Robert Rodriguez spilled all the beans on his upcoming film; We Can Be Heroes at San Diego Comic-Con@Home's panel on directors and directing, letting slip a specific detail about the return of some of his previous characters, Sharkboy and Lavagirl. He also tackled other pieces of the film, which shot pre-pandemic in Texas and is set to release on Netflix.
Rodriguez explained the premise for We Could Be Heroes, "And so we came up with this team of was like an Avengers superhero team, but they all have kids. The kids have powers, but they don't know how to use them because they're just so young, and it's really fun."
But what about Sharkboy and Lavagirl?
And as for Sharkboy and Lavagirl? "Pedro Pascal plays like the Antonio Banderas role. Boyd Holbrook… a huge cast! Even Sharkboy and Lavagirl show up as superhero parents who now have a daughter who's got shark and lava powers. She's like six, and they're all doing amazing martial arts. It's crazy as they came in so trained already a lot of them had already had training to do amazing stunts and action and martial arts that you wouldn't expect from 9 10-year-olds. It's a pretty pretty pretty fun movie, so I can't wait for that to come out."
Apparently, we shouldn't expect too much Sharkboy and Lavagirl content, as Rodriguez later confirms only Lavagirl has any lines. And you notice how he didn't actually say Taylor Lautner is in the movie?
The importance of diversity
Rodriguez also confirmed that the 11 kids who make up the main cast of We Could Be Heroes will be from all different races and backgrounds. Why? He says it goes back to his fight to make sure the family in Spy Kids would be Latin.
"For me, it was a big victory, and it was an important one for things to follow to have the kids and spy kids be a Latin family. It was actually the studio was like, "Why are you making them Latin, though? Why didn't you just make them American?" It was like, "They ARE American." Rodriguez also explained that the characters were based on real people: his uncle was an FBI Agent who inspired the Antonio Banderas character, but he also had his brother Juni and Uncle Felix.
Eventually, Rodriguez had to push back harder on the studio, who believed making the family Latin would decrease the size of the audience. "I said okay, you don't have to be British to enjoy James Bond. By being so specific, it becomes more universal. So they went with it."
As someone who loves the Bond films and is currently reviewing all of them here at Bleeding Cool, I couldn't agree more. The best thing about Spy Kids is it felt real (as much as a spy fantasy made for kids can). But the human elements about this just being a family really connected with that, and it rang true to me. And, as Rodriguez pointed out, it's been part of the hallmark of the series' success. "Then, of course, there's like four of those and that we're rebooting it but it really you can kind of had to put your put the flag in and set it in."
Part of this has to do with just the difference in making a movie for someone like Netflix rather than for box office distribution:
My most rabid fan base by far over all these years has been my like my kid films — my Spy Kids audience. These kids watch those movies over and over because they're they're action films made for for children and families in particular at a time when they need empowerment. Netflix had come to me because the Spy Kids movies had just done so well on their services. "Could you make us a series of films that do that?" and I said I'd love to. It was hard to make them for the theater because kids couldn't just drive themselves to the theater or watch it a thousand times. They have to have parents who would have to take them. But on Netflix they could just sit there. I don't have to sit there and watch Glitter Force with my daughter: she can go click it as many times as she wants.
It's no wonder Sharkboy and Lavagirl will come out of retirement, given the nostalgia and ease of accessibility that we now have, even to this film that was initially considered a major flop.
You can watch the entire panel, which also features Colin Trevorrow and Joseph Kosinski talking about the Jurassic World films and Top Gun: Maverick / Tron Legacy, respectively.