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Marvel Animation Comic-Con Panel Previews ‘What If…?,’ ‘X-Men ’97,’ ‘Spider-Man: Freshman Year’ and More

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The Marvel Studios Animation panel at San Diego Comic-Con provided plenty of updates on some epic upcoming projects! The panel opened with a voiceover from “The Watcher,” himself, What If….? star Jeffrey Wright, building the hype for fans to see all your favorite MCU characters take on new worlds and new threats in their animated adventures.

I Am Groot director Kristen Lepore, Spider-Man: Freshman Year EP and head writer Jeff Trammell, What If…? and Marvel Zombies director Bryan Andrews, X-Men ’97 EP and head writer Beau DeMayo and more took the stage during the Ballroom 20 panel to preview their upcoming series and share some sneak peeks at what fans can expect.

Read on to see what we learned about some of the MCU’s animated offerings coming in the next few months!


I Am Groot (Aug. 1 on Disney+)

We haven’t seen the last of Baby Groot. Though everyone’s favorite talking tree is growing up before our very eyes in the MCU proper, this series of short films will showcase a younger Groot (with Vin Diesel reprising his voice role) alongside several “new and unusual” Marvel characters. 

At Comic-Con, I Am Groot director Kristen Lepore shared that the central question of the series was, “How do we make Groot’s childhood relatable?…Bath time, arts and crafts, playing dress up… but making it sci-fi.” She also teased that the series will feature some old and new faces from the MCU.

The trailer showcases the tiny “hero of few words” adventuring through nature, showing off his dance movies, and of course, getting into some explosive mischief! 


Spider-Man: Freshman Year (2024 on Disney+)

Spider-Man

This animated installment in the Spider-Man franchise follows Peter Parker on his way to becoming the titular hero in the MCU, with a journey unlike we’ve ever seen and a style that celebrates the character’s early comic book roots.

EP and head writer Jeff Trammell shared a first look at the animated Peter and his web-slinging counterpart at Comic-Con, noting that he’s a big fan of the Spectacular Spider-Man comics run.

The series — which is set before Peter is recruited by Tony Stark in Captain America: Civil War — will also include various Spidey suits, and some familiar names from the Marvel canon, including Nico Minuro of the Runaways, Lonnie Lincoln, Amadeus Cho, Harry Osborn, and more. Charlie Cox is also set to reprise his Daredevil role and voice the animated version of the character in the show.


What If…?, Season 2 (early 2023 on Disney+)

What If?

The second season of the fan-favorite animated series will see the return of The Watcher (Jeffery Wright) as the series meets new heroes and explores more strange new worlds in the MCU’s ever-expanding Multiverse. Like season 1, many MCU actors are expected to reprise their roles “in very different forms.”

Director Bryan Andrews and head writer AC Bradley previewed the second season at SDCC, noting that a third season is already in the works. Season 2 is set to feature Hela, Odin, The Mandarin, the Winter Soldier, Valkyrie, Hulk, Tony Stark and the return of Captain Carter.

Read more about What If…?.


Marvel Zombies (TBA on Disney+)

Marvel Zombies

The animated series from Marvel Studios reimagines the Marvel Universe as a new generation of heroes battle against an ever-spreading zombie scourge.

Director Bryan Andrews previewed the upcoming series at Comic-Con, confirming that it is a continuation of the zombies episode from What If…? season 1, and sharing that it will be rated TV-MA!

The series is set to include heroes like Shang-Chi, Black Widow‘s Yelena Belova and Red Guardian, Hawkeye’s Kate Bishop, Ant-Man and WandaVision‘s Jimmy Woo, and Ms. Marvel, as well as zombie-fied versions of Ghost, Abomination, Captain Marvel, Scarlet Witch, Okoye and Captain America. 


X-Men ’97 (Fall 2023 on Disney+)

X-Men 97

The animated series from Marvel Studios explores new stories in the iconic ‘90s timeline of the original series. EP and head writer Beau DeMayo introduced the series at Comic-Con, noting that it’s the first X-Men property since Marvel got the rights to the characters back from Fox: “It’s an immense legacy, especially since the X-Men are back at the only mansion that counts, Marvel Studios.”

The upcoming series brings back the beloved cast of heroes from the ’90s series — Rogue, Gambit, Wolverine, Jubilee, Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, and Beast — while also including some new team members, like Sunspot, Cable, Bishop and Nightcrawler. Villains will include Seb Shaw, Emma Frost, Calypso, Val Cooper and Mister Sinister.


See below for more of Entertainment Tonight’s ongoing coverage of Comic-Con 2022, including the daily schedule and biggest highlights of the weekend:

 



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Aussies Are Explaining The Differences Between Bogans And Rednecks To Americans And It’s Fascinating

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12.

“Watch Kath & Kim for an excellent example of bogans. Bogans aren’t necessarily trailer park living, wildlife hunting yokels.”

—u/DefNotQualified

“Kath and Kim are great examples of Australian bogans. I would think a TV show that shows American bogans would be Malcolm In The Middle, that middle-class suburban family that is a little rough around the edges.” 

