What to expect at the D23 Expo

In just two days, hordes of mouse-hat fans will flock to Anaheim for the D23 Expo 2017, the bi-annual conference for all things Disney.

For me, the highlights of the conference come on Friday and Saturday morning respectively when feature films will take the main stage. On Friday, they’ll showcase everything in the world of Disney-Pixar animation and then on Saturday, everything in the world of live-action which for most people means Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here is a rundown of what to expect from D23 Expo 2017 this weekend.

ANIMATED

I’ll be the first one to admit that my animated knowledge is not up to snuff, I’m not the most fervent admirer of the craft. However, I’ll be keeping a close eye on the animated panel at D23 for two reasons – Toy Story 4 and The Incredibles 2.

I’m a child of the nineties; hell I was born six months before the release of the original Toy Story film, it’s the animated franchise that not only I but many have grown up with. I followed along as Buzz was introduced to the gang and became Woody’s partner in crime, was overjoyed when I met Jessie in 1999 and everything felt right in the world for a lowly four year old, and then I like many was moved to tears as eleven years later Toy Story 3 came out and showed us all that we were growing up and there’s nothing we can do about it. And now once again, nearly ten years after the release of Toy Story 3 we will see the fourth instalment in the franchise. Toy Story 4 is likely not going to have the largest presence at the conference given the fact that it’s release date is still 23 months away. However, we will get some details; two years ago at D23 we were told the story will focus on a romance between Woody and Bo Peep, these plot points remain two years later as the only morsels of information we have on the film, I expect that to change on Friday. Don’t expect a trailer, don’t expect a teaser, don’t even expect any footage from the film but I would expect some stills, some production artwork, some more plot details and potentially even Tom Hanks and Tim Allen to appear on stage together. Toy Story 4 is a long ways away so don’t expect to see footage from the film anytime soon but the concept of more plot details and some interesting photographs wouldn’t be too much to ask for.

When we first got confirmation on The Incredibles 2 the film community was stunned we had waited over ten years just for confirmation that the movie was coming. Fans rabid for a sequel had nearly forgotten about Pixar’s lone superhero attempt and yet people were still excited. It took a poster with the unforgettable first Incredibles logo and simply ahead a second ‘I’. Writer and Director Brad Bird returns for the film which is 11 months away from release. This is the film that will run the animated panel for Disney at D23 and I don’t think anything is off the board from a full cast announcement, plot details, a new poster, concept art, and yes, even footage. There is precedent here, in 2015 Moana was given the spotlight at D23, a film that was more a year out and it created positive momentum for the film that lasted all the way to the Academy Awards where Moana lost out to Zootopia (In my opinion, Moana was the better film and deserved the Academy Award.) Overall, while I think the conference will announce a couple of titles for movies on the Disney-Pixar production schedule I believe that The Incredibles 2 will be the highlight of the show with Toy Story 4 making a curtain call appearance and lighting up the fans in attendance.

MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE

Don’t get too excited, those of you looking for MCU news will likely have to wait another week until the Marvel conference at Comic-Con. It’s not that Disney doesn’t care about the MCU, it’s in fact there biggest money maker right now (Spider Man: Homecoming pushed the MCU box office to over 12 billion dollars,) but D23 isn’t the ideal place to show all your MCU footage. That being said, I still have a couple ideas to possible snippets that could be seen at D23.

Thor: Ragnarok, the next Marvel film on the slate comes out in November and will be the third MCU film to release in 2017, the first time the studio has released three films in one calendar year. You WILL NOT see any footage from Thor: Ragnarok at D23, you will also not see any images. What you WILL see is a new poster and the main cast assembled together on stage. Those of you waiting to see more footage from Thor’s third solo film will have to wait for Comic-Con where I expect those in attendance will see 5-10 minutes from the film and everyone in the world will be treated to a second trailer for the film.

The MCU film I’m most excited for is Black Panther. This incredible cast and crew have been working on something special for a while and that was never more clear than when they release that teaser trailer in early June. Black Panther is likely to see the biggest push of all the MCU films at D23. A poster seems likely to me, as well as concept art. Following a screening of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in late April, Disney took members of the media back to their LA office and showed off concept art, stills from the movie, and a few brief scenes. Expect to see some of the Black Panther concept art and stills that were shown to the media in that exchange to finally be shown to the public here. In terms of footage, I give it a 35 percent chance that Ryan Coogler debuts new footage for his film at the event. A little over a month from the first teaser, I hesitate to believe that the film has full scenes that they are ready to show the public yet.

