Today at WonderCon, hundreds of comic book and movie fans gathered in the Anaheim Convention Center, with the promise of a sneak peak at films in Warner Bros.’ upcoming slate. Hosted by Tiffany Smith of DC All Access, the studio’s panel brought out new clips from Wonder Woman and Annabelle: Creation, as well as a look at the already-released Justice League trailer on the big screen.
Sitting down with Smith to open the panel, Lights Out director David F. Sandberg appeared for a brief discussion of his upcoming film out of the Conjuring world, Annabelle: Creation. A fan of director James Wan — a “modern master of horror” — Sandberg described his excitement in stepping into the world Wan had conjured with The Conjuring. “That was the fun thing, because James set up this universe so great with the first Conjuring, which I was a huge fan of,” the director said. “It has this sort of classic horror movie feel—more old school. So this was my chance to do my version of an old school horror movie.”
For Sandberg, that old school feeling came not only in the camerawork, but in his approach to score — influenced directly by the score of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, which the director used as a temp score throughout the editing process.
The director also discussed the framing of his film as a prequel and origin story of Annabelle, a character previously introduced in the Conjuring films. “This is a prequel; hence, the Creation title. We actually see her being made, which was really fun for me,” he said of the possessed doll at the crux of the film. “I probably wouldn’t have been as interested in making it if it had been a straight continuation of the first movie.”
During the conversation, other revelations emerged — Talitha Bateman, the actress playing the role of Janice in Creation, is the sister of Lights Out actor Gabriel Bateman. And Lotta Losten, Sandberg’s wife, will indeed make a cameo in the upcoming film, as she has in several of the director’s recent works.
In closing, the director discussed what he finds exciting in horror films today, and what he’d like to see down the line. “I want to see [horror films] getting a little bit more of a budget,” he said. “We had a bigger budget on this than we did on Lights Out; I know they had a bigger budget on It, that’s coming out. I think that’s really exciting, because horror has, for a long time, been viewed as something lesser, and they haven’t wanted to spend a lot of money on it. So that’s really exciting, that we get to see horror get appropriate budgets.”
Following the Annabelle conversation, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins appeared alongside executive producer Geoff Johns — who is also the president and Chief Creative Officer at DC Comics — to discuss their process in bringing a long-awaited Wonder Woman origin story to the big screen.
“I love any superhero origin story, just because I think that the birth of superheroes, for many of us, is the idea of being a child, of being a person who connects with these kinds of characters, who end up getting the opportunity to make a difference in the world,” Jenkins said of her attraction to the project. “I’m a big believer in the tradition of using these stories as a way to explore every single kind of person’s hopes and dreams for being a better person — a more powerful person in the world — and making a great choice when they get that chance.”
Jenkins described her passion for superhero films as stemming from an early childhood experience, seeing Superman in theaters at seven years old. “I couldn’t believe the effect that movie had on me. I was Superman,” she said. “It didn’t matter who I was, and it didn’t matter where I was. I was that little boy who ripped his shirt, and picked up a car. I was that character who faced those challenges, and felt human.”
Conceiving Wonder Woman as a character piece cut from the cloth of Greek mythology, Jenkins believed in the necessity for equal representation, when it comes to the superheroes we see on screen. “When it comes to Wonder Woman, she’s my favorite superhero, but she’s one of the biggest, most well-known, classic superheroes of the genre, and the fact that nobody had gotten to make her origin story — it’s so important that every superhero get their day, and their origin story, and hers is beautiful and wonderful, and one that deserved to be told,” she said.
Previewing two clips — demonstrating the rapport between Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), along with some slow-motion ass-kicking — Johns heralded Wonder Woman as “the best fighter in the DC Universe.”
Jenkins then discussed the superhero’s unique balance of strength and compassion, so pertinent in today’s world. “She’s not the only character who has a strong moral compass and a belief system, of course, but what I like about her is that that is her mission. Her mission is a belief of mankind and what they can be, and it’s a moral belief system,” the director said. “She’s one of the very few who believes in goodness and kindness, and justice and love, who comes to our world, hoping to instill that in other people, but is willing to use force if that’s what she must do to keep mankind safe.”
Johns also commented on the long development process for the Wonder Woman film, with talks about developing a movie based on the comic book character dating back several decades. “In the ’90s, I was reading the same articles you guys would — like, someone says, ‘A female superhero movie won’t work,’ which I find ridiculous,” he said. “You wont hear that again.”