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The Best of Lucasfilm’s D23 Presentation

No news is good news, especially when presented by the likes of Emily Swallow and Indiana Jones – we mean, Harrison Ford.
Lucasfilm D Expo Indiana Jones Harrison Ford
Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney
By  · Published on September 15th, 2022

Star Wars Explained is our ongoing series, where we delve into the latest Star Wars shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. In this entry, we recall the best moments from Lucasfilm’s D23 Expo presentation that were not released to the public.

Before the Lucasfilm presentation at the D23Expo began last week, a thought rumbled through the cynical shadows in my brain, “What could Kathleen Kennedy possibly show us today that they didn’t already announce at Star Wars Celebration?” And for the most part, the dark pessimist within was proven right.

Lucasfilm did not make too many bold declarations at D23. No new movies. No new TV shows. We got some release dates, some posters, some production images, and some trailers. They look pretty rad, especially the Tales of the Jedi animated series, which will feature stories from various points along Ahsoka Tano’s and Count Dooku’s timelines. Young Qui-Gon Jinn, I am very much here for it.

However, at Star Wars Celebration, they got a full Tales of the Jedi segment. Where was our D23 segment? Considering the show will hit Disney+ in its entirety on October 26th, it sure would have been nice to have seen something substantial. Sad face.

The Mandalorian Squad

The Lucasfilm panel mostly underscored four properties: Andor, The Mandalorian, Willow, and Indiana Jones. Their day began with the Rogue One spin-off pumping us up for the event with a Rebellion sizzle reel. Imagine all the critical moments from Cassian Andor’s cinematic debut with a few sprinklings from A New Hope. Those careening their necks desperate to see shots from Star Wars: Rebels were left crestfallen.

Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni came out for The Mandalorian and a little Ahsoka chatter. Most were hoping to catch a little Rosario Dawson footage, but no dice. The frames they showed from Mandalorian were primarily constructed from bits previously caught at Star Wars Celebration or in the current teaser. However, as was the case with Marvel Studios’ big D23 showing, Lucasfilm’s best bits were provided by the folks on the stage.

From The Mandalorian, Favreau, Filoni, and the newly appointed Season 3 producer Rick Famuyiwa invited the cast to join them. To the expected applause strolled Katee Sackhoff, Emily Swallow, Amy Sedaris, Giancarlo Esposito, and Pedro Pascal. Some of these folks had never stood before 7000 fans, and a giddiness came over them as they gazed into the crowd.

The last time The Mandalorian presented at the D23 Expo, no one but those making the series had seen any footage. The reaction they received from the audience on Saturday was a genuine reverence for the show, and they all soaked it in. It caused some presenters to lose themselves in the best possible way.

D23: Lucasfilm Mandalorian Cast
Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

Amy Sedaris, Katee Sackhoff and Emily Swallow speak onstage during D23 Expo 2022

Emily Swallow Takes a Hint

After Pedro Pascal reflected upon what it’s like to come to the conference with confidence, knowing the viewers loved his show, Kathleen Kennedy directed a question toward Emily Swallow. She had not gotten the memo that these things are supposed to be fluffy light showcases. Instead, she thoughtfully explored how she communicated her Armorer to the audience.

“We had to find a language for these characters,” she said. “We were all moving around in this new territory and these new sets. You’re only seeing part of these characters. What emotions are [the audience] reading? It was a collaborative effort, and you learned that less is more.”

Swallow eased into the thought. You could see something click behind her eyes. She wanted to share and let us know how she finally figured out her character and how a familial relationship became the key.

“Growing up,” Swallow continued, “my father was a military man…very kind, very loving, but the most frightening thing was when I’d done something wrong, and I knew it. I would go talk to my dad, and I knew he was going to say something about it, and I was just waiting for him to say it. But he would say nothing at all, and he just looked at me. I was just waiting for him to say the thing, and that was the most terrifying thing of all. That was the thing that made me look inward and think – to have that self-reflection and think about what I needed to process…that’s the way the Armorer functions.”

Amy Sedaris snuck in a joke about daddy issues, and Kathleen Kennedy seized the opportunity. “I can see you’re making up for lost time for being silent,” she said. “Let’s shift to Giancarlo.” There was quiet laughter in response, but there was more silence than chuckling. This was Kathleen Kennedy’s show, and she didn’t have time for actorly contemplation. It was quite a telling moment.

Paging Dr. Jones

Lucasfilm won their day by closing out the party with Indiana Jones. Director James Mangold came out first for a little set-up, but the hype didn’t start until Phoebe WallerBridge and Harrison Ford appeared arm-in-arm after a little sneak peek. At Star Wars Celebration, the Indiana Jones excitement centered around John Williams, having just turned ninety, conducting a medley of Star Wars and Indy music. At the D23 Expo, Ford was the guy.

Dr. Jones is getting up there in age too. He’s eighty and still willing to jump on a horse for us, but as he made it clear, he will not be falling off those beasts for us again. This Indiana Jones is the last Indiana Jones, at least with him wearing the fedora. But tell that to Peter Cushing, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill. Their digital doubles are already well-worn, and based on what we saw in the Indiana Jones teaser; it’s not hard to imagine a CGI Indy riding into the sunset over and over again for the next hundred years.

The footage began with Sallah (John Rhys Davies) pleading with an unseen Indiana. “I miss the desert,” he says. “I miss the sea. I miss waking up every morning wondering what wonderful adventure the new day will bring to us.” Indy responds bluntly, “Those days have come and gone.” And Sallah is quick to respond, “Perhaps. Perhaps not.”

Indiana Jones and…?

The Indiana Jones trailer has everything you want except the rest of its title. Indiana Jones and WHAT? You can’t Scream 5 us here. You gotta give us more than Indiana Jones, even if it’s got a Crystal Skull in it.

We see Indiana racing across a train. We watch him charge through streets in a suit while atop a horse. We even get a plane versus a motorcycle and an Indiana Jones across multiple timelines requiring a digitally de-aged Harrison Ford. Still, not a hundred percent sold on that, but the rest got me going.

People may have left the Lucasfilm D23 presentation wanting in terms of Star Wars, but no one left the hall unimpressed by Indiana Jones or Harrison Ford. The film looks a little funky, slightly askew from the visual aesthetic that Steven Speilberg always provided, but not in a bad way. James Mangold injects some serious speed into the frames, promising an Indy flick as we’ve never had before. Those in attendance were totally open to it, and it was the perfect primer for the Marvel Studios panel that followed. When Kevin Feige appeared, he seemed a little nervous even. A tough feat to accomplish.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)