Finally, this will be the surprise of the event and it will come at the very end of the live action film panel on Saturday morning. Kevin Fiege, the CEO of Marvel Studios will walk back onto the stage and give us the first plot details from Avengers: Infinity War, he will then throw to a sizzle reel from the film. We will see Cap doing Cap stuff, Tony in a new suit and then end it with a shot of Thanos and the gauntlet. The lights will come back up in the arena, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Tom Holland will be on stage to thank everyone and then Josh Brolin will walk out wearing the same infinity gauntlet he wore at Comic-Con three years ago when it was announced he would be playing Thanos.

LUCASFILM

Lucasfilm’s two major projects right now are Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the untitled Han Solo film, both set to release within the next twelve months. My predictions are all based on my ideas that Lucasfilm will have the heaviest presence at D23’s feature film panel. The MCU will be pushed back to Comic-Con save for a few reveals where Star Wars will not be attending Comic-Con in a feature film capacity.

Let’s start with The Last Jedi, many people are expecting to see a second trailer for the 8th Star Wars film and that’s not crazy, if this was any regular film but it’s not it’s Star Wars. A second trailer for The Last Jedi will NOT be shown at D23 this weekend. The next full length trailer for the film will come around September or even October much like they did with The Force Awakens. That doesn’t mean though that you won’t see anything from The Last Jedi, I believe that we will see a behind the scenes sizzle reel roughly 3-4 minutes in length. This sort of marketing falls directly in line with what Lucasfilm has done with their films already. Release the trailer, then the behind the scenes reel, and then the second trailer.

Roughly two and half months before the film comes out. We don’t need four trailer for The Last Jedi, I would even argue that we don’t need one trailer we are still going to see the movie. Lucasfilm is spectacular at marketing and they know that they don’t need to show any more from the film than they are comfortable with.

As for the Han Solo film, if you asked me six weeks ago I would have said a 100 percent chance of a teaser trailer but then something funny happened, they fired their directors with two weeks left of shooting and all hell broke loose. If you didn’t hear, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired for being unwillingly to follow the script written by Star Wars veteran Lawerence Kasdan and his son. Two days later, veteran director Ron Howard was brought on to finish the picture and at the time of writing this they are currently undergoing re-shoots to ensure the film is closer to what Lucasfilm wants. All that would lead a regular person to believe that nothing from this film would be shown, a rational person may argue that clearly they don’t have a lot of faith about where the project is right now based on the fact that they fired their directors just weeks ago but I’m not a rational human being.

Footage from this film will be shown at D23, at least I really think so. Ron Howard has been using his personal twitter ever since the film came out to tease costumes, images, and details about the film, I would bet that Lucasfilm will use the D23 Expo stage to ensure audiences not to loose their minds about the project. Not a lot of people in the film world have faith that Lucasfilm can turn it around on the Han Solo movie, a film which not a lot of people even wanted to begin with. D23 would be the perfect opportunity for Lucasfilm to show thirty seconds of Alden Ehrenreich in character as Han and Donald Glover in character as Lando and just like that they have turned the negative press into positive press. People are suddenly talking about how good Alden is as Han or how perfect Glover is to portray Lando and for the first time since mid-June, people in the Star Wars community aren’t talking about the behind the scenes problems on this film.

Finally, if Disney doesn’t show anything from the Han Solo movie then they will do something else. Something that fans have been asking for quite a while. Ewan McGregor will step on stage and announce the solo Obi-Wan Kenobi film. Lucasfilm has a third anthology film on their slate right now and no information regarding this film, for months people have been speculating on an Obi-Wan film staring McGregor in the role that made him famous. D23 is the best place to announce this film and it would certainly do wonders to Lucasfilm’s perception in the media right now.

All in all, it’s a great time of year for film fans with D23 and Comic-Con back to back. In the next two weeks you can expect to see footage, stills, and posters from some of the most anticipated movies of the next couple years.

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