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D23 Expo: Studio Showcase Recap – Indiana Jones 5, Marvel Studios, Avatar: The Way of Water

September 17, 2022 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
D23 Expo 2022 - THE MANDALORIAN, Season 3 Image Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

D23 Expo 2022 continued on Saturday with its second major Studio Showcase. Day 1 featured the Walt Disney Studios and Pixar showcase, while Day 2 featured Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, and a little bit of 20th Century Studios, specifically James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water. It was another jam-packed showcase, with a lot to go over, so let’s get to it!

D23 Expo 2022 Studio Showcase: Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, and 20th Century Studios


After opening remarks by Walt Disney Studio Chairman Alan Bergman, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy came out to oversee the Lucasfilm portion of the Saturday studio showcase. Andor was the first show to be featured, with Kennedy running down the show taking place five years before the events of Rogue One and the backstory of Cassian Andor.

Cast members Diego Luna (Cassian Andor), Adria Arjona (Bix Caleen), Kyle Soller (Syril Karn), and Denise Gough (Dedra Meero) were all in attendance to briefly run down their characters in the series. The latest trailer debuted.

Thus far, I think Andor looks promising. It looks pretty dark and intense, and the production values look even higher, with a much wider scope than even the Obi-Wan Kenobi miniseries. I’m interested in that the series will be 24 episodes. They’ll essentially be broken up into two seasons. That’s way more ambitious than anything else Disney and Lucasfilm have attempted before with a live-action Star Wars show, so we’ll see if it pays off.

Andor arrives on September 21 on Disney+, with a three-episode premiere. Here’s the latest trailer:

Next up is the upcoming live-action sequel TV follow-up to Willow, with most of the central cast on hand for the stage presentation. The big surprise of the expo was that Christian Slater has joined the cast. While Joanne Whalley is back, reprising her role of Sorsha from the first film, Val Kilmer is not returning as Madmartigan. However, Warwick Davis revealed that Christian Slater’s character is an old friend of Madmartigan.

The showcase didn’t outright reveal who Slater was playing, but Slater called him a “fun” character without elaborating too much. It sounds like Slater will play the project’s stand-in for Madmartigan, a character with a similar outlook and attitude to fill that void. Sadly, Madmartigan won’t be part of the story, but it’s understandable why Kilmer was not able to come back and work on the series.

The original Willow was never a deep favorite of mine, but it’s a decent fantasy film that has held up very well over the years. The new trailer that was shown actually looks like fun, and I will definitely give the show a look. It’s certainly lighter fare than say Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon, but this style of fantasy can also be quite fun. I’m happy to see Warwick Davis back in the role of Willow, and even Kevin Pollak is back as well.

Willow debuts on Disney+ on November 30. Here’s the trailer that was revealed at D23 Expo:

It’s always nice to see Dave Filoni, who took the stage alongside Kathleen Kennedy, talk about his upcoming work on Star Wars. First up, the new season of The Bad Batch and the new shorts series, Tales of the Jedi. The Bad Batch will return with a 16-episode Season 2 in on January 4, 2023. Meanwhile, all six animated Tales of the Jedi shorts will launch on Disney+ on October 26.

The trailer for Tales of the Jedi that was also shown at Celebration I believe was played again here. Tales of the Jedi looks like it will be fun since it will offer some expanded backstories not only for Ahsoka Tano but also for Qui-Gon Jinn and Count Dooku, with Liam Neeson once again reprising his role as Qui-Gon. Celebration played the first short about baby Ahsoka from this series, and it was very well done. It had this very ethereal, almost poetic feeling; almost like the Star Wars version of a folktale.


A scene from “STAR WARS: TALES OF THE JEDI”, season 1 exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

The Bad Batch isn’t my favorite series, but I look forward to seeing where Clone Force 99 fits into a post-Empire Galaxy as the Empire’s grip widens. Here is the Tales of the Jedi trailer that’s now available for everyone to enjoy:

Filoni transitioned from there to the live-action Ahsoka series. It feels appropriate that Filoni is helming this series having created Ahsoka and crafting her story since the debut of Star Wars: The Clone Wars in 2008. Fellow executive producer Jon Favreau also came out to discuss the new series, which will see Ahsoka investigating an emerging threat faced by a vulnerable galaxy.

Some first-look images from the series were shown, but no footage just yet. Ahsoka, starring Rosario Dawson in the titular role, debuts on Disney+ later in 2023.

