Instead of showing off its big films and Marvel movies at Comic-Con this year, Disney decided to keep all the good stuff to themselves, bringing new footage, breaking news, and star power to its own D23 Expo at Anaheim today. So what went over well with this audience (comprised mostly of Disney true believers) and what needed a little work? Vulture took it all in, from The Avengers to bad fashion, and here are seven things we learned from all the D23 debuts.
Pixar's got two new films in the hopper — and neither is a sequel.
Pixar recently staked out release dates in 2013 and 2014 for two yet unnamed films, and at D23, they pulled back the curtain a little bit. The first of those new films will be helmed by Up co-director Bob Peterson, and it imagines a world where the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs instead missed its mark; the second film has Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc.) in the director's chair, and it'll take place inside the human mind. Disney also showed off some impressive clips from next year's big Pixar film, Brave, as well as a cute sequence from Wreck-it Ralph, starring John C. Reilly as an arcade game bad guy who wants to go good.
Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner have logged a lot of unnecessary air miles.
When Marvel brought out the cast of The Avengers at Comic-Con last year, it was for little more than a photo op: Actors like Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson were flown to San Diego, came onstage for about a minute, and then departed without saying a word. You might think that Disney would have more in store for them at its own convention ... but no, yet again, nearly the entire cast was called out onstage, Robert Downey Jr. talked for about ten seconds, and then they all were silently ushered out. Let's hope Johansson, Renner, Chris Hemsworth, and Cobie Smulders all enjoyed the superfluous schlep to Anaheim!
Still, the crowd is plenty geeked for The Avengers.
Though the movie is currently shooting, Disney showed off a sizzle reel of new footage from The Avengers (culminating in a face-off between Tony Stark and Thor's villainous Loki over drinks) and one extended scene, where Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) imprisons Loki as the rest of the superheroes listen in from a conference room. It's understandable that the production doesn't have many large-scale outdoor scenes to show yet, but man, if you want a group of very different superheroes to look silly, put them all in their outfits and have them sit around a conference table. The audience didn't seem to mind, but for us, that Times Square battle can't come fast enough.
John Carter is more Pixar-y than you thought.
The recent trailer for John Carter, helmed by Pixar vet Andrew Stanton, looked like an uneasy cross between Avatar and Cowboys & Aliens. What would give this Mars-set adventure movie its own spark? How about a distinctly Pixar sense of humor: In two of the clips showed off, Carter (Taylor Kitsch) interacts with Martian babies that recall the three-eyed aliens from Toy Story, then meets a doglike alien with a flapping tongue that enthusiastically speeds after him, leaving a cartoonish cloud of dust in its wake. Might this movie be a little more fun than that very serious first teaser had indicated?
Kermit is stuck in the past.
Jason Segel was on hand to introduce some clips for The Muppets, and it seems like a return to classic Muppet movies in more ways than one: Kermit the Frog is stuck in the past, living each day like the Muppets were still at their mid-eighties peak. He's got a robot butler who can't stop spouting dated catchphrases (perhaps owing to its uncanny resemblance to the cheesy R.O.B. peripheral for the original Nintendo Entertainment System), and when Kermit tries to rally celebrities for a telethon to save the Muppet theater, the stars at the top of his dusty Rolodex are Molly Ringwald and Jimmy Carter. Needless to say, the new iPhone-loving Muppet is going to be a shock to his system.
Sam Raimi is Eddie Munster.
Director Sam Raimi has always had a reputation for dressing formally on his sets, but in the behind-the-scenes footage shown from his new film Oz the Great and Powerful, he was wearing a collar tie that was borrowed either from Eddie Munster, the Amish, or a newfound Pilgrim ancestor. Luckily, the concept art for Raimi's Oz prequel was much more pleasing to the eye, though we only got to see James Franco's wizard and Michelle Williams as Glinda in costume; witches Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz were glimpsed with nary a speck of green face paint.
When in doubt, give out free food.
The two-and-a-half-hour presentation recalled Comic-Con in its length and geek fervor, but you know what has never happened at Comic-Con? John Lasseter screaming, "Cupcakes for everyone!" halfway through a panel, followed by delicious free food passed out in the aisles. (It was like Disney's own Oprah moment!) Well played, D23. Well played.