Comic-Con is known for its "fanboys," but this year one thing is clear: the girls rule. If it's not Bella Swan finally kicking ass in "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" as a vampire, it's Michelle Rodriguez vs. Milla Jovovich of "Resident Evil: Retribution" or Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel of "Total Recall." Comic-Con put on several female-themed events, including a panel on Censoring Female Artists and another on Women Who Kick Ass. While there's plenty of female objectification on Comic-Con panels and the exhibition floor, there are more strong women action leads than ever.
"Resident Evil: Retribution": Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Boris Kodjoe, Oded Fehr and director (and Jovovich's hubby) Paul W.S. Anderson previewed a reel of footage featuring completely badass Rodriguez and Jovovich. The Hall H fans loved them. The men on the panel barely got a word in edgewise. One fan even asked Rodriguez if she'd consider having sex with him. She turned him down by telling him how much he reminded her of a crazy man that was once doing unspeakably awful things to himself in her backyard. Not a high point for women at the fest, but she smartly and hilariously subverted the inappropriate question (of which there are many; a compliment on how beautiful the women look often proceeds an actual question for male counterparts) and never gave up her control over the entire panel and audience. She applauds Brit director Anderson, adding that it's rare for an American male director to be open to female-dominated action movies. Hyper-jovial Jovovich loves doing stunts, bigger and badder every time.
"Total Recall": Farrell said that he did not feel the need to fill Arnold Schwarzenegger's giant shoes, since the Paul Verhoeven original (1990) had a very different tone. It's different enough that he felt safe to take his own stab at it. He says he related to the whole "not knowing who I am" element of his "Recall" character, since he feels he's spent much of his life dealing with the same dilemma. He also swooned over the set pieces, noting that one part was designed like an opium den. He felt "very much at home."
Beckinsale says she's still a bit offended that husband-director Wiseman thought of her when casting the role of the "psycho bitch wife." Rest assured, the six-minute reel they shared proves she kicks just as much ass in "Recall" as she does in the "Underworld" series. She says she wasn't born yielding a weapon like Biel (rather, she was "born reading a book and eating something"), but is grateful for these badass roles so that she can serve as a deterrent for boys eyeing her thirteen year old daughter. She feels audiences have become more receptive to seeing strong women characters without men.
Wiseman and Biel both spoke to the romantic element in the movie, between her character and Farrell's. That a love story could emerge from all the chaos and action made the role interesting to Biel. Wiseman says "there's such a romantic notion in this movie,..that these two will find each other again, that quest for the other person that you may be dreaming about or fantasizing about -- the possibility that it could be real--"
"Because that's what happened to you honey," Beckinsale chimes in.
Bryan Cranston, like Farrell, says he was hesitant to board a remake, but fell for the script and its new approach to the story. As for Cranston's training -- while Farrell and Biel ate lots of chicken -- he was "training in the bar," where he and Wiseman drank a lot to work on his character. By the way, all Cranston has to do is show up to own a crowd. "Breaking Bad" has made that man a god.
Watch the trailer here and more from the panel in the video below: