It's been five years since we were introduced to the videogame misfits from Disney's "Wreck-It Ralph." And in that time, characters like Ralph (John C. Reilly), Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer), and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) have become cartoon favorites, fixtures at the Disney Parks and the Disney Cruise Line (where there's a very cute Sugar Rush-themed sweet shop), and in videogames like "Disney Infinity." So it's no surprise that a follow-up is on the way.
"Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2" (have fun squeezing that onto a marquee), directed by the original film's Rich Moore and co-directed and co-written by Phil Johnston (a writer on the first film), will smash onto screens on November 21, 2018.
But with the movie a little more than a year away, what do we actually know about it?
1. All Your Favorites Will Be Back
Reilly, McBrayer, and Silverman will return, along with Jane Lynch, who played the tough-as-nails military leader Calhoun. Alan Tudyk, who played King Candy (aka Turbo) in the first film, is also expected to return, although it's unclear if he'll be reprising his role or will be essaying a new character. (He's appeared in every Walt Disney Animation Studios film since the first "Ralph," turning into something of a lucky charm for the studio.) The reason they've traveled into the Internet is because Sugar Rush is broken and they need a replacement part.
2. Taraji P. Henson Plays a New Character
Taraji P. Henson, currently enjoying a career second wind thanks to "Empire" and "Hidden Figures," will be playing a new character called Yesss. Yesss is like a personified search engine (she was described as an "algorithm" earlier this year), and she helps Ralph and Vanellope traverse the strange and confusing world of The Internet.
In the clip they showed at this year's D23 Expo, she exuded cool. This is going to be a very fun character to see interact with our beloved favorites.
3. Kanye West Will Not Be Making an Appearance
One of the world's biggest "Wreck-It Ralph" fans is none other than Kanye West. He referred to himself as "the glitch" in a television interview. On Twitter, Kanye used a gif of Ralph smashing Vanellope's Sugar Rush kart to describe how he was feeling. Unfortunately, Mr. West will not be making an appearance in the sequel. It's sort of a shame, since the movie concerns itself with the Internet and having a superstar crossover from being an obsessed fan to a part of the movie speaks volumes to the transient nature of content on the web. But, it's not going to happen.
4. Don't Hold Your Breath For Mario, Either
Nintendo's world-famous plumber Mario came very close to being in the first movie. Of course, for whatever reason -- between licensing agreements and two companies that only want to protect their cherished characters -- Mario didn't make it into the final cut of the movie. (Other famous videogame folk like Sonic, Q*bert and Pac-Man, did.)
So, you'd think there'd be renewed investment in getting Mario into the sequel, kind of like how Barbie had to sit out the first "Toy Story" before making an appearance in the follow-up. But, sigh, that's not going to happen either.
While there were preliminary discussions about using the character, the attempt was ultimately derailed by the fact that Universal Studios announced a strategic partnership with Nintendo, which would put Mario into many of its global theme parks. That means that a character appearing in a Disney movie would also serve the company's chief competitor in the themed entertainment market. And that was something that Felix couldn't fix.
5. Get Ready for Every Disney Princess
In a clip Disney showcased at the D23 Expo this year (and nearly brought down the entire building), Vanellope is introduced to the rest of the canonical Disney Princesses. And every one of the original voice actresses returned for the roles. Every. Single. One.
The sequence is hilarious and wildly inventive, and it's a blast to see how modern Disney animators interpret the character in 3D (Pocahontas' hair is perpetually blowing in the wind). What's even more hilarious is seeing the characters in more modern attire. The folks at Disney Consumer Products must have been keenly interested in the sequence, since this 10-minute chunk will sell an untold amount of merchandise. It remains to be seen if the Princesses will pop up elsewhere in the movie, but from that sequence alone (funny, smart, political), they've made a huge statement.
6. Characters from Other Parts of the Disney Universe Also Appear
Earlier in the same Princess sequence, you see R2-D2 and C-3PO -- also Gamora and Iron Man. Get ready for your little Disney-loving heart to explode.
7. It'll Finally Get Us a Disney Parks Attraction
If you've wondered, in the past five years, why there isn't a "Wreck-It Ralph"-themed attraction at the Disney Parks, well, "Wreck-It Ralph 2" should help that along.
Supposedly earmarked for Walt Disney World's Tomorrowland, in the home of the woeful, now completely defunct Stitch's Great Escape, the attraction would be a highly immersive experience set in the film's videogame worlds. (Rumors had it centered around the racing game Sugar Rush from the first film, although that might have changed to accommodate the sequel's storyline.)
But still, it seems to be that the sequel will finally give us the attraction we've been so desperate for -- and knowing that makes the wait until next November all the more palpable.
"Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2" opens on November 21, 2018.