Aug 22, 2011

D23 Updates: Pixar's Newest, Avengers and John Carter!

Disney is not screwing around.

This year's Comic Con featured the noticeable absence of both Marvel and their corporate sponsors from the Magic Kingdom.  The assumption at the time proved to be correct: Disney was saving the good stuff for D23, the three year old media event hosted in Anaheim featuring presentations on all the most exciting projects on Mickey's horizon.  The event has grown in leaps and bounds since 2009, and by essentially sitting out Comic Con, Disney was able to push the event's relevancy quotient up to 11.

This year saw presentations on a number of high profile projects, with most of the focus falling on Pixar and Marvel.  There were hopes that Marvel honcho Kevin Feige would announce some more titles from their post-Avengers slate, especially since they just staked a claim to release dates in May and July of 2014.  Despite speculation that one of those dates was intended for the Feige-favorite character of Dr. Strange, no such announcement came.  Instead the crowd was treated to a new Avengers reel.  According to eyewitness accounts, (sadly I couldn't make it to Anaheim) the footage featured a whole lot of Loki as the big bad, plenty of action, and the first look at Mark Ruffalo as both Bruce Banner and the Hulk.  Sadly the video is unlikely to make its way online, but you can read the play by play right here.  And if you're really in need of an Avengers fix, check out the below footage of some battle scenes currently filming in Cleveland.

Pixar was the other big voice at D23 and fortunately they were a little more forthcoming with details for their future awesomeness.  They showed off the first four minutes of the upcoming Wreck-It Ralph, which has John C. Reilly voicing the destructive villain of an old school stand-up arcade game trying to prove he's not such a bad guy after all.  The action takes place in the arcade, with game characters crossing over and interacting with each other after closing.  Jack McBrayer (30 Rock) plays his good guy nemesis Fix-It Felix, with Jane Lynch and Sarah Silverman playing characters from other fictional games.  Sounds like Toy Story with video game characters, but centered around a more existential, nature-of-good-and-evil conflict.

Andrew Stanton showed off some more footage from John Carter, Pixar's first attempt at live-action.  It sounds like they've got a real uphill battle with that one, both in selling audiences on an admittedly strange and pulpy sci-fi world and in convincing them that Taylor Kitsch is a movie star.  The initial trailer (seen here) was...alright.  Don't get me wrong, there's tremendous potential here; it could be a real prestige property if handled correctly, but it's going to look downright silly if it's not.  Stanton and Pixar have built up more than enough goodwill over the years that I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, and I'd love to see the artists at Pixar start to bring their tremendous sense of vision to more live-action work.  Some have called the creature design "cartoony," which feels like the wrong direction to me, but I'll reserve judgement until I really get to see a Thark in action for myself.

Finally, we got info on two Pixar flicks that are still a few years out and they both sound phenomenal.  One is set in a world in which the dinosaurs were never killed off by a meteor strike, and instead now cohabit the planet with mankind.  The story is said to focus on a boy and his pet brachiosaurus.  Dinosaurs seems like such a natural fit for Pixar that I almost can't believe we haven't seen it yet, (you can probably blame Ice Age for that) and I expect Disney to make a killing on both the box office and the merchandising.  The second release is a little more sparse on details but is (literally) mind-blowingly exciting.  Directed by Pete Doctor (Up, Monsters Inc.) this movie will take us to "the world inside the human mind."  I don't even know what that means, but I'm already stoked beyond belief.

So lots of reasons to be excited for the future in the house that Walt built.  If they keep the current gameplan, I wouldn't be surprised to see D23 become even more of a powerhouse event in the next year or two.

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