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 EdwardsRogue 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:

Star Wars Rogue One


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:



  1. Hey all! Victor here. Finally have phone in hand to comment on the panel. Let’s start with Star Wars.

    “Wait! Why’s he starting with the big stuff?” Mainly because unless you’re into Disney Parks and Resorts, the only cool new stuff shown was the information regarding two immersive Star Wars worlds to be built at both Disneyland and Disney World. Besides the info Kyle wrote up top there wasn’t much more to lose your head about. Sure the cast came out, and it’s always a treat to see the man, the myth, the legend known as Harrison Ford. Basically if you’re only about Star Wars The Force Awakens and spent the night outside the Anaheim Convention Center in the hopes of seeing footage—you’d be disappointed. It’s tough to top what happened at SDCC.
    So what about Marvel? That’s the stuff. Doctor Strange hasn’t even started filming but they did show art department boards. That kind of downplays it. The visuals they showed really helped to establish the multi-dimensional world approach they’re going for. Even the art pieces showing Strange going on a quest for healing did a lot to make me visualize what the movie could look like. The angle they’re taking is definitely going to make magic and mysticism quite cool. That was especially evident in the final shot which was an animation of Stange releasing mystical energy. The motion reminded me of Ryu’s fireball motion from Street Fighter. I think it took someone like me who has been so-so on a Doctor Strange movie, to “Hey, that looks like it could be pretty cool. Maybe I should pick up some essential issues.”

    The main footage was Captain America: Civil War and man was there a lot to enjoy. It Vegas with Cap, Falcon, and Widow out in the field on an op. Falcon gets a pet falcon in Red Falcon, if you will, as a drone that launches from his wings. Red Falcon serves as a scout providing intel to Falcon and the rest. Then cue the action where Cap faces off against Crossbones while Falcon and Widow show of some sweet choreography in taking down the bad dudes. From there Cap gets word on The Winter Soldier and scenes of Bucky remembering Steve Rogers and their friendship. Throughout this you gets cuts to War Machine, Vision, Scarlet Witch, and Iron Man as dialogue hinted at Captain America being a vigilante and how people with powers needed to be held responsible. This will likely be kicked off by some death as there was a shot of Cap being a pallbearer at a funeral. The final shots basically had Iron Man, Hawkeye, and a few others lined up across from Cap, Winter Soldier, Widow and Falcon (?). A heck of a who will flinch first scenario broken by “What do we do?” followed by Cap’s “We fight”. Then all running at each other with some quick action and having it end with Hawkeye and Widow in the throes of the fight:
    BW “We’re still friends right?”
    HE, “Depends on how hard you hit me”
    One. More, Thing. Scott Lang waking up from a seat in a van as the door opens. And being an all out fan over Cap to the point of squeezing his muscles and being, well, Paul Rudd. “Thinks for thanking of me. Thanks for thinking of me.”

    I’m sure some more moments will come back to me, but it was easy to see why Chris Evans was really excited to show the footage. I was excited because even though there were plenty of characters a la Avengers Age of Ultron, it didn’t feel as grand. So hopefully the Captain America movies will continue to be some of the more interesting movies in the Marvel slate

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