C2E2 2023: Friday Panel Catchup
Just like we saw a return to the pre-COVID crowds on Day One of C2E2, there was no time to waste as far as programming, either. We kicked off our con with a trip to the Zach Levi panel which was bright and early at 11:30 am, and checked out some of the other awesome programming Friday had for us. In case you missed anything - take a look!
Our first stop, as mentioned, was the Zachary Levi spotlight. Levi, fresh off Shazam 2, was boisterous and energetic as we've ever seen him, though he did spend a good portion of the beginning of his panel talking about mental health. According to Levi, he suffered a mental breakdown at the age of 37, about six years ago, and experienced feelings of insecurity and a bit of imposter syndrome before seeking help and working through it. He encouraged fans to face their mental illness head on and not be afraid to ask for help, before moving on to other topics.
Levi admitted disappointment at the reception for Shazam 2, but was quick not to blame it on the film or audiences, mentioning that the entire face of film has changed, with streaming and after the pandemic, and though he personally thinks the film was even better than the original, and loved his time with his "Shazamily" he was sadly aware that this may be the last time in the suit. Fans were invited up to ask questions as well, with topics ranging from Chuck to Thor to Broadway and beyond, and overall, it was a fun foray with Zachary Levi, who we hope to see more of in the future.
The next stop was the X-Men Animated Series Cast Reunion. where we got a chance to see some of the voice talent from the X-Men animated series. Lenore Zann (Rogue), Cal Dodd (Wolverine), Catherine Disher (Jean Grey), George Buza (Beast), Chris Potter (Gambit) and Alison Sealy-Smith (Storm) went on the C2E2 main stage to talk about their time doing voice work for the legendary X-Men Animated series, as well as some insight about what it was like getting back into character for the forthcoming X-Men ‘97, a revival of the animated series that “takes off right where the old one left off.”
The X-Men animated series was definitely one of our favorites growing up, and while we always dreamed that there would be a great X-Men film someday, we didn’t realize that Hugh Jackman actually watched the animated series to get a feel for Wolverine from Cal Dodd’s voice performance. When the two finally met before filming for the first X-Men film began, Dodd said Jackman greeted him by saying, “it’s nice to meet you, but I’m tired of hearing your voice!” Dodd’s performance was the more prominent Wolverine performance at the time, with his Wolverine still iconic.
As far as information about the new series, the cast all had to say “NDA!” as they’re ever-fearful of the ears of Disney’s feared lawyers. However, when Gambit actor Chris Potter went in to do some ADR work he saw some of the completed animations, and thought “wow, this is really fucking good.” We can’t wait to see what X-Men ‘97 will bring around.
One of our early favorite panels this con had to be Kevin Eastman's.
If you were unaware, Eastman represents one-half of the duo that created Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT). According to Eastman he provided the “ninja turtles” name while fellow co-creator Peter Laird added the “mutant turtle” part. As far as the meteoritic popularity of the Ninja Turtles, neither one of them saw it coming. In fact, they thought the first issue wasn’t going to sell, so they created box furniture with boxes full of the first print run.
As far as Eastman’s favorite version of the Turtles, he actually thinks it’s the TMNT Motion Picture. On the film Eastman said “it was the perfect storm” as far as the merger between the versions of the Turtles that existed to that point.
While Eastman has worked on many other projects since he worked on TMNT, he keeps coming back to it–even after selling his half of ownership in the franchise. While Eastman poured a lot of heart into the “semi-autobiographical” Drawing Blood and worked on popular works like Heavy Metal he’s probably always going to come back to TMNT.
After that it was time for one of the con's biggest events -- the 30th Anniversary Boy Meets World Cast Reunion. Not only was Boy Meets World a childhood favorite of ours, we're also avid listeners and fans of the more recent Girl Meets World and the even newer podcast that Rider Strong, Danielle Fishel and WIll Friedle co-host - Pod Meets World. The watch-along podcast with the trio was the brain child of Fishel (!) and has seen massive success since its inception.
But it wasn't just these three amigos on the panel -- we were privileged to also be able to see Trina McGee, Bonnie Bartlett and the man himself, William Daniels, who was celebrating his 96th birthday on the day of the panel.
And while there were some moderation missteps with too many broad questions that didn't seem well-researched, the cast shone and the panel itself was full of so many wonderful moments. Fishel, Strong and Friedle have an amazing dynamic between them with an off set friendship as strong as the on set friendships they shared with other cast members, and that warm and welcome feeling was felt all panel long.
This was probably the biggest panel of the day, with a packed room full of fans, and we were thrilled to see the crowd give Daniels a standing ovation and sing him happy birthday. Daniels spoke so fondly of the younger cast, recalling the last episode of the show with great fondness, if the moment was bittersweet since he'd no longer be with the kids who were, he noted, no longer kids. When told to ad-lib his final words of advice on the show, he could think of nothing more appropriate than "I love you all," a sentiment Daniels clearly still felt, with shining eyes gazing on his fellow actors.
It was absolutely clear the feeling was mutual, as well, as Feeny took center stage for most of the panel, and came up in a lot of people's questions and comments for the gang. When asked if Feeny shaped him or he shaped Feeny, Daniels said it was the latter, with Bartlett and Fishel heavily disagreeing for a moment, though later on in a bit of acting advice, Daniels mentioned his belief that great actors bring everything of themself that the character is written for to their roles.
There was also a lot of Topanga talk, and we found it well deserved, as Topanga was a trailblazer of sorts for a certain generation of young women - confident, smart, and kind with a no-nonsense attitude that of course inspired so many of us who watched it. We even managed to get a partial "Feeny!" call out of Will Friedle, who only obliged at the request of the man of the hour, birthday boy William Daniels. Friedle said he'd been hanging on to it all day, as the actor had retired the iconic goofy call and passed it along to the Girl Meets World girls, but couldn't resist a direct request from Daniels - and the crowd went wild.
One of our favorite things about Boy Meets World is that these characters were not superheroes They were regular kids, like us, facing the same issues we faced as we faced them. Growing up with them meant learning to be okay with who we were, too, and it wasn't just Feeny who inspired us all to grow up good. We could've listened to this cast talk for hours, and we hope to see them all again soon.
That's it for today's panel catchups - but we'll be catching you up on all the action Saturday as well, so make sure to keep your eye out on this space- and hey, don't forget to to check out our amazing cosplay galleries while you're at it!