Editors Note: This article contains spoilers for Marvel Studios’ “What If…?” Season 2.
SAN DIEGO – It was a good day to be a Marvel Studios fan at San Diego Comic-Con.
During Marvel’s dedicated panel to upcoming animation projects, Marvel animation heads, writers and creators all came together to discuss future Disney+ shows including, “X-Men: 97,” “Marvel Zombies,” “Spider-Man: Freshman Year,” “I Am Groot” and more.
The panel, held in Ballroom 20 of the San Diego Convention Center, included first looks and even the debut of an episode of “What If” from season two, fresh off its Emmy nomination in the animated series category.
The episode, “What If Captain Carter Fought the Hydra Stomper” showed an alternate universe version of Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter working alongside Natasha Romanoff- aka Black Widow-fighting Steve Rogers in the Hydra Stomper suit. The group travels to Sokovia to release Rogers from the hands of the “Red Room” and Black Widow trainer, Melina Vostokoff, voiced by Rachel Weisz.
The group also showed a highlight reel of season two which included looks at the Ten Rings from “Shang-Chi,” Hela from “Thor: Ragnarok,” Ego from “Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2,” and much more. The second season will premiere exclusively on Disney+ in early 2023, while a third season, just announced in Ballroom 20, did not get an anticipated release date.
Another upcoming project, “Spider-Man: Freshman Year,” also was announced to be getting another season, aptly titled “Spider-Man: Sophomore Year,” even though the first season has yet to debut. The show will follow Peter Parker navigating the early days of his Spider-Man existence, under the guidance of an unusual ally, Norman Osborn.
Alongside Peter and Norman, the show will feature a wide cast of characters including Norman’s son and Peter’s friend, Harry Osborn, Dr. Strange, Nico Minoru, Amadeus Cho, Lonnie Lincoln, the Scorpion, Chameleon and more.
Arguably the biggest announcement made regarding “Spider-Man: Freshman Year” came when Jeff Trammell, writer and executive producer, shared that Charlie Cox, the actor who played Matt Murdock in Netflix’s “Daredevil,” will voice the character of the blind superhero in the animated series. This confirmation comes after months of speculation that Cox will reprise his role in upcoming Marvel projects following his appearance in the December 2021 hit, “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Additionally, Vincent D’Onofrio, who played Kingpin in the Netflix series, also appeared in a Marvel Cinematic Universe canon project last year when he made a guest appearance in the Disney+ series “Hawkeye.”
“Spider-Man: Freshman Year” will debut in fall of 2024.
“I Am Groot,” Marvel’s first series of shorts, was also presented during the panel and included a first look at one of the five shorts that will hit Disney+ in August. Director Kristen Lepore shared during the session that in addition to Vin Diesel voicing the lovable tree creature, Bradley Cooper will voice his “Guardians of the Galaxy” character, Rocket the Racoon, in the series. Lepore also confirmed that Marvel and Disney have given the green light to produce five more episodes for a future season.
Another highly secretive project that the group of panelists shed some light on Friday afternoon was “Marvel Zombies,” a spin-off from “What If” season one. The show, which will be rated TV-MA, will feature heroes and villains alike fighting a zombie apocalypse made worse by the abilities of some Marvel characters.
Confirmed heroes in the season will include Yelena Belova, Kate Bishop, Jimmy Woo, Shang-Chi, Deathdealer, and more. On the other side of the fight, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Wanda Maximoff, Hawkeye, Ghost and Ikaris be among the undead in the series. The show will release sometime in 2024, officials said Friday.
Even with all of the announcements, trailers and clips made throughout the presentation, nothing compared to the energy of the room when the conversation turned to the revival of the classic show “X-Men 97.”
The show’s creator and writer, Beau DeMayo, announced that many members of the original cast of the 90s animated series will be returning to voice their iconic characters, and that new heroes and enemies will join the fight as well. The most shocking announcement came in the form of the person announced to be leading the team, Dr. Erik Lehnsherr, a.k.a. Magneto. The decisicion to have the metal-manipulating mutant take over the team comes after the death of Dr. Charles Xavier at the end of the original series.
Other notable changes include the addition of Nightcrawler, Cable, Sunspot, Morph and more to the X-Men team, while Emma Frost, Calypso, Sebastian Shaw and Mr. Sinister will be featured heavily in the show, most likely fighting the mutant heroes.
Marvel will hold their mega-panel covering live-action projects on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in Hall H.
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