Jon Favreau spoke about his work on the Spider-Man: Homecoming trilogy with filmmaker Jon Watts, and how they had conversations about him coming over to Lucasfilm to possibly direct a future Star Wars TV episode. However, Jon Watts already had his own concept and idea in mind for the Star Wars universe, which became the new upcoming live-action series, Star Wars: Skeleton Crew.

Show co-creators Jon Watts and Christopher Ford appeared live to talk about the series, which follows four kids who are lost in the galaxy and are searching for a way home. Series star Jude Law also appeared onstaged to promote the series. The big screen showed a still of Law’s character in costume, but they didn’t elaborate on who he is or his role in the story, beyond the premise.

The upcoming series doesn’t have a release timeframe yet, but it will also stream on Disney+. Favreau, Filoni, Ford, Kennedy, Watts, and Michelle Rejwan are executive producing the project.

Next up, Lucasfilm showcased The Mandalorian as it heads into its third season. Cast members Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian/Din Djarin), Giancarlo Esposito (Moff Gideon), Katee Sackhoff (Bo-Katan Kryze), Emily Swallow (The Armorer), and Amy Sedaris (Peli Motto) were all in attendance to talk about the series and debut the new trailer. Swallow talked about drawing inspiration from her military father for the attitude and body language of The Armorer and exuding that quiet confidence by saying very little.

I’m very glad to see Katee Sackhoff is back for the third season, and it looks like Bo-Katan will have a much larger role this season. That appears to be a natural progression after where things were left at the end of Season 2. So, it looks like Moff Gideon will once again be back based on Esposito’s presence. He didn’t hint at what’s next for the character, but he gave a fun, rousing speech about the excitement of Moff Gideon being left in a place of vulnerability at the end of the last season.

D23 Expo THE MANDALORIAN, Season 3

(L-R): Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff), the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Favreau and Filoni also announced that filmmaker Rick Famuyiwa, who served as a director for Seasons 1 & 2 of the show, is moving up as an executive producer for Season 3 of the series. The new trailer and footage looks promising. I was ultimately disappointed by parts of The Book of Boba Fett because I believe it jumped the gun on story elements that should have been held back for the third season of Mando. But what’s done is done.

I’m glad Season 3 will be examining more about the different Mandalorian factions and tribes, and where Din Djarin fits in with him, now that his superior has kicked him out of the club so to speak for taking off his helmet. Even though all the other Mandalorians take their helmets off all the time. Also, Mando still has the Darksaber, something Bo-Katan badly wanted to regain possession of in the second season, which you have to gain in battle or trial by combat for some reason. Even though Sabine Wren literally handed the Darksaber over to Bo-Katan to thunderous applause the approval of all the other Mandalorians who bore witness to the act. Their rules seem amorphous and ever-changeable.

The Mandalorian does not have a release date yet, but it’s due out on Disney+ later in 2023. Here’s the official trailer:

Last but not least, the only theatrical feature for the Lucasfilm portion of the studio showcase was the fifth Indiana Jones, which either appears to be untitled or will be simply called Indana Jones, which I’d also be okay with, especially if this is Harrison Ford’s last adventure, which it appears to be.

Stars Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge were on hand for the presentation, along with director James Mangold. It was quite an experience to watch Ford, visibly emotional and nearly shaken up onstage. He looks genuinely happy and excited about this movie. You can tell he loves this character and it means a lot to him.

Ford stated about the film “Thank you for making these films such an incredible experience for all of us. I’m very proud to say that this one is fantastic, and [Waller-Bridge] is one of the reasons.” He also at one point joked, “I will not fall down for you again!”

A sizzle reel of footage was shown for the new sequel, and we finally got our first real look at the movie. I’m very happy to see that John Rhys-Davies is back as Sallah, and it was very endearing to hear his voice-over narration in the sizzle reel before it revealed him. The sizzle reel was a lot of action beats and clips, and it looks like Ford is still bringing his A-game despite turning 80 years old last July.

Now ideally, I would not have waited as long as it took to make Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or even this film. At the very least, I think James Mangold is a talented director, and I think he appears to be the right man for the job in this case. Hopefully, this film will serve as a strong sendoff for the franchise and character. Also, John Williams is once again returning to compose the score for the film.

Indiana Jones hits theaters on June 30, 2023.

Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige opened things up by noting how he was always jealous that D23 Expo would always put on big musical numbers for the panels, but Marvel never got to have one. Well, that was rectified with a live performance of “I Could Do This All Day” from the fictional Rogers: The Musical from Marvel’s Hawkeye TV series. Disney put on the entire musical act, complete with 22 performers, along with a live rhythm section composed by Marc Shaiman, who also wrote the song for the TV series.

Feige introduced Ryan Coogler, director of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. A new scene and footage were shown from the film for the D23 Expo. The scene featured Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) going before a diplomatic hearing with politicians asking about Wakanda refusing to share vibranium technology. The opposition appears to be headed up by actor Richard Schiff, who joins the cast for the sequel.

The hearing is intercut with a sequence of black ops soldiers infiltrating a Wakandan vibranium lab. However, the operation appears to be a trap to ambush the soldiers attempting to steal the vibranium tech, and the Dora Milaje stop them. The hearing is then interrupted by the Dora Milaje bringing forth the captured special forces soldiers. Queen Ramonda confirms that King T’Challa is dead and that Wakanda has lost its protector. Their refusal to share vibranium is not due to its dangerous potential, but due to the dangerous potential of other nations. Ramonda has essentially drawn a line in the sand here, and she’s also clearly in pain after the loss of her son.

A sizzle reel was also shown that was like an expanded version of the trailer released during Comic-Con. Unless I’m mistaken, I believe I heard Namor saying in the trailer that Wakanda “exposed” their part of the world, so this possibly explains why Atlantis is targeting Wakanda in the film. But not all of that is clear as of yet.

The first major TV show reveal for Marvel Studios at the 2022 D23 Expo was Ironheart. Anthony Ramos was live in attendance to talk about his character in the series, The Hood aka Parker Robbins. Feige said the premise of this show will be a technological futurist and scientist, such as Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), facing The Hood’s dark magic. The upcoming series is set after the events of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which will introduce Williams to the MCU.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on November 11. Ironheart debuts on Disney+ in 2023.

Phase 5 of the MCU will kick off in February with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-Man), Evangeline Lilly (Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp), and Jonathan Majors (Kang) were all on hand live to talk about the film. Everyone had a good joke about Paul Rudd being named Sexiest Man Alive by People, with Rudd expressing how it’s so wrong. A new sizzle reel was shown. This was like a slightly expanded version of the footage that was shown at Comic-Con with some additional shots and snippets of dialogue.

There was a bit more of the meeting between Kang and Scott Lang. Kang claims that something was stolen from him, and Scott is the person best equipped to steal it back, while he has both Scott and Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton) held prisoner. It appears Scott, Hank Pym, Janet Van Dyne, Hope, and Cassie are all sucked into the Quantum Realm, where they encounter Kang along with strange new creatures, one of which appears to be the MCU debut of MODOK.

I imagine this film will offer a better view of what’s happening in the next two phases in the MCU, setting up a major showdown with Kang. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania hits theaters on February 17, 2023.

Michael Giacchino, best known for his work as a film composer for films such as Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Batman, and The Incredibles, took the stage because he’s the director of Marvel Studios’ first-ever “special presentation, Werewolf By Night. Giacchino is getting an opportunity to direct a live-action Marvel project having studied to become a director in film school, but he went down a different path after music took over much of his life and he became a prominent film composer. His story sounded interesting at least.

The new Halloween special stars Gael García Bernal and Laura Donnelly, who were also in attendance to talk about the series. The first trailer was shown. I’m not quite sure what to make of this yet. The trailer reminded me of those trailer interludes from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse. So, it looks like a grimy, black-and-white horror exploitation film. I’ll be curious to see how this turns, and I will give it a look at least.

Werewolf By Night debuts on Disney+ on October 7. Here’s the official trailer:

Next up for Marvel Studios was an expanded look at Secret Invasion. Don Cheadle is back as James Rhodes/War Machine for the series, and he was in attendance to talk about the show, which also stars Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, Ben Mendelsohn as the Skrull Talos, and also Olivia Colman, Emilia Clarke, and Kingsley Ben-Adir.

First up, a new scene was shown with Fury visiting Rhodes in a restaurant. Fury informs Rhodes about the invasion of Earth by a faction of Skrulls, which has been going on for years. Fury also suggests that Rhodes’ security detail may also be Skrulls.

Thus far, Secret Invasion is looking fairly dark, serious, and intense. It looks like a dark, political spy thriller that simply has a sci-fi alien invasion as the hidden conspiracy. That will likely make the show a nice change of pace from some of the more recent Marvel Studios TV shows.

