Disney’s very own D23 Expo, a fan expo where everything under the Disney sun – Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars – converged for three days. Two of those three days celebrated their upcoming film slate with Friday focusing on animation, and Saturday taking a peek at everything live-action.
Saturday’s presentation opened with Disney’s live-action president Sean Bailey welcoming Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Chris Pine along with newcomer Storm Reid and visionary director Ava DuVernay to the stage to talk about A Wrinkle In Time, an adaptation of American writer Madeleine L’Engle’s acclaimed children’s novel. It centers on a young girl named Meg (Reid) who must rescue her father, who has believed to crack the code of the space time continuum, from an evil force bent on using his research to spread darkness across the earth. Meg will be helped by three celestial bodies – Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) – who will guide her through this visually stunning world. In order to find her father Meg must find the courage to confront her fears to defeat the evil force bent on spreading their darkness.
As soon as that portion of the panel was done, it quickly shifted to a quick look at The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Starring Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy, newcomer Mackenzie Foy as Clara, Helen Mirren as Mother Ginger, Morgan Freeman as godfather Drosselmeyer, and featuring a special performance by Misty Copeland, the movie is inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale.
On what The Mouse King would look like in the film, Bailey said, “The Mouse King is made up of thousands of mice—a cutting-edge CG creation. But we wanted him to move in a way that would be wonderfully surprising and incredibly cool, so we called on Lil Buck to provide the style of dance that defines the character. He is so talented and the way he makes this character move is unbelievable.”
Though Mary Poppins Returns is still over a year away from release, Emily Blunt, who plays the title character, and director Rob Marshall stepped out to talk about what to expect from the upcoming film and how they intend to respect the original now that new actors are playing iconic characters. “I needed to try to pay homage to Julie Andrews, but carve out a new space for myself,” said Blunt. “And we were very loyal to the books.” Rob Marshall shared, “I was incredibly honored to be approached by Disney about directing a sequel.”
While the film was announced a few short months ago, Jon Favreau showed audiences a little bit of what he has been working on for Disney. A new visually stunning interpretation of The Lion King. The live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic is still in the early stages of development, but the director was kind enough to show us a near complete clip of the animated film’s opening sequence in a live action format. “This is a story that belongs to everyone who grew up with the original film,” said Favreau. “I wanted to demonstrate that we could be respectful of the source material while bringing it to life using new techniques and technologies. We wanted to do something special for the D23 Expo audience and give them a first look at what we’re up to.”
Moving on to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, well, not much was really talked about, however, Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro, all talked a little bit about their experiences working on the film, including what kinds of mischief they got into while on set and what they did to get out of trouble for peeking behind closed doors of said set.
Finally, to top it all off, Kevin Feige took to the stage to talk about Avengers: Infinity War. The film has just finished shooting, with production for the untitled Part II set to begin very soon. So while you may think the entire cast would be busy working on the sequel, Feige welcomed Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Mackie, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Josh Brolin, Don Cheadle, Sebastian Stan, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan and Pom Klementieff. While talking about the film, Brolin said excited the crowd by saying Drax ain’t got nothing on him – this is a family-friendly site so just insert the proper profanity. But the cast announcements continued to grow. Of course, no one in attendance left the room without watching a little teaser from the film.
Well, that’s not a good way to describe the teaser. While it was short and was screened only once, there was so much happening that one really couldn’t contain their excitement, especially since we see Thor land on the Milano, Star-Lord’s ship, as they travel through space.
Then there was Peter Parker’s arm hair standing up – signifying he has a Spider-Sense – Loki handing off the Tesseract, which is one of the all-powerful Infinity Stones to an unknown person; Gamora walking through the rubble of the Collector’s lair, if you remember that’s one of the last known locations of the Aether, which is another Infinity Stone. There was also shots of a Hulkbuster, Captain America with a scruffy beard, Black Widow with blonde hair, Falcon doing a barrel roll, Winter Soldier confronting a group of hostiles, Thanos palming Thor’s head, Spider-Man in a new suit, Spider-Man joining Star-Lord and Iron Man as they see a large ship descend on their earth, Spider-Man running on that ship, and a bloodied Spider-man apologizing to Iron Man for not being able to help.
And if that wasn’t enough, the teaser ends with Thanos raising his hand to the air and clenching his fist as a planet or the moon starts to break a part. As soon as he throws down his fist, pieces of that planet or moon rain down on earth, showing just how powerful The Mad Titan is.