Disney had a massive weekend of announcements, trailers and news at their annual D23 Expo in Anaheim. The event might have been dazzling and star-powered, but it couldn’t hide that the House of the Mouse is increasingly relying on existing franchises to carry them.
D23 brought fans of Marvel, Star Wars and anything Disney a lot to obsess over. Over the three day event, the megastudio announced new projects, showed exclusive footage from upcoming films and debuted new, exciting trailers.
Firstly, we got a look at season 3 of The Mandalorian, which will arrive on Disney+ next year. Grogu and Mando are back and adorable as ever and the menacing voiceover tells Mando “You are a Mandalorian no more” after he removed his helmet last season. We also got a new trailer for Andor, which is streaming later this month.
The biggest news of the weekend might have been that Harrison Ford publicly confirmed he won’t be returning as Indy after Indiana Jones 5. The lucky people present at the presentation got to see some footage from the film, but it hasn’t made its way formally online yet.
Ford said “I’m not falling down for you again”, half-joking but it’s perhaps also a reference to his age. Ford first appeared as Indy in 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark and thus has played the role for 42 years by the time the film premieres next year.
“Indiana Jones movies are about mystery and adventure, but they’re also about heart, and I’m really, really happy that we have a really human story to tell, as well as a movie that will kick your ass,” Ford said emotionally following the trailer, which will hopefully arrive online sooner rather than later.
Disney also announced that Inside Out 2 is in the works and will focus on a teenage Riley, who will have some new emotions to cope with. Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader who voiced Disgust and Fear in the first film will not be returning for the sequel. Director Pete Docter also won’t be returning; the film will be directed by Kelsey Mann in his feature film directorial debut.
Amy Adams, dressed in ALL the Disney merch, also popped up to introduce the new trailer for Disenchanted, the eagerly awaited sequel to Enchanted.
Marvel’s panel was possibly the most anticipated one, but fans were left disappointed after there was no new major news, failing to reach the thunderous momentum of their Comic-Con panel. Sure, we got trailers for Secret Invasion and Werewolf by Night, a surprise Special Presentation title, but it lacked Marvel’s usual pizzazz.
That being said, Werewolf By Night looks like an old-school Hammer horror movie, shot in black-and-white and filled with monsters. It was a rare glimpse of hope and originality in the otherwise legacy-packed presentation.
Yet again, people in the room got to see footage from the new Ant-Man film, The Marvels, Echo and Loki season two, which is helmed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, whom we chatted to a few weeks ago.
Danny Ramirez, of Top Gun Maverick fame, was also confirmed as the new Falcon in Captain America New World Order. Tim Blake Nelson was confirmed to return to the MCU as the villain The Leader after a brief, but memorable appearance in The Incredible Hulk.
The news were overwhelmingly dominated by the announcements of existing franchises and their sequels. In terms of originals, Pixar is working on Elio, an animated sci-fi adventure and Disney are producing Madu, a documentary focusing on a Nigerian ballet dancer who went viral in 2020.
Disney seems to have run out of ideas or maybe it’s a refusal to either execute or at least publicise original films. The House of the Mouse is heavily relying on their tentpole franchise and the existing hype for those which just shows how safe they are playing it.
They are increasingly producing live-action remakes of their animated classics; Pinocchio premiered on Disney+ last week to pretty terrible reviews and Disney unveiled the first teaser trailer for The Little Mermaid while Snow White is currently in production, with Rachel Zegler starring. Barry Jenkins is also directing Mufasa: The Lion King, a sequel-prequel to 2019’s The Lion King, which was a remake of the studio’s 1992 beloved classic.