EXCLUSIVE: Tim Burton Talks ‘9’ And His Upcoming Comic-Con Adventure

Tim Burton’s done comic book heroes, big budget futuristic adventures and sci-fi alien invasion stories, yet the director has never introduced one of his films into the hallowed halls of the geek-tastic carnival that bows down in worship to all those genres: Comic-Con. 2009, though, is going to be Burton’s year.

On Friday, July 24, Burton will pull on his producer’s cap and bring his post-apocalyptic animated escapade “9” to San Diego. And when he does, he’s hoping to get over a traumatic experience he had at the convention in the late ‘70s.

“I went when I was a student at CalArts,” he told MTV News. “I’ll never forget this, and it’s probably why I haven’t been back since, because it was so terrifying. They had a slideshow for the original ‘Superman,’ and in the middle of it some fan gets up and just very angrily goes, ‘Superman would not change into his costume on the ledge of a building! You are destroying the mythology of Superman!’ And he got up and walked out, followed by other people. That scared the s–t out of me! So I haven’t been back since then.”

In this respect — and luckily for Burton — “9,” unlike the Man of Steel, doesn’t have a diehard following stretching back to the 1930s. What “9” does have is serious pedigree: the short film on which it is based was nominated for a 2005 Academy Award.

Contemporary movie buffs count the film as one of the most anticipated of the Con. Joining Burton at the Friday panel will be stars Elijah Wood and Jennifer Connelly, director Shane Acker and producer Timur Bekmambetov (“Wanted”).

The movie tells the story of a group of small, Frankenstein-esque clockwork creations as they battle an army of machines that has destroyed the world. “I just love the texture and stop-motion feel to it,” said Burton, who connected with Acker after watching the short. “I know animation is broadening its horizons but this just felt different… I liked the world that [Acker] created and the texture. It felt like a different type of animated film. The visuals were helping to create the story. I just felt very in tune with the look and feel of it.”

“Our goal as producers—if you see someone you like, you don’t want to suppress them—the goal was to create an environment where he can do his thing,” Burton continued. “My attitude is always to give suggestions and if he uses them fine, if not, okay. We wanted this to be grounded and slightly realistic in the similar vein to stop-motion, let the film breathe. We wanted it to have mystery and let it breathe.”

So, in addition to the cast and crew from “9,” what can we expect at Burton’s inaugural SDCC panel? The man himself wouldn’t reveal what footage he planned on showing. “Probably a sequence or two,” Burton teased.

And what happens if some indignant fan decides to confront the panel? “It’ll be interesting to see how it’s changed over the years,” said Burton.

Which of Burton’s past films should he have brought to Comic-Con? Which 2009 Con panel are you looking forward to the most?