To make Disney Plus a success, the streaming service has trawled through the vast Disney vaults to bring you an enormous back-catalogue of content, including its entire animation library and a collection of live-action forays equal parts beloved and, er, best left forgotten. There's also a roster of great stuff from Fox, Marvel Studios and National Geographic.
However, where Disney Plus has really shined is its introduction of original series. First and foremost is The Mandalorian, which looks as glossy as Game Of Thrones and introduced the world to the adorable Baby Yoda. We've also got offbeat series like The World According to Jeff Goldblum or the excellent Short Circuit, a collection of experimental shorts by Disney animators and filmmakers.
Is this not what 2020 vision means? From #ToyStory 4 and Aladdin to #LizzieMcGuire and WandaVision, here’s a look into our future at the blockbusters and Originals coming to #DisneyPlus this year. pic.twitter.com/QHGMHat89n1 January 2020
As Disney Plus gears up to launch in the UK and other international markets, plenty of early adopters are going to wonder if the streaming service is worth a long-term subscription. If it's original content you're after, check below: in no particular order, this is our pick of the brand new stuff coming to Disney Plus this year.
1. Muppets Now
Kermit! Miss Piggy! Fozzy bear! Everyone's favourite childhood friends are back in Muppets Now, an "unscripted" series of shorts featuring celebrity guests. No other details are known at this time (including any official release date), but Muppets Now will hopefully be chock-full of the songs, pop-culture lampooning and family-friendly wit that made the first family of felt so popular many years ago.
Shorts are an interesting angle to take with the Muppets, rather than a full-size series in the same vein as The Muppet Show. However, the easily-digestible format with celebrity guests might find a second life as bite-sized, shareable nuggets of content. And who knows—if the shorts do well, we could see another full-sized Muppets film on the way, like the beloved Muppet Treasure Island or Muppet Christmas Carol.
2. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Initially dismissed as a cash-in for kiddies, Star Wars: The Clone Wars began to woo plenty of fans over the course of its six seasons, as its story deepened and the characters of Anakin, Obi-Wan and new creation Ahsoka grew layered and more complex. All this retroactive storytelling serves to make sense of the parts of the prequel trilogy that were left in a mess by George Lucas, while the long-form format has allowed characters to breathe and grow.
Now, after much clamouring, the final season of Clone Wars will be released as a Disney Plus Original in February this year. Get ready for plenty of tense lightsaber duels and a few emotional final scenes between fan-favourite characters. Oh, and Darth Maul's in it, along with his very cool double-bladed lightsaber.
3. The Falcon And The Winter Soldier
Marvel fans were already going to pick up Disney Plus for the impressive library of films on offer, but Disney has also commissioned eight Mandalorian-style limited series, with two more in the works. Although WandaVision, Loki and Hawkeye are in the pipeline, all featuring the Avengers movie stars, the series will also introduce characters like Moon Knight, She-Hulk and Ms Marvel to the MCU.
However, first up for release in August is The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan from the Captain America films, the series follows life after Endgame as Captain America's shield passes on to a worthy successor. The pair will also clash with old enemy Baron Zemo (last seen in Captain America: Civil War) and new rival US Agent. Yes, like "USA". Very subtle.
Following on from 2019's accessible DisneyNature documentary Penguins, very few details are known about Elephant. Its predecessor was a nature documentary more concerned with delivering a heartwarming (if saccharine) narrative than depicting the savage circle of life. Make no mistake: this is the natural world through Disney's lens, but it was a gorgeous lens to look through with sumptuous Antarctic cinematography.
We're expecting Elephant, which is rumoured to be narrated by Megan Markle, to be more of the same: a trek across Africa in which a plucky young elephant overcomes all odds. It's likely to showcase the natural world in all its stunning glory, even it does have the sharp edges sanded off for younger viewers.
5. Monsters At Work
First came the clever, funny and touching Monsters Inc., then the big-budget prequel, Monsters University. Now, Bob Iger has ordered those monsters to get back to scaring—and earning the Mouse some money—in a new web series titled Monsters at Work.
Set six months after Monsters Inc., the story follows a Monsters Inc. employee named Tylor as he meets his heroes Mike and Sully. All the old voices are present, such as John Goodman, Billy Crystal and even Disney mainstay John Ratzenburger as the Abominable (adorable, agreeable) Snowman. Set to debut this year, although the exact date is unknown, Monsters at Work looks set to capture all the charm of the original film.
Something for the tweens who prefer high-school drama to bombastic Marvel movies. Set to be released in March, Stargirl is a Disney Plus adaptation of the award-winning young adult novel by Jerry Spinelli. Starring teen musician Grace VanderWaal, Stargirl centres around a quirky new arrival that changes her school (and the life of young protagonist Leo) for the better by refusing to fit in.
Aimed squarely at the Fault In Our Stars crowd, Stargirl has all the makings of a young adult classic. However, it definitely won't be for everyone: those put off by heartfelt teenage dramas, in which characters learn it's okay to be themselves after an eventful prom, are unlikely to be converted.
7. The Mandalorian: Season Two
Bounty hunting is a complicated profession... and one that can't accurately be conveyed in a single season. Join Pedro Pascal's ice-cold, Man With No Name-style protagonist as he escorts Baby Yoda around the galaxy, chasing after wanted criminals and keeping Disney's newest merchandising cash cow safe from interstellar kidnappers.
What else needs to be said? Season one of the Star Wars series has already proven itself a massive success. With more Star Wars projects such as the Obi-Wan series in development, season two was going to be inevitable. Expect a release date to firm up at the tail-end of this year.