D23 Recap: Marvel’s Upcoming Films Including CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, THOR: THE DARK WORLD and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

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Disney’s massive fan event, D23, kicked off its second straight day at the Anaheim Convention Center to a sold-out capacity crowd who anxiously awaited sneak peeks at the company’s slate of upcoming live-action films.  The first day of D23 – which featured presentations for Disney/Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios and DisneyToon Studios – set a high bar for big reveals, guest stars and a lesson in showmanship.  Did Day 2 have the firepower to top it?  Well, considering that Marvel was in attendance to show off Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, there was more than enough muscle to go around.  Hit the jump for my recap.

After Walt Disney Chairman Alan Horn welcomed the fans to the presentation with a few heart-warming and humorous stories about how he came to Disney himself, he teased fans just a bit with some Star Wars news.  After the disappointed crowd realized that we wouldn’t be hearing anything more out of Lucasfilm for the day, they quickly regained their enthusiasm when Horn brought Marvel’s Kevin Feige to the stage to talk about Phase 2, staring with…

thor-the-dark-world-tom-hiddlestonThor: The Dark World

Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” thundered into D23 with an introduction by its producer, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, who then introduced stars Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston and Anthony Hopkins to the excited crowd.

Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself.  In the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness.  Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano and Jaimie Alexander with Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” is directed by Alan Taylor, produced by Kevin Feige, p.g.a., from a story by Don Payne and Robert Rodat and screenplay by Christopher L. Yost and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, and is based on Marvel’s classic Super Hero Thor, who first appeared in the comic book “Journey into Mystery “ #83 in August, 1962. The film releases November 8, 2013.

The crowd was then treated to an extended look at the sequel, which shows Thor arriving in the midst of an Asgardian battle in which he exchanges a few quips with Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) before dispatching some enemies with his characteristic swagger.  Taylor’s experience on Game of Thrones certainly seems to help manage the battlefield here. Then we see an extended bit of the trailer that shows Jane Foster’s arrival in Asgard and hints at the machinations of the Dark Elves.  We get some crowd-pleasing scenes between Thor and Loki, but for the most part it’s nothing we haven’t seen in the previously-released material.  We do, however, get a look at spoiler: Loki’s inevitable betrayal of Thor and even see the double-spoiler: Loki severing Thor’s hand.

thor-the-dark-worldFeige then introduces Tom Hiddleston to the stage, who apologizes for not singing (as he did yesterday for his role in The Pirate Fairy) or appearing in costume (as he did at Comic-Con).  Hiddleston is then joined by stars Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins, to raucous applause.

Another exclusive clip features Jane’s arrival in Asgard, where it’s revealed that she suffers from some sort of strange energy infection.  This disease acts out against any who attempt to harm her, defending itself and, by association, Foster.  She’s being monitored on a futuristic examination table that turns out to be a “Soulboard” or quantum field generator, continuing the blurred line between magic and technology.  Odin does not take kindly to Jane’s presence, comparing her to a goat at a banquet.  While some of the trailers make it look as if Foster will be out of the picture early on, it’s starting to look more like she’ll be an integral part of the plot throughout the movie.  The trailers have also been rather dark and dreary while these two clips featured some lighter moments and some of the humor that made the first Thor a fun ride.

captain-america-2-the-winter-soldier-concept-artCaptain America: The Winter Soldier

Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” stars Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie were on hand to greet the audience, which was then treated to a glimpse of Captain America in action via clips chosen especially for D23. Kevin Feige riveted the audience with details of the action-packed story’s highlights.

After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy—the Winter Soldier.

Based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series, first published in 1941, Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is produced by Kevin Feige, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, from a screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, and stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp and Hayley Atwell, with Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. In theaters April 4, 2014.

We get a look at Cap in his new stealthy suit as he takes a casual ride in an elevator.  He’s joined by more and more musclebound heavies – including Frank Grillo – until it becomes painfully obvious that these guys are about to attempt to bring down Captain America.  He gives them the option of backing out (and they should have taken it).  Although it looks like they’re about to get the upper hand on Cap by the advantage of superior numbers and powerful magnetic handcuffs, Cap and his shield are just too much for the S.H.I.E.L.D. thugs and their stun batons.  He leaves the bodies in a pile and slings his shield back over his arm, like a boss.

captain-america-the-winter-soldierThen, an extended trailer shows Cap’s moral struggle with what he’s being asked to do for S.H.I.E.L.D. as it conflicts with his patriotic beliefs.  Chris Evans and Robert Redford have a heart to heart about the way the world is and the way the world should be.  This conversation is extended in a similar setup between Cap and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury.  There are a couple of quick fight sequences featuring Cap and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, plus Anthony Mackie’s Falcon in some aerial battles with jet fighters.  Multiple S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarriers are seen and it looks like they’re really amping up their firepower.  The trailer ends with a fiery crash of a helicarrier into the river and a slow pan up to the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) picking up Cap’s dinged-up shield.

Feige said they just finished filming and Evans tells a story about going to Disneyland to celebrate and he planned a trip visit during D23, so he invited the whole audience to come with him.

Then we’re treated to a rough cut of a new clip, which features Cap and Widow exchanging some banter on a jet (Widow keeps trying to set Cap up on a date.)  Then, Cap dives out of the jet into the water without the aid of a parachute.  Cap then climbs the anchor chain onto a tanker ship.  He pretty much goes full-on Metal Gear Solid at this point and takes out a number of guards in a very fluid and efficient fighting style that incorporates the shield quite a bit.  Eventually, the rest of the team lands and helps Cap clean up the rest of the guards on the tanker ship.  It’s interesting to note Cap’s violent but non-lethal style of fighting vs Widow’s execution style of marksmanship.  While I’m a big fan of the propaganda style of Captain America: The First Avenger, I’m really looking forward to this sleek political thriller that forces Steve Rogers to either stick to his moral code or toe the party line.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-concept-art-finalGuardians of the Galaxy

Kevin Feige then introduced the epic space adventure Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and thrilled the crowd with a clip from the film, which went into production in London in June.

Based on the Marvel comic book that first appeared in 1969, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” is produced by Kevin Feige, directed by James Gunn from a story by Nicole Perlman and Gunn and screenplay by James Gunn, and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with Benicio del Toro, John C. Reilly and Glenn Close. The film is slated for an August 1, 2014 release.

A new clip introduces Chris Pratt as Star Lord, who is attempting to steal an artifact and is interrupted by a trio of guards, one of whom is Djimon Honsou.  The scene establishes James Gunn’s particular brand of humor – which is perfectly suited for this unconventional band of heroes – and also introduces the rest of the Guardians: the muscled-out Dave Bautista as Drax, Zoe Saldana as a sassy and intimidating Gamora, and the crowd-pleasers, Groot and Rocket Raccoon, though there is still no voice for either.

The intro was followed by a quick sequence of fights featuring each of the Guardians, ending with a pissed-off Star-Lord taking on a prison guard for listening to his tape player.  There wasn’t much more in the way of Marvel announcements, except for a teaser for the 2015 film, Avengers: Age of Ultron with a shot of Ultron’s head that came from a denting and reforming of Iron Man’s helmet.

Be sure to check out our other D23 coverage at the following links:




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