The Walt Disney Company announced a huge slate of projects coming from its biggest IPs today and they run the spectrum from the big to small screen.
Disney Plus is going to be huge for content delivery going forward and it looks like the streaming service will be the premiere place for expansions of the Star Wars universe, the MCU and PIXAR. Here are some of the highlights from the presentation.
Walt Disney Animation Studios
Disney’s next animated feature film is set to be released next year, but with the current global situation, it will be receiving a similar release to Disney’s live action Mulan. Raya and the Last Dragon will be released on March 5, 2021, simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access.
Raya and the Last Dragon travels to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons lived together long ago in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well.
“Raya and the Last Dragon” features the voices of Kelly Marie Tran as Raya, a warrior whose wit is as sharp as her blade, and Awkwafina as magical, mythical, self-deprecating dragon named Sisu. Newly revealed characters from the film include a street-savvy 10-year-old entrepreneur named Boun, the formidable giant Tong, and a thieving toddler Noi with her band of Ongis. The feature film is directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada and produced by Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho.
Encanto tells the tale of an extraordinary family, the Madrigals, who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia, in a magical house, in a vibrant town, in a wondrous, charmed place called an Encanto. The magic of the Encanto has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift from super strength to the power to heal—every child except one, Mirabel. But when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is in danger, Mirabel decides that she, the only ordinary Madrigal, might just be her exceptional family’s last hope.
The film features all-new songs by Emmy®, GRAMMY® and Tony Award® winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton,” “Moana”) and is directed by Byron Howard (“Zootopia,” “Tangled”) and Jared Bush (co-director “Zootopia”), co-directed by Charise Castro Smith (writer “The Death of Eva Sofia Valdez”) and produced by Clark Spencer and Yvett Merino. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Encanto” opens in theaters November 24, 2021.
Baymax, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ first-ever animated series, takes place in the fantastical city of San Fransokyo and features fan favorite healthcare bot, Baymax. Created by Don Hall, the Oscar®-winning director of “Big Hero 6,” “Baymax” premieres on Disney+ in early 2022.
Zootopia+ heads back to the fast-paced mammal metropolis of Zootopia in a short-form series directed by Trent Correy and Josie Trinidad. “Zootopia+” dives deeper into the lives of some of the feature film’s most intriguing characters, including Fru Fru, the newly married arctic shrew; Gazelle’s talented tiger dancers; and the sloth full of surprises, Flash. The short-form series debuts on Disney+ in Spring 2022.
Iwájú is an all-new original series coming to Disney+ in 2022. The series is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pan-African comic book entertainment company Kugali and its founders Tolu Olowofoyeku, Ziki Nelson and Hamid Ibrahim. “Iwájú,” which roughly translates to “The Future” in the Yoruba language, is steeped in science fiction. The long-form series is set in Lagos, Nigeria, exploring deep themes of class, innocence and challenging the status quo. Says director Ziki Nelson, “This show will combine Disney’s magic and animation expertise with Kugali’s fire and storytelling authenticity. Iwájú represents a personal childhood dream of mine to tell my story and that of my people.”
Tiana, coming to Disney+ in 2023, is a long-form musical-comedy series featuring the extraordinary entrepreneur who’s now princess of the kingdom Maldonia. The all-new adventures explore both Maldonia and Tiana’s beloved hometown, New Orleans. Tiana is the first princess to have her own Walt Disney Animation Studios series.
Moana, The Series, coming to Disney+ in 2023, is a new long-form musical series that follows spirited voyager Moana as she ventures far beyond the reef. The studio is once again connecting with storytellers from the Pacific Islands to help tell the stories of wayfinding and other traditions brought to life for generations through oral storytelling.
Besides the upcoming Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Kevin Feige talked about the expanding story of the Marvel universe and how it will connect the universe from the big to small screen. He also announced that there will be ten MCU related shows coming to Disney+.
WandaVision, launching on Disney+ on Jan. 15, 2021, is Marvel Studios’ first series that continues to expand the MCU. Wanda Maximoff and Vision are two super-powered beings are living idealized suburban lives, but begin to suspect everything is not as it seems. Starring Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris, Kat Dennings and Randall Park, “WandaVision” is directed by Matt Shakman; Jac Shaeffer is head writer.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, kicking off on Disney+ March 19, 2021, is a new series starring Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson aka The Falcon, and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier. The pair, who came together in the final moments of “Avengers: Endgame,” team up on a global adventure that tests their abilities—and their patience. Directed by Kari Skogland with Malcolm Spellman serving as head writer, the six-episode series also stars Daniel Brühl as Baron Zemo, Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter, and Wyatt Russell as John Walker.
