Comic-Con started for real today, and it went off with quite a bang courtesy of Paramount's panel in the San Diego Convention Centre's gargantuan Hall H. The thousands of visitors crammed into the colossal venue were treated to goodies from some of next year's most eagerly anticipated movies, with early footage from Iron Man, the sight of one of Indiana Jones's old flames and, at long last, some solid casting news from the new Star Trek movies.
More on those later, but first a round-up on the rest of the Paramount news... Neil Gaiman (guest of honour at this year's Comic-Con) and screenwriter Jane Goldman were on hand to talk about Stardust (out in a fortnight in the States, and October in the UK). As well as being asked what it's like to be a god, Gaiman was probed about the possibility of a Sandman movie. "I've been saying since 1991, I'd rather see no Sandman movie than a bad Sandman movie," he said. "I think the time of a good 'Sandman' movie is getting closer. It needs someone with the passion of a Peter Jackson for Lord of the Rings or Sam Raimi on Spider-Man to get the film through Warner Bros."
With the Stardust segment over, Gaiman left the stage only to return seconds later - "It seems like only yesterday I was here..." - this time flanked by Beowulf co-writer Roger Avary. As well as showing off the new trailer (which went online yesterday - you can see it here ), the duo admitted that the cast list of Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, Crispin Glover, Angelina Jolie et al was their "bullsh*t casting" - the sort of line-up you dream of, but never expect to come off.
They were replaced on stage by JJ Abrams, who was wearing his Cloverfield hat rather than his Starfleet uniform. Still no news on the real title for the movie, but at least we got to see a rather impressive poster of a headless Statue of Liberty. "I want a great monster movie," he said. "I've wanted a great monster movie for so long. I thought we need our own monster movie - not like King Kong, and Godzilla is a charming monster - but I wanted something that was just insane and intense, so we started making this movie."
It looked for a moment like Iron Man director Jon Favreau was going to be otherwise engaged, as he appeared on a video apologising for not being able to make it (a bit of a surprise, considering I'd seen him wandering around the Con moments earlier). But you can't fault the guy for making an entrance, and he attracted the sort of cheers usually reserved for pop stars when he burst out on stage, brandishing a video camera and saying: "I figured I didn't want to be the only guy who doesn't put this on YouTube." As for the footage... Well, wow. For starters Robert Downey Jr looks and acts the part - "the best weapon is the one you only have to fire once. That's the way America does it" - before being captured in Afghanistan, and finding an electromagnet running off a car battery attached to his heart. Then we saw him building the Mark I armour in true A-team style, before donning it, and kicking the crap out of a lot of people. Towards the end we saw the classic red and gold armour suited Iron Man keeping pace with a pair of jets, and there was much rejoicing. That'll do!
Next a trip to the Indiana Jones set, where Steven Spielberg revealed that the new movie would be called "Indiana Jones and the [insert gibberish noises here]", so at least we know how it starts. To his right was Harrison Ford, still looking the part in Indy's threads, and new sidekicks Ray Winstone and Shia LaBeouf. But the surprise (well, kinda - this rumour's been floating around for ages) was the appearance of a director's chair labelled "Marion Ravenwood" and then a Karen Allen to sit in it. Seems Indy's ex is back in town.
And finally onto the biggest news of the night - the first concrete news on Star Trek casting, direct from the mouth of director JJ Abrams. Captain Kirk remains unconfirmed, both in his Shatner or younger form. "We're desperately trying to figure out a way to put William Shatner in the movie," said Abrams. "The truth is it needs to be worthy of him - we can't just shove him in, it would be a disaster. You would hate it, he wouldn't like it, so we're on that. And we're looking for a Kirk. Any ideas?" But Kirk's first officer is now all present and correct, as Abrams confirmed the worst kept secret in science fiction, and announced that Zachary "Sylar" Quinto would be donning the pointy ears of Spock. That wasn't the end of the Spock-shaped news, however, as Leonard Nimoy soon appeared on stage to rapturous applause, as it was confirmed that he would also be playing the alpha quadrant's most famous Vulcan. When asked about the actor playing Spock's younger self, Nimoy said: "the answer is, it's logical." You can't argue with that. The movie starts shooting in November, so expect more news soon.