Dan Scanlon’s ‘Onward’ Screened 8-minutes of Emotions During the D23 Expo — Read All the Details From the Panel

We wrap up the latest news surrounding”Onward”, from the 2019 D23 Expo Walt Disney Movie Panel.
Pixar Onward 2019 D23 Expo

The most highly anticipated panel throughout the entire D23 Expo is the keynote covering Disney Studios’ slate of upcoming films. Much like the packed agenda at the Disney+ panel the day prior, today’s discussion saw new announcements for the final film in the Star Wars saga, the live-action Jungle Cruise movie, and much, much more. That being said, we were also thrilled to learn more about the upcoming Pixar films — including Onward and Soul.

After Pete Docter covered the latest updates from Soul, next up was Onward where guests were greeted to an approximately 8-minute screening filled with laughs and high emotional moments.


Announced at the 2017 D23 Expo (though still untitled at that time), we were eager to hear new details surrounding the suburban fantasy film directed by, Dan Scanlon and Produced by Kori Rae. As the 8-minute clip was shown to the crowd, members of the media began to tweet story points from Onward.

Onward magic spell

On each of the boys 16th birthday, mom (Louis-Dreyfus) gave them a gift from their father (who passed away some time ago). The gift — a magic stick/staff. The letter from their father explains fading magic and gives them a spell — that spell brings their dad back for one day.

Barley (Pratt) tries the spell first but fail, after multiple attempts he gives up. Mom apologizes and said that dad wanted to see them both, how they’ve grown and who they grew up to be. Ian (Holland) noticeably sad, having never remembered his dad (as he died when Ian was a baby), looks at the letter and reads it aloud and the spell magically begins to work.

The staff begins to glow and starts to create a person, but it seems the magic is too powerful and it explodes before their father could return. However, half of their father is with them, the bottom-half that is, their father’s legs have returned.

Pixar Onward Jean Jacket Movie Poster from D23 Expo

Barley touches his dad’s legs and they begin to tap each other (a moment that numerous attendees noted was tearfully emotional). With just having their father’s legs, Ian is determined to meet his dad and both he and Barley set forth on their “grand and glorious” quest to find the replacement gem.

After the first 8-minute clip was shown a secondary scene was featured showcasing the brothers in the van, Guinevere as it breaks down (running out of gas). The brothers look for a gas station with Ian, wondering if there is a magic spell by using the staff. They dress up their dad’s legs (hiding the fact that he’s half a body), and both Ian and Barley use a spell to get gas for the van. However, instead of making gas, Ian accidentally makes his brother small.


Ian Lightfoot — Tom Holland
Barley Lightfoot — Chris Pratt
Laurel Lightfoot (Ian & Barley’s Mom) — Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Manticore — Octavia Spencer (will aid Ian and Barley along their journey – via SlashFilm)

Pixar Onward Chris Pratt and Tom Holland D23 Expo
Image via Walt Disney Studios Twitter


Set in a suburban fantasy world, Pixar’s Onward introduces two teenage elf brothers who embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left out there.


Release Date — March 6, 2020
Director — Dan Scanlon
Producer — Kori Rae
Composer — Mychael Danna & Jeff Danna

A brief history with links for additional details — Onward was first announced at the 2017 D23 Expo (August 2017) where Dan Scanlon was on stage to reveal the news. In June of 2018, it was revealed in a patent filing that Pixar had secured the name, Onward, leading people to speculate that it would be tied to this film. In December of 2018, the title of Onward was confirmed and some of the vocal cast was revealed (Julia Louis Dreyfus, Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, and Octavia Spencer).

Jumping to 2019, we first learned in April that Mychael and Jeff Danna would be scoring the film (they previously scored The Good Dinosaur). In May, we got our first look at the main characters, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, a look at the first poster, as well as the first trailer for the film.

In June, we got a sneak peek that Pixar was creating the real-life van from Onward and would be premiered at the D23 Expo. Earlier in August, a bevy of Onward-themed books started popping up on Amazon and we summarized a post of the latest titles. That pretty much brings us to today’s announcements and we’re even more excited than ever.

What are your thoughts from today’s announcement — chat with other Pixar fans in the Pixar Post Forum Onward thread.


  • March 6, 2020 — Onward
  • June 19, 2020 — Soul
  • June 18, 2021 — Unknown
  • March 18, 2022 — Unknown
  • June 17, 2022 — Unknown

Pixar Post — T.J. & Julie

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