Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

Angelina Jolie, Kit Harington join Marvel and Emma Stone takes on Cruella De Vil: All the news from D23 day two

The D23 Expo weekend provided a lot of big news on 'Black Panther 2', 'Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker' and Pixar updates

The Disney + panel at the D23 Expo has perhaps, more than ever, showed that the line between the big and the small screen has never been more blurred.

But while television is now just as prominent as cinema, Walt Disney Studio’s decorated history and unprecedented success is built on movies. Of course, the continued growth and domination of the studio means that now expands way beyond Walt Disney Animation to also include the output of Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios and Pixar Animation.

On Saturday morning in Anaheim, California, Disney’s chief creative officer and co-chairman Alan Horn oversaw a Behind The Scenes look at what each of these studios has to offer fans over the next few years. Here are the highlights:

'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker': A new trailer is out, and Keri Russell talks her 'shady' character

While it was sadly still too early for any release news from Disney’s most recent acquisition 20th Century Fox, any disappointment was quickly quashed by the emergence of Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and co-writer and director JJ Abrams, who were present to talk all things Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker.

They were soon joined by Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Naomi Ackie, Keri Russell, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams.

It was Russell that provided the most interesting bit of character news regarding her addition to the ensemble as Zorii Bliss, describing her as “shady, kind of a criminal,” and “an old friend of Poe’s”.

Of course, any Star Wars update immediately brings to mind the tragic loss of Carrie Fisher at the age of 60 in 2016. However, Abrams was keen to stress that the strategic use of deleted scenes from The Force Awakens will allow Fisher’s Leia Organa to be the “heart of the movie and the story”.

Those in attendance were then given an exclusive look at the latest trailer for Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, the stand out moment of which was Rey dressed in a Sith robe and wielding a red, double-sided lightsaber that immediately sparked speculation she might be able to turn to the dark side. Obviously all will be revealed when the blockbuster, which will bring the Skywalker saga to an end over 40 years after the release of A New Hope, is released on December 20.

Ahead of introducing Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige, Horn teased the future of Star Wars after The Rise Of Skywalker, calling it “a turning point".

"With the close of this chapter the future is wide open and Kathy and her Lucasfilm team are bringing Star Wars to whole number of really exciting directions.”

'The Eternals': Angelina Jolie, Kit Harington, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani and more join Marvel

Avengers: Endgame might have become the highest grossing film of all time, but Marvel’s future remains just as exciting. Even though Feige’s news was a little lighter on revelations compared to his Disney + presentation on Friday, we still discovered that Black Panther II be released on May 6, 2022, and that Kit Harington, Gemma Chan and Barry Keoghan have joined The Eternals.

'Game of Thrones' might be over, but seems to have united the world. HBO via AP
'Game of Thrones' might be over, but Kit Harington isn't wasting any time. HBO via AP

Most of the mega ensemble for Marvel’s cosmic adventure, which will star Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Don Lee and Angelina Jolie, gathered on stage together, and while they didn’t utter a single word – just the sight of Jolie, and the tease of her blonde-haired Thena, provoked a standing ovation.

Feige closed his Marvel presentation by debuting the trailer for Black Widow, the action for which immediately looked grittier and messier than what we’ve come to expect from the Cinematic Universe. An elongated spar between Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff and Florence Pugh’s Yelena was particularly riveting, while the camaraderie between the “sisters” and David Harbour’s Red Guardian immediately seemed funny.

Whether that will be enough for a whole movie is still up in the air, but thanks to it being a prequel set before Romanoff joined the Avengers in Iron Man 2 and its Budapest location, Black Widow certainly looks distinctive enough.

Jungle Cruise’s Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and Emily Blunt then took over the presentation. Arriving to the stage on a boat and old-fashioned car, they introduced separate rival trailers for the action-adventure that made their own characters seem the most heroic, while their bickering and bantering was so entertaining it was easy to see why Disney picture the upcoming adaptation of the beloved Disney park ride becoming the next Pirates Of The Caribbean.

Emma Stone is set to play Cruella De Vil in the 1970s, punk rock '101 Dalmations' prequel

Jolie then returned to tease Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil, the sequel to 2014’s $758.5 million (Dh2.8 billion) grossing dark fantasy, which its clips proved will be essential viewing simply because of the way it pitches Jolie against Michelle Pfeiffer.

Then, the extended look at Mulan showed off the full range and alluring presence of its leading star Liu Yifei and the gorgeous and detailed visuals of director Niki Caro. Both of these helped to make the obviously more grounded and emotional take on the original look astounding, before the section closed with our first look at Emma Stone’s Cruella DeVil, from film Cruella, which she revealed by video will be “punk-rock” and set in 1970s London.

Pixar’s presentation was undoubtedly the most revelatory of the event, though, as the teases for 2020’s Onward and Soul suggest that the studio’s first original films since 2017’s Coco are set to be just as gorgeous, deep, and funny as their previous hits.

'Soul': Jamie Foxx becomes Pixar's first black lead, Tina Fey also joins

The eight minute preview of Onward revealed that Tom Holland and Chris Pratt’s teenage elf brothers go on a magical quest to complete a spell that will bring their father, who died when they were too young to remember him, fully back to life for just one day.

In their own inimitable fashion, Pixar have blended a suburban family drama with the fantasy genre, a little bit of Harry Potter and even Weekend At Bernie’s, as they’re joined on the adventure by their father’s legs, which materialised when they first attempted the spell.

Audiences were given a shorter look at Soul, which will see a middle-school music teacher finally landing his dream gig as a jazz musician only to fall down an open sewer and be instantly transported to another world, where he takes the form of his soul. Jamie Foxx will voice pianist Joe Gardner, becoming Pixar’s first black lead in the process, while Tina Fey is 22, a soul that is tasked with getting Joe back into his body.

'Raya And The Last Dragon': Disney's most beautiful and photo-realistic animation ever?

Walt Disney Animation Studios then closed out the event, previewing Raya And The Last Dragon. Even though we’re still 15 months away from its Thanksgiving 2020, release, Raya already possesses some of the most beautiful and photo-realistic animation ever produced. It will star Awkwafina and Cassie Steel, and revolves around a lone warrior teaming up with a group of misfits and traveling through the fantasy kingdom of Kumandra to find the last-ever dragon.

Of course, the studio couldn’t leave without teasing the imminent arrival of Frozen II on November 22. Not only was it revealed that Evan Rachel Wood will voice Anna and Elsa’s mother and that Sterling K Brown will portray new character Lieutenant Mattias, but we discovered it will start in the past and explore why Elsa has powers and Anna doesn’t, before proceedings concluded with the debut of two new spell-binding songs. Both of which proved that whether it is music, animation, superheroes, fantasy or space, everything Disney touches turns to gold.

Updated: August 25, 2019 10:33 AM

SHARE

SHARE