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D23 Reveals Plenty for Disney Diehards, But ‘Star Wars’ Galaxy Remains Dim

Movie Talk

D23 Reveals Plenty for Disney Diehards, But ‘Star Wars’ Galaxy Remains Dim

Marvel's 'Thor: The Dark World' and 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'.

With all the amazing animation announcements Disney dropped on day 1 of the D23 Expo, you might think day 2's live-action announcements couldn't possibly compare.

Well, you're right.

It's not that today's stuff wasn't good – we did get alluring first looks at "Maleficent" and "Tomorrowland" and gritty new clips from "Thor 2" and "Cap 2" – but the biggest news of the day may just be the lack of news.

While Mouse House fans may be fully satiated with today's presentation, LucasFilms fans looking for any "Star Wars" reboot scraps shall remain hungry.

"It's gonna be great," said Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn, and honestly, that's about the juiciest tidbit we got, except for confirmation that it will open in the summer of 2015.

Add to that the lack of "Pirates of the Caribbean 5" news, no Vin Diesel announcement, and nothing new about Marvel's "The Avengers 2: The Age of Ultron," and it's safe to say that the lack of news outshined some really great stuff that Disney did present.

Oh well, such is the world of expectations we live in.

That said, the worlds that Disney did present give us plenty to chew on. So here's the Five things were most hungry for:

[Related: D23 - Our Five Most-Anticipated Animated Worlds]

Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth in Marvel Studios' 'Thor: The Dark World'.

1. Thor: The Dark World (November 8, 2013)

At this point, no news is good news, since "Thor 2" is due out this fall. But since it's Marvel, any new footage tends to be good news as well.

Aside from showing recycled Comic-con footage and bringing out stars Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, and Anthony Hopkins (who garnered a standing ovation), Marvel Studios also showed off a never-seen clip featuring Jane Foster's (Portman) first day in Asgard.

As Thor (Chris Hemsworth) looks on, Jane lays atop an Asgardian operating table. Doctors are prodding her, concerned about whether she can survive an energy that's consuming her. Thor is obviously worried, but Jane seems fascinated by the physics of it all.

Odin (Hopkins) comes in, and he's not happy about Asgard's new human guest.

"She's ill," says Thor.

"She's mortal," responds Odin, before he compares her to a goat.

When a guard tries to remove Jane from the table, the energy in her body acts as a force field, and the guard is thrown to the floor. The doctors conclude that Jane's infection is defending itself.

So we've got that puzzlement to chew on. Mmmm, tasty.

[Related: Chris Hemsworth Interview & New Trailer Help Shed Light on ‘Thor: The Dark World’]

2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4, 2014)

After introducing Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie, and Sebastian Stan, Marvel honcho Kevin Feige asked Stan what happened to his character, Bucky Barnes, at the end of "Captain America: The First Avenger."

"He lived," answered Stan. If you're a fan of the comics, you know Barnes turns into the titular Winter Soldier. Fans then got to see The Winter Soldier in all his terrifying glory during a seismic sizzle reel (the same one shown at Comic-Con.)

But it's the new footage that's got us beyond stoked. Though still missing much of the computer finishing, Marvel showed off a new clip, chockfull of outstanding action, and even a little of that Marvel humor we've grown to love.

The clip starts with Cap (Evans), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Brock Rumlow (aka Crossbones, played by Frank Grillo), and a host of other S.H.I.E.L.D operatives getting ready to jump out of an airplane. Natasha and Cap obviously have an easy banter going, as she asks him about his dating life, suggesting that he might be interested in one of the girls of S.H.I.E.L.D. (sounds like a good calendar, eh?). Cap doesn't have time for that, as he's got an airplane to jump out of, though he's got no chute.

Cap plummets through the sky, and pulls off the world's greatest high dive. He knives into the water below, swims underneath an ocean liner, climbs up the anchor, than swiftly and silently kicks the crap out of the entire crew. It's Cap deadlier (and darker) than we've ever seen him before. He's obviously been training, as his fighting style is much more fluid, with hints of parkour deftly mixed in. (Evans tells us about some of his training in the exclusive interview above.)

