Highlights from the D23 Marvel/Lucasfilm/Live Action Panel
As we sit in Hall D23 of the Anaheim Convention, the sudden rush of Pirates of the Caribbean music can only mean one thing: starting time. The lights go down and the same triumphant “LOOK AT ALL THE STUFF WE OWN” montage from yesterday plays. Once again, Lin Manuel Miranda gets the biggest cheer. Because we are all correct.
Starting with Disney Films. Sean Bailey comes out to handle MC duties and starts off with A Wrinkle In Time, one of the truly great books and a movie I’m genuinely excited about. He brings out director Ava DuVernay. Storm Reid. Chris Pine (getting an ovation, riding that Wonder Woman high), Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and fucking Oprah. Most people stand up for Oprah. As you do. Ava talks adeptly about her passion and her love of Disney. The cast, including Storm Reid calling Pine “Mr. Chris,” just can’t stop talking about Ava’s earnest passion. After the interviews, they show us the new poster and instantly Oprah interrupts to tells us “EVVVVERRY BODY GETS A POSTER. YOU GET A POSTER! YOU GET A POSTER!” and the audience plays right into the gag and goes nuts. It’s actually delightful. Then we finally get our teaser trailer and it’s not some small scene, but a sweeping, full showing of the size, scope, and design of the film, all set to an ethereal "Sweet Dreams" cover… I’m way into it.
We then shift to the reveal that they're making a new Nutcracker film called Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Lasse Hallstrom is apparently going to directing this film. It stars Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Kiera Knightley, but who cares cause it also stars RICHARD E. GRANT. But to keep up the ballet cred it’s also starring Misty Copeland and some Russian guy I don’t know. After a moment, we’re brought a teaser of the film and suddenly all the familiarity comes back the second you hear that iconic music.
We then move to Mary Poppins Returns. Turns out the film is going to be a direct sequel! A sequel! It’s going to use the other books in the series and focus on Jane and Michael now grown up and struggling with their own kids. They talk about the main cast of Ben Wishaw. Colin Firth. Emily Blunt. and Lin Manuel Miranda as Lamplighter Jack (again, people go nuts) And wait, Meryl Streep is in this too? And Angela Lansbury? And Dick Van Dyke back in the habit. Eventually we're shown a series of iconic images of the house, the kids, then a kite flying, a Poppins silhouette, and then all the madness of a fun montage. I’m actually surprised how much I like the lighting and cinematography; it’s warm, vibrant and on point.
From here, we shift into a montage celebrating all of Disney’s recent live action remakes of their famous animated films. There’s Alice In Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast. Horn arrives to set the record straight on what is and isn't actually true. Yes, they are actually doing Mulan, along with the rock’s Jungle Cruise, and Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin. To which they announce Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott as Aladdin and Jasmine, and Will Smith as the Genie. They then bring out the working model for Dumbo.
Then… Star Wars.
Horn goes through everything already happened in the last few years (even casually saying that Ron Howard is busy working on the Han Solo film). He then starts talking about Star Wars: The Last Jedi - and the palpable sadness of having lost Carrie Fisher. He brings out Mr. Rian Johnson. He talks his Disney history and gives a shout out to his old marketing team from his days at the Disney Channel. It’s adorable. He jumps into bringing out Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Gwendolyn Christie, newcomer Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Fucking Dern and Benecio Fucking Del Toro. We get some brief bits: Daisy talks drinking in Ireland, John and Gwendolyn tease a stand-off fight in the film, Kelly Marie Tran talks being the new kid and getting into trouble, Laura Dern talks about how she learned she can’t go “pew pew!” as she fires her guns, and how Benicio didn’t have to hear another word more than Star Wars before he said: “let’s go.”
They then bring out Mark Hamill and Rian nerds out over getting to have such a lovely working relationship with one of his heroes. It’s pretty delightful and Rian is the best MC at these sorts of things. You can tell the room desperately wants a new trailer, but I guess it’s not the optimum time in the marketing cycle, so we actually get a pretty stellar feel-good doc of behind the scenes footage. They keep talking about how the story feels “unexpected, but right,” which sounds great. It’s behind the scenes, but it’s not just cute and fun, but reallllllly good emotional stuff. It ends on a great joke of Akbar shouting “it’s a wrap!”
“And now a morsel of Marvel.”
Horn goes into running through the hits. He talks the success of Spiderman: Homecoming and their work with Sony, “I guess we’re frenemies.” And then they bring out the man in the cap, Kevin Feige who talks about the monstrous success of these 16 movies. It’s weird to think it’s only been 9 years. I’m half expecting a run-down of upcoming releases like Black Panther and Ragnorok, but nope, he goes straight for the jugular with Avengers Infinity War. He recounts all the Thanos teases before he brings out a ripped Josh Brolin, who talks with posturing toughness. Turns out it’s a biiiiiiig production. They’ve shot for a year and they have another year to go. But luckily, they were able to pull just a couple people from set including Paul Bettany. Elizabeth Olsen, Pom Klementief. Karen Gillan, and Dave Bautista. Feige asks Brolin if he’s intimated yet? He puffs out his chest: “Drax ain’t shit.” So of course Feige then brings Don Cheadle Sebastian Stan. Anthony Mackie. Benedict Cumberbatch. Tom Holland. Chadwick Boseman. Mark Ruffalo. Chris Hemsworth. And “the man who started it all” Robert Downey Jr., who begins shadow boxing with Brolin.
Downey knows how to keep it light and ironic. They Bring out Joe Russo who talks about how busy they are shooting and haven’t had time to put stuff together, so he introduces a clip about all the movies that have come so far. And then we see something new…
Teaser spoilers for Infinity War, etc. But a sleeping Thor crashes onto the Guardians ship (that’s how Ragnarok ends I guess?) And we get a million shots of all our favorite heroes and Lil Baby Spiderman’s fancy new suit, the tease of Thanos “death follows him like a shadow.” Then with some action, he enters. Our heroes fight Thanos and at first it seems somewhat regular (we don’t get too good a sense of how they all fight together) in that Thanos can punch harder than them. Isn’t he supposed to be the biggest bad? Someone capable of bigger stuff? Well, he’s got a few stones in that gauntlet so he reaches up clenches his fist, crushing the moon behind him (our moon? asteroid? something?), and then rain the pieces down on all of them.
So that’s something.
With that, we exeunt.