Disney’s 2020 Investors Day event was a bonanza of announcements. Though the company has struggled to adjust to post-pandemic life, where movie theaters are closed and amusement parks are locked down, the company came out swinging on Thursday night as it attempted to assert itself once again as the dominant media company and host of everyone’s favorite IP. The presentation was four hours of nonstop flexing. It was a lot.
From across Marvel, Lucasfilm, Disney and Pixar animation, and more, come new shows and new movies, with a huge focus on “content” heading to Disney Plus. Kareem Daniel, chairman of media and entertainment distribution at the Walt Disney Company, announced that within the next few years, around 10 Marvel series, 10 Star Wars series, 15 series under the Disney banner (which encompasses Disney animation, Pixar, and live action), and 15 completely new movies under those same banners will debut on the streaming service. And that’s not to mention the movies still (tentatively) slated for theatrical release.
So settle back and prepare to take in the next few years has in store (and also contemplate that price hike for Disney Plus) — here are all of the major announcements and reveals that came out of the Investors Day.
Raya and the Last Dragon going directly to Disney Plus
The next Disney animated film — originally slated for release this November, then pushed to spring 2021 — will debut on Disney Plus on March 5. Like Mulan before it, Raya and the Last Dragon will be available for a Premier Access price of $30. Disney also revealed some new images, as well as some new characters.
...and a thieving toddler Noi with her band of Ongis... pic.twitter.com/XrkT46jsxe— Disney (@Disney) December 11, 2020
Alien joins the never-ending Always Sunny at FX/Hulu
Fargo series creator Noah Hawley will return to FX with a new series set in the Alien universe. The series will apparently take the franchise back to its horror-movie roots, focusing on the isolated terror that helps make the first Alien film great. To take the stakes up a notch from the Nostromo, however, Hawley’s series will be set on Earth.
In slightly less horrifying news, FX also renewed It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia for another four seasons. The series’ 14th season ended just last year, which means that it’s going to run for a staggering 18 seasons ... at least.
Alien is currently in development at @FXNetworks. The first TV series based on the classic film series is helmed by Fargo and Legion's @noahhawley. Expect a scary thrill ride set not too far in the future here on Earth. pic.twitter.com/KBigUGnXpB— Alien (@AlienAnthology) December 10, 2020
A crap ton of Star Wars shows and movies are on the way
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy announced that **takes deep breath** Andor, Obi-Wan (with Hayden Christensen returning), Rangers of the New Republic, Ahsoka, Lando, The Acolyte, The Bad Batch, Visions, and A Droid Story will all stream on Disney Plus in the next few years. As for new movies, in addition to Taika Waititi’s still mysterious Star Wars project, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins will direct Rogue Squadron.
In the Star Wars Legends universe, the Rogue Squadron was a group of skilled rebel pilots led by Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles — they were also the subject of the Star Wars Rogue Squadron video game series. These games are unfortunately no longer canon, so we still don’t know whether or not the movie will follow a similar plot.
We got a glut of Marvel Disney Plus show trailers
Marvel Studios kicked off the evening by releasing trailers for four different Disney Plus exclusive TV series. A final trailer for January’s WandaVision saw the Scarlet Witch’s world crumbling around her. Falcon and the Winter Soldier battled “Baron” Zemo, and revealed that the series will debut in March 2021. Loki met the Time Variance Authority and went on an era-hopping heist. And the trailer for the animated What If...? showcased what the MCU would be like if things were a little bit different — like if Peggy Carter got the super soldier serum, or if T’Challa was abducted by Yondu and his space pirates instead of Peter Quill.
Five new Marvel Disney Plus series
Marvel announced four new Disney Plus TV series and one TV special: Secret Invasion and Armor Wars, retellings of the Marvel Comics events of the same names starring Samuel L. Jackson and Don Cheadle, respectively; Ironheart, a series following Riri Williams, a young Black teen who reverse engineers Tony Stark’s armor and uses it to become her local superhero; and I Am Groot, a series of Baby Groot shorts. Finally, James Gunn’s The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special will be filmed during the production of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
And the Fantastic Four is finally coming to the Marvel movie universe
From the moment of the Disney-Fox acquisition, it was inevitable. Marvel’s first family is back in the fold, and it’s up to Marvel Studios to make the third time a true charm. The Fantastic Four are coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The latest Marvel movie casting
Disney’s stream also had a good smattering of casting tidbits for already known MCU movies. Captain Marvel 2 will practically be an all-female team movie, with Kamala Khan and Monica Rambeau — the superhero known as Photon— joining the cast. Ms. Marvel will be played by the recently announced Iman Vellani, with WandaVision’s Teyonah Parris reprising her role.
Kathryn Newton will join the cast of the Ant-Man movies for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, where she will play Scott Lang’s daughter, Cassie Lang. Kevin Feige confirmed that Christian Bale has come aboard Thor: Love and Thunder as Gorr the God Butcher, an ancient mortal being whose name really sums up his entire deal. He hates gods so much he wants to kill them. All of them. In the entire Marvel Universe.
Finally, Feige announced that Marvel has no plans to recast Black Panther after the untimely death of Chadwick Boseman. Director Ryan Coogler will return for a Black Panther sequel that will explore Wakanda and the extended cast of characters introduced in the first film.
