WonderCon 08: J. Michael Straczynski and Starship Troopers: Marauder

2007 saw a record crowd for the three-day WonderCon (in its twenty-second year) held in San Francisco, California. Judging by Saturday’s crowd, 2008 looks to attract more than the 20,000 who attended last year’s comic book fest.

Long-time attendee J. Michael Straczynski was on hand to discuss how busy he has been the past year. He wrote a few screenplays currently in various stages of production, including one directed by Clint Eastwood (The Changeling) and the other being World War Z, in addition to his constant comic book writing.

This is the first Straczynski panel I’ve been to, despite my many years going to WonderCon, and he seems very friendly and approachable. He also has a pretty devout fanbase.

My first exposure to Straczynski’s work was Babylon 5, so I didn’t know the full extent of his comic book work. There were, of course, B5 questions including whether there will be more Lost Tales DVD installments, thanks to the astronomic sales of the The Lost Tales DVD (i.e. “more than three”). Many more questions were geared toward his other works, including The Twelve.

He talked about many things, including telling several stories (like how he started a chant — the police would call it a mob chant — after his hotel was evacuated in the middle of the night while he was attending WonderCon 2006). He talked about how he is no longer exclusive to Marvel, how he is starting his own production company, how he is a friend of Brad Pitt, and why he never sits down during his presentations. Go ahead – ask him why.

My favorite line during the presentation (about Supreme Power): “I swallowed. I sucked.”

The convention wouldn’t be WonderCon without showcasing a big science fiction movie. While not the big budget affair of 10,000 B.C., the second sequel to Paul Verhoeven’s satire Starship Troopers was a big draw. The convention people probably should have given them a bigger room. Writer/director Ed Neumeier (Robocop), star Casper Van Dien, and (unmentioned in any of the program books) Jolene Blalock (Enterprise) made up the panel.

WonderCon 08 - Starship Troopers: Marauder WonderCon 08 - Starship Troopers: Marauder

Neumeier iterated that the third movie follows the original novel more closely than the original movie. Van Dien constantly referenced the film’s title in relation to the book (hint: marauder).

The original made many references to wartime propaganda, and Neumeier made it a point to confirm this as a main theme. He mentioned Triumph of the Will and how he really wanted to show what Germany was like before the Holocaust and how much/how little the German people actually knew about what was happening. Starship Troopers was a way for him to somewhat explore these ideas.

Van Dien was very enthusiastic during the discussion, even letting out the classic “Do you wanna live forever” line. Blalock was sweet. She also talked about her involvement in Star Trek and how blessed she is to have been a part of it. While a question asked of her implied her career being pigeonholed because of Star Trek, Blalock was modest and appreciative of how her career has changed because of it.

Starship Troopers: Marauder will be released direct to DVD soon.

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