To say that Disney has run out of ideas is a massive understatement, an opinion that was further exemplified by Disney’s annual self-pleasuring fest, the D23 Expo. This year’s D23 featured enough fun-filled panels and live shows to make any adult feel like a kid and any kid feel like a fetus. However, two panels in particular were the stars of the show: the Disney and Pixar Showcase, and the Marvel, Star Wars, and 20th Century Studios Showcase. These panels featured upcoming titles from the Disney monopoly, and the first of these panels was the Disney and Pixar showcase, which regurgitated…I mean, revealed…a smattering of brand new, all original theatrical films, starting with…a minute and a half long teaser for the Live Action Little Mermaid remake. Sorry, when I said brand new and all original, what I meant to say was recycled and unoriginal. Look, as much as I hate live-action remakes, I’m kind of curious to see how Hallie Bailey does in the lead role as Ariel. (Also for anyone reading this who’s upset because they cast a black girl as Ariel…I want you to look deep inside your soul and question your life choices.)
Sadly, every single live-action Disney Studios movie revealed in the Disney and Pixar showcase was a live action remake. I think we can all agree that Disney’s live action remakes are incredibly uninspired and lazy, but you know what’s even more uninspired and lazy than that? A prequel to a live action remake that wasn’t very well received in the first place and wasn’t even live action! Unfortunately, that’s what we’re getting in the form of Mufasa: The Lion King, a prequel to the “live action” Lion King remake from 2019, releasing in 2024. After this was the reveal of a Snow White remake releasing in 2024, Given that the original Snow White was Disney’s first animated feature-length film, I’m surprised that it’s taken this long to get a live-action remake of it, however the fact that it’s releasing at all is far less surprising.
Up next came Peter Pan and Wendy, which is – and I’m not kidding – the fourth live-action direct adaptation of the Peter Pan story to come out since the original animated film from 1953, which I think is all that needs to be said. Footage of a new Haunted Mansion film releasing in 2023 was revealed next, which, if it’s anything like the Eddie Murphy film from 2003, I would stay far away from. A trailer for the long awaited sequel to 2007’s Enchanted, titled Disenchanted, was shown off next, which legitimately might be my favorite sequel reveal from D23. Enchanted isn’t exactly my favorite movie of all time, but it’s a pretty fun time and a sequel could be just as fun. What’s less fun however is Hocus Pocus 2. Since the original’s release in 1993, nostalgia blindness has convinced many that Hocus Pocus is a good movie. It’s not. Nostalgia blindness has also convinced many that Hocus Pocus deserves a sequel. It doesn’t.
So, Disney’s live action output is as disappointing as ever. It’s up to Disney Animation and Pixar to stand strong as Disney’s last bastion of originality, and they did just that by revealing a sequel to 2015’s Inside Out. Ever since the release of Cars 2 in 2011, Pixar has had an unhealthy habit of making sequels to movies that never really needed them, and Inside Out 2 is no exception. Mercifully, this was the only animated sequel announced at the Disney and Pixar showcase, with the rest of the showcase’s revealed holding up Disney Animation and Pixar’s reputation of originality. After Inside Out 2, we got more details about Elemental, a continuation of Pixar’s “what if inanimate objects had feelings” story idea that they’ve been reusing since Toy Story. Elemental follows a fire character and a water character discovering their similarities despite their physical differences, which is a really cute idea. Speaking of cute ideas, Pixar also revealed their first longform series titled Win or Lose, a baseball-themed animated series focusing on a children’s team called The Pickles. The animation style alone of Win or Lose is enough to put a smile on my face, so I’m incredibly excited for it. Next came the reveal of Disney’s first collaboration with an outside studio in over 100 years, Iwaju, a love-letter to nigeria set in a futuristic version of Lagos, coming in 2023. After that came Elio, a sci-fi adventure coming from Pixar in 2024, following a young boy who becomes Earth’s ambassador for an alien version of the United Nations. Closing out the Disney and Pixar Panel was the reveal of Wish, a Disney Animation original exploring the origins of the Wishing Star. Honestly, the last three things I just described are the most exciting things revealed during the whole D23 expo.
After the Disney and Pixar Panel, there was the Marvel, Star Wars, and 20th Century panel. With a name like that, they might as well have called it The Other Guys Panel. First up was Star Wars, which kicked things off with The Mandalorian Season 3, which was probably the least surprising thing revealed in the entire expo. Next was Star Wars: Andor, a prequel series set before the events of Rogue One, releasing on September 21st, 2022. One of Rogue One’s many criticisms was its lack of character development, and this series may just fix that. Star Wars: Ahsoka was briefly mentioned after this. No new details, no trailer, just a brief mention to help remind Star Wars fans of its existance. Finally, Star Wars: The Bad Batch was given a second season, releasing on January 4th, 2023, and Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi, an original series of six animated shorts, got a new trailer and a release date of October 26th, 2022, which were kind of interesting. It’s always neat to see Star Wars get new animated content, even if none of it is interesting to me. That’s how I can describe all of the revealed Star Wars content. Ever since Rise Of Skywalker, I’ve been incredibly bored of Star Wars. If anything I’ve listed is interesting to you, I’m not gonna yuck your yum, but I couldn’t be less interested.
After the Star Wars announcements, the first trailer for the fifth Indiana Jones movie was released behind closed doors to those at D23, which has nowhere to go but up after Crystal Skull. A new trailer for the Willow series based on the movie from 1988 was revealed next to a resounding “huh?”, and then some new clips from Avatar: The Way of The Water were shown, which was probably as exciting to watch as this part of this article is to read.
Finally, closing out the panel was Marvel, which had a lot riding on its shoulders going into D23. Marvel has had a very shaky 2022, so they needed to show the public that their future is going to be more consistent quality wise. Now I’d love to go into as much detail with Marvel as I did with everything else, but Marvel decided to release only two new trailers to the public. The rest was only shown at D23. First, a new trailer for Secret Invasion was released, marking the return of Samuel L. Jackson to the MCU in what looks to be a riveting spy-thriller series coming in 2023. Next, we got a look at a Marvel Halloween special based on Werewolf by Night, which looks like a supernatural mystery flick. I can’t wait to see how they mess it up. Everything else – new details about Loki season 2, Daredevil: Born Again, The Marvels, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantamania, Captain America: New World Order, Echo and Ironheart – were exclusive D23, and since I couldn’t afford the two one-day passes for $198, or the $454 round trip tickets to Santa Ana, or a rental car to Anaheim, I couldn’t make it.
Overall, I think it’s safe to say that, when it comes to newly revealed movies and shows, this year’s D23 was disappointing to say the least and soul-sucking to say the most. Watching Disney become a massive corporate overlord is terrible. It’s at the point where people who used to stand by Disney at their most money-hungry have started to change their tune. Let me give you an example: My mother, the biggest “Disney Adult” ever, threatened to – and I quote – “throat punch Disney” over a fake Facebook post about a Disney remake of The Neverending Story from 1984. To her it was real, and it might as well have been. What’s worse is that if Disney were to remake The Neverending Story, it would not only probably make boatloads of money, but also make even more money than the original, just like most of Disney’s remakes. This would all be fine if the rest of their studios would pick up the slack, but everything being put out by Marvel, Lucasfilms and 20th Century Studios is being rushed so much that quantity becomes the number one priority, which results in every movie and show they make tanking in quality. The Walt Disney Company has sacrificed originality and quality to the altar of the almighty dollar, and sadly it’s a move that’s still working for the house of mouse, and a move that I don’t see them switching anytime soon.
I’m not mad at you Disney, I’m just disappointed.