Everything in the MCU is still connected
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will tie in to WandaVision and Sony’s next Spider-Man film, which is already shaping up to contain a multiversal madness of its own, with actors from all three Spider-Man film franchises on board. The Doctor Strange sequel also welcomes Xochitl Gomez in the role of America Chavez, a Marvel comics superhero who hails from a utopian dimension.
Unsurprisingly, Mark Ruffalo will play Bruce Banner/the Hulk alongside Tatiana Maslany’s Jen Walters in the Disney Plus She-Hulk series. What’s more surprising is that Tim Roth will reprise his role of the Abomination from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, and Feige teased that there were even more characters from around the Marvel Universe set to guest star.
Disney Animation has four new series based on movies
A new show in the Big Hero 6 world will focus on everyone's favorite healthcare assistant Baymax as he encounters new patients in San Fransokyo. Another show will spotlight some little explored animals in Zootopia, like the very slow DMV sloth and the dancing tigers (it’s called Zootopia Plus... like Disney Plus, get it?) Tiana from Princess and the Frog gets her own series exploring her newfound princess status, as well as the richly animated New Orleans. A show centered on Moana will dive deeper into the mythology of the Pacific Islands. The Tiana, Baymax, and Zootopia shows will hit Disney Plus in 2022, with the Moana one set for 2023.
Disney is partnering with pan-African entertainment company Kugali
The two studios will bring a science fiction animated series titled Iwájú to the platform in 2022. The first images reveal a gorgeous, Afro-futuristic world.
In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, @DisneyAnimation and Pan-African entertainment company Kugali will team up to create an all-new, science fiction series coming to @DisneyPlus in 2022: Iwájú. Check out a first look at visual development art from the series. pic.twitter.com/x46dreKcu0— Disney (@Disney) December 11, 2020
Disney's 60th animated feature is a musical set in Colombia
... and naturally featuring the musical stylings of Lin Manuel Miranda! Titled Encanto, it’s about a magical family in a magical home and is set to come out next fall.
This Fall, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ all-new film Encanto takes you to Colombia, where a magical family live in a magical home. Directed by Byron Howard and Jared Bush, co-directed and co-written by Charise Castro Smith, and music written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. pic.twitter.com/bdxag3SzPv— Disney Animation (@DisneyAnimation) December 11, 2020
We’re getting a bunch of Pixar in December...
In addition to Soul, debuting exclusively on Disney Plus on Christmas Day, Pixar will unveil its latest short “Burrow” on the same day — per Pixar short paired with film tradition. Five more episodes of Inside Pixar also hit the platform, along with some fun short films featuring favorite characters coming in January.
... but we’re here for a new Cars show!
Pixar announced three upcoming shows for Disney Plus. The first coming out in 2021, called Dug Days, follows the lovable golden retriever from Up as he explores the wilderness of suburbia. The next brings Lightning McQueen and Mater back in 2022 for a cross-country road trip, meeting new characters and some old friends. Finally, in 2023, Win or Lose, the first totally original series from Pixar, will follow a middle school co-ed softball team, with each episode centering on different character’s perspective of the same events.
Bao director Domee Shi’s debut feature gets a name and date
We already knew about the upcoming Pixar movie, Luca, a summer tale set in the Italian countryside, but the next one comes from Bao director Domee Shi. Called Turning Red, the film follows a plucky young teenager who just so happens to turn into a giant red panda when she gets excited. And at age 13, well, that happens a lot! It’s set to hit theaters on March 11, 2022.
Director of the Academy Award-winning short Bao, Domee Shi, brings us Turning Red. Meet Mei: she experiences the awkwardness of being a teenager, with an added twist: when she gets too excited, she transforms into a giant red panda. Turning Red comes to theaters March 11, 2022 pic.twitter.com/2s5NgzqBHP— Disney (@Disney) December 11, 2020
Buzz Lightyear gets his own movie ... kinda
It’s not a Toy Story prequel. Not really. The upcoming Pixar movie Lightyear is instead the in-universe movie starring a human version of Buzz Lightyear that inspired the toy we see in the Toy Story franchise. Does that make sense? Chris Evans, who will be voicing the movie character, hopes so.
And just to be clear, this isn’t Buzz Lightyear the toy. This is the origin story of the human Buzz Lightyear that the toy is based on— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) December 11, 2020
Disney punted a bunch of live-action remakes to Disney Plus
While The Little Mermaid and The Lion King 2 prequelish thing are sticking to their theatrical plans, several live-action projects conceived for the big screen are headed to your living room. The list includes a new Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers animation-live-action hybrid from two Lonely Island veterans; reimaginings of Peter Pan and Pinocchio; and a sequel to the hit 2007 princess romp Enchanted called Disenchanted. See what they did there? Oh, and Amy Adams is back.
We’re getting a Night at the Museum animated movie
Disney absorbed Fox’s Blue Sky animation studio in the giant acquisition from last year and now it’s clearer what they’re doing: A new installment of the massive Ice Age franchise and an animated take on Night at the Museum. Director Shawn Levy returns to the property as a producer, and the project’s close enough to complete that it’s expected to arrive in 2021 on Disney Plus.
Don’t forget about Willow!
Who could forget Willow? Warwick Davis returns to the Tolkien-esque fantasy film from Lucasfilm, this time with super fan Jon M. Chu (GI Joe: Retaliation, Crazy Rich Asians) directing the new adventure. Disney announced that Chu would team up with Ronald Moore of Battlestar Galactica fame to turn Swiss Family Robinson into a Disney Plus property, too.
So ... Disney is up to a lot. Is what we’re saying.