MCU Writer Addresses Spider-Man Rights Complications With Disney+'s What If Show

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Spider-Man, Marvel, MCU, Tom Holland, Zombie Hunter

When Marvel Studios first announced that Spider-Man was set to join the MCU, fans around the world went wild. What seemed like a crazy pipe dream ended up being a reality—a reality which led to what fans witnessed when they watched Captain America: Civil War.

Since then, Peter Parker has gone on to live a long, fruitful life in the MCU, having now appeared in five films, despite a brief hiccup in Marvel's relationship with Sony. This hiccup was thankfully resolved fairly quickly.

That's the thing with Spider-Man, though: Marvel Studios doesn't own the character's movie rights. Using the character isn't always the easiest task as it always needs to navigate the complicated deal which Marvel made with Sony.

Fans have seen this at play in the films, with each of his solo flicks requiring at least one other MCU character in a lead supporting role. Past examples of this include Tony Stark in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Nick Fury in Spider-Man: Far From Home, and finally, Stephen Strange in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

But how does all of that work when it comes to using the character in a show such as the upcoming What If...?



In an interview with UPROXX, head writer A.C. Bradley and director Bryan Andrews were on hand to discuss their upcoming Disney+ show, What If...?.

During their conversation, the two were asked about the difficulties when it comes to using Spider-Man—something that is always a curiosity when it comes to the character's rather complicated rights situation.

According to Bradley, when she asked if they could use Spider-Man on the show, Marvel responded by saying "we're going to figure it out... just tell the best story [she] can:" 

"I think that works with 'people above our pay grade.' Though, I think I did ask that early on. I was like, 'Can we just touch Spider-Man?' And they went, 'Don’t worry about it. We’re going to figure it out. Just tell the best story you can, and we’ll cross that bridge.' That was kind of the mandate across the board with Marvel: As long as you’re not doing something that we’re doing in the movies, go have fun and we’ll figure it out."

Andrews tossed his hat in the ring, saying that "from day one on their projects, it's quality all the way down the line:"

"No, they want the quality. They want to go for the quality and they’re like, 'Yeah, let’s go. And all that BS is stuff that we have to deal with.' It’s like, 'We’ll deal with that. Don’t worry about it.' Which I think that’s awesome. From day one on all their projects, it’s quality all the way down the line. You know what I mean? And that’s great."


The best part of how Marvel Studios seemingly reacted when it came to being asked about using Spidey is its confidence in the matter. This paints a good picture as to the relationship between the two studios. 

It is worth noting that those behind What If...? may have wanted to use the character before Spider-Man's future in the MCU was briefly at stake. This makes it all the more interesting as Spider-Man sure does seem like a wild card when it comes to using him in other projects.

As of now, fans know that Spider-Man will end up being a zombie hunter in one of the installments of What If...?'s first season. Past that, it isn't known if the character will be utilized any further. 

Using Spider-Man in animated form and on a television show is an entirely different process when it comes to navigating his rights compared to that of the live-action theatrical side of things. Hopefully, it won't be impossible to see the ol' webhead show up in live-action on one of the MCU's many new streaming ventures. Maybe he will be facing off against Kingpin in the future.

Marvel Studios' What If...? officially airs on Disney+ on Wednesday, August 11.

- In This Article: What If...? (Season 2)
Release Date
December 22, 2023
Jeffrey Wright
- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.