Named for the year in which the Walt Disney Company was founded, D23 is an annual celebration of all things Disney. Basically, think of a pop culture gathering along the lines of San Diego Comic Con, complete with exclusive merchandise, product reveals, production news, celebrity panels, and cosplayers—but all dedicated to anything and everything Disney-related.
Of course, the talk of the town was the pending launch of Disney+, the new streaming platform that’s got everyone from Netflix to Apple scrambling to level up their original content offerings. Seeing as the House of Mouse now includes the likes of Star Wars and Marvel, as well as the considerable properties of Fox, ESPN, and the National Geographic, D23 guests and industry insiders alike were abuzz about what Disney would be offering when Disney+ makes its debut on November 12.
So, without further ado, let’s get to it!
STAR WARS, STILL GOING STRONG
We’ll be covering all the Star Wars news in detail in another post, but for now, it looks like business is booming in the galaxy far, far away, with Ewan MacGregor (Moulin Rouge) set to reprise his iconic role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in a series set between the Original and Prequel trilogies. Here’s hoping they recreate his epic final showdown with Darth Maul from the Rebels TV show!
Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Zathura) was also on hand to present a trailer for The Mandalorian, depicting the gritty adventures of a bounty hunter in the days following the fall of the Empire depicted in Return of the Jedi (1983). Of course, the biggest crowd reactions were reserved for J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, The Force Awakens), who brought along a sneak peak at this December’s Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker!
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE SHOWS FOR DISNEY+
Just when you thought that Marvel Cinematic Universe mastermind Kevin Feige couldn’t possibly have anything left to show following the blockbuster MCU panel at SDCC 2019, he comes out with a whole slew of announcements to get geeks talking. Among the most prominent of these was the unveiling of three shows set to debut on Disney+, namely She-Hulk (the lawyer cousin of everyone’s favorite jade giant), Moon Knight (former mercenary given powers by an Egyptian god), and Ms. Marvel (teenager idolizing Captain Marvel turns to crimefighting).
Reflective of MCU Phase IV’s clear push towards diversity, the three shows feature a female professional, a Jewish hero, and a young Muslim girl, respectively. Seeing as this is the studio that made us care about at least two talking trees, it’s probably safe to trust that they know what they’re doing in bringing these stories to the small screen rather than to cinemas.
DISNEY+ ORIGINAL SHOWS
As anyone who grew up on the Disney Channel knows, the in-house comedies and movies they made were a huge part of the experience. Now, it seems that the tradition will continue, with fresh takes on a couple of old favorites in the forms of Lizzie McGuire (announced by original series star Hillary Duff herself!) and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (a mockumentary on a high school’s staging of the eponymous musical).
The premise behind the new Lizzie McGuire will have the character, now in her 30s, as an adult millennial looking to make her way in the wild world of New York City, but all that sounds downright traditional next to the awesomely meta premise behind High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. We can’t wait!
PIXAR GOES ONWARD AND BEYOND
D23 attendees were able to check out eight minutes from Pixar’s upcoming fantasy comedy Onward, featuring Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Far From Home) as elf brothers seeking a way to bring their dead father back to life. If the trailers featuring frolicking mermaids and scavenging Unicorns are any indication, Onward looks to be another slam dunk for the animation studio.
For their upcoming projects, Pixar announced the Soul from director Pete Docter (Inside Out), about souls in training, and starring the voices of Tina Fey (Mean Girls) and Jamie Foxx (Baby Driver). They also previewed a series of animated shorts that will launch with Disney+, a follow-up to Toy Story 4 entitled, Forky Asks a Question, because honestly, you can never have too much Forky.
DISNEY FEATURE ANIMATION GOES TO SOUTHEAST ASIA
The Walt Disney Studio was built on animation, so it was entirely appropriate that the Feature Animation division’s big D23 presentation centered around a sequel to the highest-grossing animated film of all time, Frozen. The footage showcased teased the answer to such questions as what really happened to Anna (Kristen Bell, TV’s The Good Place) and Elsa’s (Idina Menzel, Rent) parents, in addition to finally revealing the source of the latter’s powers.
While the Frozen 2 presentation was expected, it was the announcement of Raya & The Last Dragon (written by Crazy Rich Asians co-writer Adele Lim) that got people really talking, being the House of Mouse’s first animated foray into Southeast Asian mythology.
MORE LIVE ACTION REMAKES
Following the billion-dollar successes of The Lion King and Aladdin, expectations are high for Mulan, the next Disney animation to receive the live-action remake treatment. Starring Liu Yi Fei (The Forbidden Kingdom), Donnie Yen (Ip Man), and Jet Li (Fist of Legend), the beloved film has been reimagined, downplaying the more fanciful elements to tell a timeless tale of honor and family. Boasting sumptuous production design, intricate costumes, and an altogether epic scale, Mulan looks to raise the bar on its predecessors.
Equally anticipated (if not as epic), is a live action remake heading straight to Disney+, Lady and the Tramp, based on the 1955 classic about a pampered house dog who falls in love with a mutt from the streets. The two lead dogs charmed D23 convention goers by posing for photo ops on the red carpet. A large number of the film’s four-legged stars are rescue dogs, which led to one actually being adopted by human star Yvette Nicole Brown (Avengers: Endgame, TV’s Community).
Premiering on Disney+, Encore is a reality show with a unique premise: reuniting high school theater companies on their old campuses, decades after they’d taken their last bow, and working with them to mount their signature musicals as if no time had passed. Based on a Bell-hosted one-off special from 2017 called, “Back to the Woods”, “Encore” expands the concept to a full series, with multiple batches of former theater club members reuniting to relive their glory days. From the trailer, the energy is downright infectious, as executive producer and series host Kristen Bell looks to be having just as much fun as the folks whose passions for performing she’s rekindling.
We love Jeff Goldblum. Like, seriously, whether he’s (essentially) playing himself in Thor: Ragnarok, or spouting pseudo-philosophical technobabble in Jurassic Park, the man is always a joy to watch. Now, we’ll get to see things through his eyes in this Nat Geo series, as Goldblum goes about exploring the world around him and interpreting it for us mere mortals in his own, inimitable style. If his commentaries are anywhere near as entertaining as his now-legendary reaction to last week’s Sony-Disney split over Spider-Man, we are going to be in for a very, very good time.
Which of these are you most excited about? Tell us below!