After a stellar showing at San Diego Comic-Con earlier this year, the stage was set for Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios to follow up the epic presentation of astonishing announcements with an equally showy a presentation for Disney’s own fan convention, D23 Expo.
For weeks, fans have speculated what footage, announcements, and surprises would be seen for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Would they announce the cast and director of Fantastic Four? What of mutants? How about Nova or Wonder Man? Now finally, we have (some) answers.
Once more, the hype of speculation and self-imposed lofty fan expectations have ruined what would have been an otherwise stellar panel for the Twitter fan base. For alas, while Marvel Studios did bring some great footage and news, how much of it was actually “new” or “shocking” is heavily debatable. Because we didn’t get any news regarding shows or films that haven’t already been announced. We didn’t get the cast of Fantastic Four. And mum was the word on anything pertaining to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.
And you know what? That’s okay. This is Hollywood. Deals have to be broken and contracts have to be signed for news and announcements to be 100% official. And whether or not those deals have been made is up to the higher powers that be. After all, it’s every studio’s worst nightmare to prematurely confirm news publicly that they’ll have to take back within a few months (looking at you WB and DC).
What Marvel Studios did bring was no less exciting than what they normally would bring to any other convention. And they kicked off things with the panache of a grand Broadway show. At the top of the panel, Feige came out and spoke about his desires to have a grand musical performance, and like clockwork, an orchestra conducted by Marc Shaiman spontaneously appeared and began playing the familiar tool from last Holiday Season’s hit Disney+ show, Hawkeye: “I Can Do This All Day” from the fictional Rogers the Musical. It was interesting and a little crazy (in the best way possible) to start things off this way.
Once that was over and done with, it was time to get down to real business. And Feige brought out director Ryan Coogler, direct from the editing bay of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to share some stellar footage from the November release. The footage showed Angela Basset as Queen Ramonda, being brought before the UN and criticized for possessing vibranium. Simultaneously, we see an ocean freighter carrying vibranium being invaded by soldiers trying to seize it. The soldiers threaten everyone, as Ramonda gives an empowered speech about how they were withholding vibranium because the rest of the world was untrusthworthy. Not Wakanda. At that moment, as the soldiers open a door to view the vibranium contents, to their surprise the Dora Milaje, led by Okoye (Danai Gurira) exit, revealing the entire staff on the vessel have been undercover Doras the entire time. They beat the soldiers easily, and lead them back to the UN council before their queen. The rest of the trailer showed some quick cut footage of the rising conflict between the Wakandans and Atlanteans, including shots of M’Baku fighting Namor. It looked awesome!
Cooger then brought out Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Tenoch Huerta, and Angela Bassett to the stage. They discussed the necessity of living up to Chadwick’s standards, and making a film that would truly make him proud. It was an emotional moment, but one steeped in pride and power for this Marvel family.
Once Wakanda Forever ended, Coogler remained on stage to talk about Ironheart and the character of Riri Williams, who is being introduced in the Black Panther sequel. He debuted the first footage from the show, which looked terrific! It showcased Riri trying to make her way through MIT, as the bright young mind that she is. There’s a glimpse of Jim Rash, reprising his Civil War role as the dean of MIT. And several shots of Anthony Ramos as The Hood, along with Riri building out her Mark I Ironheart suit and taking flight.
Once the footage was over, Anthony Ramos took to the stage to join Coogler. They discussed the idea of The Hood taking his powers from mystical sources, and how the show sets up a “magic vs. tech” battle. The show will premiere in 2023. But it looks different and exciting.
After that, it was time for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Feige brought out Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Jonathan Majors. After about five minutes or so of everyone giving Rudd crap about being named “Sexiest Man Alive” by People Magazine, they showed footage of the new film. Much like the SDCC trailer, this trailer showed glimpses of what the movie will be about, but offered us a bit more Kang for our bucks.
One of the newer announcements made during the panel following Quantumania, was the new Halloween special, Werewolf by Night. Prior to the convention, very little was seen or heard about the project. But Feige brought out first-time director, and legendary composer Michael Giacchino, who will be directing the one-shot special for the MCU.
Giacchino brought out the lead actors for the Disney+ one-shot, Gael Garcia Bernal and Laura Donnelly (The Nevers). Both highly talented actors, Bernal is portraying the title role for the special, and Donnelly will be playing notable Marvel demon hunter, Elsa Bloodstone. The trio debuted footage for the new special, which Giacchino says got its inspiration from the classic Universal Monster films and grindhouse horror send ups. Marvel Studios also released the trailer for the special online at the below link. The special will debut on October 7.
Feige then brought out MCU mainstay, Don Cheadle to talk about two separate projects. The first was Secret Invasion. Much like Cobie Smulders did at Comic-Con, Cheadle spoke a bit about the series’ nature as a paranoid thriller, where those around them have to question and second guess the ones they trust. They introduced a longer clip; a conversation between Cheadle and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury at a restaurant.
Fury finds out that Rhodey already knew about secret Skrull plans to infiltrate the government, and Rhodey explains he’s been working on the project for the past 15 years. Like Werewolf by Night, Marvel also publicly released a version of the trailer that was shown, but without the longer prologue for Cheadle and Jackson. The invasion begins next spring, but you may check out the first look here:
Cheadle remained on stage to talk about a show that Secret Invasion will lead into for him: Armor Wars. For everyone wondering whether or not the show was still happening, you now have your answer. The show hasn’t started production yet, but Cheadle noted that we’re really going to understand what really makes Rhodey tick.
Armor Wars is a very famous Iron Man storyline in which Tony’s suits and tech ends up with a dangerous force. It’ll be very interesting to see how the MCU adapts the storyline, and whether or not there will be appearances from Ironheart or any Stark-inspired other characters.
