'Riddick' and 'Kick-Ass 2' Comic-Con panels: Universal unveils ultraviolent sequels

The Projects: Kick-Ass 2, the sequel to 2010’s ultraviolent dark superhero comedy, which features an assortment of new costumed psychopaths. And Riddick, the third film in the Pitch Black-spawned franchise about Vin Diesel’s galactic anti-hero.

The Panel: For Kick-Ass 2, the giant panel included returning stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse; new co-stars Lindy Booth, Donald Faison, John Leguizamo; director/writer Jeff Wadlow; and co-creators Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. (Although Chloe Grace Moretz wasn’t onstage, they beamed her in via satellite for a few questions.) Riddick opted for a smaller crew of Diesel, co-star (and Comic-Con demi-goddess) Katee Sackhoff, and writer-director David Twohy.

Footage Screened: Kick-Ass 2 showed off an extended version of the trailer, although the panelists noted that it was a green-band trailer to general cries of disappointment from the crowd. (The red-band version is already online.) The Riddick footage was also an extended trailer, but with a special focus on a scene where a captured Riddick and a crew of bounty hunters face down a flock of mysterious, spiky-tailed creatures.

Snap Judgment: The Kick-Ass 2 trailer almost certainly suffered from the green-banding; as Mintz-Plasse noted, “There’s about 300 swear words cut out of that.” The footage we saw lacked the hyper-stylized living-graphic-novel vibe that Matthew Vaughn brought to the original movie; it also looked disappointingly sentimental, with lots of talk about how the mask is your true self and we’re all heroes, etc etc.

Riddick, by comparison, looked uncompromisingly dark and got straight to the point, with lots of CGI vistas and a pumping bone-crack soundtrack. It looks crazy — and given all the CGI, some of it felt less like Pitch Black and more like a bleak sequel (bleakquel?) to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Which doesn’t sound too bad.

The Big Revelations: The panel was low on buzzy reveals, besides offering brief peeks at new characters like Faison’s Dr. Gravity and Booth’s Night Bitch — who, according to the actress, may have a steamy scene with the titular hero. However, Christopher Mintz-Plasse revealed one major change from book-to-film: His villainous character no longer kills a dog.

The Riddick panelists were equally tightlipped, mostly because Diesel and Twohy — who were last at Comic-Con with Pitch Black over a decade ago — just seemed incredibly happy to be onstage. However, the footage did reveal that the new film finds Riddick, at least initially, in a dangerously domesticated state of mind: The film seems to be about the character getting back to basics, which a theoretical smarmy pop culture writer could say is a comment on how the new film is stripping out the big-budget decadence of The Chronicles of Riddick. (Diesel did have a big revelation, though it wasn’t related to Riddick.)

Most Incisive Audience Question: The Kick-Ass 2 panel didn’t have a Q&A session, possibly because the studio didn’t want anyone asking incisive questions about co-star Jim Carrey’s recent twitter history. One attendee at the Riddick panel asked: “Because you play so many badass characters: For someone like me, who doesn’t sound as badass as you or look as badass as you : How can I be more badass?” Diesel responded thoughtfully: “I am seeing a level of badass growing in you as you speak. I think every syllable takes you to a higher level of badassery. Continue on on your journey to be a badass.”

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