Whether you’ve followed the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the very start, or you have jumped on board in more recent times, you know that between movies and television shows, there is a lot of great content in the MCU. From Iron Man (2008) and The Incredible Hulk (2008) to Captain Marvel (2019) and What If? (2021), the MCU has delivered some stellar stories, all ripe for revisiting.
And of course, whenever you want to rewatch past MCU content, all you need do is switch on Disney+ and it’s all there, right? Well, no, actually it’s not all there, is it?
Although the vast majority of the MCU can be found on Disney+, there are a couple of notable absences: The Spider-Man movies. The Spider-Man films are not currently available on Disney+, which means if you want to revisit Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) or Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), you have to search through other content providers or rent/purchase the movie through a retailer.
So, what gives? Why aren’t the Spider-Man movies on Disney+?
The Spider-Man movies are not currently available on Disney+ because the movies are not owned by Disney. Sure Spider-Man is a Marvel Comics character, and Disney owns Marvel, but Disney/Marvel don’t own the movie rights to Spidey.
Sounds a bit complicated, but it’s not.
Back in the 1990s, Marvel Comics licensed many of its characters out to movie studios, in order to get its characters on the big screen. The Hulk went to Universal, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men went to 20th Century Fox and so on.
Spider-Man was snapped up by Sony/Columbia Pictures. The character then became the star of a series of movies, beginning with 2002’s Spider-Man, directed by Sam Raimi.
As part of the deal Marvel made with the individual movie studios, each studio could retain the rights to make movies about their respective characters for as long as they wanted, however, the studios had to keep making the movies within a certain timeframe in order to maintain those rights. If the studios stopped making new films within a specific time period (say, every few years), they would lose the rights to use the characters on film.
Over time, some of the studios stopped making movies and most of the characters returned to Marvel, where they were then put into the MCU. However, Sony never stopped making Spidey movies, and as such, after all these years the studio still owns the rights to make movies featuring Spider-Man.
In more recent times, and with the MCU being so successful, Disney/Sony have come to an arrangement so that the movie version of Spider-Man can be shared. Under this arrangement, Sony continues to own the Spider-Man movie rights, as per the original agreement, but Disney gets to borrow Spidey for use in the MCU.
Up until now, that agreement has worked well, and has allowed actor Tom Holland to play Spider-Man in a string of solo Spidey movies, while also appearing in films such as Captain America: Civil War (2016), as well as a couple of Avengers movies. However, regardless of this new agreement, the solo Spidey films still remain the property of Sony and the deal can be stopped at any time in the future.
And because the Spider-Man movies belong to Sony and not Disney, Disney can’t just add the Tom Holland Spider-Man titles to Disney+. This is the reason why the Tom Holland Spider-Man movies have been absent from Disney+.
But the films won’t be absent forever! While the Spider-Man films may not be on the service at present, they are coming to Disney+ in the near future, thanks to a new arrangement that has been agreed between Sony/Disney.
When will the Spider-Man movies be on Disney+?
Under a new deal between Disney and Sony, the Spider-Man movies will be arriving on Disney+ in 2022. According to Deadline, the deal will see the Tom Holland Spider-Man movies appear on Disney+, in addition to the previous Spidey films from the ‘00s and ‘10s (aka the Tobey Maguire movies and the Andrew Garfield films), and other Sony titles!
In a statement, Chuck Saftler, head of Business Operations for ABC, said:
“This landmark multi-year, platform agnostic agreement guarantees the team at Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution a tremendous amount of flexibility and breadth of programming possibilities to leverage Sony’s rich slate of award-winning action and family films across our direct-to-consumer services and linear channels.”
There is no specific date for the arrival of the films, but it is believed the Spider-Man movies should start appearing on Disney+ by summer 2022. Although, be warned, some of the films may drop sporadically, rather than in one big batch, as this deal is still subject to any existing licensing agreements that Sony has.
What does that mean? It means that Sony has already licensed some of the Spider-Man movies out to the likes of Netflix, SKY etc for streaming, so Disney will have to wait for those streaming agreements to expire before it can add all of the Spidey content to its service.
But the good news is, the Spider-Man movies WILL be on Disney+, and perhaps sooner than you think!
Thank you for stopping by Don’t Tell Harry to check out this post on the Spider-Man movies. For more posts, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.