Action legends unite in “Expendables 2” panel at Comic-Con

He’s back, baby! And this time, it’s more than a cameo.
Actors Sylvester Stallone,  Arnold Schwarzenegger and Terry Crews speak at "The Expendables 2: Real American Heroes" panel during Comic-Con International on Thursday.

Actors Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Terry Crews speak at “The Expendables 2: Real American Heroes” panel during Comic-Con International on Thursday. — Kevin Winter / Getty Images
Jackie Chan wasn’t the only action legend who made an appearance in Hall H on Thursday.

The stars of the “Expendables 2,” headlined by Sylvester Stallone, were on hand to talk about starring in an action movie together. Also on hand were returning cast members Terry Crews, Randy Couture and Dolph Lundgren, as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is making his return to action films with the movie.

In many ways, the panel was more akin to a gathering of old friends rather than tough action guys. The stars provided plenty of laughter as they shared anecdotes from their careers and traded verbal jabs.

According to Stallone, the first “Expendables” provided a great opportunity to try things out.

“How do we showcase everyone’s personalities and still be able to tell a story and maintain momentum?” he said. “The first film was more searching; we found out what worked for the first one and tried to amplify it.”

What showed above all is how much respect each of these actors has for their contemporaries. They all watched each others’ movies and learned from them.

“These action movies are like a religion,” Crews said. “You learn right and wrong, who you are from these movies.”

Throughout the years, Schwarzenegger and Stallone have shared a friendly rivalry. Throughout it all, they have been very good friends.

“We were always competing these last 30 years,” Schwarzenegger said. “Who killed more people, who had more muscles?”

This kind of one-upmanship is only natural for the action legends, for whom bigger will always be better.

“The more I get injured, the better a film does,” said Stallone, “so hopefully I get beheaded in the next move.”

After the panel, almost as if he was being thanked for getting back in movies, Schwarzenegger was awarded with the Comic-Con-bestowed Inkpot Award “for his contribution to popular culture and achievement in film arts.”

Jackie is always a hoot. But please, no more “Spy Next Door.

Actor Jackie Chan and Laura Weissbecker speak at "Chinese Zodiac" panel during Comic-Con International 2012 at San Diego Convention Center on Thursday.

Actor Jackie Chan and Laura Weissbecker speak at “Chinese Zodiac” panel during Comic-Con International 2012 at San Diego Convention Center on Thursday. — Kevin Winter / Getty Images

It may be hard to believe, but martial arts action star Jackie Chan made his first-ever Comic-Con appearance during a Hall H panel on Thursday afternoon.

The star was on hand to promote his new action film “Chinese Zodiac.” The trailer for the film, which follows a skilled but somewhat-bumbling thief played by Chan, showed off Chan’s signature humorous fighting style. The trailer suggests that Chan, who directs the film, might be poking some fun at his increasing age.

“I tell all the new people to learn special effects,” he said. “Don’t get hurt just for a movie.”

Chan was quick, however, to smack down rumors that he is thinking of retiring from making action movies.

“It’s not my last action film,” he said, “but it is, probably, my last big action movie.”

After 52 years of martial arts, Chan is staying true to his vision of providing unvarnished action free from distracting special effects.

“I’m going back to the original Jackie Chan movie,” he said. “No big special effects, just me.”


Disney had a lot up its sleeve at Comic-Con

I got to cover Hall H at the Con today! Not too many dull moments at that place!

Disney brought out its big guns and provided plenty of surprises during its trio of panels in Hall H on Thursday afternoon.

Panel moderator Chris Hardwick first brought out Tim Burton to discuss the upcoming stop-motion animated film “Frankenweenie.” The movie, an update on Burton’s original 1984 live action film, tells the story of a kid who successfully brings his dead dog back to life.

“It stemmed from me having a dead dog as a child,” Burton said. “I wanted to mix all of those elements: the horror, the humor, the heart of the story. It’ a really personal project for me.”

The exclusive scenes shown to the Hall H crowd suggest Burton’s signature dark comedic style and an eccentric cast of characters, some of which are based upon kids Burton knew when he was in school.

According to Burton, this was the version of the film he always wanted to make.

“I was happy to do it in live action but, for me, this is the more pure version of it.”

Next on stage was “Evil Dead” and “Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi, who introduced his origin story “Oz: The Great and Powerful.”

James Franco plays the titular wizard, who starts out as a naive circus magician.

“It’s a story of a selfish man,” Raimi said. “Oz is like a land of second chances for him.”

A Con-exclusive trailer for the film showed off some visually stunning sequences and impressive 3D.

Stars like former San Diegan Michelle Williams, who plays Glenda, and Mila Kunis, who plays a character name Theodora, were also on hand to discuss the film. Kunis appreciated the realistic visual detail that went into creating the fantasy land.

“The sets were real, and they were tangible,” Kunis said. “It wasn’t a green screen. It was magical going to work.”

The film is more heavily based upon Frank L. Baum’s original books than the classic 1939 movie.

“We couldn’t use images or ideas straight from the original film,” Raimi said. “We had to base what we did upon the books.”

Next on stage was Rich Moore, who introduced his upcoming animated ode to classic video games “Wreck-It Ralph.”

Moore showed off 10 minutes of the film, which tells a tale of a longtime video game villain who wants to be good for a change. The footage really showcased the visual splendor of the animation, replete with clever visual references to classic video games like “Pac Man,” “Donkey Kong” and “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

John C. Reilly, who plays Ralph, and Sarah Silverman, who plays a character named Penelope, were brought out to discuss the film.

According to Reilly, doing voiceover work was an exciting challenge.

“It’s been an amazingly creative process,” Reilly said. “We did a lot of improvisation, and it was pretty cool. We didn’t have to worry about how we looked, which was great.”

Filled with big stars, major announcements and exclusive footage, Disney showed its fans that their Hall H panel was worth the long wait.

Enter: The Con

This Summer, I have had the amazing privilege to intern with the San Diego-Union Tribune  as an Arts and Entertainment writer. Today kicks off our biggest event of the Summer, San Diego Comic-Con. I have been a Con-goer for two years now, but this will be my first time covering the Con as a member of the press. To say that I am excited is a huge understatement. Please follow all of our blog posts at and tweets at @UTnightday. I will be re-posting all of my posts from the pop culture capital of the world here, as well as others that I think are particularly interesting or enlightening. It’s going to be a crazy five days, and, if I make it out alive, I’ll be sure to share some of my reactions and thoughts on the Con as a whole. If you’re not here, hopefully we can make it feel like you are!