Spider-Man: Freshman Year is said to be at risk of being canceled amid Marvel Studios’ broader cost-cutting measures.
According to several industry insiders, the fate of the Marvel Phase 5 project has yet to be officially decided. However, all signs point to the animated Spider-Man TV series – a canonical entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) – as Marvel and Disney rein in spending and begin laying off employees.
The first signs that things weren’t so rosy came courtesy of those working on New Year’s Eve, which is set to arrive sometime in 2024 on Disney Plus. On November 9, New Year’s Manager Lisa Singer wrote on Twitter that she was actively looking for job opportunities from mid-December onwards.
Normally, this wouldn’t set off alarm bells. But, since Freshman Year (if it ever launches) isn’t expected for another 13 months – at the earliest – there’s probably still a lot of post-production work to do. If Singer leaves the project now (mid-November 2022) while there’s still work to be done, it doesn’t bode well for the show’s future.
Hello! I will be looking for directing and story opportunities starting in mid-December! Please keep me in mind! I’m also open to the feature, live action and games! Freelance, full time, etc. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org (please use for serious inquiries only) https://t.co/VlVXpbxnwoNovember 11, 2022
In the days that followed, other key Freshman Year employees revealed that they were leaving Marvel Studios. 2D Animator and Character Designer Lee Cree (Opens in a new tab)as well as a writing assistant Dan Park (Opens in a new tab), they confirmed that they were disappointed to see their time at the end of their freshman year so soon. The duo’s tweets follow on the heels of Singer’s original tweet — Cree’s posted on Nov. 11 and Park’s on Nov. 15.
Rumors of New Year’s cancellation grew in the days following Park’s tweet. Spider-Man updates his Twitter fan account (Opens in a new tab) — not a reliable source, admittedly — hinted that they heard “bad news” about the first year, even going so far as to suggest it “wasn’t a delay either.”
Contradicts this claim, the cosmic circus (Opens in a new tab) – a Marvel insider with a proven track record – claimed that no decision has been made about Freshman’s year-to-date future yet. According to their sources, the Spider-Man animated series is still expected to be released in 2024, but the idea of canceling it altogether has been “floated.”
There’s clearly a lot of confusion about what the future holds for Spider-Man: Freshman Year, which isn’t helped by rumors and speculation spread by MCU insiders. However, there is no smoke without fire. Right now, Freshman Year is in some form of trouble — we just don’t know how much danger he really is. We’ve reached out to Marvel/Disney for comment and will update this article if we hear back.
Spider-Man: Freshman Year is one of many TV projects in the pipeline at Marvel Studios. Some highly anticipated live-action shows, including Loki Season 2 and Secret Invasion, are scheduled for release in 2023. Only one animated series – What If…? Season 2 – is set to arrive next year, with reports suggesting it will land in early 2023.
Analysis: tangled in a web of cost-cutting measures
Spider-Man: Freshman Year’s apparent problems aren’t the only problems Marvel’s animation division has been facing.
According to industry insiders KC Walsh (Opens in a new tab), other MCU animated series are in trouble, with layoffs already underway and the showrunners unclear about what the future holds for their projects. Currently, it’s freshman year and what if…? are the only officially announced Marvel Disney Plus shows. If other products are in the early stages of development, they may be canned before they see the light of day.
If these reports are true – and you should take them with a pinch of salt for now, in our view – they speak to broader financial problems that Marvel and Disney are facing. Speaking to the staff on Nov. 9 (according to CNBC (Opens in a new tab)), Disney CEO Bob Chapek confirmed that the world-famous studio was freezing hiring with immediate effect. Chapek also revealed potential layoffs, saying, “As we work through this evaluation process, we will look at every avenue of operations and labor to find savings, and we anticipate some headcount reductions as part of this review.”
Since Marvel is a subsidiary of Disney, it will almost certainly be affected by the parent company’s cost-cutting measures. Unfortunately for Marvel’s animation division, it’s probably taking the biggest financial hit, with shows like Freshman Year and What If…? Not technically canon in the MCU. Then, they’ll bear the brunt of any contract cuts and terminations. Marvel wouldn’t want to pull the plug on live-action series, including the upcoming Daredevil TV reboot, so their animation division would take the hit instead.
If Marvel’s animation team is hit the hardest by the studio’s various divisions, it will be another huge blow to the animation industry, which has been devastated throughout 2022. Earlier this year, Netflix canceled several shows due to huge losses in subscribers and spiraling costs, With its animation department lose out.
In August and September, animated shows on HBO Max took a bigger hit, with Warner Bros. Discovery removed entire animated series, such as Infinity Train, from the streaming device’s back catalogue. HBO has also canceled animated shows in development, including Batman: Caped Crusader, in an effort to save money and streamline the service. Beyond that, thousands of Twitter employees have been let go after Elon Musk’s controversial takeover (read more in our live blog about the chaos engulfing Twitter) while Amazon will reportedly lay off up to 10,000 employees in the near future.
So Marvel and Disney aren’t the only companies tightening restrictions, but this would be a small consolation for employees who have or will lose their jobs. For these two entertainment powerhouses, Spider-Man: Freshman Year may just be the beginning of the financial windfall – and that’s a worrying sign for every MCU project, the staff working on it, and fans of the world’s most profitable superhero movie franchise.
For more Marvel-based content, find out what’s left to be released as part of the studio’s MCU Phase 4 slate. Instead, read about how to watch the Marvel movies in order, or find out which Marvel TV shows made it to our list of the best Disney Plus shows.