Fans from all over the world gathered to celebrate Disney’s seventh D23 EXPO. Held on September 9 to 11, 2022, at the Anaheim Convention Center in California, this year’s edition showcased upcoming film and television productions, and their brand-new Walt Disney Studios logo. With the event, Disney started the celebrations for its 100th anniversary with the introduction of Disney 100 Years of Wonder, a global company ceremony to commemorate ten decades of history that will take off at Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest.
Disney’s D23 EXPO is a biennial convention that focuses on celebrating Disney’s achievements as a company and its beloved characters with fans all around the world. It also serves as an opportunity for the brand to introduce upcoming television series and film productions.
From Marvel to Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Disney Branded Television, the event featured exclusive panels, with announcements and inside looks at what’s next to come. Here are some highlights of Disney’s upcoming productions.
The Little Mermaid
Kicking off with Walt Disney Animation Studios, the convention opened on September 9 with a two-hour panel revealing exclusive details of upcoming live actions and projects such as Snow White, Peter Pan and Wendy, and the prequel of The Lion King, Mufasa, all set to be released between 2023 and 2024.
Alongside the announcements came the first look at the anticipated live-action adaptation of the 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid. Directed by Rob Marshall, this new take on the musical fantasy film features singer and songwriter Halle Bailey as Ariel, the mermaid princess who wants to learn more about the human world. The film is set to be released on May 26, 2023, and with the release of the teaser trailer, fans got to experience the first glimpse of Halle’s Ariel as she dived into the deepest parts of the ocean.
Although Halle’s casting has been well-received by fans, the singer has been a victim of malicious comments online due to the idea of a black woman playing Ariel. When asked, Halle told Variety how her grandparent’s encouraging message made her find another reason to portray the role. “It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, telling me, ‘You don’t understand what this is doing for us, for our community, for all the little Black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you,’” she said.
Hocus Pocus 2 and Disenchanted
To say Disney fans love sequels is an understatement. Films like Hocus Pocus and Enchanted are cherished by many. Therefore, after years in the making, trailers and release dates for both sequels were announced at the expo.
Starting with Hocus Pocus 2, the film follows two students who managed to bring back to life the Sanderson sisters in modern-day Salem. Released on September 30, the movie features special performances as well as the return of the character Billy, and, according to director Anne Fletcher, the same witty humor of the three witches.
Immediately after was the panel for Disenchanted, the sequel of the 2007 movie Enchanted starring Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden, and Idina Menzel. The sequel is set to be released on November 24 on Disney+ and follows Giselle, Robert, and Morgan fifteen years after the events of Enchanted as they move from New York to a home in the suburbs of Monroeville. However, when problems come knocking at Giselle’s door, she notices her happily ever after keeps getting harder to find and wishes for life to be as perfect as a fairy tale. When her wish has the opposite effect, Giselle must return to her home in Andalasia to save her family.
With this new take on her role of Giselle, Amy Adams shared that her character is in a very different place after ten years had passed since the first film. Nonetheless, the actress confessed that the fun and humor of Enchanted remain present in the sequel, with more complex storytelling.
What’s Next From Marvel
One of the most anticipated panels of the whole convention comes with Marvel Studios. Their announcements, first glimpses, and release dates took place on the second day of the event, and each panel covered news and unique appearances of what’s coming up in the Marvel Universe.
With an exclusive extended trailer of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the panel opened up about Black Panther’s upcoming sequel released on November 11. With a standing ovation, the audience welcomed the cast and its director, Ryan Coogler. During the panel, the crew discussed the film’s storyline, the new Black Panther, and rewriting the script after Chadwick Boseman’s passing. Although the new footage of the film hasn’t been released to the rest of the world yet, the movie is set to be an homage to Boseman’s legacy.
Moreover, in the panel, Kevin Feige, producer of Marvel Studios announced that Dominique Thorne’s Iron Heart will also be introduced to the Marvel Universe in Black Panther’s sequel.
Continuing the panel, fan favorite God of mischief, Loki, portrayed by Tom Hiddleston, took the stage alongside the rest of his cast members Sophia Di Martino, Owen Wilson, and Ke Huy Quan, who previously worked on the film Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022) and was introduced as a new member of the show. In the panel, the crew talked about Loki’s upcoming season two, new characters, and what fans should expect from the new season. Tom Hiddleston expressed his gratitude to fans and confirmed that season two is already in the making. “We have been shooting for twelve weeks already,” he said. “Season two picks up where season one left off.”
Hiddleston also confirmed that Loki will feature new and returning characters who help expand Marvel’s Multiverse saga. Lastly, the cast showcased the audience a glimpse of what’s next to come from season two.
The cast of Loki wasn’t the only surprise guest appearance at the conference. Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily, and Jonathan Majors from the third movie in the Ant-Man series, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, also made their way to the panel to meet fans and discuss the upcoming film. The cast, who was greeted with a standing ovation by the audience, opened up about how important the films were to them and how excited they were for the third movie. “This is going to be unlike anything you have seen from us,” said Paul Rudd. “It’s such a new territory.”
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is set to be released on February 17, 2023, and it’s scheduled to be the first film of Phase Five in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Marvel’s exclusive panel also introduced to the world upcoming productions set to be released between 2023 and 2024, such as Thunderbolts which stars Sebastian Stan in the role of Bucky Barnes from Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Florence Pugh, and David Harbour as Yelena Belova and Alexei Shostakov from Black Widow (2021), and a new take on the series Daredevil, which has Charlie Cox rephrasing his role as Matt Murdock.
Exclusive Peek Into Percy Jackson and American-Born Chinese
Apart from Marvel and Disney Animations Studios, one of the most anticipated panels of the whole convention was Percy Jackson and The Olympians. The series is an adaptation of Rick Riordan’s book series Percy Jackson and follows a twelve-year-old student, Percy Jackson, who finds out he is a demi-god while being accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt. Throughout the first installment of the series, he finds himself seeking refuge at Camp Half Blood, a training demi-god center, as he tries to clean his name and discover who stole Zeus’ lightning bolt.
Percy Jackson and The Olympians is set to be released in 2024 and stars Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson, Leah Sava Jeffries as Annabeth Chase, a demi-god and daughter of Athena, and Aryan Simhadri as Grover Underwood, a satyr and Percy’s best friend. With a special guest appearance from Rick Riordan and the cast members, the panel discussed the series’ storyline and its characters. Although the show is still in production, the crew showed fans an exclusive first teaser of the series at the event.
Last but definitely not least, Disney’s D23 EXPO offered an introduction to Chinese mythology and folklore with American Born Chinese, a television series based on Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel that follows three tales using a contemporary storyline of the mythical creature The Monkey King. Starring Michelle Yeoh, Ben Wang, Chin Han, Daniel Wu, and Ke Huy Quan, the show explores culture, identity, and adolescence mixed with magic and fantasy elements. The panel exhibited a first glimpse of the upcoming adaptation and a behind-the-scenes of the cast and production.
With such an eclectic catalog of productions, it’s safe to say that Disney has a lot in store for the upcoming months. While we wait, you can check the first installments of some of these films and series on Disney+.
Want more TV series-related content? Read our dive on Korea’s Little Women here!