SDCC: Marvel Animation Promises New Team-Ups, "Secret Wars," Rocket and Groot Shorts & More

Marvel Animation introduced a slate of projects during its Saturday panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego. These included 12 animated "Rocket & Groot" short adventures, featuring designs by Skottie Young; a full-length animated movie titled "Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell," which will pair the Hulk with Doctor Strange; and a "Secret Wars"-themed season of "Avengers" that will bring in heroes like Ms. Marvel, Black Panther and Ant-Man. The panel also previewed upcoming seasons of "Ultimate Spider-Man vs. The Sinister Six" and "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Panelists Cort Lane (SVP, animation and family entertainment), Eric Randomski (SVP, production and creative director, Marvel Animation), and Stephen Wacker (VP, current series and development, Marvel Animation) were joined by special guests Fred Tastasciore (voice of the Hulk) and Trevor Devall (voice of Rocket Raccoon). The two voice actors entertained the audience with their impressions, including a round of Mad Libs read as an in-character exchange between Rocket and the Hulk.

The panel kicked off with a sneak preview of an upcoming "Ultimate Spider-Man vs. The Sinister Six" episode. The Spideys will face a return to Spider-Verse in September, and this episode gave an idea of what that plot might look like. In the episode, Miles Morales and Peter Parker travel through the various universes, hunting for gem shards from the Siege Perilous.

"Avengers: Ultron Revolution," currently in its third season and "Inhumanity" arc, will soon expand its scope and cast. Wacker said that the Inhumans story will "open up our story in big ways, including the debut of Ms. Marvel on this season. And that begins a series of episodes where we meet a lot of new heroes: Black Panther, the Vision, and Ant-Man... It's all leading to the end of the season for 'Avengers: Ultron Revolution's own Civil War."

Wacker also revealed that the next season will be titled "Avengers: Secret Wars." This new season will incorporate both those characters who join at the end of this season and some other new faces, including Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Vision, Ant-Man and the Wasp. Wacker described the plot: "Some of the Avengers have gone missing. 'Secret Wars' is a very big story that will take up the entire season. There are some big surprises ... Black Panther ends up leaving the Avengers at one point."

The panelists also confirmed that Jane Foster will appear as Thor this season, along with War Machine. There are, however, no plans to use any mutants, Quicksilver or Scarlet Witch.

The "Guardians of the Galaxy" creative team is at work on Season 2, which will feature a crossover where the Guardians meet up with the Avengers. The show is early in production, so the panel shared a screengrab featuring Iron Man, Ant-Man, Hulk, Star-Lord, Captain Marvel, Drax and Captain America. Lane said that the season will include "cosmic characters you didn't see in season one, but Marvel fans know and love." Wacker hinted that the roster will include "probably the one that's been demanded the most in the Marvel cosmic universe. So if you know your Marvel cosmic lore, make of that what you will."

Regarding the first season of "Guardians," Wacker referenced Marvel Animation's surprise and joy at the characters' popularity. "Everyone is just stunned that all of our grandmothers now know the name Groot and Rocket Raccoon," he said. "And it's all because of your support... The fact that we're doing a second season of this is just thrilling."

Rocket & Groot shorts, "Marvel's Avengers: Secret Wars," and more announced at #MarvelSDCC! https://t.co/0VEEtDZFFchttps://t.co/Ad0pOrXEEP

- Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) July 23, 2016

The panel also debuted a rough animation test from the upcoming "Rocket & Groot" project. "We are doing 12 animated short adventures with Rocket and Groot," Lane said. "This is a really unique project. We're working with Passion Pictures and Arnaud Delord, who are the team behind the Gorillaz music videos... They're going to be on Disney XD early next year, so look for that, and eventually we'll be launching some other projects like this." Randomski added, "We've also got some consulting and some designs from the great Skottie Young," whose influence was clear in the released clip.

The panel also previewed a feature-length animated special, "Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell," set to air this fall. The movie will feature Hulk, Doctor Strange and the Howling Commandos. "Basically, Hulk -- he's dealing with his own demons, and his anger towards Banner," Tastasciore said. "It's a really creepy show, actually. I'm surprised how far you guys went." Randomski concurred: "It's kind of dark for the content we've been producing over the past several years."

To help promote all of these ongoing series and new projects, Disney XD is bringing back "Marvel's Super Hero Battle Royale," an app (formerly known as "Marvel Fantasy Super Hero") that works as a sort of fantasy football for animated superheroes. Players select their team from all the heroes across all the XD shows and watch the episodes each week to see how their players did. Lane described the latest version as "newer, bigger, reflecting the storylines and characters in the shows right now."

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