen, Bryan Singer!" And that was the beginning of a surprise panel for »X-Men: Days of Future Past«!

» SDCC - X-Men: Days of Future Past Panel (07/20/2013) «



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"It's been like a decade. It's been a great journey making »X-Men: Days of Future Past« in Montreal. None of the visual effects are complete and we still have a month of shooting to go, but I've put together a little bit of footage." said Singer on stage before screening a sliver of 3D footage. The biggest news in this context is that unlike in the comics it won't be Ellen's character who goes back in time. Singer will tweak the timeline for his film, given the fact that he has the »X-Men: First Class« cast waiting in the 1970s for Wolverine (and not Kitty Pryde). The video begins with an older Logan, Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in a distant, apocalyptic future. "You will do for me what I once did for you. Logan, I was a very different man. Guide me. Have patience with me," says a shaggy haired and defeated looking Professor X in his wheelchair. "Patience isn't my strong suit," replies Logan. Magneto stands in an art gallery, and there are scenes of riots in the streets of London. In the next scenes, President Richard Nixon seems worried, a panic room under the White House is shown and Wolverine gets shot repeatedly in the chest. Back in the future scenario, most of the X-Men, including Storm, Rogue, Ice Man and Kitty Pryde are hiding in ruins underground and hatching a last-ditch plan to return Wolverine to his younger body in hopes that he can convince the younger Xavier to somehow reverse course. A montage of action shots, most taking place in the 1970s with Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy wrestling with the hard truth Wolverine’s trying to sell them, ends with a shot of Stewart's Professor X and his younger ego nose-to-nose in some kind of mind-space. "Please", begs the older one of his embittered younger self, "we need you to hope again."

X-Men: Days of Future Past Panel

"This is a long table," noted Singer as the panel went on and added that "there are a couple of writers and producers who might join us". That was a bit of an understatement as he brought out the full crew of »X-Men: Days of Future Past« under deafening cheers from the crowd, which included screenplay writer Simon Kinberg, the producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Hutch Parker as well as Omar Sy, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Anna Paquin, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Peter Dinklage, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult and Evan Peters.

The first couple of minutes belonged to the actors who got the chance to introduce themselves and the characters they are playing in the upcoming movie - just in case this wasn't already clear. Evan Peters characterized his Quicksilver is "a bit of a spaz" as well as being fast. "He talks fast, moves fast, and everyone is very slow compared to him. He's like always waiting for the guy at the ATM in front to finish." Peter Dinklage, in a mysterious role that was never officially announced, confirmed what many already thought – he is playing Bolivar Trask, the creator of the mutant-hunting Sentinels. Jennifer Lawrence was the first who revealed some real details while talking about her role as Raven. "She's definitely starting to find her journey to the Rebecca Romijn, later Mystique, that we know. She's still close to Charles - not geographically; she hasn't seen him in a long time."

X-Men: Days of Future Past PanelX-Men: Days of Future Past Panel

"This is an embarrassment of riches," said Hugh Jackman, who tirelessly lauded the fans at Comic-Con, thanking them for their support and for elevating his career to new heights. "To work with people from the very first film I ever did, and then to work with these new people, it's incredible." In fact, many of the cast members used this opportunity to comment on how it was working with people from the other movie. "It's great to be in California, especially now you've repealed Proposition 8," said Ian McKellen. "Now I'm looking for a husband... It's nice to meet you Michael [Fassbender]."

Halle Berry, who is expecting her second child with husband Olivier Martinez, explained the pros and cons of playing Ororo Munroe aka Storm: "What I love about Storm is that she's like the Earth mother of the group, but she's also a badass when she needs to be. What I hate about Storm is she never gets any love! I mean what's up with Storm? You probably know more about the comic than me - is she asexual and nobody's told me? But I love her. When I got the call it didn't take me a half second to say that I'm in." Anna Paquin, who got cast in the first X-Men movie when she was 17, expressed her thankfulness for being a part of the upcoming movie by saying “It’s really amazing to be back." With regard to Iceman, Shawn Ashmore said, "I think there's going to be some really cool stuff that people don't expect to see, and that they've been possibly waiting to see from these characters." Ellen Page is excited to be back in the mutant universe and reprise her first role in a large-scale movie: "When I did the first one, I had never been on a set remotely to that size or scale, so it sort of blew my mind. I was joining a group of people who are already close, but they could not have been more lovely and welcoming, and so sweet. Never did I expect to be back playing Kitty Pryde again and I couldn't be more excited." The introduction round eventually ended with Omar Sy exposing "I play Bishop. He's a guy from the future. He fights for survival, like all of us."

New X-MenNew X-MenNew X-MenNew X-Men

But it wasn’t only the actors that spoke during the panel. "Being true to the original comics is what's important for us," noted Simon Kinberg. "It's about trying to honor those as best we can." Shuler Donner added, "It's only because the comics were written so well that we can spin these stories." Hutch Parker, in turn, has "never seen a better cast ever assembled anywhere at any time" during his 25 years of making movies.

