Spider-Man Noir is a four-issue miniseries which reimagines the Wall Crawler into the genres of Film Noir and pulp fiction. It is set in New York during the Great Depression in the Marvel Noir Universe. Part of a lineup of Genre Throwback miniseries featuring Marvel's most popular characters, it is also known for its sleek design and its version of Spider-Man being part of the video game Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. It was followed by another mini called Spider-Man Noir: Eyes Without a Face, taking place a year after the previous mini.
In Spider-Man Noir, Norman Osborn, a man known in certain circles as the Goblin, has everybody in his pocket. The mayor, the police, the local newspapers. May Parker is a notorious trouble maker for the corrupt regime. She and her nephew Peter lost Ben Parker, a big player in the underground movement against the government's abuse, until one day he was beaten up and savaged by the cannibalistic Adrian Toomes.
When Peter stands to defend his aunt from the Enforcers, he's noticed by Ben Urich, an Intrepid Reporter, who gets his boss J. Jonah Jameson to hire Peter on board as a photographer's assistant. When the Enforcers try to jack a spider idol from cargo meant for the museum, Peter gets bitten by one of the spiders inside the idol, gains spider-like abilities, and takes up the mantle of Spider-Man. Peter uses his newfound abilities to fight crime, eventually leading him to face the Goblin himself.
In Eyes Without a Face, Spider-Man has been active for a while now, but is still considered a vigilante. The police don't seem to mind him, and he tries to better the community. Except when Doctor Octavius rolls into town, Robbie Robertson tries to infiltrate his complex alongside Peter Parker, as his aide, to discover the evil human experiments being performed.
In the meantime, the World Union of Free Enterprise National Socialists (later renamed the Nazi Party in Real Life) is trying to get a foothold on American soil, and are secretly sponsoring Doctor Octavius and supplying him with people of African descent, done by the Crime Master and his right hand man Sandman. Once again, Spider-Man must stop them before even more horrific crimes are perpetuated.
In 2014, Spider-Man Noir starred in a one-shot issue of the Edge of Spider-Verse in which he faced off against his world's version of Mysterio, following which he teamed up with Spider-people from other realities in their fight against the Inheritors, and in 2015, Spider-Man Noir became a playable hero in Marvel: Avengers Alliance.
Noir made his cinematic debut in 2018's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, played by Nicolas Cage. The same year, the costume became one of the many unlockable skins in Spider-Man (PS4).
Following the massive success and popularity of Into the Spider-Verse, Noir was resurrected in another one-shot, where he was helped by Miles in his battle with Nazi villainess Madame Swarm while tracking down the Spider Idol, which had fallen into the Third Reich's hands.
The character then starred in his own limited series in 2020, simply titled Spider-Man Noir. Peter finds himself investigating a local girl’s murder involving a mysterious jewel named the Cicada Stone and a conspiracy involving Nazis once again.
As of 2023, a live-action Spider-Man Noir series from Into the Spider-Verse producers Phil Lord, Chris Miller, and Amy Pascal is in development for Prime Video. It is currently unknown if the project will be connected to the Spider-Verse franchise or if Cage will be involved.
Spider-Man Noir provides examples of:
- Anti-Hero: Due to the tragic life he's led, Spidey becomes much more willing to kill. This changed due to Aunt May.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Played with. Doctor Octavius is slimmer and more handsome than his usual pudgy, nerdtacular self, but he is also a little person confined to a wheelchair with some obviously bad body proportions.
- Adaptational Heroism:
- J. Jonah Jameson, the voice of the weak and the suffering. A very loud voice.JJJ's assistant: You look like you've been hit by a truck. Did he give you the "make [the rich] weep" speech?
Peter (dazed): Y-yeah, he did.
- In most of her versions, Felicia Hardy is a Classy Cat-Burglar generally ranging from Anti-Villain to Anti-Hero. Here, she is firmly on the side of the angels and later becomes a vigilante on her own right.
- J. Jonah Jameson, the voice of the weak and the suffering. A very loud voice.
- Adaptational Nationality: This version of Otto Octavius is an Amoral Afrikaner.
- Electro is a German national allied with the Nazis.
- Adaptational Villainy:
- Ben Urich, though he was ultimately gathering evidence.
- Crime Master is an odd example in that, while he's always been a villain, this version of him is far more evil and monstrous than all other portrayals of the character. For one thing he's a Nazi which is way past the standards his mainstream counterpart has.
- Curt Connors is Octavius's assistant in his experiments on humans, very different from his generally sympathetic mainstream counterpart.
