By now, everyone reading this must have heard of the Disney 2020 Investor Day announcements on Decelber 10, which left us geeks and nerds salivating and tickled pink with excitement over what Disney has planned with our favorite IPs in their Disney+ streaming platform and theatrically. That last point alone is enough to hearten us since Disney more or less declared that the theatrical viewing experience will not die out. The best example of their commitment came when presenter and Marvel Studios head, Kevin Fiege, affirmed that the long-delayed Black Widow film will debut in theaters next May. This squashed any rumors that the film would premiere first on Disney+ and marks a return of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Kevin Feige gave perhaps the most anticipated presentation since we’ve all been suffering from MCU withdrawal this year. Fortunately the wait will soon end as WandaVision will finally stream next month on Disney+ and the new trailer shown on Disney 2020 Investor Day was just as bizarre and trippy as the previous trailers. WandaVision looks like it will be a pivotal anchor in the MCU going forward and is rumored to be the first of a multiverse-connecting trilogy that will be further explored in the next Spider-Man film before concluding with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It was confirmed that the Doctor Strange sequel will feature America Chavez.
By the way, very little information was given about the new Spider-Man, probably because it’s a Sony film, but the non-stop reports about cast members from all the previous Spider-Man films coming back just leaves us very ecstatic.
Other highlights from Feige’s presentation were the news that the She-Hulk TV show will star Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany, have appearances by Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, and Tim Roth will return as the Abomination; two mini-series about the Secret Invasion and Armor Wars comic book events will stream on Disney+; the third Ant-Man film (Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania) will feature Kang the Conqueror as the villain; Christian Bale will play Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and Thunder; and from the footage shown the best were the previews of the new Loki series which will deal with the Time Variance Authority, the animated What If…, and the tantalizing behind-the-scenes footage of Ms. Marvel, who will also appear in Captain Marvel 2. Perhaps the most exciting news was the confirmation that Marvel Studios will produce a proper Fantastic Four film to be directed by Jon Watts, who directed the MCU Spider-Man films. Finally, a chance to do the Fab Four correct! Hopefully Spidey can make an appearance in that film!
Aside from Black Widow it is at this point too early to go into the release dates announced by Feige because we all know the schedule can change. But it is exciting and comforting to know that Marvel Studios is plowing full-steam ahead with their productions and 2021 will mark the Great MCU Comeback.
The Expanding Star Wars Universe
The other big presentation of the Disney 2020 Investor Day came from Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy, who touted Lucasfilm’s ambitious plans in the coming years.
Only two Star Wars films were confirmed during the presentation: Star Wars: Rogue Squadron to be directed by Patti Jenkins, and an unnamed film directed by Taika Waititi. It is interesting to note that the announcement about the films is open to speculation. Are these standalone films? Is Lucasfilm taking a break from doing Saga films? This is an odd reminder of the lack of goodwill expressed towards recent Star Wars films and Lucasfilm’s determination to scale back on them. However, given the current circumstances going on right now, a good old Star Wars film in theaters would be a comfort for fans. Hopefully, the two announced films will do well enough to encourage Lucasfilm to greenlight more Star Wars films.
Kennedy also announced that the fifth Indiana Jones film, directed by James Mangold and starring Harrison Ford, will begin shooting next year and premiere in theaters.
The bulk of Lucasfilm’s announcements dealt with the plethora of Star Wars TV shows coming to Disney+ in the coming years, as well as a TV series sequel to Willow. Another odd thing with the presentation was that a sizzle reel of the current season of The Mandalorian was shown, which was strange because the second season is almost over already. Anyway, the announced Disney+ shows are very exciting as they take place in several eras and are both live action and animated.
The highlights of Kathleen Kennedy’s announcements were Hayden Christensen returning as Darth Vader in Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi; a live-action Ahsoka Tano series starring Rosario Dawson; The Acolyte a mystery thriller centered on the Sith during the High Republic era; The Bad Batch, a spin-off of Star Wars: The Clone Wars about the misfit clone troopers featured in that show’s final season; and two shows about Cassian Andor and Lando Calrissian, though it was not clear who would play everyone’s favorite smooth talker: Billy Dee Williams or Donald Glover.
The announcements about the Star Wars property confirm that Lucasfilm is committed to expanding the beloved Star Wars Universe and will take advantage of the rich worlds and characters from the classic space fantasy.
Disney+ and More
Being this was the Disney 2020 Investor Day, the presentations would be about all things having to do with Disney. Love them or hate them, the entertainment company will unload a huge heap of shows and films to keep us busy for the next few years. The products will premiere primarily on Disney+ (the focus of the company at this point), although there will be theatrical releases and TV shows debuting on other networks.
Among the many shows announced on the Disney 2020 Investor Day, the most interesting is one about the Alien franchise, which will air on FX. The same channel will finally air the live-action adaptation of Y, the Last Man, though it would seem an unusual fit given that the show is based on a DC/Vertigo comic book. A trailer for the fourth season of the dystopian saga, The Handmaid’s Tale, on Hulu was shown and it looks as intense as previous seasons.
There were many Disney and Pixar animated films and TV shows announced for Disney+, including Baymax!, Tiana, Zootopia+, and Moana. The announced films include Encanto and Raya and the Last Dragon (which will follow the rip-off Mulan route and be premium content on Disney+, in other words, pay more money to view, but it will be released theatrically). Pixar will have a few films released in theaters including the most tantatlizing announcement: Lightyear. Sort of a spinoff of Toy Story, but instead of being about a toy, Lightyear will be an actual pulpy, sci-fi film and Chris Evans will voice the heroic Space Ranger.
It is clear from the presentations that the Streaming Wars are in full effect since all the promised upcoming content will finally make the Disney+ service worth subscribing to. More importantly, unlike Warner Bros., which will release all of its films on HBO Max next year, Disney is showing a commitment to keeping the theatrical experience alive since, starting with Black Widow, all of the MCU films will come out first in theaters and the company will release other films theatrically before they wind up on the streaming service. That is perhaps the best news we have received!