Pixar’s latest movie, Turning Red, was a big deal in a lot of ways.
It was the studio’s first feature film to be solely directed by a woman, Toronto’s own Domee Shi (the Oscar-winning short Bao), as well as its first to feature a predominantly Asian cast. What’s more, the movie was a rare opportunity for Toronto to play itself, rather than an American city, while also featuring Canadian talent like Ottawa’s Sandra Oh (Killing Eve) and Mississauga’s Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (Never Have I Ever).
Turning Red also, incidentally, was just the first in a slew of new Disney+ originals featuring significant Canadian connections. In fact, a quick glance at the streamer’s upcoming film and TV slate reveals many projects in which Canadians play prominent roles both in front of and behind the camera. The future of Marvel and Star Wars, in particular, is looking quite Canadian.
With all of that said, here’s a breakdown of major upcoming Disney+ titles, in order of release, that heavily feature Canadians:
Obi-Wan Kenobi — May 27th, 2022 (two-episode premiere)
Synopsis: Ten years after the events of Revenge of the Sith, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi comes out of hiding to embark on a critical mission.
Canadian connections: While Obi-Wan himself is once again played by Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, two of the key players that he’s working with on Obi-Wan Kenobi are Canadian.
Notably, the series reunites Obi-Wan with his former apprentice, Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, with Vancouver’s own Hayden Christensen reprising the role from George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels. (Christensen is also expected to return in the currently undated Ahsoka series, which stars Rosario Dawson as the eponymous former Jedi and apprentice of Anakin.)
On top of that, Toronto-raised Deborah Chow, who helmed multiple episodes of The Mandalorian, is directing all six episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi. In an interview, Chow even talked about sharing “Canadian pride” on set with Christensen.
Ms. Marvel — June 8th, 2022
Synopsis: Pakistani-American teen Kamala Khan balances family responsibilities and school with newfound superpowers.
Canadian connections: Kamala is played by Markham, Ontario’s Iman Vellani, a newcomer who’s previously worked with TIFF and, like Kamala, is an Avengers fangirl. On top of the Disney+ series, Vellani will co-star in next year’s The Marvels alongside Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) and Teyonah Parris (Monica Rambeau).
She-Hulk — TBA 2022
Synopsis: We don’t have official story details yet, but we do know that the series will focus on Jennifer Walters, lawyer and cousin of Bruce Banner/The Hulk, as she turns green and develops her own powers.
Canadian connections: Regina’s own Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) leads the cast as Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk, while Mark Ruffalo and Tim Roth reprise their MCU roles of Banner/Hulk and Emil Blonsky/Abomination, respectively.
Secret Invasion — TBA 2022
Synopsis: Nick Fury re-teams with the alien Talos to stop the shapeshifting Skrulls, who have infiltrated all aspects of life on Earth.
Canadian connections: While Samuel L. Jackson (Fury), Ben Mendelsohn (Talos) and most of the remaining principal cast aren’t Canadian, Secret Invasion does see Vancouver’s Cobie Smulders reprise her long-running MCU role of Maria Hill. It’s also worth noting that the series had a secret one-day shoot in Toronto to wrap filming.
Peter Pan & Wendy — TBA 2022
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Synopsis: David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon) directs this live-action remake of the Disney animated classic Peter Pan, starring Alexander Molony as the titular hero, Ever Anderson as Wendy, Yara Shahidi as Tinker Bell and Jude Law as Captain Hook.
Genre: Fantasy adventure
Canadian connections: On top of being filmed in Vancouver, Alberta-raised Cree actor Alyssa Wapanatâhk plays Tiger Lily, a Warrior Princess of Neverland’s Indigenous tribe.
Reservation Dogs (Season 2) — TBA 2022
Synopsis: Specific details for Season 2 have yet to be revealed, but the show is focused on four Indigenous teenagers who live on a reservation in rural Oklahoma.
