Spider-Man: Freshman Year is putting a classic spin on the Webslinger, and we could be in for a host of Spider-Verse variants.
Ever since Brad Winderbaum confirmed that Spidey’s next animated adventure in Freshman Year exists in the MCU Multiverse, it has piqued the world’s imagination. Of course, mentioning the Multiverse automatically suggests variants. When it comes to Spider-Man, he has variants to spare.
Obviously, Sony beat Marvel to the punch when it comes to Spider-variants. After all, that was the entire plot of Into the Spider-Verse. It’s safe to say that we won’t likely see Spider-Miles, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man 2099, anime Spider-Man, Spider-Ham, or Spider-Man Noir. For that matter, I doubt we will see Spider-Punk, since he is heavily rumored for Across the Spider-Verse.
That may sound like many of the top choices are already taken, but there’s plenty more characters from deep in the Spider-Verse. Many of these would make for great and hilarious cameos. Take a look.
10. Spectacular Spider-Man
Since Freshman Year will be taking place in the MCU’s animated sector, it would only be fitting for the show to venture into Spidey’s lengthy cartoon history. A true fan pleaser would be seeing the return of one of the Spider-Verse’s most popular series, 2008’s The Spectacular Spider-Man. Voiced by Josh Keaton, the show truly understood what fans had loved about Spidey for generations. Whether it was the humor, the action, the high school drama, or Spidey’s down-to-Earth problems on top of his superhero duties, Spectacular embraced all that made Spider-Man an iconic and beloved character.
Tragically, Spectacular Spider-Man was canceled in only its second season, the collateral damage of Disney’s Marvel Comics acquisition. Fans were sorely disappointed when Spectacular was replaced with the Disney-branded Ultimate Spider-Man. Freshman Year could somewhat remedy that by having Keaton’s Spectacular Spider-Man appear for at least one episode.
9. Spider-Man: the Animated Series
Freshman Year is the perfect setting for an animated No Way Home moment. Instead of seeing the live-action Wallcrawlers share the screen, we could see the different cartoon Spider-Men from throughout the years. Whether that is the previously mentioned Spectacular Spider-Man or Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, fans would be thrilled to see a classic team up that spanned decades of cartoons. That would not be complete without Spider-Man: the Animated Series. One of the most odd Spidey cartoons, this 1994 show remains a classic among fans. Sure, he had needlessly specific censorship rules to follow, like not being able to punch, never scaring pigeons, or censoring the world “sinister” from the Sinister Six, but the cartoon was an imaginative and fun addition to the pantheon.
8. Spider-Man 1967
If Marvel Studios is going to have a cartoon Spidey team up, then they have to include the original, extremely two-dimensional Spider-Man from the 1967 series. Emulating the art style of Spidey co-creator Steve Ditko, the show is fondly remembered for its kitschy and highly-1960s flare as well as the iconic theme song. Sure, Into the Spider-Verse may have slid Spider-Man ‘67 in its hilarious post-credits scene, but Freshman Year could give us so much more. It would be glorious, especially since the new Disney Plus series takes spiritual inspiration from the ‘60s original.
7. Symbiote Spider-Man
Since Marvel confirmed that Venom will be part of Freshman Year during the SDCC panel, it hints that we could see a version of the Black Suit Saga. Since 1994’s Spider-Man: the Animated Series, the tale of the alien costume and its weird, symbiotic love triangle with Peter Parker and Eddie Brock has become a fine animated tradition. We have seen it multiple times on the small screen, and that’s why Marvel could make a change to keep things fresh. As we saw in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Marvel Studios isn’t much for rehashing an oft-repeated story. In the case of the black suit, that could mean Freshman Year’s Peter gets a look at an alternate dimension where the Venom symbiote permanently bonds with a Parker variant, thus giving us Symbiote Spider-Man.
This particular Spider-Man is still based on Earth-616, and the concept of 2019’s Symbiote Spider-Man comic series is focused on untold tales of Peter and the black suit before he learned about its true nature. What would be more interesting is for Freshman Year to take Symbiote Spider-Man to an alternate timeline in which Peter fully bonds with the alien suit.
6. Superior Spider-Man
Along with Venom, Marvel also revealed that Norman Osborn and Doctor Octopus will be part of the show. That could give rise to the anti-hero Superior Spider-Man, who was actually Doc Ock’s mind controlling Peter’s body. Although short lived, this more sinister Spidey was compelled to do good, but he did it in Doc Ock’s classic, megalomaniacal fashion. This could be a great change from anything we have seen in a Spider-Man cartoon before.
