In case you missed it, I was lucky enough to be given a pass to cover the D23 Expo 2022 for BSO. It was an impressive array of vendors, partners, fans, and Disney coming together to put on a truly memorable experience. I had never been before, didn’t know what to expect, and I came away with a very different appreciation of how these things are put together. This event was projected to deliver in a big way since it was both the 100th anniversary of Disney and the first in-person D23 Expo since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
When Kevin Feige took the stage, he didn’t hesitate. The news came fast and it came hard. The first thing he talked about was how cool it was to see all of these musicals getting made and how some of Disney’s most magical moments have come from the songs we associate with the films and how he’s always envied that and wondered, “what if Marvel did something like that?” I won’t lie; I thought he was about to announce a Dazzler film — I don’t know why, I just wanted to hear those words — but he announced the second best thing in a full Avengers: The Musical actually coming to stages near you. This was followed up by a live performance of the song featured in the Hawkeye show that is still stuck in my head. I honestly can’t wait to watch this thing and I really don’t do musicals.
After that we were treated to an incredibly powerful scene from the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever that featured Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda being grilled by a panel of Western countries about how Vibranium is a weapon of mass destruction and how they could “improve” their relationship with these Western countries by engaging in trading Vibranium with them so they can use it, too. While this is going on, you see French DGSE agents breaking into a Vibranium vault to “take it.”
Queen Ramonda tells the Western (white) leaders directly why they’ll never get their hands on the Vibranium. She says she knows exactly how these countries think. They’re thinking that Wakanda’s King is dead. Their protector is gone. The Black Panther is no more. For them, it’s time to strike. As she’s telling them these words, the French DGSE, who had previously overwhelmed the Wakanda doctors/researchers and forced them to open the Vibranium vaults find out that they’ve made a grave error.
The doctors remove their doctoral clothing as the vault opens to reveal Okoye and the Dora Milaje were inside. The DGSE looks back at the doctors/researchers only to learn they were also Dora in disguise and are packing their own weapons. As you’d imagine, the Dora Milaje absolutely stomped the hell out of the DGSE agents and just as it flashes back to Queen Ramonda, the Dora march these stripped down agents back into the televised panel, revealing their deception and lies to the world, but also telling these Western countries that the weapon of mass destruction isn’t the Vibranium, it’s these countries and their colonialist thinking that the weapon of mass destruction.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a scene that potent for a teaser, but the entire place went from a thunderous silence at the profundity of what they’d just seen to roaring applause for the remainder of the trailer and the cast that was coming out on stage. If people weren’t hyped before, this is the scene that would put asses in seats. I don’t know if Disney ever plans on releasing this scene for the people to see or if it’s just going to be a D23 Expo 2022 special, but I know that people will be talking about this scene for a hot minute when the film releases. It has the same emotional power as the final line of Erik Kilmonger’s dialogue in the first film. It speaks to the true nature of Western colonial thinking while still giving us an ideal to live up to in the values and beliefs of T’Challa. If the rest of this film is as powerful as this scene, this film is almost sure to win an Oscar of some kind come Award Season.
The dominance just continued from there. We got ourselves a look at LOKI season 2 and were introduced to the “real” Kang via scenes from Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. It was stressed by Kevin Feige, Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily and Jonathan Majors that the upcoming film with Ant-Man will be much different and bigger than anything they’ve done before. Given the footage we were shown, that definitely appears to track.
The scenes were fairly limited but easily showed that this won’t be the small scale adventure we are used to with Ant-Man, but something on a much grander scale. The trailer for Scott Lang’s new adventure showed him finding out that Cassie had been working on things in his absence and had figured out a way to send a message into the Quantum Realm. It’s at this point that Janet Van Dyne freaks out and orders her to shut the device down only to have it explode and release some form of energy before cutting to a trailer that totally revealed MODOK is in this film and how he looks. I’ll also say that scenes with Kang were very chilling and Majors is poised to become a villain who is adored on the same level as Tom Hiddleston’s Loki.
Speaking of the Norse devil, LOKI promises to deliver much more content in season two. We were told we’re going to be getting to the bottom of why we’re dealing with the TVA, who Hunter B52 really is, why Mobius is involved in all of this and how Mobius came to be involved in all of this. We’re obviously going to see more of Sophia Di Martino as Sylvie Laufeydottir. If there’s a project I’m most excited for, it’s this show and the return of these characters. It’s just amazing television. The first season was the absolute best Marvel show on Disney+ and it has a lot to live up to in terms of promise and potential, but the footage we were shown suggests they’re more than ready to deliver on those terms.
Disney wasn’t done there as we were given first glimpses of The Marvels, Secret Invasion, Werewolf by Night, Echo, Thunderbolts, and Captain America: New World Order. The project we probably learned the most about was Thunderbolts given that we were told the final roster of the team and the member fans weren’t aware of in Bucky Barnes. Feige hinted that Julia Louis Dryfuss would be a focal point of this project and behind most everything in the film. Fans were introduced to her Contessa character during Falcon and the Winter Soldier and that role will be expanded upon in Thunderbolts and Captain America: New World Order.
Werewolf By Night is probably the most avant-garde title announced at the Expo. The Halloween special is being referred to as a Marvel Special Presentation, itself a throwback term to the era of these projects. It’s an absolutely wild presentation that would immediately look familiar to fans of vintage monster horror films. Directed by famed composer Michael Giacchino, Werewolf By Night stars Gael Garcia Bernal as the titular character and they’re both about as excited as could be to talk about and do this project. Let’s hope that translates to the viewing audience, but I will say it looks cool as hell.
We wrapped up with looks at The Marvels, Echo, and Secret Invasion. Feige said that we can expect a heavy dose of Nick Fury in Secret Invasion, something they’re calling a spy thriller to anyone and everyone who will listen. The Marvels looks to be a really interesting film that explores the basis for their powers and how some form of the same power ties Carol Danvers, Kamala Khan, and Monica Rambeau together. It also appears to have some Freaky Friday elements to it with our characters being transported into someone else’s life. Echo will be an absolutely wonderful blend of Native culture and Deaf, Hard of Hearing culture. It also will bring about the return of Vincent D’Onofrio’s beloved Kingpin.
I’ll have plenty more on the Marvel content in the coming days, but I definitely wanted to share some of the behind the scenes footage we were shown at the D23 Expo 2022 as best as I could without violating any laws. We don’t have any footage to show you, but I can tell you anything I remember from my brain. I wasn’t kidding about the new Black Panther: Wakanda Forever film either, it’s going to be the best Marvel film of this phase without question.