Loki is set to debut on Disney+ in May 2021 featuring the God of Mischief as he steps out of his brother’s shadow in a new series that takes place after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” Tom Hiddleston returns as the title character, joined by Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku and Richard E. Grant. Kate Herron directs “Loki,” and Michael Waldron is head writer.
What If…? flips the script on the MCU, reimagining famous events from the films in unexpected ways. Coming to Disney+ in Summer 2021, Marvel Studios’ first animated series focuses on different heroes from the MCU, featuring a voice cast that includes a host of stars who reprise their roles. The series is directed by Bryan Andrews; Ashley Bradley is head writer.
Ms. Marvel, launching on Disney+ in late 2021, is a new series that introduces Kamala Khan—a 16-year-old Pakistani-American growing up in Jersey City. A great student, an avid gamer and a voracious fan-fiction scribe, she has a special affinity for Super Heroes, particularly Captain Marvel. But Kamala struggles to fit in at home and at school—that is, until she gets super powers like the heroes she’s always looked up to. Life is easier with super powers, right?
Iman Vellani stars as Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel; the cast also includes Aramis Knight, Saagar Shaikh, Rish Shah, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Matt Lintz, Yasmeen Fletcher, Laith Naki, Azher Usman, Travina Springer and Nimra Bucha. Episodes are directed by Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah, Meera Menon and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.
Hawkeye, which debuts on Disney+ in late 2021, stars Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, who teams up with another well-known archer from the Marvel comics, Kate Bishop, played by Hailee Steinfeld. The cast also includes Vera Farmiga, Fra Fee, Tony Dalton, Zahn McClarnon, Brian d’Arcy James and newcomer Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez. “Hawkeye” is helmed by Rhys Thomas and directing duo Bert and Bertie.
She-Hulk, a new comedy series coming to Disney+, stars Tatiana Maslany as She-Hulk/Jennifer Walters, a lawyer who specializes in superhuman-oriented legal cases. “She-Hulk” will welcome a host of Marvel characters to the series, including the Hulk, played by Mark Ruffalo, and the Abomination, played by Tim Roth. The series is directed by Kat Coiro and Anu Valia; Jessica Gao is head writer.
Moon Knight is a new series created for Disney+. Directed by Mohamed Diab, the action-adventure features a complex vigilante who suffers from dissociative identity disorder. The multiple identities who live inside him are distinct characters who appear against a backdrop of Egyptian iconography.
Secret Invasion is a newly announced series heading to Disney+ that stars Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Ben Mendelsohn as the Skrull Talos—characters who first met in “Captain Marvel.” The crossover comic event series showcases a faction of shapeshifting Skrulls who have been infiltrating Earth for years.
Ironheart, the second of the newly announced series coming to Disney+, stars Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams, a genius inventor who creates the most advanced suit of armor since Iron Man.
Armor Wars, based on the classic Marvel comic series, comes to Disney+ starring Don Cheadle as James Rhodes aka War Machine who must face what happens when Tony Stark’s tech falls into the wrong hands.
Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, slated for Disney+ during the 2022 holiday season, is written and directed by “Guardians of the Galaxy” veteran James Gunn.
Kevin Feige confirms that Black Widow will be coming to theaters and not on Disney+
Black Widow, opening May 7, 2021, stars Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. The action-packed spy thriller chronicles Natasha’s efforts to deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger. Directed by Cate Shortland, “Black Widow” also stars Florence Pugh as Yelena, David Harbour as Alexei/The Red Guardian, and Rachel Weisz as Melina.
Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, opening July 9, 2021, stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, who must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, “Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings” also stars Tony Leung as Wenwu, Awkwafina as Shang-Chi’s friend Katy and Michelle Yeoh as Jiang Nan. The cast also includes Fala Chen, Meng’er Zhang, Florian Munteanu and Ronny Chieng.
The new Doctor Strange film confirms the next Spider-Man film will step into the multiverse for Peter’s next adventure.
Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness, debuting March 25, 2022, is currently in production starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Xochitl Gomez joins them, portraying America Chavez, a new fan-favorite from the comics. Directed by Sam Raimi, the mind-bending adventure connects to the events of “WandaVision” and the upcoming Spider-Man film.
Thor: Love and Thunder, opening on May 6, 2022, begins filming next month with director Taika Waititi at the helm. Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson return to their roles, joined by Christian Bale, who portrays villain Gorr the God Butcher.
Feige confirms that there will be no more adventures of T’Challa on screen.
Black Panther 2, opening on July 8, 2022, is being written and directed by Ryan Coogler. Honoring Chadwick Boseman’s legacy and portrayal of T’Challa, the Black Panther, Marvel Studios will not recast the character, but will continue to explore the incomparable world of Wakanda and all of the rich and varied characters introduced in the first film.