D23 Expo - SECRET INVASION still

Don Cheadle as James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes in Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

It was also revealed that Secret Invasion will lead right into another upcoming Marvel Studios TV project, Armor Wars, which will once again star Cheadle. In the new series, Tony Stark’s armor designs will be leaked out into the open, and it looks like Rhodes will be trying to protect his late friend’s legacy and keeping the armors out of the wrong hands.

Armor Wars has not begun filming yet, but it’s in the works for Disney+. Secret Invasion lands on Disney+ next year. Here’s the official trailer release:

Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino were both in attendance to talk about Loki Season 2 and introduce some new footage. Ke Huy Quan (Temple of Doom, Everything Everywhere All at Once), who joins the cast for Season 2, and Owen Wilson were also in attendance.

Season 2 of Loki picks up right from where the last season ended. So it looks like Loki is stuck in another dimension with a different version of Time Variance Authority, and it appears Kang is in control. I imagine this season will help set the table for the upcoming war with Kang. It was said during the Loki presentation that “a war is coming.” The new season debuts on Disney+ next year.

The D23 Expo Marvel Studios showcase transitioned to Echo, with cast members Alaqua Cox (Maya Lopez/Echo), Vincent D’Onofrio (Wilson Fisk/Kingpin), Devery Jacobs, Graham Greene, Cody Lightning, and Chaske Spencer in attendance to talk about the series. We got a little snippet of Wilson Fisk in the trailer, so there’s an idea of what happened to him after where things were left in Hawkeye.

In the new series, Maya Lopez returns to her hometown, where her ruthless actions in New York City have caught up with her. The show is currently in the works for Disney+.

After the Echo presentation, D’Onofrio remained onstage to chat with Kevin Feige about Daredevil: Born Again. Charlie Cox, who once again dons the mask as Matt Murdock aka Daredevil, was also in attendance to talk about the series. Shooting has not yet begun for the series, but Cox did introduce a new clip featuring his return as Daredevil for She-Hulk: Attorney, which will air later this season.

The new clip featured Daredevil, in his updated costume, scouting a hideout location on a roof with Jennifer Walters, who isn’t in her She-Hulk form. They exchange some banter about Daredevil’s powers, with Daredevil explaining the difference between goons and henchmen. Jennifer doesn’t believe Daredevil can actually hear their heartbeats. He then notes he can hear Jen’s heartbeat, which is speeding up. There was a bit of an awkward pause, somewhat suggesting that Jen thinks he’s hot.

The clip ends with Jen watching jumping off the roof remarking that was pretty cool. Jennifer seemed fully aware of Matt’s identity in this clip, so I get the impression they knew each other before becoming superheroes. Daredevil: Born Again will receive an 18-episode season on Disney+ later in 2024.

The big announcement during the Captain America: The New World Order segment was that Tim Blake Nelson is finally returning as Dr. Samuel Sterns, and he finally becomes The Leader in the MCU. This is excellent news. Tim Blake Nelson is a great actor, and I was always somewhat underwhelmed we never got to see him become The Leader after The Incredible Hulk, which came out over 14 years ago. It finally pays off now. That said, I was a bit surprised that The Leader appears to be the villain here and not Red Skull, but we’ll see how that all plays out.

Either way, I’m glad that we are finally getting The Leader in the MCU, and I hope it’s not watered down or some kind of McGuffin. Captain America: The New World Order arrives on May 3, 2024.

The Thunderbolts segment of the showcase introduced the full lineup for the upcoming 2024 film, which will be directed by Jake Schreier. Cast members Sebastian Stan (Bucky/The Winter Soldier), David Harbour (Red Guardian), Hannah John-Kamen (Ghost), Wyatt Russell (John Walker/US Agent), and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine) were all on hand to briefly chat about the film. Florence Pugh is also back as Yelena Belova for the film. She delivered a recorded video message for the presentation.

The lineup for The Thunderbolts is certainly intriguing. I was quite surprised by the absence of Daniel Brühl (aka Helmut Zemo) for the panel. I got to believe that Zemo will figure in somewhere for this story. I was kind of hoping he would use his false Citizen V identity as a way to infiltrate the superhero community for his plans. Bucky’s presence gives me the impression that he’s going to play a similar role as Hawkeye did for the team in the comics. Obviously, something is shady about Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, and she can’t be trusted. Thunderbolts will arrive in theaters on July 26, 2024.

