WonderCon Anaheim 2015 took place Friday, April 3 through Sunday, April 5. In this article, we discuss our experience on Saturday, April 4, starting with the Superman: The Richard Donner Years Celebrity Reunion and Felicia Day panels. Josh kicks off the article, then Violet picks up later on. Read on for all the details and to see our photos!
Violet and I decided to head down to WonderCon around 9am on Saturday. It looked to be another packed day, as the Anaheim Convention Center parking was already getting full, and the Con wasn’t officially even open yet. As we walked to the actual Con area, there were hoards of people! I will be interested to hear the numbers for attendance at WonderCon this year, as I have a feeling it might be the most ever.
But if you read our WonderCon Friday Report (Part 2), I mentioned how there were barriers up to keep the non-attendees away from the Convention Center. Well, today, this was even more strictly enforced. Security was checking badges of attendees, before even entering the building. At the main entrance side, there were even turnstiles to slow the flow of traffic for security to crack down more. I am really curious why the step up in security this year. My only guesses would be they have had too many people sneaking into the con that didn’t buy badges, or they want to keep certain people away from the Con, such as those religious zealots (you know, those nutcases with the yellow signs that seem to attend any kind of big event, and use a microphone to spout religious verse, and tell us that we are all sinners going to Hell). If the latter was the case, it wasn’t very effective. WonderCon had one of these guys who made his way around the barrier, and was shouting to the traffic coming and going from the Convention Center. Ah well, best to just ignore those people anyway.
But to get back to the excitement of WonderCon, our first panel of the day was going to be Superman: The Richard Donner Years Celebrity Reunion.
Superman: The Richard Donner Years Celebrity Reunion, Room 300AB, 10:00am-11:00am
So, for those of us born prior to 1989, the Superman movies were really one of the few, if only, comic book/superhero movies around. Superman and Superman II are two iconic movies, we can partially thank for the eventual superhero/comic book era we have today. These two movies paved the way some nearly 40 years ago now. Some will go as far as to say that these movies still hold up today. For me, while I have watched these movies for as long as I can remember, and can still watch both and have a really great time doing so, I would argue that they are a little cheesy now (spinning the world backwards to reverse time, or the weird tin foil S that traps one of Zod’s henchmen? C’mon!), but that doesn’t lessen the amazing qualities of this movie. I am sure this movie is one of the major reasons I am into superheroes today. So needless to say, I was pretty excited for this panel.
The panel moderators were Jim Bowers and Jay Towers, and they opened up the panel discussing the progression of making Superman into a movie, and the daunting task it was. The original idea of Superman actually was first thought of in 1973 by Ilya Salkind, and he recognized that there was a built-in audience, since comics, TV shows and radio shows were already making Superman content. The original writer for the movie was Mario Puzo, and James Bond director Guy Hamilton was set to direct the movie originally. Marlon Brandon and Gene Hackman signed on pretty early.
It was interesting to learn from the moderators that originally Superman was to be filmed in Italy, but the crew in Italy struggled to get Superman to fly. Luckily, I guess, the filming was moved to England for financial reasons, so a new crew would be working on the film. A highly advanced British group was then tasked with making Superman fly. Also, Guy Hamilton was lost as a director, and that is when Richard Donner came on board. Although uncreditted, apparently Richard Donner had Tom Mankiewicz rework the script to make it less “campy.”
The moderators then discussed the hard work with special effects, and having to film both the original movie and portions of the second movie at the same time. Several new special effect technologies were developed to get the film made, particularly with getting Superman to fly. Margot Kidder had a lot to say about that later in the panel. We saw a quick video which looked to be from the 70s discussing the making of the movie, along with clips from the movie.
After the short video, the panelists were brought out, which were various original cast members. Jack O’Halloran (Non) had actually already been sitting at the table the entire time, so he was introduced first. Then out came Margot Kidder (Lois Lane), Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen), Diane Sherry (Lana Lang), Valerie Perrine (Eve Teschmacher), and Aaron Smolinski (baby Clark Kent).