- In the main universe, Herman Schultz, the Shocker, is a bank robber noted for his firm belief in approaching supervillainy with professionalism, and in fact he takes pride that he doesn't kill people. In the Noirverse, he's a Nazi sympathizer introduced having created a suit of Powered Armor with sonic blaster weapons as a potential wonder-weapon for the Nazis.
- Adaptational Wimp: Originally, Spider-Man Noir was probably the least powerful Spider-powered in the Marvel multiverse. Comes with the territory of a noir setting where everything is much grimmer and grittier. He couldn't wall-crawl and his organic webbing couldn't be used to swing either. He also doesn't display Super Strength to the degree of the other spider people (he can crack a wall with his first, but that's it) and has no notable Healing Factor (at most, when he got shot he didn't notice until he saw the blood, and then he still didn't feel the injury). He makes up for it with pure brutality and a gun.
- Almost Dead Guy: Jonah's imposter, who has been already gunned down by the time Peter finds him, but still manages to get his final words out. Those words are what tips off Peter that something is wrong.
- Badass Longcoat: His Uncle Ben's army greatcoat from when he served in World War 1 serves as part of Spidey's costume. Combined with the clearly separate goggles and black mask, it helps make his costume instantly recognizable compared to most other Spider-men.
- Big Bad: Norman Osborn in Noir, and Doc Ock in Eyes Without a Face (though he also more or less shares the role with the Crime Master). Inanna serves as one in the 2020 series.
- Big Bad Wannabe: The Crime Master, who ends up being a puppet and is unceremoniously killed by his superiors.
- The Big Rotten Apple: 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 (unclear if she was talking about USA 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.J. Jonah Jameson: I want pictures that will make [the rich] WEEP!
- Bittersweet Ending: The first series is an Earn Your Happy Ending, while the second is a very bitter bittersweet victory.
- Body Horror: Osborn was born with a rare disease that gave him scaly skin. And due to how much he was teased and called a freak, this led to his Start of Darkness.
- The Brute: Both Ox and Sandman, the former for Osborn and the latter for the Crime Master.
- Electro serves as one for the Nazis in the 2020 series.
- Bullying a Dragon: In the second mini-series a gangster gets invited to the Crime Master's HQ for a deal. He proceeds to insult the Crime Master and spit in his face... while Crime Master's hulking monster of a man Sandman is standing right behind him. Needless to say the gangster quickly regrets his decision.
- The Cameo: The 2020 series features a Noir version of Black Widow and sees the return of the Noir version of Tony Stark working as a spy against the Nazis in Germany.
- Circus of Fear: Norman Osborn recruited his inner circle from the circus, from which he himself is a refugee.
- Cold Open: The very first panel is Spider-man standing over the corpse of J. Jonah Jameson.
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Spider-Man shoots Toomes, and Aunt May derides him both for using fire arms and for killing a man... who happened to be a cannibal who was A: ate her husband alive, and B: was seconds from doing the same to her.
- Composite Character:
- Norman Osborn, "The Goblin", suffers from the skin disorder ichthyosis vulgaris, victims of which tended to be recruited to freak shows as variants of "The Reptile Man", due to the scaly skin it afflicts people with. In essence, he's a combination of his canon self as the Green Goblin and The Lizard, which makes him a Decomposite Character with Dr. Curtis Connor, who in this universe is simply an amoral scientist who assists Dr. Octavius.
- The Enforcers have the traditional line-up of Fancy Dan, Montana, and Ox but also include Sinister Six members Vulture and Kraven.
- At the end of the Edge of Spider-Verse tie-in, Felicia Harvey is shown stealing the sample of Spidey's blood that Mysterio collected. In the next Spider-Man Noir mini-comic, it's shown that she's used Peter's blood to become a powered vigilante calling herself "White Widow". Whilst there is an obvious connection to her mainstream continuity's alter-ego of The Black Cat, there's also elements of multiple other Spidey-related mainstream characters to her!
- As a woman with spider-like powers, she's obviously the Noirverse's version of Spider-Woman.
- Gaining superpowers by injecting herself with Peter's mutated blood? Makes her analogous to Morbius as he was reinterpretated in Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
- Her fighting style revolves around kickboxing, and she wears boots with elongated spiked tips to make her kicks extra lethal. This invokes a minor Spidey villain called The Tarantula, who likewise was a master kickboxer who used spiked boots and gloves (often poison-smeared) to augment his attacks.
- Crapsack World: The authorities are corrupt all the way to the mayor of New York. This Spider-Man doesn't string up criminals and leave them to the police simply because they cannot be trusted to uphold the law. It says something when J. Jonah Jameson is the most moral authority figure in the setting.
- Cursed with Awesome: When Peter got bitten by the mystic spiders, he hallucinated that a spider god would give him "The Curse Of Power". Considering how the Spider-Man powers have affected other Spider-Man, this isn't actually that far off.
