Comic-Con: AMC's 'Into the Badlands' Debuts First Full Trailer, Stars Talk Martial-Arts Boot Camp

"You have to give [viewers] compelling stories, compelling characters — otherwise, it's just like porn," lead actor Daniel Wu says of action-centric projects.
AMC

The cast and producers of AMC's upcoming martial-arts drama Into the Badlands gathered for a Comic-Con panel Saturday, where creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville) explained that they're aiming to give viewers a new experience. 

"Martial arts is a huge thing and something you haven't seen on television," Gough said, pointing out that he wants the series "to be as much of a drama as it is a martial-arts show."

Into the Badlands stars Daniel Wu as Sunny, a warrior who begins to question his path after meeting a young man (Aramis Knight) with special skills. The show's initial run will consist of six episodes that debut in November, with Gough referring to them as a "superpilot" of sorts.

"The show at its core it about spiritual enlightenment," Millar said, adding the Sunny "learns there is more to life than what he's doing, which is killing."

Gough cited a number of sources of inspiration for the series, including Into the West and Shogun Assassin. "It's sort of a mash-up of a lot of things that we've loved as fans and that we wanted to see in a TV show," he said.

The series is set "after the fall of our civilization," Gough said, joking that this is "after the zombies have all died out." Producers decided to set the series in the future where guns no longer exist, with Gough reasoning, "How the hell can you do really good martial arts when everyone has guns?" 

David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers, The Judge) decided to direct the pilot after reacting strongly to a sizzle reel that Gough and Millar sent to him. "Miles and I have known David for 15 years," Gough said. "We send him every script we write, and we rarely get a response. Somehow, we're still friends."

Wu began his career with martial-arts projects but had gotten away from the genre and was looking for a one "last hurrah" before he got to be too old for the fight scenes required. He added that he had been keeping himself in shape but needed to really step up his training to prepare for the role. 

Most of the castmembers had little to no background in martial arts, so fight coordinator Stephen Fung arranged a fight boot camp for the actors.

"I had very little martial arts training before this," Knight admitted. "After seven weeks, I got faster and stronger and far more flexible. At the end, I would say i was very comfortable."

Gough and Millar hope that this series can break new ground for martial-arts on TV in much the same way that their previous series Smallville helped open the doors for a flood of superhero shows. "What you always want to do as a TV creator is be out in front of something," Gough said.

Wu wants the show to not just entice viewers with action scenes but also the human drama. "You have to give [viewers] compelling stories, compelling characters," he said. "Otherwise, it's just like porn."

Into the Badlands premieres in November on AMC. The first full trailer, which debuted during the panel, can be seen below. 

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Email: Ryan.Gajewski@THR.com
Twitter: @_RyanGajewski

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