Since this is a kid’s show on Disney Plus, let’s go with a full-comedy Spider-Man variant, Spider-Ma’am.
Haven’t you always wondered why Aunt May didn’t get spider-powers? Dream no more. In this alternate universe on Earth-3123, May Parker – the old lady from the comics, not Marisa Tomei – was bitten by that fateful radioactive spider, and she became…the Spider-Ma’am. She then suited up in the classic red and blue and patrolled the streets of Queens, New York.
Not to be confused with Spider-Punk, this is another spider-powered superhero hailing from jolly old England. This version is essentially Captain Britain merged with Spider-Man, hence his name, Spider-UK.
In the Marvel-616, Captain Britain was originally Brian Braddock, who was tied to the King Arthur legend. When Brian crashed his motorcycle, he is saved by Merlyn and the magical enchantress, Roma, who give him the Amulet of Right. It transformed him into Captain Britain, and history was made.
On Earth-833, Billy Braddock not only had the spider-powers, but also those of Captain Britain. This corner of the Multiverse had an entire team of Caps, known as the Captain Britain Corps. As you might have guessed, the Corps recruited a young Billy Braddock who was that world’s version of Spider-Man. The resulting mesh of personas gave rise to Spider-UK.
3. Spider-Man India
In an adjacent dimension, Spider-Man was born and raised in Mumbai, India. Instead of Peter Parker, this world’s hero is Pavitr Prabhakar. Mirroring the events of Earth-616, Pavitr’s parents died when he was a child, and he was taken in by his Aunt Maya and Uncle Bihm. Pavitr was bullied relentlessly and had only one friend, the aptly named Meera Jain. Just when you might think he gained his powers from a radioactive spider, not so. Apparently, there was a criminal using the powers of a demon. To combat the dark magic, Pavitr was enchanted by a yogi, who gave the boy the abilities of a spider.
It’s always fun to see classic characters get new spins on their names and origins. One of the fun things about Spider-Man India was seeing the twist on Spidey’s rogue’s gallery of villains. Most of the iconic antagonists were featured in the story, but with more magical roots. One of the better variants was Doctor Octopus, who had demonic limbs instead of the usual mechanical arms.
2. Scarlet Spider
This isn’t technically a Spider-Man variant. Instead, the Scarlet Spider is one step better than a Multiversal variant; he’s a clone.
First appearing in 1975, the unnamed clone was created by resident supervillain and mad scientist the Jackal. After Spider-Man defeated his doppelganger, the clone was long thought dead. Then came one of the most polarizing Spider-Man stories ever, “The Clone Saga.” In 1994, the clone returned, this time using the name Ben Reilly. No longer under the Jackal’s influence, Ben was on the side of good. He would go on to star in his own comic series as the Scarlet Spider before taking over as the full-time Spider-Man when Peter Parker lost his powers for a time.
1. Hostess Snack Cakes Spider-Man
Hear me out because this could be a fan-favorite Spider-variant in the making.
Out of the numerous Spider-People from across the Multiverse, this would be one of the funniest variants Marvel Studios could possibly feature in Freshman Year. The Hostess Snack Cakes Spider-Man was part of a promotion to sell Hostess products, and one of their main pitchmen was the Webslinger himself. Boy, did he love his Hostess Snack Cakes, particularly the golden sponge cakes, which we will get to in a moment.
Fans of 1970s and ‘80s Marvel Comics will remember these advertisements. Marvel rolled out its biggest stars for the campaign, with the likes of Spidey, Thor, Daredevil, Captain America, and the Hulk shelling junk food. I can’t testify for how many snack cakes the superheroes actually sold, but the ads themselves have gone down in infamy. The Hulk basically murdered the Disco Roller Devils, whose crimes were rollerskating and listening to bad music, by crushing them with asphalt all in the name of Hostess Fruit Pies. In the Hostess-verse, Spider-Man’s only weapons were snack cakes and empty promises. “If you’ll change your evil ways, I’ll give you some delicious Hostess Snack Cakes.” Then he’d watch them get arrested and keep all that diabetic goodness for himself.
Starting right now, we need a fan campaign to bring the Hostess-verse, officially designated as Earth-51914, into the MCU.