- Darker and Edgier: Like all of the Marvel Noir series.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Spidey's costume is almost entirely black and his appearance generally looks dark. And although this version of Peter is more aggressive and violent, he is still noble and ultimately wants to make New York a better place.
- Deadpan Snarker: Peter’s gotten pretty snarky in the 2020 series similar to his multiversal counterparts.
- Disney Acid Sequence: When Peter gets bitten by the spider he receives visions of talking with a monstrous god-spider.
- Disney Death: Last we see of Kraven and the Goblin, they are covered with killer spiders and are never seen again.
- Dragon with an Agenda: Octavius is technically a subordinate to the Crime Master, but has his own dreams that go far beyond his.
- Drugs Are Bad: Ben Urich does heroin, which makes him complacent and easily controlled.
- Establishing Character Moment:
- Octavius gets one with a Gross-Up Close-Up of an ape with his brain being vivisected in Eyes Without a Face.
- Earlier, Sandman silently crushing the head of a man who had disrespected the Crime Master.Sandman: Goodnight.
- Eaten Alive: Norman wants a spider idol, which is covered in big fat widow-like spiders. As soon as the box is opened, they swarm Fancy Dan and eat him.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In a warped way; to Doc Ock, lobotomizing the "lesser" races For Science! is A-OK, but wantonly abusing for them no reason at all beyond simple sadism is apparently inhumane and monstrous, as he explains to Doctor Connors when Connors broaches the subject of training and disciplining their "experiments."
- Evil Cripple: Doctor Octavius is a paraplegic.
- Flechette Storm: Crime Master's death involves being repeatedly being stabbed to death by dozens of small, sharp, scalpels.
- Food Slap: Pete chucks a scotch in Norman's face when he mentions Uncle Ben.
- The Freakshow: Osborn's crew is made up of former circus performers and freakshow stars. This is because Osborn himself is a bitter ex-circus freak who wants revenge on the world.
- Friend on the Force: Jean De Wolfe becomes this to Spidey about halfway into Eyes Without a Face.
- Gender Flip: Jean De Wolfe, usually female, is a reimagined as a male Federal Agent in Eyes Without a Face.
- Giant Spider: Peter encounters one (presumably a manifestation of the Great Weaver) in a Disney Acid Sequence after being bitten.
- Good Bad Girl: Felicia Hardy, a "dancer of the exotic kind" (her words) who's not above doing her own dirty work, but eventually is one of Peter's most steadfast allies and becomes a vigilante in her own right.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Crime Master's death is cut away from, so we don't get to see the full details of Octavius mutilating him.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Ansel's presence in Eyes Without a Face is all over the book, but Spider-Man doesn't even learn of his existence, or the fact he was behind the Crime Master's initial actions.
- Green-Eyed Monster: When Octavius rants about his disdain for Africans, the attendant panels make it clear that his racism stems less from ideology and more from resentment of how he grew up surrounded by healthy African children and teens who could live a normal life, whilst he was a chairbound invalid.
- He Knows Too Much: She, Felicia Hardy, which costs her her face when the Crime Master discovers that she has been playing him. She's still alive, but when the second set of goons comes to interrogate her (read: torture), they are so horrified by her scars that one of them simply announces that there's nothing he can do to her.
- Herr Doktor: Doctor Octavius and Doctor Conners, both already mad scientists, are now also Nazi sympathisers.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The Vulture was a freak show geek willing to eat anything, including people. Osborn employs this cannibalistic streak as a tool to intimidate underlings and opponents.
- Intrepid Reporter: Peter, Urich and Jameson. And unlike other incarnations, Jameson is firmly in the side of good and less of a Jerkass to Spider-Man.
- Karma Houdini: Nicely subverted with Dr. Octopus, who gets away with his experiments... only to get insulted and rejected by the Nazis that he practically worshipped because he doesn't fit their definition of a Master Race.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Felicia Hardy has dozens of pet cats, and she's on the side of the "angels".
- The Klan: In the background of Eyes Without a Face. They are on the rise, but only receive a brief mention.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Octavius commits horrible human experiments to endear himself to the Nazi party, whilst secretly using his racist ideology as a cover for the fact he simply envies and resents black people for having grown up a cripple surrounded by healthy Africans. Then he actually gets to Germany, and finds that, in a land of true eugenics ideologues, his congenital deformity makes him no better than the blacks he mutilated for them.
- Likes Older Women: Peter himself, being in love with the thirty-something Felicia Hardy while just barely being an adult.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Peter refuses to believe that there's no scientific explanation for his newfound powers. That said, all evidence points to magic.Peter: I don't believe in magic, I believe in science. I dreamed a spider god gave me these abilities. There has to be a logical explanation.
