Disney Plus' Spider-Man movie deal isn't as good as you think

The three live-action Spider-Men pose on a rooftop in Spider-Man: No Way Home
Six Spider-Man movies are thwipping their way onto Disney Plus (Image credit: Sony Pictures/Marvel Entertainment)

Spider-Man fans are going to be eating well, as five of the superhero's live-action movies are returning to – and another is set to debut on –Disney Plus.

Announced on Disney Plus' various social media channels, four Spider-Man films – the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man trilogy, plus The Amazing Spider-Man, which starred Andrew Garfield – are available to stream today (April 21). Spider-Man: Homecoming, the first solo outing for Tom Holland's wallcrawler following his supporting role in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, will join the Peter Parker party on May 12. All five movies have previously been available on Disney Plus and Netflix at various points over the last few years.

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Hang on – I said there were six Spider-Man films arriving on Disney's main streamer, but that's only five. So, what's the other one? Surely it isn't Spider-Man: No Way Home? Or, for fans of a certain vampiric anti-hero (i.e. Morbius), could it be that it's finally "Morbin' time" for Disney Plus subscribers?

In short: no. The last Spider-Man-centric film that's set to arrive on Disney Plus – and make its platform debut – is Venom, the 2018 Tom Hardy-starring comic-book movie. One of Spidey's most notorious foes will be chomping his way onto one of the world's best streaming services on May 12 alongside Spider-Man: Homecoming.

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This isn't the first time (Venom aside) that a bunch of the webslinger's films have appeared on Disney Plus. Five of Sony's Spider-Man movies joined Disney Plus UK in June 2022 – those being Tobey Maguire's first two Spidey flicks, both Amazing Spider-Man films, and Homecoming – before departing a few months later. 

Meanwhile, in the US, some Spider-Man movies are currently available on streaming services like Aha and Starz. Unlike their northern hemisphere cousins, Australia-based Marvel fans can already watch the Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and two of the Tom Holland Spider-Man films on Disney Plus, Paramount Plus, and Binge (Marvel movie Spider-Man: No Way Home is also streamable on Binge and Prime Video).

Tangled in a web of messy licensing deals

The cast of Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse isn't coming to Disney Plus yet. (Image credit: Sony Pictures / Marvel Studios)

Pleasing as it is to see six Spider-Man films join Disney Plus' library, the absence of the webslinger's other live-action and animated films from the platform is surprising and baffling in equal measure.

So, what gives? Why have The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Venom: Let There be Carnage, and Morbius been left out? An entangled web of messy licensing deals is the culprit.

You see, until recently, Sony Pictures – the studio that owns the right to every Spider-Man character – had first-look deals with Netflix and Starz, which saw Sony films debut on these services (in the UK and US, respectively) some time after they launched in theaters.

In April 2021, though, The Hollywood Reporter revealed Sony had penned two new deals – with Netflix and Disney Plus – that allows both platforms to distribute Sony's movie library to their userbases.

A screenshot of a Spider-Man 2 poster

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a Spider can. (Image credit: Sony Pictures / Marvel)

Now, Sony films will debut on Netflix in what's called a 'first-pay window', an agreement that allows said movies to join Netflix's back catalog 18 months after they air in cinemas. Once that six-month window expires, Sony titles will land on Disney Plus in the 'second-pay window'.

It's been over two years (i.e. 24 months) since Sony and Netflix signed that 'first-pay window' deal, so Disney Plus' 'second-pay window' deal has now been activated. Subsequently, Disney Plus (and Hulu, according to THR) are allowed to include certain Spider-Man films in their libraries.

Hang on – The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse debuted in theaters well over two years ago. Why aren't they coming to Disney Plus as part of this 'second-pay window'? Per THR, the Disney Plus deal only covers Sony's theatrical film slate between 2022 and 2026. As the aforementioned trio of movies fall outside of that bracket, they're still caught up in their own weird, web-style licensing deals. It could be some time, then, before they make the leap to Disney Plus. We've reached out to Disney to see if these movies will eventually make it onto its streaming services, and we'll report back if we receive a response.

There's plenty more Spider-Man content on the way for us all to enjoy soon, too. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the follow-up to Into the Spider-Verse, thwips into theaters on June 2. Marvel and Sony are also teaming up with Prime Video to make multiple Spider-Man TV shows, including one starring Silk and another Prime Video series based around Spider-Man Noir. Lastly, a fourth MCU Spider-Man film, which is supposedly coming as part of Marvel Phase 5, is in development. 

For more Spider-Man content, find out how to watch the Spider-Man movies in order or read our Spider-Man movies ranked piece.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.