Canadian connections: Three of the four leads are Canadian: Kahnawake, Quebec’s Devery Jacobs (American Gods) as Elora, Toronto’s D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai (Murdoch Mysteries) as Bear and Edmonton’s Paulina Alexis (Ghostbusters: Afterlife) as Willie. All three, plus Lane Factor (Cheese), will return for Season 2. On top of that, Jacobs has joined the all-Indigenous writer’s room for the second season.
Note: Reservation Dogs is a Hulu series in the U.S. that streams exclusively in Canada on Disney+ under the streamer’s ‘Star’ banner.
Echo — TBA (expected in 2023)
Synopsis: Exact story details for Echo are unclear, but Marvel says the series is about Maya Lopez, Alaqua Cox’s deaf superhero from Hawkeye, and her efforts to “reconnect with her Native American roots and embrace the meaning of family and community if she ever hopes to move forward.”
It’s also worth noting that Marvel fan favourites Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio are also expected to return as Daredevil and Kingpin, respectively, given their characters’ close ties to Echo.
Canadian connections: If Reservation Dogs wasn’t enough, Devery Jacobs was also recently cast as one of Echo‘s lead characters, who Deadline reports will be a “resilient and strong-willed” woman named Julie.
On top of that, Marvel says several other Indigenous Canadians have joined the cast, including Anzac, Alberta’s Tantoo Cardinal (Stumptown), Edmonton’s Cody Lightning (Four Sheets to the Wind), Six Nations Reserve, Ohsweken, Ontario’s Graham Greene (Goliath).
Moana (series) — TBA 2024
Canadian connections: Walt Disney Animation Studios opened a new office in Vancouver last year to focus on original shows, and its first co-production with the flagship Burbank, California location will be this Moana musical series.
The Muppets Mayhem — TBA
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Synopsis: Artists and repertoire junior executive Nora manages the Electric Mayhem Band as they try to record their first studio album. The Goldbergs creator Adam F. Goldberg is writing and directing the series.
Genre: Musical comedy
Canadian connections: Toronto’s Lilly Singh (A Little Late with Lilly Singh) is set to star as Nora.
Darkwing Duck reboot — TBA
Synopsis: A reboot of the original ’90s series about a duck superhero, who lived an ordinary life under the secret identity of Drake Mallard.
Genre: Animated superhero
Canadian connections: Vancouver’s own Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad) are developing the reboot through their production company, Point Grey Pictures.
Real Steel series — TBA
Synopsis: A series based on the 2011 film in which a man builds a robot with his son to compete in a boxing match.
Genre: Sci-fi, sports drama
Canadian connections: Since the project was said to be in “early development” as of January, exact details remain unknown, including whether Hugh Jackman or other actors from the film may return. We do know, however, that Montreal’s Shawn Levy, who directed Real Steel, is developing the series through his production company, 21 Laps.
Here’s an assortment of other Disney+ projects that have smaller, but still notable, Canadian connections:
- Sneakerella musical comedy film (May 13th, 2022) — filmed in and around Toronto
- Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers film (May 20th, 2022) — co-starring Toronto’s Will Arnett and Vancouver’s Seth Rogen
- Under the Banner of Heaven drama starring Andrew Garfield (June 8th, 2022) — filmed in Calgary
- Predator prequel film Prey (TBA summer 2022) — filmed in Calgary
- Live-action Percy Jackson series starring The Adam Project’s Walker Scobell (TBA) — will film in Vancouver
Of course, that only covers the streaming side. Upcoming big-screen Disney productions set to feature Canadians include this month’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (London, Ontario’s Rachel McAdams), the untitled Shang-Chi sequel starring Mississauga’s Simu Liu and the third Deadpool film from Vancouver’s Ryan Reynolds and the aforementioned Shawn Levy.
Which of these projects are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments.
Header image credit: Disney, NBC
Update: 09/05/2022 at 11:46am ET — Updated to include the premiere date for Under the Banner of Heaven.
Update2: 17/05/2022 at 11:11am ET — Alongside confirmation that Echo has begun production, Marvel has just revealed new casting for the Hawkeye spin-off, including several Indigenous-Canadian actors. We’ve updated this story to include their names.