—u/ErinJean85

“Holy fuck, that’s actually very on point. I’d like to submit the Simpsons as contenders for American boganhood.”

—u/Kagalath

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Jennifer Hudson threw out one of rarest first pitches in baseball

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Call her an actor-singer-pitcher.

Once again proving there’s not much she can’t do, Jennifer Hudson added a perfect first pitch ahead of the Kansas City Royals game on Tuesday to a résumé that already includes an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award.

Hudson lobbed up what the Major League Baseball Twitter account called “the best eephus pitch” they’ve seen this season ahead of the Royals’ home game against the Chicago White Sox.

There’s only one way to celebrate when you nail a first pitch like Jennifer Hudson did before Tuesday’s Kansas City Royals game. Ed Zurga / Getty Images

An eephus pitch is a super slow, high-arcing pitch that is meant to throw off a batter’s timing and is rarely seen in a big-league game. Hudson lollipopped her pitch right over the plate as the Royals mascot, Sluggerrr, called it a strike while posing as the umpire.

Hudson, 40, celebrated by pointing to the crowd and doing a little shimmy on the mound. She also did it in style in a Royals jersey and denim jumpsuit.

Image: Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals - Game One
Hudson can now add “perfect first pitch” to her EGOT.Ed Zurga / Getty Images

Celebrities throwing out the first pitch need to bring their A-game these days, as Hudson’s strike follows a memorable first pitch by Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee before a Minnesota Twins game last week.

The star gymnast flipped head over heels before throwing her pitch, putting her up in the first pitch pantheon with Team USA teammate Simone Biles, who did a twisting backflip in 2019 before a first pitch at a Houston Astros game.

Tom Hanks also had a first pitch to remember in April when he reunited with Wilson from “Cast Away” before a Cleveland Guardians game.



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Olivia Newton-John’s Husband John Easterling Remembers Her as ‘Most Courageous Woman’ in Heartfelt Tribute

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Olivia Newton-John’s husband, John Easterling, is sharing a heartfelt tribute to his late wife, just two days after her passing. She was 73 years old.

Easterling took to Newton-John’s Instagram account, where he posted a photo of the pair along with a touching message addressed to the singer-actress.

“Olivia, Our love for each other transcends our understanding. Every day we expressed our gratitude for this love that could be so deep, so real, so natural. We never had to ‘work’ on it. We were in awe of this great mystery and accepted the experience of our love as past, present and forever,” Easterling began.

Easterling, who married Newton-John back in 2008, called the Grease star “the most courageous woman” he’s ever known, adding that she genuinely cared for all the world’s people, nature and its creatures.

“At Olivia’s deepest essence she was a healer using her mediums of song, of words, of touch. She was the most courageous woman I’ve ever known. Her bandwidth for genuinely caring for people, for nature and all creatures almost eclipses what is humanely possible,” he added. “It is only the grace of God that has allowed me to share the depth and passion of her being for so long. In her most difficult times she always had the spirit, the humor, and the will power to move things into the light.”

Though still in the midst of her painful loss, Easterling said that his heart is “healed” by the joy of her love.

“Even now as her soul soars, the pain and holes in my heart are healed with the joy of her love and the light that shines forward,” Easterling wrote before concluding the message by thanking Newton-John’s fans, friends and colleagues for their love and support. “Our family deeply appreciates the vast ocean of love and support that has come our way. Onward Ho, John Easterling.”

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A post shared by Olivia Newton-John (@therealonj)

Easterling broke the news of his wife’s passing Monday morning in an announcement shared to Instagram, writing alongside a photo of the actress, “Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends.”

“Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over 30 years sharing her journey with breast cancer,” the statement continued. “Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the @onjfoundation.”

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A post shared by Olivia Newton-John (@therealonj)

Newton-John’s daughter, Chloe Lattanzi, also shared a tribute to her late mother. In addition to several shots of her and her mom, Lattanzi posted a special behind-the-scenes video from their iconic 2021 duet. Lattanzi took to Instagram Tuesday to share a clip of the pair singing “Window in the Wall,” a song that brought the late actress out of retirement and back in the studio.

The video sees the mother-daughter duo recording the track, sharing special moments in the studio and collaborating on the moving melody.

“You are my lighthouse mama. My safe place. My heart space. It has been my honor and continues to be my honor to be your baby and best friend,” Lattanzi wrote alongside the video. “You are an angel on earth and everyone touched by you has been blessed. I love you forever my life giver, my teacher, my mama.”

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A post shared by Chloe Lattanzi (@chloelattanziofficial)

Newton-John’s long-term battle with cancer began in 1992 when she went public with her first diagnosis of breast cancer. She went on to fund the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia, and had been a fierce advocate for cancer treatment and research. A state funeral in Newton-John’s home country of Australia is set to take place to celebrate Newton-John’s “music and film and all the other amazing contributions that she made” to the world.

For more on the actress’ life and legacy, and the outpouring of love for Newton-John in the wake of her death, see the video below.

 



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