(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The Marvel Studios Animation Panel at San Diego Comic-Con has just come to an end, with lots of exciting announcements about the comic book giant’s animated arm offered up to fans. 

Among the offerings were a first look at X-Men ’97, Marvel Zombies and Spider-Man: Freshman Year as well as previews of I Am Groot and the second season of What If…?

The main event for Marvel is tomorrow with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige outlining his plans for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but fans’ appetite was certainly whetted with a slew of announcements from Marvel’s animation department. 

The panel was led by Marvel Studios’ head of streaming, television and animation Brad Winderbaum and head of visual development Ryan Meinerding, with both speaking to a packed-out Ballroom 20 at the San Diego event. 

Back from the dead…

Inspired by the 2005 series of the same name, Marvel Zombies takes place in an alternate reality where a new generation of heroes must battle against a zombie apocalypse.

Marvel Zombies has a starry cast of undead heroes and villains. We will see undead versions of Hawkeye, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Wanda Maximoff and Black Panther’s Okoye, who will be facing down Black Widow’s Yelena Belova, Kate Bishop, Red Guardian, Jimmy Woo, Death Dealer, Shang-Chi and Kamala Khan.

The villains of ‘Marvel Zombies’ pic.twitter.com/iyuD27SM0UJuly 22, 2022

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The show does not as yet have a release date, though it’s widely expected to be 2024. However, we do know that it’s going to make history as Marvel’s first TV-MA-rated show. In TV terms, that’s the equivalent of an R-rating. Things are going to get very gory. 

What If…? we got a lot more What If…?

What If…?, Marvel’s anthology series that takes iconic MCU moments, such as Captain America’s creation, and reshapes them in unexpected ways, was commissioned for two seasons when it was first announced back in the summer of 2019. We just didn’t know when the second season would arrive. 

Now it has been confirmed that the show’s second season won’t be with us until early 2023, which is a shame, but that bitter pill has been sugared by the confirmation that a third season of the show is already in production. That third season will adapt Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed Marvel 1602 miniseries, where Marvel superheroes exist in the Elizabethan era.

Just announced at #SDCC2022: Marvel Studios’ What If…? Season 2, an Original series, streaming early 2023 on @DisneyPlus. pic.twitter.com/zbqClqfrfJJuly 22, 2022

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We are Groot?

Set for release in early August (opens in new tab), I Am Groot will follow the fan favorite Guardians of the Galaxy character (voiced by Vin Diesel) as he grows from the sapling we saw in Guardians 2 into the teenage character we see in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame.

The panel revealed that, firstly, five animated shorts premiere on August 10, with I Am Groot then returning with additional episodes at a later date.

The one episode of the show, which features Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Raccoon lending his voice alongside Diesel, was shown to the audience. That episode, named Groot Takes a Bath, follows Groot on a spa day. Isn’t he the lucky tree?

X marks the spot…

As well as Groot, zombies and What If…?,, fans were treated to an early look at X-Men ’97, which will premiere on Disney Plus in the fall of 2023. A second season is already confirmed. 

X-Men: The Animated Series ran from 1992 to 1997, and consisted of 76 episodes. This is a continuation of that show, with classic X-Men characters like Rogue, Beast, Gambit, Jean Grey, Wolverine, Storm, Jubilee, and Cyclops all a key part of the series. 

X-Men ’97’s writer Beau DeBayo showed the crowd an early animatic AV piece to tease the series. 

Just announced at #SDCC2022: Marvel Studios’ X-Men ’97, an Original series, streaming Fall 2023 on @DisneyPlus. #XMen97 pic.twitter.com/h78d17GYsqJuly 22, 2022

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Feeling fresh…

The surprise announcement of the panel came in the form of Spider-Man: Freshman Year, a new show with a comic-book inspired Peter Parker,

#SpidermanFreshManYear! pic.twitter.com/1asyvTEGvGJuly 22, 2022

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According to Variety, Freshman Year “will follow the early days of Peter Parker learning to become the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.” Stills from the series, which was described as “bringing the heart and charm of Peter Parker,” were shown, including a new Peter, who is young and looks comic book-inspired with bright colors and a homemade Spidey suit with a backpack, goggles, sneakers and a jacket on.

Just announced at #SDCC2022: Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man: Freshman Year, an Original series, streaming in 2024 on @DisneyPlus. pic.twitter.com/v7sqUUHoPaJuly 22, 2022

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Jeff Trammell, writer and executive producer of Freshman Year, was on hand to show the audience concept art of Peter Parker, his suits, and allies like Harry Osborn, Doctor Strange and Daredevil, who will be voiced by Charlie Cox.

San Diego Comic-Con 2022 continues tomorrow. Warner Brothers will be showing off Black Adam and Shazam: Fury of the Gods, while Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige will be revealing the comic book giant’s new plans. 

Tom Goodwyn is TechRadar’s Senior Entertainment Editor. He oversees TechRadar’s coverage of the best TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two children…