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Kingsman, Hitman, The Maze Runner And The Book Of Life – Adaptations On Display At Comic Con

Colin FIrth and Samuel Jackson discuss “Kingsmen: The Secret Service” at Comic Con. Photo credit: GP Productions

BY: Marjorie Galas, Editor

Comic Con is an event consistently ripe with adaptations. On any given year three are major comic books or graphic novels that are being adapted for the big screen. From Batman to Spiderman, some adaptations focus on the small screen such as “The Walking Dead” or “The Strain.” A group of diverse adaptations (complete with great star power both in front of and behind the camera) were on display this year. Hard core fans may know the titles, however few (OK, none) were familiar to the 411 staff. Several of the stars writers, directors and producers were on hand to share highlights (or what highlights they could.)

Hitman: Agent 47 –In attendance: Zachary Quinto and Hannah Ware

“Hitman: Agent 47” is an adaptation of popular video game “Agent 47.” Quinto plays an genetically modified assassin with a bar ode on his neck who’s hunting down Ware’s character. Interestingly, neither actor’s character appears in the game. Continuing a trend that was all-too-common at this year’s Con, Ware could say nothing at all about her character.

“I’m not allowed to say too much, but there is more to her than you’d think” Ware repeatedly said.

Both Quinto and Ware agreed the challenges of the physical combat and training for stunts were great tasks to undertake. Quinto also felt the location shoots in Berlin and Singapore helped establish a useful difference in terms of lifestyle and architecture that influenced the overall storytelling.

(A website for the movie is not available at this time)

The Maze Runner – In attendance: director Wes Ball, writer James Dashner, Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario and Will Pounter

Based on the young adult novel, this film follows a teen that wakes up in a maze along with a number of additional young men. He has no memory of the outside world beyond snippets of a strange dream, and must fight every minute to avoid death in the constantly changing maze. Ball made the choice to direct this film due to the story’s action packed sensibilities and creation of society that differ from other young adult films on the market.

“I wanted to get back to more of what I grew up with, like ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Indiana Jones’; have more adventure and adrenaline. The concept stands out. The kids create their own world. It’s more about finding a brotherhood and family and hard core action.”

James Dashner shared his joy of working with Ball. While many informed him creating a theatrical version of his book would result in an underwhelming creation, he was consulted throughout the process, including lending opinions on storyboard concepts and being involved in the recording of the soundtrack.

“I am the luckiest author in the history of authors,” said Dashner.

Ball described creating a very visual world with plentiful wide angle shots, creating a unique “tension and drama” to the story.

“Our world is very original and unique. Shooting in this environment kept it real for the kids,” said Ball.

To learn more about “The Maze Runner” please visit:
http://themazerunnermovie.com/

The Book of Life – In attendance: Producer Guillermo del Toro, writer/director Jorge Gutierrez, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman and Christina Applegate

“The Book of Life” is an epic tale of a young boy who undertakes a dangerous quest to save his village. Gutierrez decided to adapt the story to animation, feeling the animated format would make the traditional Mexican tale more universal while staying true to the qualities of Mexican lifestyle depicted in the story.

“It’s an ancient story from Mexico; we are trying to tell it with a look you haven’t seen before. We don’t want it to look, sound, or be like the other movies about Mexican culture,” said Gutierrez. “We wanted to bring something that resonates with everyone and make it universal.”

The actors enjoyed the challenges that come with voice over. Tatum, who’d never been involved with voice over work, learned a great deal from Perlman and Applegate. Applegate joked about not having to put on makeup for recording sessions, but followed this sentiment with a serious statement.

“You are blind to how you look, you don’t know how you move, or how you carry yourself,” said Applegate. “I love that process, it’s really challenging.”

Added Perlman, “You do a full blown performance. You are going for the brass ring. While it’s very full you also have to learn when to pull back. It’s all about founding the balance.”

Del Toro was completely behind the talent who jumped on board with the project, and fully supports Gutierrez’s vision.

“These guys are at the top of their game,” said del Toro.

To learn more about “The Book of Life” visit:
http://www.bookoflifemovie.com/

Kingsman: The Secret Service – In attendance: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Taron Egerton, Sophie Cookson and Sofia Boutella

Adapted from a comic book, the film follows a secret spy organization housed in a Saville Road clothing shop that recruits an unrefined street kid to join their competitive training program. The majority of the questions for this panel were aimed at Firth and his experience in an action film. The actor stated that he wish he had done more physical training like that he undertook for the film during his youth.

“We were in training for six month, roughly three hours a day with an extraordinary team,” said Firth. “I’ve never had to do anything this physical, and the training for it was extraordinarily intense.”

What attracted Firth to the role was playing against the spy “type.” While the image of James Bond jumps to mind, Firth enjoyed that the character had his roots firmly entrenched in the 60s.

“He’s slick, cool and capable, he is the last person you would expect to be anyone kicking somebody’s ass,” said Firth.

Jackson, who’s been involved in a number of action films, was happy to once again jump into the genre.

“We have been preparing for this our whole lives. Here’s an opportunity to be inside what used to pretend to be as child,” said Jackson. “This is our job, we have to enjoy what we are doing, and loose ourselves in the technology, choreography and stunts.”

To learn more about “Kingsman: The Secret Service”, please visit:
http://www.kingsmanmovie.com/