Marvel Studios’s animation department has never compared to DC’s. It’s accepted that Marvel peaked with X-Men: The Animated Series and that DC’s animation division has righted all the wrongs from their live-aciton films. San Diego Comic Con saw Marvel Animation bring a panel covering their most recent series. With Disney+ money, Marvel has slowly built up a memorable portfolio of live action material. The surprise has been the animated offerings that the studio has offered. 

Marvel’s panel started off with a bang with an opening from Jeffery Wright’s the Watcher declaring that he doesn’t do sequels and that we are all watchers ready to observe new stories. The montage kicked off with the I am Groot shorts. There will be 5, airing August 5th featuring old and new faces. Series developer Kristen Lapore shared that her inspiration was her own son, inspiring baby groot with real baby activities. Marvel’s previews of Freshmen year announced that Daredevil would be teaming up with the web crawler, as well as Marvel’s Runaways characters. Villains revealed included Otto Octavius, Scorpion, and more while he tries to navigate his freshmen year – and his sophomore year as well! Yes, Spider-Man: Freshmen year has been renewed for a second season!

The biggest news about Spider-Man: Freshmen year is the return of so many characters as well as the reveal of Peter’s heroes and villains. Daredevil’s return ahead of his MCU debut in Daredevil: Born again bodes well for the return of the devil of hell’s kitchen in multiple projects.

Marvel continued with What If and a new trailer with the properties. Storylines they included were the return of Hela, Captain Carter’s version of Captain America: The Winter Soldier featuring a very surprised guest – the Hulkbuster! They also included a hint at Marvel 1602 – or at least it seemed that way. A swashbuckling Steve Rogers in a black knight costume? That could go anywhere but it did look quite …interesting! 

Marvel Zombies was a hit. The What If episode inspired a massive fanbase which led to a first season with some new characters. Shang-Chi, Katie, and popular new icon Miss Marvel, also known as Kamala Khan. There are tons of new characters and zombies including a zombified Captain Marvel and the return of Captain America as a zombie – a character so powerful that he broke out of the mold and appeared in a Disney theme park.

The X-Men: the animated series panel revealed all the returning X-men, as well as a taste of the music and the first Sentinel battle. The most iconic marvel mutant property is returning and it looks better than ever. Everyone is returning with the panel opened by the Lewalds, the series executive producers who have been the show’s biggest champions.

Marvel’s panels are nothing without treats however, and after such a plethora of news they dropped the first episode of What If season 2, Peggy Carter versus the Hulkbuster! It’s full of twists and turns and, spoilers aside, a genuinely creepy scene involving some stuff never seen in the MCU. delightfully unnerving with some surprising straight from the MCU faces, What If: Peggy fought the Hulkbuster was a great kick off to the series. The series debuts in early 2023, be sure to tune in!

Marvel’s animation properties have been a surprise – deviating from the preconception that DC Comics animation is the peak of animated comic adaptations. DC Comics still holds the reigning crown, but Marvel’s What If, Groot specials, and X-Men: the animated series prove that Marvel animation is in the running. They run the gamut from cute and cuddy to iconic properties. With X-Men: The Animated Series especially, Marvel is tying the animated films into the phases of their iconic movies. The future looks bright for Marvel as they come into phases 5 and 6, and animation is going to help carry them there.