D23 Expo Delivers Mountains of Content

By Janie Walenda

Last weekend, Disney had its biennial fan exposition D23 for members of its official fan club, also named D23. Aside from the exclusive merchandise, costume contests, and exhibits, this event is known for providing first looks at upcoming Disney projects. While some first looks are exclusive to the expo halls – unless they’re leaked – Disney took this chance to release several trailers and announcements about upcoming Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios, and Lucasfilm projects.

Surprisingly, I feel that the Disney live-action division has the strongest showing. They dropped three new trailers, showed exclusive footage for “Haunted Mansion” and “Snow White,” both remakes, and announced a new prequel project “Mufasa: The Lion King.”  When it comes to the footage they did release, I feel that the new trailer for “Hocus Pocus 2” missed the mark. While it’s fun to see the original cast reunite, nothing else about the film seems exciting.

The first look at “The Little Mermaid” made a huge splash online (Image via Walt Disney Studios)

However, the trailers for “The Little Mermaid” and “Disenchanted” were both excellent. While the teaser for “The Little Mermaid” is short, it shows us enough of Halle Bailey as Ariel to confirm that she is perfect for the role. In 30 seconds of her singing “Part of Your World,” she does an excellent job of making the song her own while staying true to the original. I have my doubts about the movie as a whole, but I have no doubt that Halle Bailey is going to shine.

“Disenchanted,” however, takes my top spot for my favorite trailer of the weekend. The plot seems to be Giselle wishing for her life to be like a fairytale again, unaware that this will place her in the role of the wicked stepmother. It’s a top-tier concept for an “Enchanted” sequel, and it gives its star, Amy Adams, so much material to work with. Thanks to the return of the stellar ensemble cast with the additions of Maya Rudolph and Yvette Nicole Brown, I think we have a truly worthy sequel.  

The only thing strange about “Strange World” is how little Disney has advertised it (Image via Disney Animation)

The animation panels were weak, with only a few announcements and no trailers. The biggest news came out of Pixar, which announced “Inside Out 2.”  Out of all of Pixar’s projects, “Inside Out” is a very natural fit for a sequel. Pixar’s other projects “Elemental” and “Elio” have intriguing enough premises and some good concept art but very little else. As for Disney Animation, we get a new image but not a trailer for “Strange World,” which is odd as it’s coming out this Thanksgiving. We also get an announcement about next year’s animated film “Wish,” which will mark Disney’s 100-year anniversary.    

Marvel Studios presented a fair amount of content, but most of it was expo-exclusive. We did get the official line-up for the “Thunderbolts” movie. While I think this line-up will make an entertaining movie, it really doesn’t match up with the Thunderbolts team from the comics. A bit nit-picky, perhaps, but I’ve already seen a fair bit of backlash online from fans of the “Thunderbolts” comics.

The first look at “Thunderbolts” produced mixed reactions (Image via Marvel Studios)

As far as trailers go, we got ones for “Secret Invasion” and “Werewolf by Night.” The latter was a complete surprise and will be a 50-minute special debuting in October. It looks fun, and it’s directed by one of my favorite composers, Michael Giacchino. I’m curious to see how he’ll work as a director, but if his “The Batman” score proved anything, it’s that he knows how to create atmospheric and entertaining scenes.

“Secret Invasion” has been one of my most long-awaited Marvel projects, and its first trailer did not disappoint. One of the great appeals of the comic run is the constant game of who’s a Skrull and who can be trusted. It seems like the show has captured that well, and the cast is one of Marvel’s best. My only hesitation is that the storyline has been downgraded from the Avengers’ level threat that it was in the comics.

Lucasfilm had a strong showing, highlighting the strengths of its animated and original characters. Out of the two trailers, “The Tales of the Jedi” impressed me the most. I was a little less impressed with “The Mandalorian” season three trailer. Nothing was wrong with it,  but nothing intriguing about it besides the reveal of multiple other Mandalorians. At the end of the day, all I want from season three is Mando, Baby Yoda and space western vibes, and the trailer seems to promise all three.

The new Mandalorians are the most intriguing part of season three

And last, but certainly not least, the “Percy Jackson” show dropped its first teaser trailer. I thought this was especially impressive considering they’re still in the middle of shooting. They didn’t show much, and they didn’t need to. All they needed to do was drop that iconic line, “I didn’t want to be a half-blood,” and the internet exploded.

While D23 is meant to show off the best that the company has to offer and get consumers excited about upcoming projects, I feel that it was more successful at highlighting how bloated the Disney release schedule is. For every project that excites me, there are at least two more that I feel indifferent to. Will I enjoy most, if not all, of the projects listed here?  Probably. But will any of them reach the heights of Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios, and Lucasfilm’s best? Only time will tell.

Janie Walenda is a sophomore Global Business major and the A&E editor for Cedars. She is passionate about musicals, animation and cold brew.

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