The rules and regulations over how Marvel Studios and Sony can share Spider-Man have never been made public in their entirety, but it raised some questions from Marvel’s What If…? creator A.C. Bradley when she was cooking up stories for the animated series, several of which revolved around everybody’s favorite friendly neighborhood superhero.
Various pieces of leaked concept art, promo images and even footage has long since confirmed that Spidey will play a part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s next episodic adventure, although Tom Holland won’t be lending his vocal talents to Peter Parker.
As far as we can tell, Marvel and Disney control the animated rights to the web-slinger, as long as episodes of the project in question don’t exceed 44 minutes. However, Sony hold the feature length animation rights, which is why the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse franchise is continuing, but the character can also be used in What If…?.
In a new interview, Bradley revealed that she’d inquired about any potentially sticky legal and contractual situations when developing the show, and was told by Marvel to simply focus on telling the best story possible while the legal department dealt with the ins and outs.
“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.”
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Holland’s contract that saw him headline three solo Marvel/Sony co-productions and lend support in a trio of MCU crossovers expires with December’s No Way Home, which might be why they couldn’t bring him in for What If…?. It’s another interesting wrinkle to the agreement between the studios that not a lot of people probably considered, but having previously pitched an episode that was basically Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Bradley was wise to inquire about Spider-Man’s usage and availability beforehand.