As the Armor Wars segment came to a close, and Cheadle went off stage, Feige introduced the crew behind Marvel Studios’ first second season: Loki Season 2.
Making their way to the stage after having just flown over from filming in the UK, Feige brought out Tom Hiddleston, Sophie Di Martino, Owen Wilson, and new to the cast, Ke Huy Quan.
“Sorry I’m so confused right now. Is this not the Indiana Jones panel,” quipped Quan.
The crew spoke about how different this season will be from the first, given that Loki is in a bad spot, now that He Who Remains has been killed, Kang the Conqueror is coming, the TVA has been destroyed, and Mobius and B-15 don’t remember him. They debuted the first footage from the second season which looks like an even stranger adventure than the first. Several glimpses of Loki trying to convince Mobius and B-15 that Kang is coming, a shot of Quan’s character behind a stack of papers at a desk, and even the return of Eugene Cordero’s character Casey.
Following Loki, Feige paused the presentation to deliver a bit of news in an incredibly awkward way. He alluded to WandaVision as a way to re-introduce the world to the work of director Matt Shakman, before officially confirming that Shakman would be replacing Spider-Man: No Way Home director Jon Watts as the director of Fantastic Four. Shakman rose up in the audience and waved to the crowd, before Feige quickly dismissed the notion that he’d be coming on stage. “Why is Matt not on the stage? Because we have nothing more to say about it today. Other than it is coming soon. And there will be another D23 Expo before this film comes out.”
And that was it for Fantastic Four. Despite so much speculation regarding whether or not the cast would be announced, it ultimately turned out not to be true. And the only news to really come out was Shakman as director for the project.
Feige then was quick to move on to “Marvel Studios’ first spin-off,” Echo. They showed a bit of footage for the project which has a very cool “Netflix” vibe to it. It is also something that’s very much rooted in Indigenous culture, with much of the trailer dedicated to exploring Maya Lopez’s ancestral roots. Maya also gets an upgrade to her prosthetic leg. And after a lot of really fun action where she fights off a few criminals, the trailer ends with the reveal of Kingpin being alive and mostly well (sans-one eye). From there, Feige brought out the cast, including Alaqua Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio. They spoke about what an honor it was to be doing this series with a hearing impaired lead, and a mostly Indigenous ensemble.
While most of the full cast of Echo stepped off stage, D’Onofrio remained on. “Why are you still here?” quipped Feige.
“Because we’re supposed to talk about my show,” fired back D’Onofrio.
“Your show? I think you mean my show!” said a disembodied voice. And out from backstage walked Charlie Cox to thunderous applause.
The villain/hero duo reunited before everyone in the arena to discuss Daredevil: Born Again. There was unfortunately no new information other than it would be starting production next year. But they did show a hilarious clip of Matt Murdock’s appearance in She-Hulk in the coming weeks. While that may not be specifically literally part of the Born Again series, the thrill of seeing these two legendary rivals come together again live after so long filled the auditorium with adrenaline and excitement.
Following the brief but welcome appearance of Cox and D’Onofrio, Feige then pivoted to the “new world order” as he began to speak about the next Captain America film, entitled Captain America: New World Order. Feige brought to the stage director Julius Onah and returning favorites Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, the new Captain America, Danny Ramirez reprising his role of Joaquín Torres from Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Carl Lumbly reprising his role as Isaiah Bradley, and one of the biggest surprises of the panel, Tim Blake Nelson as The Leader, who has not been seen since The Incredible Hulk in 2008.
Naturally there was no footage to show since production hasn’t started yet, but the team spoke a bit about where we would be seeing each of the different characters since Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
From there, came one of the biggest announcements of the day: The reveal of the Thunderbolts! Though heavily deviating from the comics, the MCU Thunderbolts lineup makes sense given who they’ve introduced so far in this universe and some of the unfinished story threads of each of these characters.
The official lineup was announced as each of the cast arrived on stage: Julia Louis Dreyfus as Val, David Harbour as Red Guardian, Wyatt Russell as U.S. Agent, Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost, Olga Kurylenko (not in attendance) as Taskmaster, Sebastian Stan as Bucky, and Florence Pugh (who joined in via Skype) as Yelena Belova.
Feige quipped that the Thunderbolts was going to be the finale of the panel, but there was one final film they wanted to cover: July 2023’s The Marvels. He brought out to the stage director Nia DaCosta, Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, and national treasure Iman Vellani.
The ladies had the most excellent chemistry with one another, and together they debuted the first trailer from the film which answered the question about what happened to Kamala Khan at the end of Ms. Marvel season one. The trailer, set to Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic,” sets up the storyline that the light-based powers for all three of these characters is causing them to physically switch places with one another in space. This leads to a lot of mayhem and mishaps when each of the different characters gets caught in a random location and situation at random times.
We get a glimpse of the whole Khan family appearing, a hilarious moment with Kamala and Nick Fury, and a bit of tension between Monica Rambeau and Carol (as alluded to in WandaVision). The trailer was arguably one of the most fun highlights of the full Marvel Studios panel, and we can’t wait to see the chemistry between the three actresses unfold on screen.
Overall, while it may not have been what everyone was expecting it to be, Marvel Studios once again delivered in terms of exclusive footage and celebrity appearances at their portion of the D23 Expo Walt Disney Studios panel. While many would have probably wanted to get more information about eagerly anticipated projects like Nova, Blade, Wonder Man, or the cast of the Fantastic Four, you have to admit, with such a full slate, what we are witnessing during this panel is, in fact, in and of itself a lot to chew on.
But as Feige said during the panel, there will be more D23 Expos between now and the conclusion of The Multiverse Saga. And until then, we just need to keep calm and carry on, trusting the maestros at Marvel Studios to keep doing what they’re doing.