Disney's D23 Expo keeps fans on their toes with exciting announcements

Olivia Colman joins Marvel, Harrison Ford gets a standing ovation and viewers see snippets of 'Avatar 2'

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It's been a busy weekend in Anaheim, California, where Disney hosted its biennial D23 Expo.

Thousands of fans from around the world flocked to the entertainment company's biggest party, to see their favourite characters brought to life and watch the first images of long-awaited movies and series.

This included previews of two new animated features and an announcement that Disney's centennial next year will include a sequel to Pixar hit Inside Out, plus the release of the first official trailer for its long-awaited live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.

These are some of the other big announcements that had fans talking.

'Thunderbolts' casting

The antiheroes stepped into the spotlight on Saturday, as Marvel Entertainment announced casting for Thunderbolts.

Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige announced that Florence Pugh, Sebastian Stan, David Harbour and Julia Louis Dreyfus will join the cast of the new film, whose team of villains is akin to DC Comics' Suicide Squad. The movie is scheduled to be released in July 2024.

Thunderbolts is one of some 20 forthcoming Star Wars and Marvel films and series that Disney showcased in a three-hour presentation, which leaned heavily on celebrities, screenings and even a Broadway-style musical performance of Rogers: The Musical, in which Captain America and the other Avengers characters assembled on stage.

Olivia Colman joins Marvel

British acting royalty Olivia Colman is set to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was confirmed.

The Oscar-winning actress will appear alongside Don Cheadle and Samuel L Jackson in upcoming series Secret Invasion, due for release next year.

British actress Olivia Colman will join the Marvel Cinematic Universe for 'Secret Invasion'. EPA

The series sees Jackson once again reprise his character of Avengers boss Nick Fury as he deals with a faction of shapeshifting Skrulls, who have been infiltrating Earth for years.

"This is my war, alone," Jackson is heard to say, in a short trailer released at the Disney D23 Expo on Saturday.

"I'm the last person standing between them and what they really want."

"You're in no shape for this fight that lies before us," Colman tells him.

The trailer also featured appearances from Ben Mendelsohn as the Skrull Talos, Don Cheadle as James "Rhodey" Rhodes and Martin Freeman.

Secret Invasion will begin streaming in 2023.

'Avatar: The Way of the Water' teasers

James Cameron appeared via video from New Zealand to introduce several scenes from Avatar: The Way of Water, the long-awaited sequel to the one of the highest grossing films of all time, Avatar. The director talked about the "pretty hectic" production cycle of working on the second, third and forth instalments of the science-fiction series over a five-year span.

"I know everyone's been waiting a long time," Cameron said. "Hopefully, we'll show something today and you can decide if it's been worth it."

The film will reach UAE theatres in December.

'Black Panther' exclusive look

Disney also offered an "exclusive look" at footage from the Black Panther sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which reaches US theatres on November 11. One of the movie's stars, Angela Bassett, paid homage to the late Chadwick Boseman, who received wide acclaim for his portrayal of the title character, T'Challa.

Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa in Marvel's 'Black Panther'. Photo: IMDb

It has not been clear how the film would deal with the death of the title star of the first film, after Boseman died of colon cancer in 2020.

But the footage acknowledged that his character T’Challa had died, and suggests that his sister Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, might be the next Black Panther.

'Indiana Jones 5' standing ovation

Harrison Ford received a rousing reception from the audience for reprising his role of the adventurous archeologist Indiana Jones. The actor appeared emotional as he took the stage, saying: "I'm proud to say that this one is fantastic, and this is one of the reasons," gesturing to co-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

"Keeping up with this guy is exhausting," replied the British actress.

Indiana Jones 5, due out in June, may well mark Ford's final appearance in the franchise. It also stars Mads Mikkelsen, Toby Jones and Antonio Banderas, and is the first in the franchise not directed by Steven Spielberg.

"This is it," Ford said. "I will not fall down for you again."

'The Mandalorian' and 'Andor' trailers

Pedro Pascal and the cast of The Mandalorian unveiled a trailer and new details for the series’ third season. Diego Luna did the same for the forthcoming series Andor as Lucasfilm and the Star Wars galaxy deepens its television presence with no big screen productions in sight.

“You are a Mandalorian no more,” Pascal’s title character is told in the trailer for the new season, a penalty for his having removed his helmet and showing his face.

The trailer shows the Mandalorian and his baby Yoda sidekick Grogu zipping through space, and suggests an increased role for Battlestar Galactica star Katee Sackhoff and her character Bo-Katan Kryze, who first appeared in season two.

Carl Weathers and Giancarlo Esposito will both reprise their roles, and Back to the Future star Christopher Lloyd is joining the cast. The show is set to premiere in February.

— Additional reporting from Reuters, PA, AP and AFP

Updated: September 11, 2022, 8:09 AM
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