There are few companies out there that can get us excited, emotional and nostalgic at the same time and few are as good at it as the House of Mouse (and all things Marvel and Star Wars and basically my whole childhood). Fortress of Solitude once again had the privilege to attend the annual Disney 2017 Showcase in Sandton, South Africa.
With Mickey’s 90’th anniversary around the corner, a lot of what was shown at the Disney showcase that had me thinking back to my youth. From the clearly 80’s inspired brightly neon Thor: Ragnarok trailer to the new Mary Poppins film, each new announcement and trailer opened a new world of wonder. Although many of what was shown have been in the public domain for some time, it’s great to be reminded of what Disney has in store for us in 2017/2018. Here are some of the highlights.
Coco – Welcome to the land of the dead
One of the first trailers we were shown was for the upcoming Pixar film, Coco, which is being directed and produced by the team behind Pixar’s Toy Story 3. The film follows a young boy named Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) on his quest to become an accomplished musician. Just one tiny problem, his family has put a ban on music. Deciding to go looking for answers as to why his family had banned music, Miguel finds himself stuck in the land of the dead. He is forced to team up with the trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal) if he is to find his way back home.
It’s the classic fish out of water tale that we have seen so many times before set in a colourful world with unique characters. The film looks set to be a feast for the eyes as each frame of the trailer was splashed with vivid colours. This is especially surprising seeing as it is set in the land of the dead. Judging by the little we’ve seen, Pixar might have another hit on their hands.
It was also revealed that an old friend will be making an appearance alongside Coco. Just in time for the holidays, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, starring everybody’s favourite comedic lump of snow and ice, will open in front of the animated feature on the 24th of November 2017.
The featurette sees Olaf (voice of Josh Gad) on a quest to find the best holiday traditions and bring them back to Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) and Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel). The trailer was surprisingly funny and focused on how silly some of the more well-known holiday traditions tend to be. For example, in the words of Olaf, rearranging the corpse of a tree with decorations. With four new original songs that your kids are sure to be singing long after they’ve seen the featurette, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure promises to give us more laughs and heartfelt moments from the characters we love.
A Wrinkle in Time – A journey through space and time
Next up we were shown the trailer for A Wrinkle in Time, which is based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic that examines the nature of darkness versus light. Now, I personally don’t know much more about the novel or the film, but I was pleasantly surprised by the trailer. It had some really interesting visuals which immediately caught my attention. That, and the fact that the film sees Oprah Winfrey making her big screen return after quite a few years of being absent from film.
The story follows Meg Murry (Storm Reid), a typical middle school student leading a typical life. That is until the disappearance of her father, a world-renowned physicist, sees Meg joining forces with three celestial beings on a quest to save him. The film not only asks some fascinating questions but promises to take us on a weird and visually inspiring journey through space and time. While I did enjoy the trailer, I have to admit I still don’t have much of an idea of what exactly is going on in the A Wrinkle in Time, but what I do know is that I’m looking forward to seeing it.
Mary Poppins – Chim chimney chim chimney chim chim cher-ee!
Now, if you’re as old as me, you probably remember a certain English nanny who could make the foulest medicine go down with one spoon of sugar. That’s right Mary Poppins is back! The film is set 25 years after the 1964 film and sees the famous British nanny returning once again to help out Jane and Michael Banks, the children from the original Disney classic, who are now all grown up and have children of their own. Not only do the scenes we saw capture the tone of the original perfectly, seeing Emily Blunt donning the familiar garb and umbrella made me remember how much fun I had watching the original as a kid. With the talents of Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who plays none other than chimney sweep Jack, the film is set to capture the same awe and wonderment the original had.
Mary Poppins Returns will not only include an animated musical number reminiscent of the original’s but will also include a slew of newly composed songs and music. I’m excited to see such an iconic character returning to the big screen, it’s enough to make you want to sing ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’.
