On Thursday, during FX’s Legion panel, head of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb took a moment to express his enthusiasm for the number of female fans who asked questions during the panel, saying that it “speaks not only to the quality of the show, but it speaks to all of you out there.” While some may see comic book-based material as a “boy’s world,” Loeb said, “It’s not an anything world. It’s a human world.” This truly set the precedent for the entire convention, and as women, we definitely noticed. In fact, the following is just how empowering we found the biggest panels of the convention on Saturday in Hall H.
Just Gal’s League
Warner Bros. Pictures brought us some amazing new footage from Ready Player One, Blade Runner 2049, and Aquaman. While we loved all of the teasers and clips from those panels, the real highlight for us was when Gal Gadot and friends joined the stage for Justice League. Now, the Justice League has previously been led by male superheroes like Batman and Superman, but when the cast hit the stage, it was Gal’s show. Fans screamed and cheered at her badass scenes from the new Justice League trailer that dropped. She sat front and center on stage and nearly moderated the panel. Wonder Woman is now the highest-grossing movie in the DC cinematic universe, raking in $670.68 million so far. So, it makes sense that, for all intents and purposes, Gal is the star of Justice League.
The studio confirmed that they have a sequel for Wonder Woman in the works, and they announced a Bat Girl film. With the success of Wonder Woman internationally, it was no surprise to see so many cosplayers dressed as the Amazonian princess. From young to old, male and female, fierce to funny: these cosplayers see themselves in Diana’s power, vulnerability, and bravery, and they embraced it. Now WB and many in the industry are finally noticing the need for strong, female led films and we cannot wait to see what’s to come!
Charlize Theron Fights Like a Girl
The second panel of the day was the Entertainment Weekly’s “Kick-ass Women” panel, except this was the first ever “Icon Edition.” So rather than hearing from 4-5 women on the panel, we got an hour with Charlize Theron. Most of the conversation focused on her new movie, Atomic Blonde, and really resonated with all of us at 6 Nerdy Chicks. First of all, 3 out of 6 of us here do MMA training, so when the conversation explained how Atomic Blonde highlights what it really means to fight like a girl, we were stoked. We love how Theron explained that throughout the movie, her character Lorraine hardly punches with her actual first because in reality, it really really hurts; instead, Lorraine uses her elbows and kicks a lot. We were even shown a super brutal sneak peek of Charlize Theron beating the snot out of several men in the film and IT. WAS. AWESOME.
Also, Theron did an incredible job of putting into words exactly what’s wrong with how the film industry typically “uses” women only for “emotional manipulation,” and what she loves about Atomic Blonde is that it turns that narrative on its head. Lorraine’s character doesn’t get that typical female backstory with some sappy motivation- rather she is portrayed simply as a warrior. Plus,one of our favorite little moments from this panel was when a fan asked Theron if she would be interested in playing a female James Bond, and while we love the idea of a gender swapped Bond, Theron’s response was perfect: she hopes that there will be more Atomic Blonde movies which can be her girl version of James Bond. We would love multiple Atomic Blondes, much less ANY movies with Charlize Theron in it!
One Eleven is Stronger than Ten Boys
The Stranger Things panel kicked off with an amazing recap of season 1 that hyped us all beyond words. Once all the panelists were out, the fun continued! My first reaction to the actors was total shock at how grown up they are! It’s like seeing a kid you used to babysit grow up before your eyes; you can’t believe how much they have changed and grown in such short time. Another thing that amazed me was the incomparable Millie Bobby Brown. It is so crazy to me that this little girl can carry herself with so much maturity and poise at such a young age. Even more so, when going back to rewatch Stranger Things, you see how much of an impact she makes when she speaks less than 250 words throughout the ENTIRE season.
Eleven, without a doubt, received the loudest and long cheers from the packed-to-the-limit Hall H and carried herself with a calm of a seasoned SDCC vet. She wasn’t all business, though, and would let her sense of humor shine with the occasional zinger well-aimed at her costars. When speaking about the arc of his character, David Harbour said “Hopper starts off as such a loser..” to which Millie Bobby Brown interjects “True.” These moments reminded us that even though she seems much older, she is still a kid after all. Even though I may be a few years older than the 13-year-old Ms. Brown (just a few), I can see myself looking up to her as a role model. She shows that in the face of overnight fame and success, you can still remain down-to-earth, gracious, and generally kick-ass.
How Westworld Was Won by a Woman
The Westworld panel was fantastic. Having only finished season one, this was their first time in Hall H and did not disappoint. This cast and team are smart, articulate, and wonderful storytellers. You can tell by the way they talk about their characters and interactions with each other that they love this story. This panel was one that really focused on the characters and how the actors felt about the ways they have evolved and the challenges and joys that came with the roles. It felt more personal than some other panels we have seen because these actors have a deep connection to their story lines and expressed that with humor and emotion. A running theme amongst the group was the humanity of the characters and comparing the humanity of the robot hosts to that of the real humans.
One of the best parts of the panel was listening to Evan Rachel Wood discuss the strength and importance of her character, which was echoed by Reggie Watts, the moderator, who expressed his gratitude for the gender equalization on the show. Wood plays Delores, one of the main female characters who is quickly evolving from damsel in distress to a kick ass woman out for vengeance and understanding. Wood called this role a gift and a responsibility as an actor and as a woman. She explained that in many roles for herself and other women, it feels like their wings have been clipped, and they cannot not express themselves. With this role, she was given “fucking condor wings” and set free. She goes on to express how important that is right now for women, and she was not the only one to express this importance. Angela Sarafyan, who plays Clementine, thanked Jonathan Nolan (writer/director) and Lisa Foy (writer) for the opportunity to have a great character and a very powerful fight scene that normally a woman would not be given.
Marvel at These Badass Females
Closing out Saturday’s Hall H was Marvel Studios, who started with a clip of Paul Rudd and Michael Peña recapping the Marvel Universe to Michelle Pfeiffer (Janet Van Dyne in the upcoming Ant Man and the Wasp). The clip shows a skeptical Pfeiffer stating that the Marvel movies “sounds like a sausage party,” suggesting that Marvel is well aware of the lack of a strong female presence in some of their films. The franchise seems to be working on fixing this issue, starting with their first female villain.
Viewers were treated with a new Thor: Ragnarok trailer showing Cate Blanchett in all of her Hela glory. Hela is one intimidating, wicked, powerful woman. She destroys Asgard with a satisfied smile, making her wonderfully terrifying – which is probably why our own James blurted out “I’m going to dress up as her next year” as soon as the trailer ended. Not to be outdone was Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie – an Asgardian warrior who is responsible for Thor’s capture. The clip showing her role in the film is short, but we can already tell that Valkyrie is independent, tough, and someone not to be messed with.
The Black Panther panel was the last of the night – and one worth waiting for. The cast is full of strong women, but Danai Gurira was undoubtedly the star of the clip presented. The trailer showed her character Okoye ripping off her wig and pulling out a golden spear to throw down with Klaw’s (Andy Serkis) crew. She later throws the spear into the street, stopping a car as it tries to drive away. The women of “Black Panther” also reaffirmed that their characters would be anything but two dimensional; Wright stated Shuri was “like a dream role to play: inspirational, innovative… just a strong, black woman!” So far what we’ve learned is that Wakanda’s head scientist, spy, and guard are all women… and we could not be more excited to see them on the screen.