- Miss Kitty: Aptly, Felicia, here the proprietor of a speakeasy.
- Mook Carryover: "Fat Larry" runs a seedy joint first for the Goblin, then for someone else, and finally for the Crime Master.
- Morality Pet: Literally, Kraven's monkey for Kraven. His grief over his death provides a small spark of goodness, enough for him to survive a bit longer after being overwhelmed by the mystical spiders to kill Osborn.
- Mythology Gag:
- Felicia isn't a Classy Cat-Burglar, but her establishment is called "The Black Cat".
- Osborn is always seen in a stylish purple and green waistcoat.
- Kraven's death by being covered in spiders is highly reminiscent of what he experienced in his hallucinations in Kraven's Last Hunt storyline.
- Neutral Female: Black Cat runs a "respectable" business and can't afford getting in between Spider-Man and the bad guys.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Spider-Man is on the receiving end of one of these by the hands of Sandman.
- Nothing Personal: Urich claims this is what Peter and May are to him — just things getting in the way of his business.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Crime Master is initially set up as a weak-willed lackey who cowers to a more powerful master. Then he brutally beats Felicia near to death and horribly scars her face by cutting it with broken glass when he finds she's been sleeping with Peter. And then he casually plans to murder a bunch of innocent African-Americans, who he's been kidnapping as victims for Octavius' experiments in creating a docile Slave Race through brain surgery, to cover his tracks.
- Red Right Hand: Norman Osborn Is a Lizard Folk
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Spider-Man, obviously, cannot be bribed to look the other way.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Otto laughs at the idea of being punished for his monstrous human experimentation, telling Spidey outright that his friends in high places will keep him from ever being punished.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Norman, who at one point makes it clear that he is so well-connected and high-up on the social ladder that he could kill someone in a room full of witnesses and get away with it.
- Secret-Keeper: Felicia Hardy knows Peter Parker is Spider-Man. After the events of Spider-Geddon, both Aunt May and MJ know about Peter's vigilante job.
- Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Peter, wordlessly to his aunt May of all people. Their argument is over whether killing is a proper means of justice or not.
- Spell My Name with a "The": This version of Peter Parker stands out in that he's referred to by the public as "The Spider-Man."
- Sssssnake Talk: Toomessssss, emphasizing how animal-like he is.
- Sub-Par Supremacist: Dr. Otto Octavius is a solid deconstruction of the trope. As a fervent Nazi supporter, Octavius despises those he deems as "lower races" and has a particular disdain for Africans. His attendant panels make it clear that his racism stems less from ideology and more from resentment of how he grew up surrounded by healthy African children and teens who could live a normal life, whilst he was a chair-bound invalid. He eventually gets to meet the Nazis he practically worshipped only to get insulted and rejected because he doesn't fit their definition of a Master Race.
- Superhero Packing Heat: Spidey himself uses guns.
- Nazi Electro in the 2020 series is pretty wacky though.
- Too Broken to Break: Felicia is the only person alive who knows Spider-Man's secret identity. One mob group tried to get his name out of her through Cold-Blooded Torture. The second mob group took one look at what was under her mask and decided there was nothing they could do to her.
- Two-Fisted Tales: The 2020 series sees Spider-Man on a global trek from New York through Europe to Istanbul to track down a conspiracy involving a mysterious artifact named “the Cicada Stone.”
- Vigilante Execution: Peter kills the Vulture and lets Kraven and Norman die simply because he knew they were far too well-connected to convict of any crimes.
- Vigilante Man: Spider-Man, moreso than usual given that he is both willing to use a gun and kill.
- Villainous Breakdown:
- Norman Osborn breaks down altogether when he realizes Spider-Man is going to arrest him, meaning he will be forced into a jail cell, a new kind of cage for him after having escaped life as a circus freak.
- Crime Master loses his composure completely when it becomes apparent that Felicia Hardy has been cheating on him with Spider-Man, to the point of scarring her face.
- Wall Crawl: In the comics, this is notably absent from Spidey's power set. It doesn't get too much in his way, as he still has excellent parkour skills and his webs.
- Whole Episode Flashback: The first three issues of Noir are a flash back building up to the Cold Open.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Spider-Man does. Except for, of all people, the Goblin, due to the lecture from Aunt May. Of course, he got his anyway.
- The Worm That Walks The spiders, while still eating Kraven, force his body into the sewers for the climax.
- Would Hit a Girl: Crime Master, up to and including carving up Felicia's face.
- 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 2 is on the horizon, the Ku Klux Klan is embedding itself into politics, and Nazi sympathizers are openly running around in the streets.