Thor: Ragnarok – Neon lights and synth music
We once again got to see the latest Thor: Ragnarok trailer in all its ’80s infused glory. I can’t help but smile each time I see more of this film. While the retro-inspired look and more colourful appearance of the film might not be to everyone’s liking, it definitely complements the over the top direction that the film is taking. I mean it has a giant green guy fighting the god of thunder. How more over the top can you get? While the trailer does have its more action-packed and serious moments (Cate Blanchet makes one scary Hella), it’s clear that the film is embracing its more humorous side. Combining a buddy movie with the classic “get a team together to defeat X”, Thor: Ragnarok looks like the Thor (and Hulk) film we’ve all been waiting for.
Black Panther – A true African hero
After the jarring visuals of Thor: Ragnarok, we were treated to a short featurette for the upcoming Black Panther film. Where Thor: Ragnarok feels more light hearted and over the top, the Black Panther films seem to be going for a more serious and subdued tone.
With T’Challa returning to Wakakanda as the country’s new king after his father’s death, he’ll be faced with all kinds of challenges as he tries to prove himself a worthy successor to the throne. Though less vibrant than Marvel’s other films, Black Panther is just as visually striking in the way the costumes and sets are designed. With Wakandan culture consisting of a combination of ancient traditions and advanced technology, the film could have a unique visual style that has been rarely explored on screen. The promise of a visually stunning film and an amazing cast of actors (Chadwick Boseman, Micheal B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis), Black Panther is set to be yet another marvellous hit for Marvel.
Avengers: Infinity War – It has finally begun
With filming for Avengers: Infinity War still in full swing, we were treated to a behind the scenes featurette for the film. While not much was revealed, we were shown just enough to get us excited for the film’s release. It’s hard to believe that this film has been 10 years in the making as all Marvel’s hard work will culminate in a battle between the meanest guy in the Marvel universe, Thanos, and the combined power of The Avengers, The Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange. No matter what your thoughts may be, there is no denying that Avengers: Infinity War will be an event to remember. Let’s hope Marvel can pull it off.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi – The Force is with this one
As with Avengers: Infinity War, we were only shown a short behind the scenes featurette for Star Wars Episode 8. We got to see strange new creatures including the adorable Porgs and a long neck cat bunny creature. It was truly encouraging seeing so many practical effects being used for The Last Jedi. The cast also explained that, although the film will keep true to the Star Wars lore, there will be some twists and turns that might surprise fans. Along with seeing some of the cast behind the scenes, we also saw some footage of the late Carrie Fisher, and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t fighting back a few tears at the end. It looks like Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in good hands and I can’t wait to see what the new film will bring to the franchise.
Disney TV Series – A Spider, Ducks and a Jedi
Along with the film releases, we were also shown what animated TV Series’ Disney has planned for the coming year.
The one that has me the most excited and yelling Woohoo was Disney’s new DuckTales series. Featuring some of the best voice talents out there including David Tennant, Beck Bennet, Bobby Moynihan and Kate Micucci, the new DuckTales series follows the exploits of Scrooge McDuck and his nephews (and some familiar faces) as they go on all sorts of wacky adventures. The series appears to capture the same tone as the original, albeit with a new revamped art style which I actually prefer to the original (blasphemy, I know). I just couldn’t help but quietly sing along to the theme song as it played at the end of the trailer, even if the person next to me thought I was mad. I dare you to watch the below intro and not sing along. It’s impossible I tell you.
Another old favourite making a return is everybody’s friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. The latest Spider-Man series sees Peter Parker having to deal with his newly acquired powers and everyday life as a teen. It’s a back-to-basics approach to a superhero many hold dear to their hearts. And while the plot might have been done many times before, I hope that the new approach gives us more insight into what it means to be Spider-Man and to have such a responsibility thrust upon you at such a young age.
Lastly, Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures will be returning once again which is great news as one can never have too much Star Wars.
These are just a few of the things to expect from Disney in the coming year. It’s great to see a company that has been there for most of our childhoods still take pride in their properties by handling them with all the care and attention they deserve. Disney has once again shown why they are the custodians to our childhoods and why they have captured the hearts of so many out there.