At yesterday’s panel for Sony Pictures Entertainment, we got a look at very interesting and unique films: Legion and District 9.

From the moment I stepped into the convention center on Wednesday, Legion was something I really wanted to learn more about.

I hadn’t heard much about it up until this week but the following image of its leading actor in costume had me intrigued:

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Paul Bettany is one of my favorite actors and this image of him was bad-ass.

At the panel for this film, we were introduced to first-time director Scott Stewart who came out and displayed his excitement about being on stage in the biggest room of the Convention Center by taking a picture of the audience. Up until that point he was accustomed to being on our side of things in the audience.

Legion is written and directed by Stewart who up until this point, mainly did visual effects. On stage he talked about the film still in progress but he did bring the first ever footage of the movie as tease for those in attendance.

The trailer started with a very creepy intro featuring Doug Jones (Abe Sapien from Hellboy and Silver Surfer from the Fantastic Four sequel) playing the Ice Cream Man. This character was talked about quite a lot and he’ll be some one to look out for come time for the film’s release.

The trailer featured Bettany’s character, the angel Michael, cutting off his wings and freeing himself. He then stocks up on weapons then heads to a restaurant in the middle of nowhere where a pregnant woman works. His self-ordered mission: to protect her from an army of the angels as the unborn boy is apparently the savior of the future.

There were some very intense and creepy scenes involving a not-so-nice demonic grandma in the restaurant but that’s something you’ll have to wait and see for yourself when footage is officially released online.

The biggest callout for me about the footage we saw was seeing Kevin Durand as the warrior angel, Gabriel. He looked awesome, spoke awesome and had a very cool weapon to fight Michael with. Durand could not attend the panel as he’s currently filming his major role in the upcoming Russell Crowe-starrer, Robin Hood.

Overall, the trailer was interesting but I didn’t get the same feeling of excitement as I did from just seeing the poster before. It’s still something I’m very interesting in seeing though.

After the trailer, the panel filled up with the director Scott Stewart, Doug Jones, Adrianne Palicki, Tyrese Gibson, and Paul Bettany.

All of them were great on stage with Tyrese being the big crowd pleaser, loving every moment of being on stage. From his slow slow walk into his seat waving and getting the fans happy to forcing the MC to allow himself to introduce Paul Bettany. There was plenty of back-and-forth teasing about Bettany showing off his muscles in the film. He kept the atmosphere light and happy and the studio execs sitting behind me were loving every minute of it.

The idea of a post-apocalyptic, end-of-the-world story is what made the film an easy choice for Tyrese to be a part of. As soon as he heard that, he said “I’m in.”

When discussions began, Stewart revealed where the idea for this movie came from in a very basic and humorous way:

“Angels with machine guns, that’s what we need to do.”

They each took some time to briefly touch on the character they play with Gibson saying he’s got a complex backstory and while on his way somewhere he pullsed into this restaurant where all this crazy stuff happens. He then said he got involved in a “baby mamma drama” which had the crowd laughing.

There were only a few questions in the Q&A, most of which mainly focused on the religious themes and concept for the film. One of the two most interesting questions involved the tattoos in Bettany’s characters which the director says will be explained in the movie. The filmmakers apparently created their own language for the movie and tattoos are written in that language.

The other question of interest was about this strange collar that fell off Bettany in the first scenes of the footage when he cut off his wings. The director applauded the questioner for noticing that and explained how when making the film, they’d worry that people may not truly understand the deeper meaning behind that aspect. It also will be explained more deeply in the movie but the general idea is that it helps represent the Angel becoming free like humans are.

At the very end, Stewart announced another collaboration project with Bettany called Priest which is planned to open next year. Note the religious theme of both films.

Legion is something you may want to look out for. It opens January 22, 2010.