The MCU's Spider-Man has famously proven controversial among fans for the changes made to the character. Many have long been unhappy with the decision for Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, to serve as Peter Parker's mentor, father-figure, and suit builder, not to mention being the motivator behind several of his villains - who can forget the famous "Iron Boy Jr." memes.
With Stark now gone after Avengers: Endgame, the MCU has now taken strides to let the wall-crawler stand on his own two feet by erasing the memory of his existence, replacing his advanced suit with a homemade one, and downgrading him into a crummy New York apartment.
When Peter Parker was introduced to the MCU in Captain America: Civil War, the high-schooler had already been through his famous origin story to become Spider-Man. That story was set to be told in the Spider-Man: Freshman Year animated series on Disney+, but 2022's Comic-Con has revealed some surprising twists on his tale.
Spider-Man Disney+ Series Introduces MCU Norman Osborn
During Marvel Studios' animated panel at San Diego-Comic Con, the studio confirmed Norman Osborn will serve as Peter Parker's mentor in Spider-Man: Freshman Year.
A shot from the Spider-Man series confirms Osborn will be waiting for Parker at his house alongside Aunt May, similar to how Tony Stark did in Captain America: Civil War.
A second image highlights Peter suited up in a previously unseen suit in Osborn's office.
Marvel Studios has claimed the series will follow Peter Parker "on his way to becoming Spider-Man" in the MCU "before [Captain America: Civil War]." The official synopsis reads:
"The animated series follows Peter Parker on his way to becoming Spider-Man in the MCU, with a journey unlike we've ever seen and a style that celebrates the character’s early comic book roots. Written by Executive Producer Jeff Trammel."
With Spider-Man: No Way Home having revealed that Oscorp doesn't exist in the MCU, who knows whether Freshman Year actually takes place in the main timeline or another universe altogether.
Is Spider-Man: Freshman Year MCU Canon?
Spider-Man: Freshman Year has already revealed whacky new suits, several new friends straight out of the comics, and a massive line-up of villains. Daredevil will also be tagging along in an all-new black suit, along with Doctor Strange appearing despite his origin story solo flick mostly taking place after Captain America: Civil War.
There's also the issue that No Way Home already revealed Oscorp doesn't exist in the MCU, and yet here's Norman Osborn in his fancy office. Had Peter already been mentored by Osborn and faced off against Doc Ock, it seems impossible something like that wouldn't come up in conversation in No Way Home.
With so many canon conflicts already in play, perhaps Freshman Year will take place elsewhere in the Multiverse. Marvel Studios' wording of the series taking Peter "on his way to becoming Spider-Man in the MCU" is curious. Akin to What If...?, maybe Peter will be on that path until he meets Norman Osborn instead of Tony Stark, throwing his story in another direction.
If Freshman Year does take place in the MCU, this will prove to be an excellent way to flesh out Tom Holland's Spider-Man before his eventual return. The thought of Peter being mentored by Osborn and later having a Variant of him kill Aunt May is truly a heart-breaking thought that would only add to that story.
Who knows if Marvel Studios will ever truly settle this canon debate? Perhaps the definition of the MCU has now been expanded to include the entire Multiverse. Fans have been debating the canon status of Agents of SHIELD and the Netflix shows for years, this may be another case of that predicament.
Spider-Man: Freshman Year will premiere on Disney+ in 2024.