Here’s what we experienced in the room that you could not gauge on your screens at home.
Marvel Explained is our ongoing series, where we delve into the latest Marvel shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. In this entry, we recall the four best moments from Marvel Studios’ D23 Expo presentation that were not released to the public.
No one controls a room better than Kevin Feige, and nowhere was that more apparent than at this year’s D23 Expo. Previous to his arrival in Hall D23, the 7000-seater, every panelist required the ginormous teleprompter in the back. The monolith kept things neat and orderly for the participants, but it was also an incredible tool for the press in the room. We’d careen our necks backward and gaze upon its screen, using it to plan our Tweets before the crowd actually heard the announcements. The teleprompter didn’t give us much extra time, but every second scored was a gift that day.
However, the large monitor clicked off minutes after Lucasfilm wrapped up its Saturday presentation. There would be no spoiling the excitement, no millisecond clues. Feige took the stage to the usual thunderous applause and appeared to wing it. Maybe he had a mic in his ear, but you couldn’t tell. Undoubtedly, his presentation was thoroughly planned and rehearsed, but there was no sign of exhaustive preparation.
Feige presented his Marvel Studios slate like that kid who always invited you over to his place to show off his toys. Check this out; the kung fu grip is now springloaded. You’re gonna want one of these rad figures for your own toybox.
The Best of What You Didn’t See Online
You’ve probably already heard about the numerous announcements made at his year’s D23 Expo and seen a few of the trailers they premiered there. Werewolf By Night, directed by Michael Giacchino, is right around the corner, set for a Halloween season celebration. Yo, was that Man-Thing? Yes, yes, it was. Secret Invasion‘s teaser returned Nick Fury to his Captain America: The Winter Soldier spy mode. The cast for the Fantastic Four will be…uh, TBD.
The online reaction to the Marvel Studios D23 presentation seems fairly mixed. Understandable. You were expecting a little more. What they gave to you didn’t satiate. Kevin Feige prefers to weaponize the crowd in the room. He’ll give those outside a little taste, but he’d rather those inside return to the outside with tales of astonishment.
With that in mind, I wanted to roll through the D23 Expo moments that didn’t make their way online. Or if they did, what you missed by not being there in that absurdly large room. The Marvel propaganda machine is ravenous, but if you’re a Marvel Zombie like myself, you’re happy to get bit.
We Can Do This All Day
For us, the inside folk, the D23 Expo was more a rock concert than a studio presentation. Feige stated to the crowd that being on Disney’s property unlocked something inside him. Here was a chance for Marvel Studios to put on a show, Disney style. After admitting jealousy toward all the various Disney animation studios and their musical numbers, Feige unleashed Rogers: The Musical.
As glimpsed in the Hawkeye Disney+ series, the faux Broadway recreation attempts to recap events from 2012’s The Avengers. It’s cute and silly, threatening to tumble into the outright ridiculous. As the performers roared through their “I Could Do This All Day,” thousands of phones propelled themselves into the air. Everyone was capturing their version of the moment, but none of them could do it justice.
You can watch dozens of variations on YouTube, but the tiny frame on your phone or laptop fails the moment. In person, Rogers: The Musical almost caused you to forget its spoof nature. The five-minute run-time teleported those in attendance to the MCU. We were living the movies; Clint Barton could be zoning out next to us. When it was over, we were almost disappointed to discover the reality that returned – the Marvel Studios car show. Trailers, trailers, trailers.
Wakanda Forever Still Reigns Supreme
Wakanda Forever is nearly upon us. The trailer they revealed at San Diego Comic-Con earlier in the summer relieved tremendous anxiety over how Marvel Studios and Ryan Coogler would handle Chadwick Boseman‘s passing in relation to the iconic figure he created on screen. At the D23 Expo, Coogler and the cast provided a short clip from the film, further establishing how Wakanda would operate without its king. Seemingly, the Queen Mother, Angela Bassett, will command more screentime.
In the clip, Richard Schiff confronts Queen Ramonda on the United Nations floor. He wants to know why Wakanda refuses to share its Vibranium resources with the rest of the world. Ramonda responds, “It has always been our policy to never trade Vibranium under any circumstance, not because of the dangerous potential of Vibranium, but because of the dangerous potential of you.”
We witness an armed military unit invade a Wakandan science facility. At gunpoint, a soldier forces an attendee to open their Vibranium vault. “You perform civility here,” says Ramonda, “but we know what you whisper in your halls of leadership and in your military facilities. The king is dead…they have lost their protector…now is the time to strike. We wish you the best of luck.”
From the shadows, Okoye (Danai Gurira) steps forth, leading a Dora Milaje squad. They devastate the intruders, and the scene cuts to Okoye leading these prisoners onto the United Nations floor. The message is clear. Wakanda is not up for grabs. Of course, Namor’s Atlanteans have yet to bubble to the surface.
The Dora Milaji Suit Up
At the Marvel Studios booth on the D23Expo show floor, several costumes from Wakanda Forever were displayed after the panel: Shuri, Ramonda, M’Baku, and two new Dora Milaje armors. Based on Marvel Legends action figures revealed at San Diego Comic-Con, we can surmise that the green armor belongs to Lupita Nyong‘o‘s Nakia. The blue armor is almost a direct lift of artist Brian Stelfreeze‘s design from the Black Panther comics. In the books, the suit belongs to Okoye.
The Wakanda Forever clip concluded with another brief shot of the new Black Panther. Just the legs. Previously, I had speculated that Nakia or Okoye could potentially don the Wakandan protector’s mantle. Seeing their new duds on the D23 Explo floor, I’m less sure of such an outcome. The safe bet remains that Shuri will take on her brother’s previous role as she did in the comics.
The closer we get to release, the more likely it seems that Marvel Studios won’t reveal the person under the suit until everyone is sitting in the theater watching Wakanda Forever. This withholding causes anxiety. We want Chadwick Boseman honored, and we want to feel confident going into the film that he will be honored. The trailer and the little footage we’ve seen give us hope, but we probably won’t be comfortable until Wakanda Forever pulls it off. If it pulls it off.
An Echo of the Past
Marvel Studios provided several exclusive clips for their presentation. In addition to the Wakanda Forever snippet, we saw confidential teasers for Ironheart, Ant–Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Echo, Loki season two, and The Marvels. We got nothing from Daredevil: Born Again, but we did get a scene from an upcoming She–Hulk episode featuring a yellow-costumed Matt Murdock.
None of the footage disappointed, but one trailer stood apart from the rest. Showcased with closed captions, Echo surprisingly revealed how the series will hop back and forth in time. In the present, Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) will square off against a one-eyed Kingpin (Vincent D‘Onofrio). In the past, we witness Maya’s indigenous ancestors warring against numerous threats. The series promises to showcase the many people who fought against antagonistic forces to place Maya on her current path.
Underscoring that context is a voiceover delivered by Graham Greene, “Their strength echos through you.” I love that her power doesn’t simply extend from her photographic reflexes. Her family, people, and history are equally as significant an instrument. Echo should be more than a Hawkeye spin-off; its point of view is distinctly its own.
Further differentiating themselves from each other appears to be more and more a priority for Marvel Studios. We’ve heard such genre deviation talk before. Oh, The Winter Soldier is an espionage throwback to Three Days of the Condor. Ant–Man is a heist film. Spider–Man: Homecoming is a John Hughes homage.
Your mileage may vary, but Marvel movies are getting weirder and more varied. Thor: Love and Thunder and She–Hulk stretch into tones far removed from the earlier phases. Examining what we saw at the D23Expo, that’s only going to continue. Not every vibe will be for every viewer, but there should be a vibe for every viewer.
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