SDCC 2013: Ender’s Game Producer Roberto Orci Says the Book Is “About Tolerance” at Summit/Lionsgate Panel


But before we could get to that, there was Divergent to talk about:

Veronica Roth, Neil Burger, Shailene Woodley, Maggie Q, Theo James, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Mekhi Phifer, Ben Lamb, Ben Lloyd Hughes, Christian Madsen.

Wow – Chris Hardwick is moderating this? For a guy who usually stays clear of controversy and negativity, this is going to be interesting.

So Divergent is going to be first, to get people in a good mood. Out comes Veronica Roth, author of the book; director Neil Burger (Limitless), actors Theo James and Shailene Woodley.

(Somebody please tell Hardwick that his routine of saying “Come forward” in a fake English accent is getting old.)

Divergent takes place in future Chicago; Burger says he disagrees with author Roth as to how far in the future, but it’s now a walled city of tens of thousands, divided into five factions, each dedicated to a single virtue – bravery, intelligence, selflessness, kindness and peacefulness. Protagonist Tris grows up in the selfless one but wants to be brave. At a certain age you can choose your faction, but must leave your old one completely behind – you get tested in a kind of dream state in which challenges are thrown at you.

Shooting just wrapped Tuesday morning – this was a pretty quick turnaround.

A clip was shown, with Woodley and Zoe Kravitz jumping on an el train, then jumping off it onto a roof, then going through an initiation where she is told she must jump off the roof of a tall building into a sinkhole (technically, like a certain other heroine, she volunteers). She falls, and is caught in ante that was unseen before. Asked if she was pushed, she says no, and is welcomed into the Dauntless faction.

What follows is a training montage that screams “Next Hunger Games!” as she is trained both to fight and be unafraid, having knives thrown at her and throwing knives at targets, climbing up old Ferris wheels and walls. I suspect those fanboys criticizing Woodley’s looks in Spider-Man set photos may change their minds when they see the Jennifer Lawrence-style makeover.

No sense of what the post-initiation conflict is going to be yet.

Roth says the third book will alternate between Four and Tris’ perspectives. Based on the crowd reaction, that sounds significant.

Out come the rest of the primary cast.

Maggie Q looks skeletal, while Mekhi Phifer looks bulked up.

“We remember the ’80s unironically. We were proto-nerds” -Hardwick, justifying describing himself, Q and Phifer as “older.”

Cast had two weeks of combat training together, which they describe as a pretty goof bonding experience. Kravitz mentions a scene of crowd-surfing for about 45 minutes – all initiates get passed around by a crowd.

James says the movie has a very iconic look. So far, that iconic look would appear to be “Hunger Games”…but we’ll see.

Just noticed Hardwick has a Real Genius T-shirt on. About time that movie got an article of merchandise.
Asked how things compare to what she saw in her head, Roth says she was most blown away by the scene of Tris facing a fear of drowning in a water tank – having the real tank there made it real in a way it hadn’t been before.

A poor confused questioner steps up and says he really loved Ender’s Game, not realizing it is not that panel yet. He is ushered away politely, as Hardwick publicly feels sorry for the fact that the guy was probably waiting in line forever to ask one question, and he did it wrong.

Woodley says the scene she was most excited to see come to life was one of Zoe hanging over a chasm. Burger insisted on real stunts, not greenscreen – they built their own train and tracks.

Fan question – what similarities do you have to your character? Q says it is basically her. Phifer says he grew up in Harlem, so he ha dto learn to be brave. Elgert says he and Caleb are both really tall. James jokes about being super-protective of Shailene, not even letting her go to the bathroom by herself. Woodley: “I’d like to think that I’m brave.” Kravitz relates to her character’s background of saying whatever she wants at all times. Hughes likes standing up for his friends. Lamb has always been a hard worker. Madsen: “To explain why I’m like Al would turn this into a whole giant therapy session.”

Newbold says Molly is very tall, and so is she. Teller, “So, Peter is not very likable…but both he and I like classical music, and we both brush our teeth in the shower.”

This part of the panel closes with the footage being shown again. Then Hardwick tries to do improv jokes based on the volunteers restocking the water bottles.

He’s proud to welcome us to the Ender’s Game panel. He’s owning it. Introduces Roberto Orci and Gavin Hood, for whom this is the first Comic Con. (“I’ve dreamed about this!”) So excited that he jumps the gun on bringing out the cast – Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld and Harrison Ford). Ford looks like a confused old man.

The new trailer was shown, and as a fan of the book I’m thinking that this almost shows the whole ending! In an attempt to be all money shots like the last trailer, it mostly seems to be showing the first Formic war and the final battle simulation – all narrated by Harrison Ford, of course. Lots of explosions, lost of that warping effect you’ve seen in everything where things move at high speed and then suddenly stop mid-space.

Hardwick asks Harrison how it was playing Ender’s mentor. Ford answers that he’d correct that question – he’s more Ender’s manipulator. Hardwick starts forcefully apologizing, to which Ford dryly quips “I am never coming back here.” Adds that he was drawn to the project based on the military issues – the way the book predicted drone warfare, and address manipulation of young people for governmental purposes. Hood loves the book for two reasons – the “amazing environment” (Battle School, etc.), and the fact that it’s not a simple story of good and evil. Talks about how great it is to have “actors with the intelligence of Asa and Hailee, and Harrison on a good day.”

Wow – first question is about the controversy surrounding Card. Good job not censoring that one. Orci takes it, says they decided to use the attention on the project to back up Lionsgate’s recent statement of support for LGBT rights and human rights, says the book is ironically about tolerance, and most everyone other than Card who works on the movie supports tolerance for all, and they intend to use the spotlight on them over OSC to emphasize that.

And the fan from the last part of the panel is allowed back! Gets huge applause, asked how they choose what themes to explore? Hood says leadership, compassion, tolerance, identity.

A question about which prop they’d like to take from the set. Hood tries to get Ford to answer, but he won’t; just laughs and looks awkward. Hardwick jokes that they need to chloroform him to keep him from bolting.

Fan asks if Han Solo and Indiana Jones were to meet, what would be their first words to each other. Ford’s answer: “Hi. How are you?”

Brazilian fan says he used to pretend to be Indiana Jones, until he broke his leg with a rock. Asks if Han Solo would be a good soldier in Col. Graff’s army. Ford says “You and I have a lot in common. I used to dream of being Indiana Jones when I was younger. Not so much any more.” He doesn’t think Han would be good in anybody’s army – he’s an “independent contractor.”

Trailer shown again and the panel ends.