Seeing this panel, it’s obvious that Lois Lane in the movie is exactly who Margot Kidder is. She talked about hearing a Russian Symphony on NPR and thinking that it was the Superman theme, and kind of questioned John Williams score half jokingly. It seemed very Lios Lane-ish. Marc McClure talked about the town Metropolis in Illinois which apparently is taking full advantage of the city’s name, according to Marc. The rest of the cast talked about working together, which everyone seemed to have fond memories of, and the cast seemed pretty close. Aaron Smolinski joked that whenever he hears the music, he has an urge to get naked and lift cars. For those who don’t remember, that’s what he does in the movie that is probably the most memorable. Diane Sherry talked about how the movie stands the test of time, and was impressed with how its practical effects rival the digital ones today.
Next, the panel talked about Richard Donner as a director. Margot Kidder said that Donner would give her a hard time about her divorce which would make her laugh, I guess. She also said he knew how each person should be directed, and he would figure it out. Jack O’Halloran talked about working with Donner about his character Non, and Donner “let him go” with his part. Marc McClure talks about his eventual role as Jimmy Olsen, which involved Donner and him talking about living on a boat for a while, and the eventual asking of Marc if he knew who Jimmy Olsen was. Marc’s response was “Golly, Mr. Kent,” and then a few months later he was called in by Donner for the role.
Valerie Perrine had a pretty funny story about Mr. Donner. She is pretty old and frail, but her story was quite funny. She didn’t want to tell the story at first, but the moderators urged her to tell it. She talked about how the cast had Winnebagos to get to and from set. Apparently Richard would go out into “nature” Valerie said, and that he would tell Valerie that he was “F—ing nature”. That got a good laugh. I am not quite sure what that means, and I am wondering if there is more to this story… Later, Valerie also confessed that she can’t swim, so in the scene where she had to jump in the water to save Superman, she downed an entire bottle of champagne! She said that if you listen closely, you can hear her kind of slur her lines.
But speaking of Donner, he provided a small video talking to the people at “WonderCamp” not sure if that was a joke, or he didn’t quite know the name. He apologized for missing the panel, but couldn’t make it due to Easter. He talked about the cast and how close and great they all are, and how Christopher Reeve is missed.
The moderator moved on to talking about the special effects of the movie, and specifically flying. Margot talked about hanging in the harnesses for hours a day, and how painful it would be. She spoke about bathroom breaks being a huge ordeal. She also told a story about being controlled on the wires while flying and something went wrong, and Chris tried to “rescue” her. Margot said that Chris said, “I thought I could hold us up!” Jack O’Halloran talked about flying, being 70 feet in the air, and how scary it was.
Marc McClure talked about the editor of the Daily Planet, Perry White, and that the original actor set to play him was Kennan Wynn but he had a heart attack on the plane ride to Britain. Jackie Cooper was then given the part.
Then Margot talked about New York Daily News building being used as the building for the Daily Planet. The rest of the cast talked about various experiences with the film, and all of the cast seemed to have had a good time filming the movie.
Of course, finishing up the panel was discussing working with the late Christopher Reeve. Margot had the most to say, likely because she worked with him most, but she talked about how meticulous he was as an actor, but they had a good brother-sister relationship. She also had a funny story about how they would ice skate in London, and explained how terrible the British were at ice skating. She described a game she and Reeve would play, seeing how many people they could knock over at the rink without touching them, just making them panic and fall. She also talked about how she felt that Reeve was in better shape than ever after the accident, and she even told him that, and hoped he understand what she meant.
Overall, it was a lot of fun seeing these actors back together to talk about something they did 40 years ago. I am glad I got to see this panel, as the actors are getting older and older.
Up next was the Felicia Day panel, which Violet will get into next!
Felicia Day Talks Geek & Sundry, Her New Book, & More!, Room 300 DE, 11:30am-12:30pm
It’s Violet again, taking over for now! After the Superman panel was over, we went right next door to 300DE for Felicia Day’s panel. The preceding panel in the room, The World of Capcom, was still in session, with about half an hour left, but we were able to walk right in and were directed to a couple of open seats near the front. About 20 minutes later, we saw a tweet that the line for Felicia Day’s panel was 6 chutes deep. Good thing we went into the room when we did! That room ended up being packed.
Felicia Day’s panel consisted entirely of audience Q&A. She just sat up there alone on stage and answered any questions that the long line of audience members came up to the mic and asked her. Of course, she made sure to shamelessly plug her book, titled You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), which comes out in August, every chance she got. She also made sure to compliment each person who came up to the mic about something, whether it be their hair or what they were wearing. She was especially jealous of one girl who merely twisted her hair, and it looked great, while Felicia herself had spent 45 minutes using a new flat iron technique she had learned to curl her hair.
Quite a few of the audience questions were about Felicia’s experience playing Charlie on Supernatural. Regarding her preference of playing “Good Charlie” vs. “Dark Charlie,” she said that Dark Charlie was funner because she got to punch and kick people, and she also got to get close to Jensen Ackles’s leg. She even bought new underwear for the occasion. Additionally, she had the privilege of driving Dean’s Impala, although it was the one with the regular engine, not the “big” engine. Felicia recounted the story of a scene where she was supposed to punch Dean, and Jensen started making fun of the way her punches looked. This made her angry, and led her to put more force behind her punch the next take — which resulted in her dislocating her thumb! But at least it looked good. Felicia revealed that there were some Charlie scenes cut, and she would have loved to have more background about what went on while she was away in Oz. As for working with Jared and Jensen, she said they are crazy and awesome, and that in between each take, they kept showing her videos of Key & Peele sketches! Felicia confirmed that she will appear in Episode 18 of Supernatural, which airs on April 15.
Another large portion of the audience questions centered around Felicia’s experience as Penny in Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. Felicia spoke fondly of her time making Dr. Horrible, saying that it’s a project that she never trade the experience for the world. While shooting it, she kept thinking it didn’t feel like work. It was an experience that showed her that you shouldn’t work on things unless they’re close to your heart, like this was. She thinks that Penny was merely blinded by biceps when she started dating Captain Hammer, but that she thinks Penny would have eventually ended up with Billy. When asked how she would have wanted Dr. Horrible to end, Felicia confessed that when she read the script, she cried. She went on to say that she’s always honored when her character gets killed because that shows that the writers know the death will make an impact. Therefore, she thought that killing Penny was pretty important.
Other things we learned:
- Spooked Season 2 is on her To-Do List
- She and her brother will keep making new episodes of Co-Optitude
- There’s a lot of background in info about The Guild in her book that comes out in August, about the whole journey of making it all the way to the end of it. She could see the characters coming back, but it would have to be the right time. She always has kept the rights to The Guild.
- Her geeky guilty pleasure is Calico Critters. It’s her dream to collect them all. She also likes Funko pops, especially dragons. Once she almost punches a woman for an exclusive Game of Thrones dragon Funko pop.
- When running a business, identify where you’re weakest, then spend more time on where you’re strongest, that only you can do. Felicia commented, “I am so much better at craft service and looking pretty.”
- Her favorite episode of Tabletop that she’s in is when they played the Resistance and she was secretly a bad guy. Wil Wheaton didn’t suspect Felicia was the bad guy, because she’s a terrible liar. Then when she revealed that she was, “It was the best moment of my life!”
- She has shot a gun, having grown up in Texas, after all, though she says it was for research purposes so that she could look like she knew what she was doing when handling a gun for a role. She also has had dagger training.
- She would rather have a vampire apocalypse than a zombie apocalypse because she has a fear of open wounds, and she would rather hang out with the goth crowd.
- There have been projects she’s been offered that she has turned down because she would rather be on something smaller to maintain a sense of family.
- She doesn’t cosplay a lot, as she’s the type to realize last second that it’s Halloween, then go to Walgreens and buy the largest child size costume she can find. One year she dressed as Zac Efron in High School Musical. However, she recommends going to Dragon Con to see the best cosplay in the country.
- She could not confirm or deny whether or not she will appear in Con Man, but said that if they don’t ask her, she’ll shove her way on set.
The final question of the panel was about her LARPing on the Supernatural episode. She commented that on that episode, she did get to kiss a girl, and it was like the Katy Perry song. Felicia felt a little awkward that the panel had to end right then, but time had run out for the one hour panel.
Click here to continue to Part 2 of our Saturday Report of WonderCon Anaheim 2015, which includes coverage of the Warner Bros Presentation featuring Mad Max:Fury Road and San Andreas, as well as The Messengers and American Odyssey panels! >>