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Comic Book / Marvel Noir

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Marvel Noir — Where Spider-Man has a gun.

Marvel Noir is a 2009/2010 Marvel Comics alternative continuity combining elements of film noir and pulp fiction with the Marvel Universe. The central premise of the mini-series replaces superpowers with driven, noir-flavored characterization. The reality of Marvel Noir is Earth-90214.

A universe where local counterparts of Earth-616 superhumans debuted in the 1920s and 1930s. Most superpowers are mainly unknown or nonexistent at this point, though with the certain exceptions of few, such as Spider-Man (who received his powers from a mystical "Spider God"), Black Cat, and Daredevil.


Comics in the setting:

  • Daredevil Noir (2009)
  • Iron Man Noir (2010)
  • Luke Cage: Noir (2009-2010)
  • Punisher: Noir (2009-2010)
  • Spider-Man: Noir (2009)
    • Spider-Man Noir: Eyes Without a Face (2010)
    • Spider-Man Noir (2020)
  • Weapon X Noir (2010)
  • Wolverine Noir (2009)
  • X-Men Noir (2009)
    • X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain (2010)

Deadpool Pulp is commonly considered part of the series as it set at a similar time period and created by authors who worked on other Noir series.

These comics provide examples of:

  • Academy of Evil: Xavier's School for Exceptionally Wayward Youth in X-Men: Noir is a reform school... but Professor X teaches his students how to be better criminals rather than actually reforming them. He insists this is a ploy to gain their trust so they will gradually open up to him and therapy can begin in earnest. In reality, he is developing and studying them to prove his theory that sociopathy is the next stage of human behavioral evolution.
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  • Adaptation Species Change: In X-Men Noir, the X-Men are not mutants, but human criminals who thanks to discredited psychiatrist Charles Xavier believe sociopathy is "the next state in human behavioral evolution". In the same universe, Namor is a normal man who cut his ears into the shape of a shark's fins and Thor wasn't a Physical God but a unnamed Norwegian man who ferociously protected a castle he found from the Nazis with a hammer, "as if he were some Norse God on Earth".
  • Adaptational Villainy: A few cases, most notably X-Men Noir, who, in this timeline, aren't mutants, but sociopaths — and Jean Grey killed Rogue. Professor X himself is the Big Bad of the sequel miniseries.
    • In Wolverine Noir, the Big Bad is Rose, from Wolvie's mini Origin.
    • In Iron Man Noir, it turns out in this universe Baron Zemo is Tony's father Howard Stark. Now, mainstream comics Howard isn't the nicest guy to begin with, but he certainly isn't an agent of Hydra. There's also Madame Masque, whom is a Tragic Villain in the mainstream comics thanks to her scarred face and emotional abuse from her father Count Nefaria, but in Iron Man Noir she lacks that Freudian Excuse and is just a cruel Bitch in Sheep's Clothing before even getting disfigured.
  • Big Applesauce: Poverty and crime are at an all-time peak — Aunt May mentions in one of her speeches that there are 13,000,000 unemployed people (it's unclear if she was talking about the U.S.A. or just New York), crimes such as arson, murder and drug trade are an everyday fact, police and authorities are corrupt, and several people are Driven to Suicide. It says something when the last stand of moral integrity is The Daily Bugle.
  • Crapsack World: The authorities are corrupt all the way to the mayor of New York.
  • Darker and Edgier: Pretty much all of the stories in the series.
  • Diesel Punk:
    • Iron Man Noir is unique among the Noir stories for not even trying to be realistic, featuring Tony Stark's "repulsor pump" pacemaker, the Iron Man armor itself, and Baron Stucker's lightning-hurling Power Fist — not to mention background stuff like the sleek super zeppelins.
    • X-Men Noir is the least fantastic of the settings, but introduces one dieselpunk element in the story Mark of Cain: the Office of National Emergency's Dirigi-Carrier.
  • Fantastic Noir: The entire line has this feel, especially for Spider-Man. Iron Man Noir is a bit misnamed, since it's more of a pulp action story.
  • Film Noir: The entire setting. Changes to Wolverine, for example, include his signature claws actually being handheld Japanese weapons. Naturally, there's a different version of Logan on the X-Men. In normal Marvel continuity, such street-level heroes as Daredevil, Moon Knight and the Punisher have all had runs or story arcs that followed many noir conventions.
  • The Great Depression/The Roaring '20s: Most of the stories are set around those periods.
  • Jungle Opera: The beginning of Iron Man Noir features this.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Most of the powers in the setting. Peter refuses to believe that there's no scientific explanation for his newfound powers. That said, all evidence points to magic.
  • Orichalcum: In Iron Man Noir, Orichalcum is retrieved from Atlantis and serves as a MacGuffin power source.
  • The Social Darwinist: Professor Xavier in X-Men Noir is an actual psychiatrist, and as such his spin on this is unique: he believes sociopaths are the next stage in human behavioral evolution. Chief of Detectives Eric Magnus, meanwhile, believes the criminal element is hereditary and genetic — and has to be contained or eliminated for the good of society. Emma Frost, an old student of Xavier's, combines the two ideas as warden at Genosha Bay but also feels sociopathy is communicable.
  • Two-Fisted Tales: Many of the stories, especially the ones that involve powers like Spider-Man. Iron Man Noir is particularly notable, being a globe-trotting action-adventure story whereas the other titles are more Film Noir.
  • Vigilante Man: Most of the characters in the setting. Spider-Man more so than usual, given that he is both willing to use a gun and kill.
  • Wretched Hive: New York is a giant slum, where Prohibition has fueled the dominance of organized crime and mass corruption, whilst the economic crash has flooded it with impoverished and desperate people who will do anything to feed themselves or forget their troubles. Whilst the economy is back on track, crime is down, and corruption is leeching out by the time of Eyes Without a Face, to the point a reporter even wonders if New York needs the Spider-Man now that his "gangbusting glory-days" are seemingly behind him, World War II is on the horizon, the Ku Klux Klan is embedding itself into politics, and Nazi sympathizers are openly running around in the streets.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: One of the few fantastic things to be found in any of the stories is the O*N*E Dirigicarrier seen in X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain. And boy is it ever fantastic: it's a colossal battleship kept airborne by virtue of having several Hindenburg-like zeppelins strapped to its underside.


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