SAN DIEGO — Real-world issues are rare at Comic-Con where fantasy almost always trumps reality. But for the stars and the director of "Ender's Game," comments made by Orson Scott Card regarding gay marriage are leading to questions about the issue as they promote the science fiction film.
Card has expressed opposition to gay marriage in the past and that has led some to call for a boycott. There were no signs of protest as stars Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield and Hailee Steinfeld and the film's director, Gavin Hood, began to promote the sci-fi adventure film based on Card's novel. The movie took center stage Thursday with a presentation in the convention's massive Hall H.
Ford addressed the controversy in an interview before facing fans.
"I don't think that issue rears its head in the work. No part of the story concerns Mr. Card's theories about society in terms of gay issues or homosexual issues," Ford said. "So I hold it completely separate. I think it's an imaginative and complex story. And I'm glad he told it. And I'm glad I had a chance to be a part of it. I think he has a right to his opinions and I think he has also made it clear that it was a battle that he fought and lost and would like to get on with the rest of life."
Hood likewise said he was separating Card's perspective on gay rights from his book about children who are called upon to help humanity battle alien threats.
"My view is I've been a member of the Courage Campaign for many years and I'm a little distressed by his point of view on gay marriage," Hood said.
"However, the book is not about that issue, so I hope people can still appreciate the book because I think he wrote a great book, and the themes and ideas in the book, I think, are universal and timeless and applicable, and I hope the book will still be appreciated as a great work of art, even though I don't agree with the author. I optioned the book, not an author, and I love what the author said in that book."
Card turned down an interview request by The Associated Press. He told Entertainment Weekly that the issue is now "moot" given the Supreme Court's recent rulings favoring gay marriage and, "Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute."
Lionsgate Entertainment also issued a statement rebuking Card's position and said it would hold a benefit premiere to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender causes.
Butterfield, who plays the film's title character, said "I agree with rights for everybody" and that Card's views shouldn't change how audiences receive the film or book: "You can't blame a work for its author."
Hood said the book's themes of kindness and compassion are what drew him to the story, and he was surprised by Card's position.
"I think it's slightly bitterly ironic that those themes that are present in the book are not carried through on his particular view on gay marriage," Hood said.
The issue came up once briefly during Thursday's Summit Entertainment panel when a fan began the Q&A session by addressing the controversy. A few in the crowd mumbled at the question, but producer Robert Orci showed support for the LGBT community and asked fans not to "thwart" the good work of the hundreds of people who made the film.
Never-before-seen footage from the film showed massive, visually arresting battle scenes between humans and the aliens and the struggle between good and evil that surrounds the character Ender Wiggin (Butterfield) as he becomes humanity's champion in a space war.
Ford said he felt Card had tapped into something very real when he published the novel in 1985 and was attracted by the complex moral issues.
"This book that was written 28 years ago imagines a world that's become an everyday reality," Ford said. "The ability to wage war away from the battlefield is one of the realities of our life with drone warfare. ... (The film) was something that was really complex and interesting to me. I was delighted to be involved with playing a character that wrestles with these concerns and brought them into public consciousness."