Saturday at C2E2: Panel Catchup
Writers: Pearl Shin, Antal Bokor and Marielle Bokor
For the first time since the completion of the series, the main cast of Avatar: The Last Airbender reunited on the C2E2 stage to reminisce about their time on the show and to answer some burning fan questions. Dante Basco, Jack De Sena, and Zach Tyler Eisen, were all smiles as a full room of fans warmly welcomed them. Though Mae Whitman was unable to make it to the panel due to weather complications, the three voice actors still made the panel a memorable one.
For Eisen, the reunion panel was his first ever guest appearance at a convention, though he said that he had gone to conventions as an attendee in the past. Even so, the voice actor acclimated quickly and seemed at ease as he shared what it was like to witness the legacy of the show years later as an adult.
“We definitely knew it was good [but] never did I think that 15 years later I’d be sitting here in a packed house full of fans. I don’t think anyone could’ve really predicted that,” he said.
An ongoing topic discussed throughout the panel was the show’s lasting impact and continued success. Basco had some insight to share as to why he thinks the show managed to remain in the hearts of fans both new and old.
“When I grew up, cartoons were very black and white in a sense that there were Autobots and Decepticons and we looked at the world in a certain way. [Especially] when you’re young, your mind is developing and you kind of get these perceptions of the world and what not. Avatar happened and you get to see that the world is much more gray and much more like it is. There’s this epic story of this gang trying to save the world. There are four elements but in these four elements there is good and bad in every element. And with the characters, we don’t know who’s the heroes and who’s the villains,” he explained. “Things change as they do in life [but] this is the kind of story that can change the world.”
When asked if there was any particular arc that they really loved to see, Jack De Sena said, “Zuko’s redemption arc is genuinely great. At the time it was like a marvel, it was like: ‘Wow, this is so cool, feels really impactful.”
Zack Tyler Eisen, on the other hand, really wanted to see how Iroh’s story played out before the TV show, “I want to see how he becomes the Dragon of the West.”
When the three actors were asked what part they would have liked to play, besides their own, Basco said that he would have liked to play Sokka, since he didn’t have the chance to crack many jokes as the angsty Zuko. Zach Tyler Eisen agreed, saying that despite Aang’s silliness, he would have loved to try his hand at Sokka. Neither Eisen nore De Sena would have liked to fill the shoes of honor-seeking Zuko, however, with De Sena saying “I couldn’t be a villain.”
Our Flag Means Death
The Our Flag Means Death panel was all queer joy, self-love, and sing-alongs. Vico Ortiz, Samba Schutte, and Kristian Nairn recounted wild stories from the set, such as having to improvise major scenes, shared their favorite go-to karaoke songs, and made up drag names for their characters (The They Slash Them for Jim, Orange Blossom for Roach, and Pyromaniac for Wee John Feeney).
It was clear that the cast was incredibly in tune with their fanbase and that the actors fully embraced all aspects of the fandom. The actors shared some of their favorite headcanons, fanfiction, and romantic pairings with the audience. Ortiz said that they were always excited to see content of “the throuple situation between Olu, Spanish Jackie, and Jim” which they said is canon in their heart while Schutte shared that he enjoyed seeing content of Roach and Izzy whenever fans tagged him in posts.
“I’m all for the Rizzy. Let’s go!” he exclaimed.
As for updates on the much anticipated second season of Our Flag Means Death, Schutte had a little surprise to share with the audience.
“[Here’s] the teaser for season two… April fools!” he joked. “They told me not to do it, I’m so sorry. But it’s coming, no worries!”
It seems like fans will have to wait a little longer before they can receive more news on their beloved pirate show.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
It’s a hat trick of sorts to have a cult film that spawns a cult hit TV show, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer did just that. It mixed teen drama with quippy comebacks, asskicking, and a whole lot of heart and became iconic for so many of us trying to survive high school horrors that didn’t include the hellmouth. While the show’s been inspiring generations ever since, it’s recently seen even more popularity with Buffering, the amazing and critically acclaimed rewatch podcast that looks back at the show with that same fondness we all have for it and through an lgbtqia+ lens.
It was amazing to get so much of the Buffy cast together, with James Marsters, Charisma Carpenter, David Boreanaz and Marc Blucas all in one place.
We always enjoy James Marsters take on things, and he was immediately the warmth in the room, despite having played the undead so long. He expressed a deep appreciation for the show and the fans, and likened it to his own fandom for Star Trek. Marsters was apparently a big Trekkie, and even hit conventions dressed as Spock, and drew direct comparisons between them that we couldn’t help but love (as fellow Trekkies and Buffy fans)
Star Trek was about hope, and working together for a better future, Marsters said — and in that same way, so was Buffy. He encouraged fans to talk to each other and get to know each other and realize the strength in that, saying that Buffy fans were some of the kindest, smartest, funniest people he’s had the pleasure of meeting.
He also talked about the difficulty of the role of Spike on the show, especially as he used to portray the role via method acting, and how easy it was for the darkness of the character to take over. “It can eat you alive” he said. “Spike is all the parts of me I try not to show people.” He was also not entirely opposed to the vampire life though, at least on the surface- “Sleep all day, party all night, never get old” was the vampire lifestyle, after all.
All three of the men talked about their various romantic dalliances with Sarah Michelle Gellar, since all of them had at least some screen time macking with her. And though they joked about how tiny she was and how they were afraid to crush her, and flirted with Charisma Carpenter as a group from on stage, they also delved into the challenges and demands of being a slayer’s boyfriend. Boreanaz was also quick to point out how pivotal Charisma Carpenter’s role was on Angel, crediting her as “the heart of the show.” Carpenter, meanwhile kept the gang on their toes and was at the same time completely charming and positive on stage, reminding everyone she could do all the things they did in their roles, including the ass-kicking, and do it in heels.
One particularly amusing moment was Marsters reveal that during his run as Spike, he’d always seen Carpenter as her character, Cordelia, so much, that he would sort of avoid her on set, because he was scared of her, and that it was only years later when the two played a bickering married couple on Supernatural that he realized, in his own words “how stupid that was” because she was just a really good actress, and in fact, a super nice person – and the two became fast friends, which they’ve been ever since.
There was a short Q&A which ended very abruptly and brought some interesting tidbits, like the foursome’s favorite episodes. James Marsters was particularly impressed with the incredibly acclaimed and moving “The Body” episode, while Blucas brought up another all around favorite- “Hush” the silent episode, and how impressive that was. Boreanaz brought up the end of Season 2, where he’d gone bad, and some of the big moments from that arc, and Charisma Carpenter brought up Graduation, mainly because she ‘finally got to stake a vampire.’
It was a panel any Buffy fan would love and it was over far too soon, so we hope to see the gang return again for another con reunion, perhaps with Gellar herself or a few more castmates.
That wrapped up our panel day since we were gearing up for the Crown Championships of Cosplay’s return to the Main Stage, but there was even more fun to follow on Sunday, so stay tuned for our wrap-up on that shortly following this, and don’t miss all the amazing cosplay we saw at the contest, either!