What we learned about Star Wars, Pixar, and the MCU from D23’s Disney+ panel


Disney

The biennial D23 conference in Anaheim, California was full of exciting news for fans of Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In a panel dedicated to the upcoming streaming service Disney+, the company announced a wave of new shows and spinoffs, and shared details and trailers from previously announced series. From the first first trailer for the Star Wars spinoff The Mandalorian to Marvel Studios’ three new Disney+ series, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Here’s everything we learned.

Marvel

Marvel Studios co-president Kevin Feige led a packed segment of the panel, with a number of big reveals. There are three new Marvel shows coming to Disney+: She-Hulk, Moon Knight, and Ms. Marvel. The first series will focus on Bruce Banner’s cousin, Jennifer Walker, who becomes a version of the Hulk after Banner gives her a blood transfusion. Moon Knight follows a mercenary named Mark Specter who operates as a cloaked avenger while dealing with his own issues. Ms. Marvel will follow Kamala Khan, a Muslim-American teenager from Jersey City who gains shapeshifting abilities. She was introduced to comics in 2013.

Feige also revealed new facts about a number of previously announced shows that are known to connect to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier will bring back some minor MCU players: Kat Dennings, who played Jane Foster’s assistant Darcy in the first two Thor movies, will reprise her role in WandaVision. Randall Park will return as FBI agent and S.H.I.E.L.D. veteran Jimmy Woo from Ant-Man and the Wasp. Emily VanCamp will also return as Sharon Carter, the grand-niece of Captain America’s love interest Peggy Carter. She’ll join Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

Marvel also brought a first-look clip for What If?, the animated series that explores alternate-universe scenarios for Marvel characters. The company showcased episodes featuring a zombie version of Captain America, Peggy Carter as Captain Britain, Star-Lord as a black man, and Iron Man as a giant mech piloted by skinny Steve Rogers. Feige said the show will see “most” of the MCU cast returning to voice their characters, including Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, but he didn’t offer other specifics — for instance, on whether Chris Evans would return as Steve Rogers, or zombie Steve Rogers.

Photo: Disney

Star Wars

There weren’t as many announcements for the Star Wars franchise, but the ones included in the panel were significant.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is coming back in February 2020, Lucasfilm CEO Kathleen Kennedy announced at the panel. Dave Filoni’s much-loved animated show ended without resolving its open plots, but as the company announced at Star Wars Celebration earlier this year, it’s retuning as a Disney+ exclusive series with a seventh season. A previous teaser trailer gives some hints of what to expect from the series, but the news at D23 was the planned release date.

Lucasfilm also confirmed that an Obi-Wan series starring Ewan McGregor is in development, and will begin shooting in 2020. McGregor was onstage to make the announcement, and told the crowd that it felt “so nice” to finally be able to admit he was returning to the role. The show starts filming next year.

There wasn't much information on Lucasfilm’s other Star Wars series, including the Rogue One spinoff that follows K-2SO and Cassian Andor. That series still doesn’t have a title. But the panel did feature the first publicly shared trailer for The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars TV series, inspired by bounty hunters Boba and Jango Fett, and featuring Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal in the lead role.

Pixar and Disney

News was light during the Pixar and Disney section of the panel, but Disney revealed a couple of trailers for its original content heading straight to Disney+. The live-action remake of Lady and the Tramp was by far the most exciting, but it was bookended by first-look trailers for the Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader Christmas film Noelle, and for Jeff Goldblum’s unscripted show The World According To Jeff Goldblum.

Pixar also teased its upcoming series, including the highly anticipated Monsters At Work, starring Ben Feldman and Aisha Tyler. The series, which follows Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University, follows a big purple monster who just graduated from college and got a job scaring kids. His first day at work is great until he learns the company he’s working for is switching over to making kids laugh, leaving him in a state of crisis over his role. How millennial!

The company also showed off a short that will be part of its own series, Forky Asks a Question. The show is based on Toy Story 4’s angsty spork-toy character, voiced by Tony Hale, and it’s a comedic series with some additional educational materials. The first episode is all about money, with Ham (Toy Story’s favorite piggy bank) helping explain finances to the clueless spork.

Disney Channels

The biggest moment out of the Disney Channels segment was dedicated to High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. In spite of that terminally clunky title, the series is one of Disney+’s most anticipated programs. It follows a group of kids who go to the school the original High School Musical is based on. They’re putting on their own production of High School Musical. Yes, the show’s creators are aware of how meta they’re being. The debut trailer pokes fun at the intricacies of it all, making it feel a little like Glee.

On top of that, the teen sitcom Lizzie McGuire is coming back, with Hilary Duff back in the title role and creator Terri Minsky returning as the showrunner. The series jumps forward to find Lizzie as an adult pushing 30 and living her best life, according to Duff, who was onstage for the presentation.

“She’s older, she’s wiser, she has a much bigger shoe budget,” Duff said. “She has her dream job. She has the perfect life right now.”

Some of these titles will start streaming on November 12th, when Disney+ launches. Others are in various states of development, or literally just announced. What’s clear from the rapid fire conference is there’s no shortage of effort — and no pennies spared.