Disney Live Action Slate Preview
Fans were taken behind the scenes at The Walt Disney Studios upcoming roster of live-action adventures during the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. Hosted by Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn, guests were treated to exclusive video clips, filmmaker discussions and star appearances showing the upcoming three-year line-up from Disney, Marvel and Lucasfilm. While there were multiple movies shown and hinted at (cue Star Wars) the main films showcased were Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Solider, and Disney’s Maleficent, Saving Mr. Banks and Muppets Most Wanted.
Lucasfilm only slightly hinted at Star Wars and didn’t provide any new information for the die-hard fans that paid for the ‘Ultimate Fan Experience’.’ The boo’s from the crowd quickly went away however when Marvel brought out the stars of Thor: The Dark World. Natalie Portman (Jane), Tom Hiddleston (Loki) and Anthony Hopkins all took the stage to talk about the upcoming blockbuster release.
The film continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he and his brother Loki battle to save Earth and the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself, and threatens to plunge the universe back into darkness led by an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith the Accursed.
Natalie Portman slipped a spoiler during their time on stage, admitting that both she and Anthony Hopkins signed on for the upcoming untitled Thor 3 film.
The cast introduced a clip, which depicts Jane’s first day in Asgard. The scene opens with Jane on an operating table, surrounded by energy fields and Asgardian doctors examining her. “She will not survive that amount of energy surging within her,” Thor sadly admits.
Jane talks with the doctors, asking if she is in a quantum generation field, which after some back and forth, they conclude that she is.
The scene switches to Odin meeting Jane, where we find out that Thor has told his dad about her. Two guards try to grab Jane, but she deflects them with a surprising burst of red energy. Odin notices something in her arm, and they realize that the infection is defending her – or maybe just itself.
The film takes on a future tech meets fantasy twist that allows fans to follow the film in a way that seems believable as only Marvel can do it. Leaving the audience wanting more, fans will not have to wait long for the release, as Thor: The Dark World hits theaters November 8, 2013.
The second film introduced by Marvel was Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Stars Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan took the D23 stage to promote the sequel, in which they joked about Stan’s character, Bucky Barnes.
In the 2011 Captain America, Steve Rogers’ best friend Bucky appeared to fall to his death, but the actor will return in a different incarnation in the sequel.
“I guess you saw him crashing down into the mountains, but funny enough, he found his way back,” Stan joked.
Since the film isn’t set for release until April 2014, there were not a lot of spoilers shared with the audience. Fans who were curious however, were told that the film will adhere closely to Ed Brubaker’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” comic book story line.
There were three clips shown, one with Captain America picking up his shield, and another that was the same scene that was screened last month at Comic-Con International, where Steve Rogers fights a host of assailants in an elevator. The third clip was new and provided some insight on the film. Scarlett Johannson’s character Black Widow is seen teasing Evans about his personal life as they embark on a raid from an aircraft carrier.
The clip is slightly sad, showing Steve’s adjustment to the modern world after being frozen for 65 years in the Artic.
“Doing anything fun Saturday?” Widow asks.
“All the guys from my barbershop quartet are dead,” Steve admits.
After the preview, Chris Evans brought up that his character is still trying to acclimate and get used to the modern world. Fans of the film will have to get used to sadly waiting as well, as Captain America: The Winter Soldier won’t be released until April 4th, 2014.
For Disney’s portion of the panel, Alan Horn kicked things off by introducing Modern Family’s Ty Burrell who stars in the upcoming Muppets Most Wanted.
The upcoming film will follow a similar story line as the 1981 film The Great Muppet Caper, where the Muppets are on a world tour until trouble hits, as a master criminal breaks out of jail, and impersonates Kermit as the two share a strong resemblance.
A montage shows Ty Burrell as a French Interpol agent who has a hilarious face off with Sam the Eagle, both trying to outdo each other by pulling out increasingly large badges.
Burrell admits that his character is uber-French Jean-Pierre Napoleon and is actually paired with Sam the Eagle for much of the film trading barbs about each other’s culture.
The film will feature an all-star cast beyond the loveable Muppets, including Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, Danny Trejo, Tom Hiddleston, Usher and Salma Hayek.
Muppets Most Wanted opens March 21, 2014.
Disney was especially pleased to announce their upcoming movie Maleficent, and brought the film’s star, Angelina Jolie up to stage to discuss the film with fans.
Before showing footage from the 2014 film, Jolie set the crowd up for what to expect, stating that the scene shows her character acting opposite the young version of Princess Aurora/Briar Rose, that’s actually played by her daughter, Vivienne.
“She was the only 4-year old who wouldn’t scream.” Jolie said.
“I’d go over to the children who were visiting set and say hi,” she said, smiling at the crowd. “And they would scream and run off.”
Jolie who has always been a fan of Maleficent, said that the film will have edge and have a mix of being “a little sexy and a little darker.”
“We’ll see the epic battle with the dragon, but this time, just maybe, we may find ourselves rooting for the other side.”
Maleficent opens July 2, 2014.
The final main live-action film shown was a preview to the upcoming Saving Mr. Banks.
The film is based on a true story, when Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, “Mary Poppins,” of which he agrees, but takes 20 years to keep. In meeting the author P.L. Travers, Walt realizes that she is not about to budge and allow Mary Poppins to get mauled by the Hollywood machine. During their two weeks together, Walt pulls out all the stops, but it’s not until he reaches into his own childhood that he discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her and allow the two to set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.
The film will be released December 20, 2013 and shows how everything doesn’t always go as planned. While Walt was ultimately able to make the original Mary Poppins, Travers was so upset about the film’s final product, that she didn’t allow Disney to make any further films based on her books. Showing the roller-coaster relationship between the two creates the biographical drama.
During the live action film preview, Disney truly went above and beyond, showcasing a variety of wonderful films that are sure to do well critically and financially. In addition to the movies featured above, Walt Disney Studios will also be releasing Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Disney’s Tomorrowland and Disney Nature’s Bears.
Thank you Disney for providing a press pass for the D23 Expo. Pictures are copyright Disney.