The D23 Expo Marvel Studios showcase was capped with a first look at The Marvels, with director Nia DaCosta and stars Iman Vellani (Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel), Teyonah Parris (Monica Rambeau), and Brie Larson (Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel) all in attendance. A sizzle reel from the film was shown, and it looks like it will be picking up right off from that cliffhanger ending of Ms. Marvel, so we see exactly where Kamala went.

It’s not completely clear, but it appears that Monica, Kamala, and Carol can all be zapped across the universe, trading spaces at some inopportune times. I’m glad that Kamala will finally get to meet her superhero idol and namesake. The sizzle reel was set to Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” and it got me jazzed to see the film. It opens in theaters on July 28, 2023.

20th Century Studios

So the 20th Century Studios portion of this panel was relatively short because there was only a single film showcased, but it’s a big one at least: James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water. James Cameron appeared during the panel virtually from New Zealand to talk about the sequel, while producer Jon Landau, Sam Worthington (Jake Sully), Zoe Saldana (Neytiri), Sigourney Weaver (Kiri), and Stephen Lang (Colonel Miles Quaritch) were there live to talk about returning to the franchise. Lang was surprised that Quaritch is back, but said that he “regrouped in Hell.”

Everyone in attendance was given 3D glasses to check out select films in the scene. A significant amount of footage was shown. There was an idyllic scene of Jake and Sully’s kids swimming around in a very peaceful body of water teaming with life. In another scene, the children are goofing off in a lab while it appears that Neytiri is recovering in a tube. Jake Sully’s adopted son, Spider, appears to be brooding about his biological parentage. I almost got the impression that Spider is actually Quaritch’s son.

Another scene showed Miles Quaritch, who now appears to be back with a Na’vi body. He appears to try and take some of the kids as hostages, but they manage to escape with help from one of Neytiri’s arrows, which Quaritch recognizes. The scene then transitions to Jake and Neytiri arguing. Jake believes Quaritch is hunting their family for revenge, so he wants them to leave their home and find refuge elsewhere. Neytiri is reluctant to leave. Jake says “Wherever we go. I know one thing: this family is our fortress.”

The next scene that followed featured the Sully kids learning how to ride these like underwater sea creatures. They look almost like underwater dragons, but they are gentle and sound like dolphins. In another scene, it appears there’s a conflict between the Sully kids and another water tribe. It looks like the Sully family has moved to another tribe or area of Pandora. These Na’vi look quite different, and they have fin-like limbs. It appears their chief is angry at one of the kids for befriending a member of their village who was banished for killing another.

I’m honestly not a tremendous fan of the original Avatar, but the footage looked very pretty and well made at least. I think waiting this long to release a sequel is kind of crazy, but at the same time, it seems just as crazy to bet against James Cameron. Avatar: The Way of Water finally hits theaters on December 16.

The 411

Wow, that was a lot to digest. This was a long panel. As far as the standouts, I was quite impressed with the Indiana Jones footage. Sometimes seeing some actual proof of concept will really sell the material. At the very least, I’m on board for the sequel and want to see it now.

As far as Marvel Studios, I’m very much looking forward to Daredevil: Born Again, especially with Vincent D’Onofrio and Charlie Cox reprising their iconic roles. I enjoyed the scene that was shown from She-Hulk Daredevil as well. Truthfully, I thought the latest seasons of Daredevil were far from perfect, so I think there’s honestly some potential for improvements where the MCU version is concerned. I”m very intrigued by The Thunderbolts movie. The original book was one of my favorite Marvel comics ever. Obviously, this is a very different lineup, but you have to work within the confines of the MCU. Hopefully, that spirit of the books is captured.

Now, Matt Shakman was confirmed as the new director of Fantastic Four during the showcase, but there were no other casting announcements. I was a bit surprised about that, but the film is still about two years out, so it’s probably for the best that no one is announced this early. There will even be another D23 Expo before the movie is due to come out.

As far as the X-Men and other assorted mutant teams or characters, I have a feeling we won’t be seeing them until Phase 6 or 7 at the earliest.

I guess D23 Expo wasn’t the right place to show anything from the Alien series for 20th Century Studios. That said, I think this panel could’ve been broken up a little bit because it had Lucasfilm, which was mostly Lucasfilm TV, Marvel Studios film and TV, and then Avatar. I think separating some of the segments into some extra panels for the D23 Expo could’ve helped a bit with the show’s pacing. But that’s my only real complaint.