Opinion: Lucasfilm Delivers in Half-Measures During Its D23 Expo 2022 Presentation

As a lifelong Lucasfilm fan, I went into this past weekend’s presentation from the company at D23 Expo 2022 excited by not really knowing what to expect. A couple of years ago during Disney’s “Investor Day” announcements we got a long list of new project reveals coming from Lucasfilm, and those are still in the process of being realized, so I wasn’t sure whether we’d get updates on those or perhaps fresh titles to add to the slate.

The answer was definitely the former, with the George-Lucas founded institution (now run by current president Kathleen Kennedy) choosing to simply remind us of what we already knew, and give us a handful of new teases for upcoming content from the Star Wars, Willow, and Indiana Jones franchises.

Lucasfilm’s presentation was only one-third of a larger exhibition dedicated to Walt Disney Studios’ recently acquired subsidiaries (the other two being Marvel Studios and 20th Century Studios), so the company understandably had a limited amount of time to dedicate to each project. But from the top it seemed like Kennedy, as host, would make the best of the time allotted, introducing the charming Star Wars: Andor cast and showing the audience the final trailer for the highly anticipated Rogue One prequel series.

Up next was Willow, the follow-up series to the underrated 1988 Ron Howard film. Here again we met the cast (though they didn’t seem quite as stage-ready as the Andor performers) and got an excellent new trailer that made me even more excited to return to this sword-and-sorcery fantasy world. So far, so good.

Here’s where things started to feel a little rushed. Kennedy brought out Lucasfilm Executive Creative Director Dave Filoni, who revealed that the release date for the second season of the popular animated series Star Wars: The Bad Batch had been pushed back to January of next year, after first being announced for this fall. I think the crowd would have loved some more information about The Bad Batch at this point, but Filoni quickly shuffled on to the next topic.

We did get a cool trailer for the upcoming series of animated shorts Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi (not to be confused with the 1990s Dark Horse comic book of the same name) and a release date of October 26 for the entire collection. This series is generating a lot of buzz due to its focus on the fan-favorite characters of Ahsoka Tano and Count Dooku.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of Lucasfilm’s presentation was the lack of any real updates for Star Wars: Ahsoka, except for a couple of new still images showcasing the characters of Ahsoka Tano and Sabine Wren. I think those in attendance were expecting an appearance by series star Rosario Dawson or at the very least a release of the footage shown in May at Star Wars Celebration. Instead, we’ll have to wait for more on Ahsoka as next year approaches.

And then came Star Wars: Skeleton Crew– an upcoming live-action series we know very little about. We did get creators Jon Watts and Christopher Ford (from Marvel Studios’ recent Spider-Man trilogy) on stage reminding us that the premise of Skeleton Crew involves a group of kids who get lost in the Star Wars galaxy, and we saw a new image highlighting Jude Law’s character just before the actor himself took the stage to say hi. But again, more information (or maybe some footage, since the series is already well into production) would have been nice.

The Star Wars section of Lucasfilm’s presentation wrapped up with the very welcome cast of The Mandalorian (including Pedro Pascal, Emily Swallow, Katee Sackhoff, Amy Sedaris, and Giancarlo Esposito) taking the stage and relating some very amusing stories from production of that series. Then we finally got an official release of a trailer for The Mandalorian season three, so this portion of the morning’s proceedings was indeed well-received.

And next came the real highlight of Lucasfilm’s showcase: Indiana Jones 5 (of which we still don’t know the full title, unless it is simply Indiana Jones). Kennedy presented a first look at footage from next summer’s sequel, and I have to admit it brought tears to my eyes. The return of John Rhys-Davies as Sallah, the flashbacks to Indy in his prime, the action-heavy setpieces set in the late 1960s– all of it points to a nostalgic return to form for the swashbuckling adventurer. Then Harrison Ford himself came out alongside new costar Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and the star got so emotional talking about his final turn as famed archaeologist Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. that the crowd couldn’t help but become even more choked up along with him. So ending on Indy 5 made perfect sense to me, and definitely converted me from “cautiously optimistic” to “genuinely excited” for the film. So Lucasfilm’s presentation did have some very high points, but I believe I’m not alone in saying I would have appreciated some additional announcements (like an Indiana Jones title, come on) or more content from the projects that got breezed past like The Bad Batch and Ahsoka. And what’s going on with the theatrical Star Wars films we were promised? I suppose we won’t know for a while. Still, I’m thrilled that Lucasfilm is back to meaning more than just Star Wars these days, and I’m absolutely looking forward to what the future holds for the company.

For much more from D23 Expo 2022, be sure to check out the rest of LaughingPlace.com’s coverage of the event.

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Mike Celestino
Mike serves as Laughing Place's lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly "Who's the Bossk?" Star Wars podcast. He's been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general all his life and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.