D23 Live-Action Panel Recap: ‘Avengers: Infinity War,’ ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

For two hours this morning, Disney's D23 Expo was the center of the universe. Here's everything we learned during the live-action panel.

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For two hours this morning, Disney’s D23 Expo was the center of the universe. Not only did Disney reveal new information about previously unannounced titles, but the studio also brought out the big guns to make the fans happy. The casts of Wrinkle in Time, Avengers: Infinity War, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Mary Poppins herself, Emily Blunt, came to excite the room packed full of 8,000 Disney fans. What follows is a detailed breakdown of everything we learned at the live-action panel today.


Things started with A Wrinkle in Time. Director Ava DuVernay, who was visibly giddy to be at D23, said she’s been a long-time fan of the book. She said she “hit the jackpot with the casting for this movie,” landing every single person they approached for a role. She said it was very important for her to cast a movie that looked at felt like the world she sees around her.

Chris Pine, who plays the main character’s father, said he had never read the book. When asked why he decided to join the project anyway, Pine immediately had an answer. “Within five minutes of meeting Ava I knew I was gonna do it,” Pine said. He said DuVernay has a great macro sense of filmmaking that “hits what’s on the page and things at a cosmic level.”

Next, attention shifted to the upcoming Nutcracker and the Four Realms film. Set to come out November 2nd, 2018, this movie looks to be an epic retelling of the nutcracker fable. Keira Knightly will play the Sugar Plum Fairy, Helen Mirren will play Mother Ginger,and Morgan Freeman will play Drosselmeyer.

Misty Copeland, the first African American woman to be the principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre, is set to perform in the movie.

Focus then switched to the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns, and director Rob Marshall and star Emily Blunt came out. The two of them have worked together on Disney’s Into the Woods, but they both called this one a more straight-forward musical. Blunt, who called doing the big musical numbers thrilling, said Marshall has a way of making everything feel seamless and inspires the best in the actors.

Marshall, who said he had always wanted to develop an original musical for film, said Mary Poppins might have been his first film. He even described it as “something that lived with me my whole life.”

With that in mind, he understands the importance of getting this movie right. Marshall was originally unaware there were eight more books in P.L. Travers’ series.

“It made sense to take a look at it and it got exciting when we found a new story in a different generation as Michael and Jane grow up.”

Mary Poppins Returns will reintroduce audiences to the Banks children as they struggle through their adult life during the great depression. The footage they showed off (played over by a live orchestra) was magical and does a great job at capturing the energy of the original as the characters move forward. Meryl Streep will play Mary’s cousin and Dick Van Dyke is set to return as well!

Disney live-action president of Production Sean Bailey then quickly went over a few things. He confirmed that Mulan is in pre-production and that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson-led The Jungle Cruise is still coming eventually. Bailey then officially announced the core cast of Guy Ritchie’s upcoming Aladdin movie: Mena Massoud will fill the titular role, Naomi Scott is Jasmine and Will Smith will voice the Genie. While there wasn’t any footage to show off for the new Dumbo movie, Bailey did bring out a three foot mesh model that does a pretty good job of showing off how detailed the elephant will look.

Then something magical happened. The lights in the room dimmed down and the “Circle of Life” played over the speakers. The audience was given a sneak-peak at the new opening sequence for the upcoming Lion King movie. We see elephants walking, birds flying and even Rafiki lifting up a baby Simba on a majestic looking Pride Rock. Let me just say that all of my anxiety about this movie (it was my childhood favorite) immediately melted away.

Director Jon Favreau came out to quickly thank the D23 audience for their continued support, saying: “I want to thank the fans for trusting us because I know how important this is.”

Star Wars At D23

Unfortunately, there was no new information about Han Solo at D23 except for a restatement that the film hits theaters next summer. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t things to be excited about for Star Wars fans!

The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson came out and told everyone they are mixing the film now. The director, who admitted he used to make the “coming up next” commercials for Disney Channel during the Halloween Town era, said he “had the time of my life making this movie.”

Johnson quickly brought out a huge chunk of the cast from the upcoming movie. Fan-favorites like Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Gwendoline Christie were joined by franchise newcomers Kelly Marie Tran, Benincio Del Toro and Laura Dern!

Boyega said thee will be a lot of conflict with an unnamed character in the next movie right before he got on his tip toes to try and intimidate Christie, who plays Captain Phasma. So expect to see the former Stormtrooper come to blows with his former boss soon.

As for Captain Phasma’s suit? Well, let’s just say it gets enough for Christie to make jokes about baking casseroles in them.

Both Tran and Dern called it a life-long dream to join the franchise. Dern even admitted to making the laser noises on set and told audiences to watch her mouth during action scenes to catch it.

Mark Hamill joined everyone on stage and was careful not to say too much. He was in a good mood and joking, but he was clearly worried about some of his words being taken out of context like they were after the release of The Force Awakens. Meanwhile, Johnson had nothing but good things to say about Hamill.

While we weren’t shown an official teaser, Johnson showed us a behind-the-scenes sizzle reel that showcased some new settings and creatures. Interviews featured throughout the piece emphasize the importance of family and how this one will take the franchise to new, darker places.

Marvel At D23

While there wasn’t much news, Kevin Feige still put on a hell of a show. He started by revealing the new Marvel Studios 10 Year anniversary logo, and said he’s excited for the studio to last for decades to come.

He said Infinity War will feature “almost every hero we’ve introduced,” as they come together to take down Thanos. After that, Feige brought Thanos and most of the Avengers themselves onto the stage for a giant photo opp.

The film just wrapped the half-way mark last night but Joe Russo still had a little something to show the audience.

The clip starts with the Guardians literally bumping into Thor in space before we see shots of all the different heroes interacting. We’re given hints at the development of Spider-Man’s spider-sense and we see him in action wearing the suit from the end of Homecoming. The destructive powers of Thanos are then finally shown off in full force as the clip ends with him literally tearing apart a moon with the Infinity Gauntlet before hurling it towards the Avengers. Oh, and don’t worry everyone, Loki is in the trailer!

For more news from D23 keep your eyes peeled to Heroic Hollywood!