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Spider-Man Wasn’t Allowed to Appear In Disney+’s She-Hulk (Exclusive)

She-Hulk
By Benny Stein

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law centers on Jennifer Walters, a lawyer turned superhero, and will explore the humorous highs and lows of such a complicated lifestyle.

The Disney+ series has more to offer than just its clever premise and unique hero, however. Beyond Jennifer Walters' adventures, the show is also set to include a slew of characters from the MCU. On one hand, this means finally introducing some C-tier villains to the franchise, like those just confirmed in a recent TV spot.

Perhaps more notably, the series will also feature the return of some beloved MCU actors, including Mark Ruffalo's Hulk, Tim Roth's Abomination, and, for the first time since 2018, Charlie Cox as a fully suited-up Daredevil, albeit in a new costume.

Even as She-Hulk: Attorney at Law looks set to play with the building blocks of the MCU in new, fun ways, it seems there are still some toys that are off limits.

Spider-Man Can't Come Out To Play For She-Hulk

Spider-Man, She-Hulk
Marvel

Speaking with The Direct's own Pamela Gores, She-Hulk series creator and head writer Jessica Gao talked about the wide range of characters the writers hoped to bring into the world of the show, acknowledging that "there were a lot of characters that were from the comics that we couldn’t use" because of either a "rights issue, or there were a few times where it was because Marvel:"

"There were a lot of characters from the comics– we wanted a lot of the comics for characters for fun situations where we could bring in like a character and think of like funny reasons why they would be in legal trouble. But there were a lot of characters that were from the comics that we couldn’t use either because of a rights issue, or there were a few times where it was because Marvel… all they would say is that they had other plans. And that’s all they would tell us. And then, we tried very, very hard to poke, and prod, and get a little bit more information. Of course, they wouldn’t tell us.

Responding to a question about certain heroes or villains being off limits, she noted that "one MCU character that really bummed out a lot of the writers in our room that we couldn’t use was Spider-Man."

"But I will say, the one MCU character that really bummed out a lot of the writers in our room that we couldn’t use was Spider-Man and anyone involved around– like in the Spider-Man universe. Because we had so many Spider-Man fans in the room."

Why Couldn't Spider-Man Show Up In She-Hulk?

While the film rights for the character are still over at Sony, explaining the difficulty in approving the character for a minor role in a Disney+ show, it is interesting that it seems Marvel is not even considering exploring the possibility. Even as Spider-Man has popped up frequently enough in the She-Hulk comics to justify a cameo, the idea wasn't even given serious consideration, likely because of existing contractual clauses which still allow Disney+ to tell animated Web-Slinger stories

Things are further complicated by the fact that Spider-Man has appeared in other Marvel Studios projects before, including the one-two punch of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. However, this arrangement was possibly part of a previous deal, also likely increasing the value of the Spider-Man brand more than a Disney+ show ever could. As such, it makes sense that a deal couldn't be struck for a minor cameo appearance.

It is also unclear whether the MCU's Spider-Man will swing again at all in live-action. Spider-Man: No Way Home places the franchise in an interesting position, existing as a possible end-point for the series. Tom Holland has even suggested that he may be done with Spider-Man, though this is likely just a publicity move, with the actor attempting to gain leverage in future contract negotiations as opposed to seriously circling an exit from the franchise.

No Way Home also complicates the story in another way. With the movie's ending wiping out any awareness of Peter Parker, an appearance in She-Hulk would be that much more confusing. Instead of putting the story burden on that show, it makes sense to reserve a Spider-Man appearance for when the character's situation is more clearly laid out.

So, even as this exclusion from She-Hulk may seem like a bad sign for fans of the Web-Head, it is, more than likely, just a reflection of the state of things with Spider-Man, a situation that is, as of now, still up in the air. 

Gao's general comments about the process of incorporating characters into an MCU project are quite interesting. Even as it seems She-Hulk was able to bring a huge number of comic book characters into its world, there are still some that are off-limits.

The clarification about rights issues seems fairly straightforward, but the further note about "other plans" is much more tantalizing, suggesting that certain unannounced Marvel heroes or villains are preparing to make the jump to the big (or perhaps small) screen. A few years ago, a Moon Knight series seemed entirely unlikely, so who knows who could be popping up on Disney+ next...


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