The day is finally here. Today’s the day Disney+ launches, filled with classic cartoons, animated movies, and all the live-action Disney goodness that has hit movie screens over the past few decades. You get all of this for one low price a month: $6.99. Plus, you get exclusive movies and TV shows like a live-action Lady and the Tramp and special Marvel series that focus on other heroes like Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
All of this is great, and it goes to show you the incredible amount of assets the company has on hand to produce content around. One asset in particular is worth talking about, though, since some of the best content surrounding the character won’t be found on Disney+, and that’s Spider-Man.
Spider-Man’s history at Sony
Ever since 2016, Spider-Man has been appearing in Marvel Cinematic Universe movies thanks to a deal cut between Marvel and Sony, the owner of Spider-Man. Back in 1985, Marvel put Spider-Man up for sale to movie studios, and after 14 years of going from studio to studio, Sony finally purchased the rights in 1999 for $7 million.
Since that acquisition, Sony has produced five live-action Spider-Man movies, three of which were directed by Sam Rami and starred Tobey Maguire. The other two were directed by Marc Webb and starred Andrew Garfield, both helping to kick off what would’ve been a series of live-action Spider-Man movies set in Sony’s universe. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 wasn’t received well, though, so those plans were scrapped.
After TASM 2 in 2014, Sony and Marvel cut a deal which allowed Marvel to license the rights to Spider-Man and include him in MCU movies, starting with 2016’s Captain America: Civil War which starred Tom Holland as the radioactive web-head. Since then, the character has popped up in four additional MCU films, leading up to last summer’s Spider-Man: Far From Home. With this amount of history between the companies, you’d think at least a few of these movies would be available to watch on Disney+. And you’d be right.
Spider-Man in the MCU
Spider-Man appears in Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Civil War. All three of those movies are available to watch on Disney+ right now. But as surprising as it may seem, despite them being official MCU movies, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Far From Home aren’t available through Disney’s subscription service.
Why you won’t find Homecoming or Far From Home on Disney+
This is because they’re still technically Sony movies. If you ever watch the beginning credits of the films, you’ll notice an animation that says “in partnership with Marvel Studios.” That means Marvel plays a role in producing the films, but it doesn’t have full control over them. Because they purchased rights and licensing from Sony, Marvel’s able to include Spidey in its vast cinematic universe. But Marvel doesn’t own Spider-Man as a whole, and a majority of the rights the company needs to make a truly Marvel-branded Spider-Man movie are being held by Sony.
Some might think Sony could play fair ball and just give Marvel streaming rights for the Spider-Man movies, but that’s some wild thinking. Not only would Sony never ever give up the rights to stream Spidey (bad business move!), Marvel also doesn’t appear to have any interest in acquiring them. The company told media outlets (including The Verge) ahead of the Disney+ launch that they have no plans to bring Homecoming or Far From Home to the streaming service, meaning there aren’t even any talks between the conglomerates.
Perhaps it’s best things stay that way. Over the summer, we watched Marvel lose the rights to co-produce Spider-Man movies because they wanted more money, something Sony wasn’t willing to give. Then, about a month later, Marvel and Sony worked out a new financing deal that allowed Peter Parker back into the MCU. It was a crazy few weeks, and it was all caused by negotiations between executives.
If that’s the way things are gonna go moving forward, it’s best to just let the current deal with Spider-Man ride out. After all, that seems like what Disney wants anyway. They’re in no rush to get Homecoming and Far From Home on their service, and they probably don’t wanna bug Sony about it for fear of losing the character yet again.
This is a classic tale of major corporations bickering in front of a journalist who has no obligation not to publish anything and everything they say. Both Sony and Marvel have to watch what they say and do. One little slip can lead to serious consequences, and I’m certain there are no Spider-Man fans who want to witness something like that again.
In short, you won’t find live-action Spider-Man movies on Disney+ because Sony owns Spider-Man and there’s nothing Disney can do about it. Unless Sony pulls a 180 and sells the superhero back to Disney/Marvel, this is the way things will stay, and maybe that’s for the better.