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Comic-Con 2009 Highlights: Wrap-Up

July 26th, 2009 by Jason Nellis Content Partner Manager

After several grueling days hanging out with the hordes of comic book fans and entertainment buffs — not to mention the occasional Stormtrooper — Jason and Matt recap their final day at Comic-Con 2009.

Sunday was the day to wind down at the San Diego Comic-Con. Walking around the convention floor for four days (about 25 miles worth, by our calculations) was intense not only on the feet, but on the senses in general. As it was a quieter day for panels, we spent much of the day talking over two panels we’d seen earlier in the week. The first was the Entertainment Weekly-sponsored panel ” Wonder Women: Female Power Icons in Pop Culture,” where the participants were Sigourney Weaver (the Alien series), Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse), Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost) and Zoe Saldana (Star Trek). Early in the panel, Dushku dropped some hints about the upcoming season of Dollhouse, saying that, between the revelation of Echo’s real identity and her having her “composite” event (where she was imbued with all of her past identities), we’d be seeing a much greater focus on individual identity as an overall theme for the show. She thanked creator Joss Whedon for creating a “kick-ass multi-dimensional character” that affords her lots of opportunities to play different characters. Much of the remaining conversation was dominated by discussion about the roles available to women in film and television, with both Weaver and Saldana discussing the balance many actresses strike between being an object of desire and having a strong personality. Weaver went on to describe how the best writers in Hollywood (such as Whedon and James Cameron) don’t just write to create an archetype, but create an entire, full character. Later, Mitchell was tight-lipped when asked about her Lost character, Juliet, explaining that audiences will just have to wait until 2010. “If Jack’s plan worked, then I’m alive. If not…” she said with a shrug.

The second, and arguably more rock concert-like panel, was that for Burn Notice, where the panel was moderated by Michael Shanks (Victor), and included the always popular Bruce Campbell (Sam), Seth Peterson (Nate), Jay Karnes (Brennen), Ben Shenkman (Tom), Matt Nix (creator and executive producer) and Alfredo Barrios, Jr. (co-executive producer). The beginning of the panel was a brief overview of the previous seasons of the show, followed by sneak peeks into the rest of the season. (They told us Michael is going to be wooed by Shenkman’s character, Tom, who promises to get his burn notice revoked. Later, Michael and Fiona will be jumped by unknown men, who knock them out). The majority of cheers from the audience centered around Campbell, who thanked the convention goers who shouted “I love you!” by paying them out of his own pocket. (After a few compliments, he yelled “That’s it – I have no more money!”)

A few points discussed on the panel:

  • When asked about Michael Weston’s father, Nix explained: “When you’re creating a pilot, you think it’s just going into some drawer and forgotten. And you don’t think about the fact that if you write in a missing father in a mystery show, the entire world will go ‘The father is the mystery!’… Michael’s father did not burn him.”

  • He later explained that many of the names used in the show refer to people the writers know or are related to (Carlito’s Restaurant, for example, is named for his son Charlie).

  • Casting Michael Westin (the actor) alongside Michael Weston (the character) was an obvious idea from the beginning, though Westin did have to audition for his part.

  • When asked, Seth Peterson enthusiastically agreed that it would be a good idea for Sam Axe to take Nate under his wing and teach him about spying. Campbell then leaned over to Nix and gave him a knowing look.

  • Campbell’s gave a very funny rationale for Burn Notice’s appearance at ComicCon. He noted that Comic-Con was designed for fans of the fantasy, science fiction and horror genres. For horror: The “axe” in his character Sam Axe’s name. For science fiction: “If you’ve ever been to Miami, you know that there are lots of aliens there.” For fantasy: Sam Axe sleeps with an endless string of rich Miami women, “and that’s a hell of a fantasy to me!”

  • One audience member asked the writing staff to describe how reasonable it would be for Michael Weston to pull the MacGyver-like stunts he does in real life. Nix responded that they do a heavy amount of research (including consulting experts in various fields), and that if they can make a reasonable argument for pulling off the stunt in real life, then they can include it in the show.

We had a great time over the course of the long weekend, and we’re looking forward to Comic-Con 2010. We’ll see you there, but until then, catch FEARnet’s coverage of Comic-Con 2009 for additional interviews.

Jason Nellis, Hulu’s Jack of All Trades, and Matt Sugarman, Hulu’s Trailer Guy