When it comes to the sticky web of TV and film rights, there can be very few that are as tangled as Spider-Man. Marvel sold the movie rights to Spider-Man many years ago to Sony, long before the creation of the MCU. While that deal in itself had become quite contentious recently, with Disney and Sony falling out and making up to allow the inclusion of the webbed wonder in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, heading into the world of TV rights is an even more murky predicament to get involved in. Because of this, when creating the What If...? animated series AC Bradley did not initially know whether they would be able to use Spider-Man or not.
From the outset, the instruction was to write the best possible story and let the legal side work out what could and couldn't be used in the final project. As it turned out, the lawyers were able to sort out the potential issues and what we are left with is the arrival of Zombie Hunter Spider-Man in the MCU thanks to that one rule of "tell the best story you can." In a recent interview, What If...? creator, AC Bradley, told UPROXX...
"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."
Series director Bryan Anderson's line mirrored the sentiment, proving that some times the story has to come first regardless of what kind of legal hoops need to be jumped through to get to where they want to be. It seems like provided the quality of the end product is there, it would be ludicrous to think either side would want to stall on a guaranteed moneymaker like Spider-Man.
"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 rights issues between Marvel and a number of other companies all stemmed from the selling of numerous properties before the company realized that they could make the movies a success by themselves. This meant the likes of X-Men, The Incredible Hulk and of course Spider-Man have always been a thorn in the side of Disney and Marvel for the last decade. With the merger of Fox and Disney, the X-Men and Fantastic Four have been brought back home, but others like Hulk - who can currently only appear in joint movies such as Avengers or Thor Ragnarok.
As long as the powers that be continue to find a way to keep the restrictions at bay, it can only mean better things for audiences who have invested so much in the characters regardless of who owns them. This news originates from ComicBook.