But when it looks like Cap might be outnumbered, his S.H.I.E.L.D. cohorts parachute down and take out the rest of the bad guys. As the team walks towards the ship's bridge, Natasha and Cap resume their conversation, with Natasha recommending a different S.H.I.E.L.D. girl for Cap to date.

3. Cinderella (March 13, 2015)

With Angelina Jolie surprising the audience to present spectacular new footage, the presentation of "Maleficent" was probably the best of the day. So good, that we wrote a separate story about that.

But Maleficent isn't the only live-action title to mine Disney's rich animated past. In fact, that's somewhat of a theme for the Mouse House, as three of our top 5 reveals take this approach.

Though no cast or crew came out to present, director Kenneth Branagh showed up via video to show off the first looks at the film, which stars Lily James as Cinderella, Richard Madden as Prince Charming, Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother, and Cate Blanchett as the wickedest of wicked stepmothers, Lady Tremaine.

Over stills, drawings, and footage in various states of development, Branagh described a world where our heroine is strong but kind, where we see the politics of the court, and where familiar story elements – like the glass slipper and the pumpkin coach – come alive in fantastic ways.

[Related: Angelina Jolie Scared All the Kids on the 'Maleficent' Set — Except One]

4. Tomorrowland (December 12, 2014)

Shrouded in mystery until now, Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof came on the D23 stage to clear up a thing or two about the futuristic film. Or perhaps they just came out to swirl more mystery. Either way, they've got our attention.

The film, which stars George Clooney as a brilliant inventor involved in the Tomorrowland project, is apparently inspired by a box, oddly titled "1952," which was discovered deep in the basements of Disney's animation archives.

The presentation began with a portrait of Walt Disney as an innovative futurist, with a clip of the main mouse himself imagining an idyllic future: "A place where people live a life they can't find anywhere else in the world."

After that, Lindelof and Bird showed off the actual box, and the eerie contents within: a photo of Walt's head attached to Carey Grant's body, a 1928 issue of "Amazing Stories" with a cryptically encoded story about Armageddon, and a dried up plan for the Small World exhibit at the 1964 World Fair (which was then moved to Disneyland), but when you look at the plan with a blue light, there are designs for a secretive structure underneath the exhibit.

But the "coolest thing in the box," according to Lindelof, is a scratched up disc from 1963 with never-before-seen animation. Disney presented some of the restored animation to the crowd at D23, but that only made this whole project all the more strange: Cave paintings yield to Egyptians farming as a narrator notes the dark cost of progress. An oceanliner becomes a battleship. An airplane becomes a bomber. An atomic bomb explodes. Than the imagery gets brighter: the narrator speaks of a tomorrow we need not fear – one we can aspire to. He says they are building that tomorrow, as a beacon of hope for humankind.

So we've got a beacon of hope to look forward to, which is nice.

[Related: Top-secret ‘Tomorrowland’ Could Include Genius Inventor, Alternate Dimension and Prepubescent Girl Robot]

5. Saving Mr. Banks (December 20, 2013)

With "Saving Mr. Banks," Tom Hanks will give us our first big-screen look at Walt Disney's personal life. "Banks" tells the story of Disney's 20-year struggle to get the rights to "Mary Poppins" from her creator, P.L. Travers, played with proud rigidity by Emma Thompson.

Disney unveiled three new extended clips, and while all the footage leaves us loving Walt and Tom more than ever, we didn't witness anything that makes us feel any differently than we did after viewing the trailer above.

However, to cap off the day's presentation, Disney unleashed the goose-bumps. Jason Schwartzman and P.J. Oliver, who play the legendary songwriting Sherman brothers in the film, came out on stage to sing "Let's Go Fly a Kite," with Schwartzman tickling the ivories. Then Richard Sherman himself came out and joined the boys. Singing, confetti, and kite-waving Disney dancers filled the hall with joy, just as you'd expect from a Disney show.

[Related: ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ Trailer Reveals the Unknown ‘Mary Poppins’ Backstory]

See photos from D23's Animation Reveals: