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It’s a busy month at Disney+, especially for familiar characters enjoying Halloween-themed adventures (sometimes in a galaxy far, far away). October also sees the arrival of a big MCU title, a documentary about a pioneering explorer, and some peeks behind the Disney curtain. But first, can The Force stand up to things that go bump in the night?
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LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales (Disney+, October 1)
In what might be the closest we get to a direct sequel to Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker for a while, this Halloween-inspired special finds Poe Dameron and BB8 paying a visit to the terrifying planet Mustafar where they discover that Darth Vader’s castle has been taken over by Graballa the Hutt. Over the course of their visit they get a chance to hear some scary stories from throughout the history of Star Wars. All this sounds like kind of a stretch for Star Wars, but last year’s LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special was super charming, so maybe it’s best not to ask too many questions.
Among the Stars (October 6)
This six-part documentary series takes a look at the continuing mission of NASA via the story of Captain Chris Cassidy, a veteran astronaut who made his final flight in 2020 before retiring. Space tourism might have opened up trips beyond the atmosphere to tourists, but there’s still work to be done up there.
Black Widow (October 6)
Will Black Widow end up being just as famous for the lawsuit it inspired star Scarlett Johansson to file as for anything that happens within the film itself? If so, that would be kind of a shame. Delayed by the pandemic, it debuted in theaters and as a premium add-on for Disney+ subscribers earlier this year. (Hence the lawsuit. Johansson is claiming that this made the film less profitable.) It’s a pretty solid spy movie with an MCU twist, and while the final act feels a bit like the end of virtually every Marvel movie it’s otherwise a nice spotlight for the character Johansson helped make famous beyond the pages of comic books.
What If…? (October 6)
Another Marvel project draws to a close with this final entry in the first season of this animated series, which looks at alternate MCU timeline. It’s been a mostly fun experiment and, as usual, Marvel and Disney are keeping the premise of this season finale under wraps. What if… they didn’t? Presumably that would spoil the fun.
Muppets Haunted Mansion (October 8)
Elsewhere, Disney-affiliated worlds collide when the Great Gonzo pays a visit to the haunted property that’s delighted visitors to Disney’s parks for decades. Expect to see some familiar faces during the visit — part of the fun of Muppet projects like this is seeing which Muppet will slip into which role — as well as three new songs.
Just Beyond (Disney+, October 13)
It’s been a busy year for R.L. Stine, the writer who’s now helped introduce several generations of readers into tales of the strange, uncanny, bizarre, and frightening. That’s mostly been via Stine’s Goosebumps books, but Netflix’s (decidedly R-rated) Fear Street movies proved that his works for older readers could make the transition as well. Now comes Just Beyond, an anthology series adapted from Stine’s books for middle school-age readers. That sounds like a good fit for Disney+ and the series promises “witches, aliens, ghosts and parallel universes,” making its Halloween-season debut a case of good timing.
Marvel Studios Assembled: The Making of Black Widow (October 20)
In spite of the behind-the-scenes tumult, Black Widow, like all MCU movies, took a lot of work to make, as evidenced by this behind-the-scenes documentary. Disney+ has constantly provided fans with making-of documentaries, and it’s always impressive to see the tricks of the trade (especially since it’s sometimes specials like these that inspire the next generation of creators to see if they can top what’s been done before).
Marvel Studios Assembled: The Making of What If…? (October 27)
That’s true of animation as well. What If…? is an unusual project, so it should be intriguing to see how its storylines were chosen and look at the challenges of bringing a familiar movie world into a different medium.
McFarland, USA (October 29)
Kevin Costner stars in this fact-inspired sports movie about a football coach who shifts gears to focus on coaching a cross-country team when he takes a job in the largely Latino California city of the title. Directed by Niki Caro (Whale Rider, Mulan), the film earned some strong reviews when it hit theaters in 2015. (It’s a Kevin Costner sports movie. What are the odds of it not being winning?)
Bob Ballard: An Explorer’s Life (October 29)
From the National Geographic corner of the Disney+ universe comes this look at the career of oceanographer Bob Ballard. Ballard’s best known for discovering the wreckage of the Titanic in 1985, but he didn’t stop there. He also explored the wreckage of the Luistania, JFK’s PT-109 and more.