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The Hollywood Insider D23 Expo 2022

Photo: D23

So D23 happened this past weekend and to put it plainly, it was a dud.  Disney, Lucasfilm, and Marvel all had a major opportunity to get fans and audiences ecstatic about their content again, something they sorely needed even if they did not realize it.  That is not to say that the entire event was without notable moments or pieces of info, but they were very few and far between.  Anything that was announced was either already known about or just sounds very uninteresting.  There was very little footage of upcoming projects released to the general public, which for the most part was okay at best.  Very few details were also given about the projects that fans actually care about.  These were just a handful of reasons why the event did not live up to expectations and failed to do its primary job.

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D23 – Disney Highlights

Disney highlighted a number of their upcoming live-action projects including ‘Disenchanted’, ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’, and an upcoming prequel to ‘The Lion King’ titled ‘Mufasa’. Trailers for the first two films were released online and both were fine for what they were, but did very little to garner enough buzz for these projects.  It was also announced that Pixar was developing a sequel to ‘Inside Out’, one of the animation powerhouse’s better films in recent years.  This is all fine and dandy but no excitement was swirling online for any of these projects.  The whole point of a convention with presentations like this is to generate buzz and positive word-of-mouth.   It’s almost as if many have long grown tired of Disney continuing to milk every single one of their cash cows dry and not focusing on any original new projects, but that’s just a theory.

The Lucasfilm presentation was equally dull.  In the realm of ‘Star Wars’, we got a teaser for the upcoming third season of ‘The Mandalorian’ as well as a trailer for the upcoming new series ‘Andor’.  Okay, cool.  It was also confirmed other Disney Plus shows, such as ‘Ahsoka’ and ‘Skeleton Crew’ were also on the way.  Again, there was nothing to get excited about here as these were projects that we already know were coming and give us no reason to care about them or why they were being made.  This is the exact opposite of what the ‘Star Wars’ franchise needs right now.  People have not cared about Star Wars this little since well before Disney originally announced it would be developing ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’.  This presentation did nothing to change that.  Lucasfilm did, however, highlight some of their non ‘Star Wars’ related projects, including an upcoming ‘Willow’ series and of course, the long-awaited fifth entry in the ‘Indiana Jones’ franchise.  This particular presentation was one of the few highlights of the entire weekend, not due to anything on the part of Disney or Lucasfilm, but because of Harrison Ford himself.  The actor gave a very emotional farewell to a character he began playing over forty years ago.  Other than this brief couple of minutes, there was very little to remember from the entire weekend.

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Marvel Presentation

Probably the root of disappointment surrounding the event was the lack of any major bombs dropped from Marvel.  There were a plethora of rumors surrounding what Marvel would possibly present or announce.  None of them ended up being true.  Granted, the presentation should not be judged based on whether or not Marvel lived up to any particular rumor or fulfilled certain expectations.  However, if they were going to hold a presentation like this at what should be the company’s biggest fan event, they should have at least disclosed some type of new information or announced something of significance, whatever it may be.  

We got a trailer for Marvel’s ‘Secret Invasion’ which was okay at best. More footage was shown for upcoming films, but none of it was released online.  On the topic of something that people are actually looking forward to, it was officially confirmed that ‘Fantastic Four’ will be directed by Matt Shakman, but that’s all we got about the upcoming reboot.  Many of the Disney Plus shows that Marvel currently has on the docket also got some attention, but once again, none really stood out.  The only panel which drew some reaction from the crowd was for ‘Daredevil: Born Again’ which saw stars, Charlie Cox and Vincent D’ Onofrio who are both reprising their roles as Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk respectively, appearing on the D23 stage.  Cox later mentioned that the series will be more of a soft reboot and not a fourth season of the critically acclaimed Netflix show, so that was at least good to know.  But regardless, Marvel had all the momentum to drop at least a couple of major bombs and they squandered it.  Though not nearly as much as ‘Star Wars’, Marvel also really needed to do more as interest in the MCU continues to wane for a variety of reasons.   

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What Was Missing

There are a number of things that D23 could have done to have made the most out of this event.  Disney has two major tentpole releases left this year, ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ and ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’.  This event would have been the perfect time to release new trailers online for both films to keep the buzz going.  ‘Star Wars’ could have at least announced new films that they are developing to let fans know where the galaxy far, far away is heading.  Marvel could have definitely done a lot more.  They could have started by announcing some other projects that still have yet to be confirmed.  In terms of projects that people are actually excited about, ‘Daredevil: Born Again’ was the only one that was given some amount of attention.  Other than confirming the director, Marvel could have done more to spotlight ‘Fantastic Four’.  If the official team lineup is still to be determined, then perhaps the official cast announcement did not need to be made.  But just something more would have been enough.  There could have at least been a mention of ‘Deadpool 3’ or ‘X-Men’ or maybe even a standalone Hulk movie that fans have been wanting for years.  We know about these projects, and the first two at least, are on the way.  It is safe to bet that fans are far more excited for these projects than for something like ‘Thunderbolts’ or ‘Werewolf by Night’.  Hopefully, Disney will learn from their mistakes by the time the next D23 rolls around.  

By Nader Chamas

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.

I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV, media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.

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  • Nader Chamas

    Nader Chamas is an aspiring television writer who seeks to fuse thought provoking progressive ideals into the films, shows, and stories that he loves. Having graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Screenwriting, Nader seeks to use his writing to advance causes that do not get enough attention or input across mainstream media. Like most, Nader has his own share of his favorite franchises and stories across pop culture. However, he seeks to contribute timely and relevant topics into these stories as well as in his own original material. This is why Nader’s analysis of popular films and tv shows matches The Hollywood Insider’s practice of discussing entertainment from a socially cognizant and critical perspective.

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