The Greatest Assembly of Heroes Ever – D23 Expo Live Action Recap

In what universe does Star Wars: The Last Jedi get overshadowed by the Avengers?

But it’s true.  As a die-hard Star Wars fan I am loud and vocal about my love for the Lucasfilm franchise.  And yet I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with what I saw coming from Avengers: Infinity War.  The D23 Expo Live Action Presentation was more than spectacular.  It was jaw-dropping.  From the beginning to the end, there were tons of great surprises in store.  A Wrinkle in Time really captured my imagination.  I know the story marginally and it wasn’t one that excited me, but after hearing about it from the cast and watching the preview shown during the presentation, I can’t wait for it to come out.  If you want to watch something with excellent storytelling, an amazing cast, and a visionary director, A Wrinkle in Time is going to be your movie.  It was also very cool when Oprah herself told us, “There’s one thing I know for sure.  Everybody is going to get a poster!  YOU get a poster, and YOU get a poster, and YOU get a poster!”  The house roared in applause not only for the poster but for the chance to hear those iconic words from Oprah herself.

I was admittedly underwhelmed about Mary Poppins Returns.  I was hoping that Lin-Manuel Miranda would have come out with Emily Blunt and performed live for the crowd.  As a big fan of his work that would have been amazing!  But I was sad to find out that not only did he not appear, he has nothing to do with the creation of the music for the film.  When you have a creative force like Lin-Manuel and not use his talents at song writing, it seems criminal.  It’s like asking Monet over to Giverny and not having him paint.  Perhaps he didn’t want to or needed a break from the creative process of writing new songs, but wow.  And then what was that weird little love fest between Emily Blunt and Rob Marshall the director?  It was a little bit creepy.  More than just a mutual admiration society.  I was already excited to see the film, and now a little bit less so.  They spent so much time convincing us it was going to be great that I began to actually wonder if it would be.  What are they planning to do with Mary Poppins that we need to worry about?

D23 EXPO 2017 – Saturday, July 15, 2017 – The Ultimate Disney Fan Event – brings together all the worlds of Disney under one roof for three packed days of presentations, pavilions, experiences, concerts, sneak peeks, shopping, and more. The event, which takes place July 14-16 at the Anaheim Convention Center, provides fans with unprecedented access to Disney films, television, games, theme parks, and celebrities. (Disney/Image Group LA)
SEAN BAILEY (PRESIDENT, WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURE PRODUCTION)

After Mary Poppins Returns a slew of live action adaptations of Disney classic animated films were announced.  Aladdin was confirmed as being made and starring Will Smith as the Genie.  He just might be the only one who could pull it off following Robin Williams iconic portrayal.   Mulan was listed among those up there and in what I thought must be a typo – Dumbo.  Not only was the announcement perplexing but the choice of directors was too – Tim Burton.  Even from the concept art, the whole thing had an air of darkness and twistedness as we’ve come to expect from a Burton film.  The juxtaposition of the sweet, light-hearted Dumbo and Tim Burton’s darkness seem to be an ill-fated match.  But I guess we’ll see.  Equally skeptical is the new adaptation of the classic story of The Nutcracker.  The new film, dubbed The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, seems intriguing, but far from a sure thing.  It’s peppered with wonderful actors like Keira Knightly and Morgan Freeman, but it doesn’t have that spark of appeal that A Wrinkle in Time had to be sure.  My favorite of these announcements was a new Jungle Cruise movie starring Dwayne Johnson based on the beloved attraction at the parks.

ANAHEIM, CA – JULY 15: Director Jon Favreau of THE LION KING took part today in the Walt Disney Studios live action presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2017 in Anaheim, Calif. THE LION KING will be released in U.S. theaters on July 19, 2019. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** Jon Favreau

But then the hits just kept rolling!  First Jon Favreau came out to announce he was tapped to do a live action version of The Lion King.  If anyone could touch another iconic film like this, it would be Jon.  And he didn’t disappoint.  With a surprise trailer that is an exact (and I mean exact) replica of the opening sequence of the original except with CGI animals, it was mind-blowing and stunning to watch.  The entire audience went bananas over it!  It was so impressive it left us speechless after all the cheering and hollering.  Wow.  If you thought The Jungle Book was good, wait until you see this.

Of course, Lucasfilm came out to share what’s going on with them.  Surprisingly (or maybe not) there was virtually nothing about the still untitled Han Solo film coming out next year.  Just an announcement about how much faith they have in Ron Howard.  But no clips, no preview trailer, no cast members.  Weird.  There won’t be another D23 Expo before it comes out so interesting they passed on this gathering.  There wasn’t even a new trailer for The Last Jedi.  They did show a behind-the-scenes video which offered new footage not seen before, but no formal trailer.  Still it was great seeing not only returning cast from The Force Awakens, but new cast members from this film.  And of course, Mark Hamill.  The newly inducted Disney Legend came out to talk with the crowd and shared the same thing everyone else seemed to echo – this film is not what he expected.  What does that mean?  I can’t wait to find out.

ANAHEIM, CA – JULY 15: (L-R) Actors Sebastian Stan, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Josh Brolin, and Chris Hemsworth, producer Kevin Feige, and actors Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Tom Holland, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, and Anthony Mackie of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR took part today in the Walt Disney Studios live action presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2017 in Anaheim, Calif. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR will be released in U.S. theaters on May 4, 2018. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** Sebastian Stan; Dave Bautista; Karen Gillan; Pom Klementieff; Benedict Cumberbatch; Chadwick Boseman; Josh Brolin; Chris Hemsworth; Kevin Feige; Robert Downey Jr.; Mark Ruffalo; Tom Holland; Elizabeth Olsen; Paul Bettany; Don Cheadle; Anthony Mackie

Everything wrapped up with The Avengers!  First, trailers and talk about the two upcoming films – Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther both of which seem awesome.  Then, Josh Brolin who plays the big baddie Thanos came out after an introduction by Kevin Feige.  Feige asked if he thought he could take on these guys and started introducing cast members from Avengers: Infinity War.  The crowd got more and more excited as each actor was announced, but got on their feet for Benedict Cumberbatch and from there just didn’t sit down.  The place of honor went to the first Avenger – Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man).  Robert said, “Is that it? There has to be more!” And that’s when the roof was blown off the convention center with the cheers of the crowd.  The trailer showed Thor meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy and then shifted to them being on Earth where an enormous battle is taking place with all your favorite characters assembled together on the big screen.  It was amazing!

I can’t WAIT to see what happens next.

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