Is Spider-Man: Freshman Year Introducing a Black Norman Osborn to the MCU?

Some familiar faces are returning for Spider-Man: Freshman Year, a new animated series for Disney+. The Marvel Animation panel at Comic-Con 2022 provided the first look at concept art for Spider-Man: Freshman Year, including the show's host of villains. One of those foes is longtime Spider-Man nemesis Norman Osborn, who appears in the Tony Stark mentor role in a scene swiped from Captain America: Civil War. Eagle-eyed fans have noticed that the concept art of Norman Osborn changes his skin tone and facial features, with the Green Goblin now looking more like a Black man.

The scene in question features Peter Parker, Aunt May, and Norman Osborn in the Parker apartment. Norman is standing where Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark previously was. Norman has a darker complexion compared to Peter and Aunt May, which could be one sign pointing to a change in the character. By itself it's not much evidence to go by; however, there's also the matter of the appearance of Norman's son, Harry Osborn, and Peter's best friend.'s Brandon Davis was in attendance at the Marvel Animation panel at Comic-Con, where he snapped a photo of Spider-Man: Freshman Year's supporting cast. "Spider-Man: Freshman Year will include Nico Minuro of the Runaways, Lonnie Lincoln, Amadeus Cho, Harry Osborn, and more," Davis wrote in a tweet that included an image of the cast. Characters such as Nico Minoru, Amadeus Cho, and Lonnie Lincoln are easily recognizable. However, there isn't another Caucasian male to be found in the concept art. The only other person that could possibly be Harry Osborn is the character on the far right, who also has brown skin similar to Norman Osborn.

Fans have understandably been confused about whether Spider-Man: Freshman Year takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When first announced, Spider-Man: Freshman Year came with the reveal that it was the animated origins of the MCU's Peter Parker, which was seemingly confirmed even further at today's panel when series head writer Jeff Trammell confirmed that it's set before the events of Captain America: Civil War. That notion, along with the reveal of all these characters appearing in the series has Marvel fans deeply confused. How can Doc Ock and Norman Osborn appear in the show when Spider-Man: No Way Home clearly established they weren't present in the MCU to begin with? If Daredevil knew Spider-Man beforehand, does that make the events of the Netflix series not-canon?

There are many questions that remain unanswered, but perhaps we'll find out more before Spider-Man: Freshman Year is released. The show will premiere in 2024. Let us know your thoughts on Norman Osborn's new look in the comments!