Jon Favreau Shows WonderCon Crowd What the Aliens in 'Cowboys & Aliens' Look Like

Jon Favreau showed off his keen understanding of the geek audience on Saturday at WonderCon with a strong presentation of his Cowboys & Aliens, the Universal genre mash-up starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.

The crowd was his from the moment Favreau stepped on stage with Roberto Orci, a writer and producer on the movie.

Unlike, say, Ryan Reynolds or Robert Downey Jr. at past Comic-Cons, both of whom play the crowd by using their cocky charm, the Iron Man director displayed a mix of humility and humor, all of it sincere.

After first thanking the fanboys "for what you've done for my career," Favreau announced that he and Orci, like the Green Lantern team the day before, were going to show about nine minutes of footage.

"This is not going online, this will not be seen anywhere else. This was created for this room and this room only," Favreau said, to much jubilation.

The packed room was equally enthusiastic about the footage, which showed Craig and Ford as reluctant allies forced to take on aliens.

Speaking after the panel, Favreau recalled that despite his rock-star status in such venues as WonderCon, he has bombed in the past, citing his presentation of Zathura as an example.

For the director, being here was one last chance to commune with the hard-core fans before the Universal marketing machine chugs into overdrive.

"This audience is sometimes seen as a long-lead audience, and once the dialogue begins with the general audience, a lot of studios start to prioritize their mainstream marketing campaign," he said.

He acknowledged there is a debate at the studio as to how much the upcoming materials should reveal about the film. The WonderCon room was given a peak at the actual aliens (Favreau said the folks in the room were the only ones who will see what the aliens look like until the movie comes out), and Favreau is pushing to keep the mystery for as long as possible, a strategy that is not always popular.

"If you show two (trailers) to an audience, and one shows the entire movie, and the other one holds things back, they will say they like the one that sees everything," he noted. "But if you look at what they spend their money on, they tend to be intrigued by something that holds a sense of mystery, where you get a sense you're experiencing something new and not fulfilling a checklist of the trailer you saw."

Movie releases are increasingly run like political campaigns, involving focus groups, polling and poring over feedback. The days of a visionary going with his gut are long over.

But on the flip side, Favreau said there were opportunities for a campaign to be infused with a vision and personality.

With the summer littered with comic book movies, pre-branded franchises and sequels, Favreau said one of the things his movie would be relying on is old-fashioned movie stars.

"Typically, before 3D, before visual effects, the stars were the point of departure for the audience," he noted. "Nowadays, you have films driven by the content and technology, and I think it's going to be very traditional in the way we approached the alien genre and the Western genre,and the way we've cast it and shot it. It'll make (Cowboys) feel more classic and I hope that will make it stand out this summer."