I’m not at D23 this weekend, and I’ll reserve any of the “on the scene” impressions for Beat contributors Alex Jones and Victor Van Scoit, who are both there in person.
But that doesn’t mean I won’t report on the biggest announcements that are worthy of attention and discussion, and when it comes to Disney properties, it doesn’t get much bigger right now than Marvel Studios and Star Wars.
For the former, here are few of the items of note:
– Marvel Studios gave a presentation on Doctor Strange, with star Benedict Cumberbatch making an appearance via video, in which he described with the film with his classic acerbic wit: “You’re going to get girls, cars, explosions, astral projections in multiple universes. The usual fare”. Kevin Feige, who was there in person, stated that Doctor Strange would be unlike any other Marvel movie, and those in attendance described some of the concept art that was on display as “Inception-like” with Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange staring into other galaxies and with cars and buildings being turned on their heads. Sadly, no photography was allowed during this presentation. Feige also confirmed that Tilda Swinton has been cast as The Ancient One.
– Additionally, Feige was joined by Anthony Mackie and Chris Evans for a Captain America: Civil War presentation and premiered new footage that was, sadly, lacking in Spider-Man but did feature Paul Rudd‘s Ant-Man. Apparently Lang is so excited to join up with this crew of Avengers that he can’t help himself but intone “Thanks for thinking of me! Thanks for thinking of me!”
On the Star Wars front came lots of bigger news:
– Jurassic World‘s Colin Trevorrow will be directing the untitled Episode IX, following on the heels of JJ Abrams on The Force Awakens and Rian Johnson on Episode VIII. Here’s a quote from Trevorrow on the task ahead of him:
This is not a job or an assignment. It is a seat at a campfire, surrounded by an extraordinary group of storytellers, filmmakers, artists and craftspeople. We’ve been charged with telling new stories for a younger generation because they deserve what we all had—a mythology to call their own. We will do this by channeling something George Lucas instilled in all of us: boundless creativity, pure invention and hope.
I, like Hannah Lodge in her review, wasn’t impressed with Jurassic World, nor Trevorrow’s indie-debut Safety Not Guaranteed. But perhaps with Rian Johnson (who is contributing to the script), and the LucasFilm team behind him, a solid product is ensured.
– Gareth Edwards‘ Rogue One also got a highlight during the festivities, as Disney released the full cast, a synopsis for the film and its official title: Rogue One – A Star Wars Story. The following picture of the cast was also released with the below press:
Lucasfilm announced today that their first film in the new standalone Star Wars stories series, “Rogue One,” has begun principal photography. Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla,” “Monsters”) is directing “Rogue One,” which tells the story of resistance fighters who have united to steal plans to the dreaded Death Star. The film is produced by Kathleen Kennedy and is slated for a December 16, 2016 release.
The filmmakers have assembled a stellar cast, including Felicity Jones, nominated for an Academy Award® for her leading role in “The Theory of Everything”; Diego Luna, who was featured in 2008’s Oscar®-winning “Milk” and the critically acclaimed “Killing Them Softly”; Ben Mendelsohn, recently nominated for an Emmy® for his leading role in “Bloodline” and co-starring in the upcoming “Mississippi Grind”; Donnie Yen, Hong Kong action star and martial artist who starred in “Ip Man” and “Blade II”; Jiang Wen, who co-wrote, produced , directed and starred in the award-winning “Let the Bullets Fly” and “Devils on the Doorstep”; Forest Whitaker, recently featured in the critically-acclaimed Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” and winner of an Academy Award® for his leading role in 2006’s “The Last King of Scotland; Mads Mikkelsen, who starred in “The Hunt” and was the memorable villain from 2006’s “Casino Royale”; Alan Tudyk, who plays a performance-capture character in “Rogue One,” stars in the soon-to-be-released “Con Man” series and “Trumbo,” which releases this November; and Riz Ahmed, who was recently featured in “Nightcrawler” and starred in the BAFTA-winning film “Four Lions.”
“‘Rogue One’ takes place before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and will be a departure from the saga films but have elements that are familiar to the Star Wars universe,” says Kathleen Kennedy. “It goes into new territory, exploring the galactic struggle from a ground-war perspective while maintaining that essential Star Wars feel that fans have come to know. Gareth is such an innovative director and I’m so excited to be working with him and the extraordinary ensemble cast he’s selected for ‘Rogue One.’”
That cast is pretty great (and incredibly diverse), but perhaps the addition I’m most excited for is Greig Fraser coming on board as the film’s cinematographer. His work on Zero Dark Thirty was exemplary and may give way to the best looking Star Wars film yet.
– Lastly, here’s a look at Drew Struzan‘s poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which will adorn theaters across the country. Struzan’s resume, which includes posters for Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future, and the Star Wars franchise, speaks for itself. This may be the piece of news that made my ears perk up the most. Here’s a look at the new one-sheet via Collider: