A day before Marvel Studios' heaviest hitters take the Comic-Con stage, Marvel's animation department Friday announced details of several Disney+ series, including the second season of What If...?,
First out of the gate is I Am Groot, a series of five shorts debuting Aug. 10 that drop in at different points in Groot's childhood. A short that premiered at the panel showed Groot at bathtime turning into a Chia Pet and facing off with a pesky bird.
Executive producer Kirsten Lepore said she focused on universal activities like arts and crafts and dress up, but asked herself, "How do we make it sci-fi and really Groot?" (She found inspiration from her 3-year-old son.) As in the Marvel movies, Vin Diesel voices Groot and Bradley Cooper reprises his role as best buddy Rocket.
Season 2 of What If...? (featuring Jeffrey Wright as the Watcher), arrives early next year and continues to play with the multiversal versions of Marvel Cinematic Universe favorites.
The panel included a first trailer that featured a glimpse at new worlds, including one based on the 1602 comic book series, and an episode reimagining Captain America: The Winter Soldier with Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell) taking on a brainwashed Steve Rogers in Hydra Stomper armor. (Samuel L. Jackson is back as Nick Fury, Rachel Weisz co-stars as Melina from Black Widow and Sebastian Stan voices old man Bucky Barnes.)
What If...? also has its first spinoff: Marvel Zombies, a gore-filled series which returns to the world of the Season 1 episode where superheroes face an undead apocalypse. Sorry, Hawkeye fans, the Avengers archer is now a zombie and so are Captain Marvel, Scarlet Witch, Okoye and the Abomination. But still-alive heroes include MCU faves Shang-Chi, Yelena Belova, Katy, Kamala Khan and Jimmy Woo.
Streaking in 2024, Spider-Man: Freshman Year focuses on Peter Parker in his first year of high school. We went back to the roots with his look, said Ryan Meinerding, Marvel's head of visual development. The teen hero will sport a homemade suit. The series brings in Peter's best friend Nico Minoru (from the Runaways comic) and Norman Osborn, and features villains including Unicorn, Chameleon, Scorpion, Speed Demon, Tarantula, the Rhino and Otto Octavius. Charlie Cox voices Daredevil, and the show will also feature Doctor Strange.
Marvel has regained the rights to the X-Men, and X-Men '97 will continue the fan-favorite 1990s animated series. The MCU probably wouldn't exist without the seminal series, said executive producer Beau DeMayo, who called it a soap opera with superpowers. – By Brian Truitt/USA Today/Tribune News Service