Disney+ is home to a wide breadth of content, from essentially every animated feature film the Walt Disney Company has produced to the entire Marvel franchise, National Geographic shows, the Star Wars franchise, and more. However, there’s one major character that’s missing from the service: Spider-Man. Despite being one of the biggest draws to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (especially after Spider-Man: No Way Home), the web slinger remains absent from the platform beyond a few old TV shows.
So why is Spider-Man missing from Disney+? Here’s the breakdown.
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 numerous other MCU films, leading up to 2021’s multiverse-mashup Spider-Man: No Way 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, Far From Home, and No Way Home aren’t available through Disney’s subscription service.
Why you won’t find Homecoming, Far From Home, or No Way 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.
Luckily, in 2021, Marvel and Sony settled on a deal that would see a vast majority of Sony’s catalog of films make their way to Hulu and Disney+, including the early Spider-Man films directed by Sam Raimi and Marc Webb.
However, a deal like that never seemed likely before. Back when Disney+ launched, it didn’t even seem like Marvel was remotely interested in acquiring streaming rights. The company told media outlets (including The Verge) that they have no plans to bring Homecoming or Far From Home to the streaming service.
At the time, it was probably best that way. Over the summer of 2019, 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.
Fortunately, following the release of No Way Home, it seems that the stability of Spider-Man’s presence in the MCU is rock-solid. And thank God, because just a couple of years ago, one little slip from Disney or Sony could lead to serious consequences for the web-slinger, and I’m certain there are no Spider-Man fans willing to witness something like that again.
While you won’t find any live-action Spider-Man movies on Disney+ at this point, they’ll reach the service eventually. It’s unclear exactly when that’ll happen, but here’s to hoping it’s sooner than later.