It wasn’t an A-list star or surprise announcement that scored the biggest reaction during Fox‘s mammoth Comic-Con panel — it was rapper Biz Markie, who joined producer Guillermo del Toro‘s Book Of Life gang onstage belting his 1989 anthem “Just A Friend” in a moment of random pop-culture mishmash. The song is covered in the 3D animated feature from director Jorge Gutierrez, a dazzlingly designed romantic adventure inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday and produced by Reel FX that Fox will open on October 17.
The original story follows Manolo (Diego Luna), who must fight for his lady love when spirits La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (Ron Perlman) meddle in the world of the living. A trailer introduced to the Hall H crowd gave fans their first taste of Book, filled with Latin-inspired designs, a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” sung by lovesick matador Manolo, and the voice work of Ice Cube dropping his wink-wink line, “Today was a good day.”
The Day of the Dead holiday, celebrated around the world in various forms such as All Saints Day\, served as a springboard for award-winning animator Gutierrez to fold in many elements of his Mexican heritage. “The Day of the Dead is very near and dear to my heart,” he said. “Got married on the Day of the Dead because I wanted my best friend who passed away to be my best man, and I knew he would be there. The core belief of the holiday is that as long as we tell stories of those came before us, sing their songs, and cook their dishes, they’re with us.”
Fox also trotted out cast and footage for upcoming pics The Maze Runner, Let’s Be Cops, and Hitman: Agent 47. But the highlight of the session? Book of Life co-star Channing Tatum, caught on the Hall H Jumbotron singing along with Markie.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘Let’s Be Cops’ Redband
Comic-Congoers also responded to comic book actioner Kingsman: The Secret Service, a reteam of Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn and comic creator Mark Millar, who moderated. Vaughn didn’t appear with his cast to present a first look at the cheeky spy flick but did send in taped message from the UK — sitting side by side with co-star Mark Hamill, in town shooting Star Wars: Episode VII. “I’m here in the UK working on an obscure, low-budget, independent film,” said Hamill. “The beard, by the way, is for another movie. I’m up for the title role in The George Lucas Story.”
Footage introduced slickly styled comic espionage action with overt Bond references: Samuel L. Jackson‘s Valentine and Colin Firth‘s Harry Hart discuss their mutual love for 007 over a civil dinner in the trailer for Kingsman. Firth also shines in a heavily stylized action scene, in which his attempts to recruit youngster Taron Egerton are interrupted when he pauses to wipe the floors of a pub with six British toughs. Jackson, meanwhile, seems to be channeling something like an evil Russell Simmons and in a sequence shown, shares the screen with a blade-footed henchwoman and Hamill (nerd alert: two Jedi masters in one scene).