Disney+ Causes MCU Canon Confusion With New Spider-Man Show

By Jennifer McDonough Updated:
Spider-Man, Tom Holland as Peter Parker, Disney+ logo

Peter Parker will make the jump to Disney+ in 2024. The animated series Spider-Man: Freshman Year is meant to follow the character's early years and cover the origin story of how he became the Web-Slinger that everybody knows and loves. 

The series is being developed by Marvel Studios and has been billed as taking place "in the MCU:" 

"The animated series follows Peter Parker on his way to becoming Spider-Man in the MCU, starting with his freshman year of high school of course. Peter’s journey in the series will be unlike we've ever seen."

Naturally, the fanbase was excited by this news as precious little of Peter's pre-Captain America: Civil War backstory has been revealed in any of his six MCU appearances. It's known that he got bitten by the spider and was given powers from it. Uncle Ben's death has also been alluded to. But Marvel has largely been cagey about the exact details surrounding anything else.

But now, new information has been revealed at this year's San Diego Comic-Con. Information which indicates that Freshman Year is set in a world all its own.

Spider-Man Disney+ Continuity Confusion

Spider-Man Freshman Year characters

Several new details on the upcoming Disney+ animated series, Spider-Man: Freshman Year were revealed at the Marvel Studios Animation panel at SDCC. This includes the fact that Peter will be mentored by Norman Osborn and pal around with Norman's son Harry in the series. Additionally, Spider-Man's classic foe Doc Ock will be featured as an antagonist in the show, even though Parker didn't encounter Octavius until Spider-Man: No Way Home.

What's more is that Doctor Strange will reportedly be a supporting player in Freshman Year, despite the fact that Strange didn't even have his powers during the time period in which the series is set.

Spider-Man Freshman Year Doctor Strange

Of course, some fans have taken to Twitter to voice their confusion and frustration on this continuity conundrum. Check out some reactions from Twitter below:

"This makes no sense" - noeyjade

This makes no sense I thought this was supposed to be his canon origin story getting bit by the spider? Why is doc ock included

"Not canon?" luckie_boo:

apparently it's not canon? if i were to guess it's something like that "what if" thing where it explores a different spider man from the one in the MCU

"'F--- canon'" - JamieCinematics:

Can we PLEASE stop saying “canon” when talking about the MCU? Just say “616” or “main universe.” I swear, I am one whole meltdown away from getting “fuck canon” knuckle tattoos.

"Kinda disappointed Freshman Year very likely isn't canon"SpiderManNoWay4:

I was really looking forward to seeing MCU Spidey's early early days, so I'm kinda disappointed Freshman Year very likely isn't canon, but it looks so good and has so much that I can't help but be excited for it.

"Really no way it could be canon"MarvelGuides:

They showed an image that implies Osborn becomes Peter’s mentor instead of Stark. There’s really no way it could be canon given he has multiple suits in the series and knows Osborn and Octavius before the events of the MCU movies.

"Alternate timeline in multiverse canon" - BillusTheRillus:

Freshmen Year is NOT MCU canon, not even kinda. It's an alternate timeline in multiverse canon.

"Hoping for a good Spidey show." - RICHARDLNEWBY:

Pretty clear it either won’t be canon to the MCU or will be set within the multiverse of the MCU. Either way, hoping for a good Spidey show.

So, Is Spider-Man: Freshman Year Canon?

Just due to the characters involved, Spider-Man: Freshman Year is unequivocally not set on the MCU's Earth-616, aka the universe where all of Peter's live-action MCU adventures have taken place.

Now, it's very possible that the label of "Marvel Cinematic Universe" is taking on a much broader scope. MCU could become more of an umbrella term, encompassing not only the live-action Earth-616 movies and series, but any and all animated spin-offs like X-Men '97 and Freshman Year, just by nature of them existing within the MCU Multiverse.

This show could also be something of a What... If? storyline that shows what would have happened if Norman Osborn existed on Earth-616 and stepped in to mentor Peter instead of Tony Stark. No Way Home heavily implies that neither Norman nor Harry Osborn exist in the main MCU. Lending credence to this idea is an image shown at Comic-Con depicting Norman in Peter and May's living room, directly referencing the scene in Captain America: Civil War where Tony is in the exact same spot.

Marvel Studios' Spider-Man Freshman Year, regardless of where it takes place, looks like a fun, vibrant take on the Spider-Man mythos and will arrive on Disney+ starting in 2024.

- About The Author: Jennifer McDonough
Jennifer McDonough has been a writer at The Direct since its 2020 launch. She is responsible for the creation of news articles and features. She also has a particular affinity for action figures and merchandise, which she revels in discussing in the articles she writes, when the situation calls for it.