Kicking off the brief Q&A portion of the panel a fan wanted to know if there was room for the popular Deadpool in the expanding X-Men universe. "Anything is possible," answered Bryan Singer. "Maybe not in this movie ... but anything is possible." Then moderator Geoff Boucher stepped in to bring up the idea of Iron Man vs. Wolverine battle in a future movie. "I don’t want to be responsible for taking down Iron Man, but come on ..." Jackman joked, "I’m open to that, some kind of big mashup ... I’m all for it, but there’s people way above me that have to decide that one." Finally, before the panel turned to a “What X-Man would you be besides the one you are now?" question, Boucher asked about Quicksilver’s immediate popularity through his involvement in »Avengers 2« as well. “Quicksilver was always a part of the story,” commented Singer. “The casting took a while to find the right actor for the role ... I can’t speak to »The Avengers«, but ..." "I don’t know... he moves quick, he talks quick,” continued Peters, to the laughter of those present. “Everyone is slow compared to him."

While Wolverine received three votes, Mystique came out on top with four in the subsequent voting among the panel participants. Patrick Stewart said he would play "any female character in any X-Men movie because then I might stand the chance of winning an Academy Award." The background to this is that both Berry and Lawrence took home statuettes after their initial turns in »X-Men« - though for other roles. McKellen, in turn, regretted that he can't play the younger Magneto anymore. Overall, there was a great spirit between the actors and it looks like the future of the franchise is in good hands.

» SDCC - X-Men: Days of Future Past Press Conference (07/20/2013) «



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Prior to the panel, a press conference for reporters took place in a separate room within the festival area. Asked about the challenges of bringing the original story arc to life, Bryan Singer responded: "The goal was to try and make a film that would bring this cast together by time travel or time displacement of some kind. Basically, the notion is that consciousness of Wolverine of the future is sent into his past self. And it was nice because Hugh was able to play both parts because the character of Wolverine is ageless. And it was great to be able to place him as a character in both these worlds. For me, it was great to reunite the old cast and get to work as a director with the new cast." The director also addressed rumors that the new movie will rewrite the mutant universe he's set up in prior films, specifically changing some of the events from »X2«. "Whenever you're going back in time -- and this is every bit as much a time travel movie as it is an X-Men movie -- there is those risks. I'm not the audience, I'm just the filmmaker, but I do believe in certain continuity that we'll maintain and some things we'll change. When you go back and mess about, things happen. So some of those rumors are probably somewhat true."

X-Men: Days of Future Past Press Conference

There will even be some interaction between the older and younger versions of the characters. "Wolverine is the journeyman," Singer said. "His interaction with the younger cast is primary. There is a moment, where these characters come face to face, older self with younger self. And we tried to do it in a unique way. It's been done before, but with my first opportunity to make a time travel film I want to create this set of rules and stay with them." One of the big surprises in this context is that Professor Charles Xavier (Stewart) is still alive after the events of 2006's »X-Men: The Last Stand«, where his character's body is pulverized by Jean Grey. "My assumption was that it was going to be Ian and Halle and Hugh and everybody back, but it won't be me," Patrick Stewart admitted. "But something happened, which I'm not allowed to talk about -- am I?" "In my own mind I understand how Xavier is alive at the end of »X-Men 3«," Singer responded. "At the end of »X-Men 3« after the credits when his consciousness is inside of this woman in a hospital and you take that and mix it with some powerful mutants - mutants can do a lot of cool stuff - you can imagine that anything is possible."

The new film takes place during several time periods, including the 1970s, which allowed for some interesting costume choices beyond the X-Men suits. "I personally love the moments when I get to wear the '70s clothes," Jennifer Lawrence gushed. "I really enjoy them because I love that time and I like wearing clothes when I can. Some of the Mystique stuff; some of the look is a little bit different. We're still using the same paint. When we left the (last) movie, she was mutant and proud. She was kind of struggling with the problem that a lot of normal human people struggle with, which is how they look. So she was very covered up in the first movie, but this time she is mutant and proud." "It's a very collaborative thing," Michael Fassbender added. "That's a thing that I've found as a whole: The clothes we wear, the Magneto outfit, being on set." "The best thing about playing the older Magneto this time - no helmet," Ian McKellen continued, telling Fassbender, "We'll talk about helmets later."

Trask IndustriesTrask Industries
Trask IndustriesTrask Industries

Despite the fact the production of the movie is still underway, the viral marketing has already begun. There are a commercial (see below), promo collectibles including a cap and several posters that were given out to the Comic-Con attendees, as well as a (fantastic looking) website for the fictional Trask Industries, the company behind the Sentinel program. Furthermore, fans can find the latest information, images and videos on the official franchise website, the official YouTube channel, Facebook page or official Twitter. Following director Bryan Singer on the latter social network is a great way to stay up to date as well. Considering the popular comic the upcoming movie is based on, the great cast ensemble and the high expectations and hopes of the global fan community, I'm sure we will experience one hell of a marketing campaign until »X-Men: Days of Future Past« is released in the summer of 2014.
» X-Men: Days of Future Past - Viral Teaser «



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