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‘Freshman Year’ Puts a Fresh Spin on Spider-Man’s Origins

Spider-Man: Freshman Year Disney+ Logo

Spider-Man has long been one of Marvel’s most popular characters, so it isn’t surprising that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is continuing to capitalize on his popularity with Spider-Man: Freshman Year. Prior to the MCU’s Spider-Man trilogy starring Tom Holland, Sony exclusively owned the film rights to the web-slinging hero. However, the two studios agreed to collaborate on the trilogy to allow Spider-Man to appear in the MCU. That collaboration also allowed Sony’s former Spider-Man actors, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, to reprise their roles for Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Sony still owns the film rights to Spider-Man, which is why the studio is continuing to build on its Spider-Man Universe (SSU) and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse film series. Since the conclusion of the MCU’s Spider-Man trilogy, the character’s future in the MCU has been somewhat uncertain. Which is why some fans may have been surprised when Disney announced development of a Disney+ original animated series, Spider-Man: Freshman Year—without Sony’s involvement.

The reason this is possible has to do with the technicalities of Sony’s film and TV rights to Spider-Man. Essentially, the studio only has the rights to animated series with episodes that are 44 minutes or longer. With Spider-Man: Freshman Year slated for 30-minute episodes, Disney managed avoid a rights issue. Since its announcement, the time between updates has left viewers worried about the show’s cancellation. However, Spider-Man: Freshman Year is still in development and recently received a release window update. Here’s everything we know about the show so far.

Spider-Man: Freshman Year release window

When it was first announced, Spider-Man: Freshman Year was slated for release in 2024. However, many of Disney+’s original series have received new release windows as Disney reevaluates its calendar, resulting in some shows being delayed. While Spider-Man: Freshman Year was one of the series left without an anticipated release date after the shuffle, insider KC Walsh has reported it was pushed back to a late 2024 release date.

Spider-Man: Freshman Year cast

Charlie Cox as Daredevil in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

So far, Spider-Man: Freshman Year has only cast two voice actors in the series. One of those names will be very familiar to Marvel fans: Charlie Cox. He’ll be reprising his role as Matt Murdock/Daredevil in the animated series. Cox previously portrayed the character in the Netflix series Daredevil, but recently made his way into the MCU in Spider-Man: No Way Home and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. The MCU has made it clear that Cox is here to stay, as he’s set to lead a new solo series, Daredevil: Born Again, and will make appearances in both Echo and Spider-Man: Freshman Year. In Spider-Man: No Way Home, Cox only appeared as Murdock and served as Peter Parker’s lawyer, so Spider-Man: Freshman Year may see Spider-Man meet Murdock’s alter-ego for the first time.

In addition to Cox, comedian and actor Paul F. Tompkins has been cast in Spider-Man: Freshman Year as Bentley Wittman, a.k.a. the Wizard. Wittman is a supervillain from Marvel Comics who possesses nearly superhuman intellect and was a child prodigy who grew up to become bitter and attention-seeking. In adulthood, he became fixated on defeating the Fantastic Four, particularly Johnny Storm. However, Wittman also went up against Spider-Man several times while teaming up with Mysterio.

No actor has been tapped for the role of Spider-Man yet, and Holland is not expected to voice the role. After all, he did not voice Spider-Man in What If…? due to his busy schedule, and his contract reportedly ended after Spider-Man: No Way Home, supporting insiders’ claims that he will not appear. The show is reportedly looking to cast actors for many characters, though, including Doctor Strange, Norman and Harry Osborn, Aunt May, Amadeus Cho, and Nico Minoru.

Spider-Man: Freshman Year plot

Spider-Man: Freshman Year first look image

Spider-Man: Freshman Year will tell Spider-Man’s origin story and explore the adventures he had during the first year in which he had powers. Viewers will recall that Holland’s Spider-Man didn’t have an origin story in the MCU, mostly because it wasn’t necessary given fans’ familiarity with the story. As a result, some may think of the upcoming series as an untold story of the events prior to Captain America: Civil War. However, the plot of Spider-Man: Freshman Year is a little more complicated than that. The show will closely parallel the events of the MCU’s Spider-Man movies, but it probably won’t feature the Earth-616—or main timeline—iteration of the character.

To be clear, Spider-Man: Freshman Year is still canon in the MCU. However, since the MCU has now introduced the multiverse and made it possible for the franchise to tackle alternate worlds and timelines, the animated series will do just that. Marvel’s Head of Streaming, Brad Winderbaum, shed some light on Spider-Man: Freshman Year‘s plot and timeline while speaking to He stated:

It follows the pattern that you see in [Captain America:Civil War. Down to Peter getting the broken Blu-ray player from the trash and he walks into his apartment for the famous moment where Tony Stark is waiting for him to offer him the Stark internship and take him to Berlin. But because of things that happen in the multiverse because of new, random occurrences, it’s not Tony Stark who’s waiting for him there. It’s Norman Osborn, and that sends his life in an unexpected trajectory that collides with many unexpected characters in the Marvel universe.

While Winderbaum doesn’t explicitly say that Spider-Man: Freshman Year takes place in another universe, the premise as he described it noticeably parallels the premise of most What If…? episodes. It certainly seems like it takes place in an alternate universe where Norman Osborn became Peter Parker’s mentor instead of Tony Stark. This would explain why Freshman Year has more freedom to introduce characters like Wittman, the Osborns, Cho, and Minoru and still be canon without messing up the continuity of Earth-616.

Given the popularity of Holland’s Spider-Man, some viewers might be disappointed that Spider-Man: Freshman Year seemingly won’t actually tackle his origin story. However, as said above, the origin story of Spider-Man has been tackled in multiple films, from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Maybe isn’t a bad idea to tell another Spider-Man origin story, but with an unexpected twist. Additionally, Freshman Year is expected to use a unique form of animation that will give it the appearance of being a hand-drawn comic—a nice tribute to Peter Parker’s real-life origins.

(featured image: Disney+)

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Rachel Ulatowski is an SEO writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, YA literature, celebrity news, and coming-of-age films. She has over two years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.