Bright Comic-Con Panel: Everything You Need to Know

Training Day meets Lord of the Rings is how Will Smith describes Bright, his next collaboration with director David Ayer. Ayer, who wrote Training Day, is making a movie that resembles his early work far more than his DCEU film, Suicide Squad. His new movie is a genre mash-up, a cop film featuring orcs, fairies, elves, and a powerful magic wand.

Below, check out our reaction to a clip from Bright, some quotes from Ayer about the film, and more.

Immediately after the trailer debuted at Comic-Con, Netflix released it online. What they didn’t release was a clip of an action scene set in a gas station. Imagine Terry Crews’ death scene from Street Kings, but bigger, wackier, and with cops facing off against elves led by Noomi Rapace (The Drop). She looks a bit like a gangster elf, wearing a suit, heels, and firing a big shotgun. There was some bloodshed, and Ayer confirmed he’s directed a movie that would earn an R-rating. If he was at a studio, he said, the rating and content would’ve been watered down.

Elves, who have a long lifespan, think of themselves as superior creatures. All their senses are heightened. During the action beat, Rapace and her goons – and the elf helping the cops, played by Lucy Fry (Vampire Academy) – hit hard and move fast. Ayer describes them as the 1% living it up in Beverly Hills, while the orcs are the working class. The lead orc cop, Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), and Rapace’s elf are chasing the same McGuffin: a magic wand.

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Rapace’s character has the two cops mostly beat during the scene. During the shootout, which gets in almost too tight on the action at times, the evil elves’ car is spinning around in the store, lots of shots are fired, and the two cops are saved by Fry’s character, who’s called “a traitor” by her kind. There’s one cool shot of her leaping over Rapace’s character during the chaos. The whole scene is chaotic, fairly fast-paced and darkly lit; much of Bright takes place at night.

A Bright, by the way, is a magic user. The ancient relic, the wand, is normally used by Brights. If a human touches it, they’ll perish immediately. In this fantasy version of Los Angeles, which screenwriter Max Landis (American Ultra) created, one must be trained in magic to use the wand. Hugely inspired by Ayer’s body of work, Landis dedicated the script to him. The themes of “friendship, honor, and respect” in the script spoke to the Street Kings director. Ayer did some rewrites. Even on set, Smith said there were many days the director would hand the cast new pages. Ayer explained they “found the movie as we went,” and “it’s so rare to do that.”

Even with elves and magic, the Bright footage feels completely like one of Ayer’s cop thrillers. There’s the tangible atmosphere, two cops developing a bond, and edges unsoftened. While his last movie, Suicide Squad, feels compromised and butchered in parts – there were apparently very different, superior cuts of that movie, from what I’ve heard – the director says Bright is all him. “Netflix lets you be a filmmaker,” he said, comparing the experience to his first movie, Harsh Times. “They really let me have my voice…Feels like it’s 20 years ago with them. It’s kind of amazing.” Smith added: “They give you money and let you go make the movie you want to make. I mean, that’s fantastic.”

Most of the questions surrounding Bright were about its distributor, not so much the film itself. At one point, the filmmakers were even asked about Christopher Nolan’s criticisms of Netflix. “I think Mr. Nolan is a wonderful director, and I will not say anything that will keep me from being in his next movie,” Smith joked. Ayer didn’t comment, but he had plenty to say about the freedom Netflix gave him and how his vision would not have gotten made in the studio system. “They let you be a filmmaker,” he said. “They gave me all the resources I needed. Lot of support.” There was enough support for him to be already interested in a sequel. According to Ayer, there’s more stories to tell in this world after Bright – if audiences like what they see on Netflix later this year.

Bright will be available to stream on December 22.

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