The future of the Marvel Multiverse is here, as San Diego Comic-Con is back with a bang for 2022. Ahead of the massive Saturday showcase, July 22 held host to the Marvel animation panel. Alongside the first look at Marvel’s What If…? season 2we got a peek at X-Men ’97, marvel’s zombies and Spider-Man: Freshman Year.
Serving as a prequel of sorts to Tom Holland’s debut in Captain America: Civil War, executive producer and head writer Jeff Trammell’s cartoon plans to expand the wall-crawling hero’s story with a who’s who of Spidey favorites. Much like X-Men ’97 and Marvel’s Zombies, it looks like Freshman Year takes place in one of the franchise’s alternate realities, meaning we can see anyone and everyone without messing with Holland’s live-action hero. Spider-Man: Freshman Year will hit Disney+ in 2024.
Here’s a full rundown of who’s stopping by (so far)…
Front and center is the Webhead himself. The story follows Peter Parker’s first year of high school, but by the looks of it, he’s already established as a costumed hero. It’s currently unclear who will voice the series lead, but with Hudson Thames voicing Spidey in What…If?, it’s possible he could return here.
One of the few confirmed voice actors right now is a major one, with Daredevil’s Charlie Cox back as the Man Without Fear. Following a high-profile cameo in Spider-Man: No Way Home, many expected Matt Murdock to return to the MCU in some capacity. It’s not quite the long-rumored Daredevil Season 4, but it’s a huge win for fans of Cox and Netflix’s series.
With Harry Osborn confirmed to play a part in Spider-Man: Freshman Year, Peter’s comic book best friend is finally making his MCU debut. (Though it sounds like they won’t be best friends in the animated series…)
Willem Dafoe made his long-awaited return to the Spider-Verse for Spider-Man: No Way Home and might’ve gotten his happy ending when he was returned to his original timeline. In Freshman Year, Osborn takes on something of a mentor role – serving as a plot device similar to Tony Stark in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Osborn will cross paths with both Peter and Spider-Man, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll evolve into the Green Goblin.
Fresh off messing with the Multiverse in both No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Doctor Stephen Strange is back for more. Even though there’s no word on whether Benedict Cumberbatch will be reprising his role ele as the sorcerer, the fact that series is set in some version of the MCU coupled with him voicing Strange in What… If? makes it a possibility.
Back in the day, cartoon fans remember the white-haired Aunt May from Spider-Man: The Animated Series (and other shows), while her live-action film appearances also largely portrayed her as an older mother figure to Peter. That all changed with Marisa Tomei’s younger version of her, and from what we’ve seen of her, Freshman Year will bring back Aunt May following that No Way Home Twist.
The MCU is continuing the story of Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk in She-Hulk, but we now have the first tease of Bruce Banner’s potential replacement. Much like how Riri Williams takes over from Iron Man, Cho is the eventual successor to Banner – taking on the mantle of Brawn. Introduced in 2005, Cho then returned for the World War Hulk arc. Given his love of science, we bet Cho will be teaming up with Parker in the lab.
Hulu’s Marvel’s Runaways might’ve not been as big a hit as something like Daredevil, but one of its characters is stopping by for Freshman Year. Nico does not let her lineage from her as the daughter of two dark wizards get in her way. As the de facto leader of the Runaways in the comics, Nico Minoru has the chance to take Freshman Year beyond Peter’s high school drama. She’s been described as Peter’s best friend in the show.
Another famous face from Spider-Man’s rogue’s gallery is the legendary Doctor Octopus. Again with a style reminiscent of Spider-Man: The Animated Series, this version of Doc Ock also takes nods from the comics with his bowl haircut and goggles. There are enough villains to fill the Sinister Six (and beyond) on this show, and it seems like Otto will be leading the pack here.
Paul F. Tompkins voices Bentley Wittman in Freshman Year, but will he be taking on the mantle of the Wizard? Even though this supervillain might be remembered as an enemy of the Human Torch, the Wizard has also clashed with Spider-Man on plenty of occasions. Possessing superhuman strength and boasting an arsenal of wild weapons, Wittman is known as a founding member of the Frightful Four.
Better Call Saul’s Michael Mando had a minor role as Mac Gargan in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and although we never got to see him properly emerge as Scorpion, the character’s post-credit tease of the Sinister Six has become something of a cliffhanger. The Freshman Year concept art shown in the Marvel animation panel depicts Gargan in his classic Scorpion outfit – complete with green spandex and weaponized tail.
Taking the honor of being Spider-Man’s first adversary, Chameleon has a lot of comic book history as a master of disguises. Dmitri Smerdyakov is also known as the half-brother of Kraven the Hunter, and Fred Hechinger is rumored to be playing Chameleon in Sony’s Kraven the Hunter movie. The character had appeared in the MCU before as Numar Acar played Dmitri in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
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Another staple of the Sinister Six is Rhino. Alongside appearances in The Animated Series and Insomniac’s Spider-Man game, the bulky Rhino was played by Paul Giamatti in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Whereas his comic book origin features the Russian mobster in an experimental procedure that gives him super-hard skin, he’s typically shown as a thug in a suit these days.
James Sanders/Speed Demon
Heading into the lower tiers of Spider-Man villains, James Sanders appears in Freshman Year as Speed Demon. Originally known as the Whizzer in the comics, the character has since adopted the name of Speed Demon since parting ways with the Sinister Squadron. His name suggests, Sanders is another Marvel speedster.
Soviet intelligence agent Milos Masaryk was assigned to track down Anton Vanko as the original Crimson Dynamo. Harnessing the power of Vanko’s tech, Masaryk became the Unicorn and used a horned helmet to shoot a beam of radiation at his enemies. Unicorn was then affected by mutagenic radiation and gained superhuman strength. Given that he’s usually associated with Iron Man, it’ll be interesting to see how he fits in here.
Anton Miguel Rodriquez/Tarantula
Finally, the Spider-like Tarantula is rounding off Spider-Man: Freshman Year’s cast. Known as a terrorist in his homeland of Delvadia, Anton Miguel Rodriguez was recruited by his government as a fascist Captain America under the name of Tarantula. When he took on a life of crime in America, he was stopped by Spider-Man and Punisher before escaping from prison with the help of the Jackal. Again, look out for another young reimagining of the character.
And those are the biggest character reveals from the Marvel animation panel. Which character are you most excited to see? Let’s discuss in the comments!