‘In­fin­ity War’ up­stages ‘Star Wars’

Avengers steal show at star-stud­ded fan expo

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - BY LIND­SEY BAHR

A hair-rais­ing teaser trailer for “Avengers: In­fin­ity War’’ stole the show at the starstud­ded pre­sen­ta­tion of the Walt Dis­ney Stu­dios up­com­ing live-ac­tion films at the stu­dios’ fan con­ven­tion D23, up­stag­ing even “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,’’ Oprah Win­frey and Mary Pop­pins.

“Star Wars’’ fans did get a lit­tle morsel of footage in a be­hind-the-scenes fea­turette from the up­com­ing space saga and a lively panel with the film’s writer-di­rec­tor Rian John­son and a few of the film’s stars. But au­di­ences have yet to see a full trailer for the film.

In­stead, it was the ul­ti­mate Marvel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse team-up “Avengers: In­fin­ity War’’ that got fans re­ally ex­cited.

Marvel Stu­dios head Kevin Feige was on hand with a stage full of stars that in­cluded Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch as Doc­tor Strange, Tom Hol­land as Spi­der-Man, Se­bas­tian Stan as The Win­ter Sol­dier, El­iz­a­beth Olsen as The Scar­lett Witch, and Josh Brolin as the ul­ti­mate bad guy Thanos. The trailer, which has not yet been re­leased on­line, was packed to the brim with tan­ta­liz­ing scenes, in­clud­ing Thor, float­ing and near dead in deep space be­ing res­cued by the Guardians of the Gal­axy; Spi­der-Man’s hair stand­ing up on his arm; Tony Stark omi­nously warn­ing that, “He’s com­ing for us,’’ likely talk­ing about Thanos; and Thanos him­self grip­ping a weak­ened Thor’s skull and look­ing ready to crack it with ease.

“Avengers: In­fin­ity War’’ comes out May 4, 2018.

Al­most on par with the “In­fin­ity War’’ en­thu­si­asm was the re­sponse to the footage for the Mary Pop­pins se­quel “Mary Pop­pins Re­turns,’’ a colour­ful and topsy-turvy new in­stal­ment in the world of P.L. Travers from di­rec­tor Rob Mar­shall.

Emily Blunt, who takes on the role of Mary Pop­pins, said she wanted to “pay homage’’ to what Julie An­drews had done in the 1964 clas­sic but also “find my own space.’’

“I had to do my own ver­sion of her,’’ Blunt said. “I think she is a lit­tle more acer­bic and odd and vain and weird in the books. We went that di­rec­tion a lit­tle more.’’

“Hamil­ton’s’’ Lin-Manuel Mi­randa co-stars as a lamp­lighter Jack in a cast that also fea­tures Dick Van Dyke, An­gela Lans­bury, Meryl Streep and Colin Firth. “Mary Pop­pins Re­turns’’ bows on Christ­mas Day, 2018.

The stu­dio also an­nounced the cast­ing for its live-ac­tion “Aladdin’’ re­make, from di­rec­tor Guy Ritchie. Cana­dian ac­tor Mena Massoud will be play­ing the scrappy street urchin Aladdin, while “Power Rangers’’’ Naomi Scott will take on the role of Jas­mine. Will Smith was pre­vi­ously cast in the role of the Ge­nie.

“So hon­oured & grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to help bring this mag­i­cal story to life once again,’’ Massoud tweeted Satur­day. “Let’s get to work.’’

Dis­ney also set a re­lease date for its live-ac­tion “Dumbo,’’ from di­rec­tor Tim Bur­ton, for March 29, 2019.

Di­rec­tor Ava DuVer­nay was also in Ana­heim to pre­view her adap­tion of Madeleine L’En­gle’s fan­tasy clas­sic “A Wrin­kle in Time ,’’ along with stars Oprah Win­frey, Reese Wither­spoon, Mindy Kal­ing, Chris Pine and new­comer Storm Reid, who plays the film’s lead Meg.

Win­frey said she had not read the book when DuVer­nay ap­proached her about play­ing Mrs. Which. But the sell that she “was one of the wis­est women in the uni­verse and is an an­gelic ce­les­tial be­ing who is go­ing to get to wear amaz­ing cos­tumes and gets to work with Reese and Mindy as a part of the Mrs. Team’’ was some­thing she couldn’t say no to.

Au­di­ences were ex­cited to get a glimpse, too, of the be­hindthe-scenes footage of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.’’ A se­quel to “The Force Awak­ens,’’ ‘’The Last Jedi” picks up with that film’s near-lit­eral cliffhanger when Daisy Ri­d­ley’s Rey and Mark Hamill’s Luke Sky­walker meet.

John­son laughed that this wasn’t his first job for Dis­ney — he worked for the com­pany’s Dis­ney Chan­nel be­fore he made his first film.

“Pre ‘High School Mu­si­cal’ Dis­ney Chan­nel,’’ John­son added.

He was joined on­stage by Ri­d­ley, Hamill, John Boyega, Laura Dern, Gwen­do­line Christie, Kelly Marie Tran and Beni­cio Del Toro to hype the film and their shared love of Star Wars.

Cu­ri­ous new­comer Tran, John­son said, treated the whole pro­duc­tion like “an episode of Mr. Rogers,’’ as she ex­plored ev­ery cor­ner of pro­duc­tion, while Dern, also new to the se­ries, couldn’t help but mouth the word “pew’’ when shoot­ing her blaster dur­ing film­ing.


A crowd of peo­ple waits to en­ter the D23 Expo as crews do in­ter­views out­side the Ana­heim Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Ana­heim, Calif., on Fri­day. A trailer for “Avengers: In­fin­ity War’’ stole the show at the star-stud­ded pre­sen­ta­tion of the Walt Dis­ney Stu­dios up­com­ing live-ac­tion films at the stu­dios’ fan con­ven­tion D23, up­stag­ing even “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.’’

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