It had to be the one of the loudest Hall H panels in Comic-Con history, if not the loudest.
Metallica, in one of the most highly anticipated panels this year, made their first-ever appearance at the pop culture convention to preview their new film, Metallica Through the Never: An IMAX 3D Experience.
"This is f---ing awesome," said Metallica's drummer, Lars Ulrich, as the band was greeted with a thunderous standing ovation from a near capacity Hall H.
Ulrich was joined onstage by bandmates James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, and Robert Trujillo, and by the film's star Dane DeHaan, writer-director Nimrod Antal, and producer Charlotte Huggins.
The panel got off to an adrenaline-rushing start with the premiere of the new theatrical poster and trailer for the film, which featured more Metallica and more post-apocalyptic violence than the teaser released in May. The pulse-pounding bass line in the trailer literally shook the seats in Hall H, much to the crowd's delight.
When asked how he got involved with the film, Antal jokingly said he "had the most compromising photos of the band," then added, "I was approached by Charlotte and she wanted to bring in a narrative element [to a concert film] and was looking for a collaborative partner. It seemed like a challenge."
He continued, "When f---ing Metallica calls you, you go."
Huggins added, "I sat down with [the band] and they immediately presented an idea, which included this amazing stage, so I thought it was really interesting. The idea was to do a narrative movie where a concert takes place."
DeHaan, the youngest on the panel and the film's hero, said as a child his parents wouldn't let him listen to Metallica, saying that they made it a point to listen to anything he wanted to first to make sure it was appropriate.
"I started listening to [the band] when I was working on The Place Beyond the Pines," he said. This was months before he saw the script to Through the Never, which he says "was 15 pages of nothing but paragraphs and paragraphs of story, I didn't have any lines at all."
"Nimrod let me know what the film means to him," he added. "I go on this journey for a bag in the movie. And [the film] is about what you would go through for someone you love. And I got to hang out with Metallica for three weeks!"
The film features a monstrous stage that nearly takes up the whole floor of Vancouver's Rogers Arena, where the band performs in the film.
"The stage was the first part of all of it," said Hetfield. Adding that the band treated the concerts as a film shoot, sometimes starting and stopping for multiple takes, sometime performing full sets during their five shows at Rogers Arena.
"The stage is the star of the film," added Ulrich. "Making a movie about a stage, and then bringing it to the people is a cool idea."
Hammett chimed in, saying, "It's the biggest stage you'll ever see anywhere."
The audience was also treated to a never-before-seen scene from the film that featured more post-apocalyptic mayhem. The band's blistering song "Cyanide" serves as the scene's backdrop. We see DeHaan's character, Trip, witness a rampage against riot police as he decides to get himself involved in the action. Again, the seats and the rafters shook.
Unfortunately, the audience questions were more fanboy-ish than substantive about the making of the film, much to the band's frustration, with Ulrich having to ask, "Does anyone have a question about the film?!"
Also complicating things was a mishap with a lottery for tickets to tonight's secret show by the band, which nearly caused a riot of sorts, but was soon rectified. Again, this was much to the band's frustration.
Ulrich did say that the band will "probably" start work on a new studio album in 2014 followed by a tour. "We've had a couple of jams at HQ. [Next year] we'll be all about a new Metallica record. In about another year and a half you'll probably see one."