The next adventure for Carol Danvers will connect her story to two upcoming Disney+ series.
Captain Marvel 2, a new feature film opening Nov. 11, 2022, is directed by Nia DaCosta. Brie Larson stars as Carol Danvers, alongside Iman Vellani, who makes her debut in “Ms. Marvel,” and Teyonah Parris, who portrays grown-up Monica Rambeau—a character introduced as a child in “Captain Marvel” who returns to the MCU as an adult in “WandaVision.”
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania will be helmed by Ant-Man director Peyton Reed, starring returning favorites Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne/Wasp, Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym, and Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet Van Dyne. Kathryn Newton joins the cast as Cassie Lang while Jonathan Majors portrays Kang the Conqueror.
Fantastic Four features one of Marvel’s most iconic families. Jon Watts is on board to direct.
As with Marvel, Kathleen Kennedy announced that there will be ten new Star Wars series coming as well as new feature films.
After making her long-awaited, live-action debut in “The Mandalorian,” Ahsoka Tano’s story, written by Dave Filoni, will continue in a limited series, Ahsoka, starring Rosario Dawson and executive produced by Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau.
Set within the timeline of “The Mandalorian,” Rangers of the New Republic is a new live-action series from executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni that will intersect with future stories and culminate into a climactic story event.
Could this be the Cara Dune spinoff that’s been rumored?
Andor, a tense nail-biting spy thriller created by Tony Gilroy, is set to arrive on Disney+ in 2022. Diego Luna, reprising the role of rebel spy Cassian Andor from “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” will be joined by a fantastic new cast that includes Stellan Skarsgård, Adria Arjona, Fiona Shaw, Denise Gough, Kyle Soller and Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma.
Ewan McGregor returns in the iconic role of Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi for a special event series on Disney+. Officially titled Obi-Wan Kenobi, the series begins 10 years after the dramatic events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith where he faced his greatest defeat, the downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker turned evil Sith Lord Darth Vader. The series is directed by Deborah Chow, who helmed memorable episodes of “The Mandalorian,”Season 1, and features the return of Hayden Christensen as Darth Vader.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch follows the elite and experimental clones of the Bad Batch (first introduced in “The Clone Wars”) as they find their way in a rapidly changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War. Members of Bad Batch—a unique squad of clones who vary genetically from their brothers in the Clone Army—each possess a singular exceptional skill that makes them extraordinarily effective soldiers and a formidable crew. In the post-Clone War era, they will take on daring mercenary missions as they struggle to stay afloat and find new purpose. This animated series will arrive exclusively on Disney+.
Presenting all-new, creative takes on the galaxy far, far away, Star Wars: Visions will be a series of animated short films celebrating Star Wars through the lens of the world’s best anime creators. The anthology collection will bring 10 fantastic visions from several of the leading Japanese anime studios, offering a fresh and diverse cultural perspective to Star Wars.
The galaxy’s favorite scoundrel, Lando Calrissian, will return in Lando, a brand-new event series for Disney+. Justin Simien, creator of the critically-acclaimed “Dear White People”and a huge Star Wars fan, is in the early stages of developing the project.
Leslye Headland, Emmy Award®-nominated creator of the mind-bending series “Russian Doll,” brings a new Star Wars series to Disney+ with The Acolyte. “The Acolyte”is a mystery-thriller that will take viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.
As Lucasfilm continues to develop new stories, the intersection of animation and visual effects offers new opportunities to explore. Lucasfilm Animation is teaming up with Lucasfilm’s visual effects team, Industrial Light & Magic, to develop a special Star Wars adventure film for Disney+, A Droid Story. This epic journey will introduce us to a new hero, guided by legendary duo R2-D2 and C-3PO.
A brand-new Star Wars feature with acclaimed filmmaker and Academy Award® winner Taika Waititi is in development. “Taika’s approach to Star Wars will be fresh, unexpected, and…unique,” said Kathleen Kennedy. “His enormous talent and sense of humor will ensure that audiences are in for an unforgettable ride.”
The next Star Wars feature film to hit the big screen will be Rogue Squadron, directed by Patty Jenkins. The story will introduce a new generation of starfighter pilots as they earn their wings and risk their lives in a boundary-pushing, high-speed thrill-ride, and move the saga into the future era of the galaxy. “Rogue Squadron” arrives in theaters Christmas 2023.
This is just a piece of the huge slate of films and television series coming from the Walt Disney Company in the next few years. I will continue to keep you posted on what new projects are announced from Pixar and more.