Origin Story | Spider-Man Noir

Blair Marnell
TV Comics
TV Comics Streaming

Spider-Man has been Marvel’s flagship superhero for over six decades, but he wasn’t always a force at the box office. When it comes to adaptations outside the comics, the wall-crawler got his start on TV with the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon, the first of many animated series. Spidey’s first brush with live-action then came in 1974 with Spidey Super Stories on The Electric Company  He then went on to have a short-lived live-action Spider-Man TV series in the US in 1977 shortly before landing a wild Japanese television adaptation the following year. And that was it for Spider-Man’s non-animated TV appearances for decades. But this week, we learned that Sony Pictures Television and Amazon Studios are developing the first live-action Spider-Man series in over forty years, and it’s all about Spider-Man Noir.

Spidey movie fans should recall Spider-Man Noir’s memorable appearance in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse alongside other Spider-Men, Spider-Women, and one Spider-Ham. However, Noir has had a surprisingly robust presence in comics for the last decade, especially for a character who was initially created for a one-off event. To set the stage for Amazon Prime Video’s Spider-Man Noir TV series, we’re taking the deep dive into one of the most unusual incarnations of this amazing and spectacular hero.

Going Dark

Spider-Man Noir was initially conceived by writers David Hine and Fabrice Sapolsky, and artist Carmine Di Giandomenico for the 2009 Marvel Noir event. Marko Djurdjevic also contributed to the creation of the character by designing his costume. Within the world of Marvel Noir, it was still the 1930s, and the familiar faces of the Marvel Universe were very different. Instead of mutants, the X-Men were a bunch of sociopathic teenagers, while Tony Stark was an industrialist who fought the Nazis, and Luke Cage wasn’t actually bulletproof despite his reputation. Compared to the others, Spider-Man Noir was closer to his original incarnation with one major exception: His willingness to kill.

Peter Parker’s first comic book origin tried to play up his spider powers as a science experiment gone wrong due to a radioactive spider bite. Spider-Man Noir’s origin immediately veered off into something more supernatural. After an ancient artifact was broken, Peter was bitten by one of the spiders that came crawling out of it. He then had a vision of a spider-god that offered him power before Peter awoke in a cocoon and discovered that his life had been changed forever.

In some ways, the initial Spider-Man Noir miniseries was very conventional when it came to Spider-Man’s lore, despite its period setting. Even in this world, Peter was inspired by his late Uncle Ben, even incorporating the goggles worn by Ben during World War I into his Spider-Man costume. However, Peter was let down by his other mentor, Ben Urich, when he learned that Urich was a drug addict in league with crime boss Norman Osborn. In the face of such unrelenting darkness, Peter’s solutions tended to be lethal. Yet even this version of Peter had hope for redemption, as he opted to spare Osborn’s life, choosing instead to turn him over to the police to face justice.

Eyes Without a Face

The second Spider-Man Noir miniseries, Eyes Without a Face, went into more twisted territory, as Peter pursued a relationship with Felicia Hardy, the former girlfriend of his late mentor, Ben Urich. Along with his new friend, Joseph “Robbie” Robertson, Peter discovered that Dr. Otto Octavius and Dr. Curt Connors were performing horrific experiments on people of color in conjunction with Nazi sympathizers in America. Essentially they were lobotomizing these vulnerable men and women out of a racist desire to dominate them. At the same time, Peter’s altar ego went up against Crime Master, a vicious crime boss who maimed Felicia after he discovered her link to Spider-Man. This left Felicia with significant facial scarring, and ruined her relationship with Peter.

Even Robbie wasn’t immune to the misfortune of this world, as he fell prey to Octavius’ experiments before Peter could save him. And in a dark twist, Octavius’ deportation to Nazi Germany didn’t work out the way that he had hoped. In the eyes of the Nazis, Octavius’ disabilities made him just as “inferior” as the people he preyed upon in America.

A Larger Spider-Verse

In 2014, Spider-Men and Spider-Women from across the multiverse were drawn together with a common purpose in Spider-Verse, a comic book crossover that would later inspire the acclaimed Into the Spider-Verse movie. Within this tale, the Peter Parker of the primary Marvel Universe was reunited with Miles Morales, and he came face-to-face with multiple incarnations of himself, including Spider-Man Noir. This was also the storyline that introduced the alternate Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman who is more affectionately known as Spider-Gwen.

After defeating the vampire-like Inheritors in Spider-Verse, Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Gwen, and other multiversal heroes stayed together as the Web Warriors. That strengthened Spider-Man Noir’s human connections outside of his own world. However, tragedy struck in Spider-Geddon when the Inheritors rose again. Morlun, one of the Inheritors, defeated Spider-Man Noir and devoured his lifeforce, killing him in the process.

Life After Death

You should know by now that death is rarely the end in comics. Fortunately for Spider-Man Noir, that applies to him as well. In Spider-Verse (2020) #5, Noir-Peter emerged from a web-cocoon on his own world after the spider-god revived him. This experience greatly changed Peter, and he became more like his counterpart from the original Marvel Universe… save for his penchant for wearing a fedora and his archaic lingo.

This led to a new Spider-Man Noir miniseries that reunited Peter with his Aunt May and Mary Jane Watson as he tried to be a better hero than he had been before. Spider-Man Noir later returned in the End of Spider-Verse storyline that is currently unfolding in Marvel’s Spider-Man series.


Prior to his appearance on the big screen, Spider-Man Noir was one of the featured Spider-Men in the 2010 video game, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. It inclusion was unusual, given that Spider-Man Noir was such a recent addition to the mythos compared to his counterparts in the game. In a great touch, his voice was provided by Christopher Daniel Barnes, the actor who portrayed Spidey in the 1994 Spider-Man animated series, as the game pulled from many corners of Spider-Man’s history.

For the first time ever, fans were able to control Spider-Man Noir on select levels as he and three other Spider-Men united to save the multiverse. If that basic set-up sounds familiar, it’s probably because Spider-Verse writer Dan Slott worked on the game and has noted that it inspired his comic book crossover a few years later and the entire ongoing Spider-Verse concept.

Former Heroes star Milo Ventimiglia would then Spider-Man Noir’s voice in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series during a few guest appearances. But the most memorable Spider-Man Noir performance to date was Nicolas Cage’s semi-comedic take on the character in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Because Cage’s Spider-Man came from a world without color, he was mesmerized by things that didn’t exist there, like a Rubix Cube. He also spoke in a very bizarre cadence that was lifted from several movies from that era.

Into the Amazon-Verse

The upcoming Spider-Man Noir live-action series is still in the early stages, but we do know that it will not feature Peter Parker as the lead character. And the titular Spider-Man will be older and more grizzled than some of the variants we’ve seen before. It’s not clear exactly how this is going to work, given that Spider-Man Noir had such an interesting take on the supporting characters. For example, Uncle Ben was a World War I veteran, and Aunt May was a social advocate who had deep opposition to Spider-Man Noir’s lethal methods.

At the very least, the show should be able to explore some of the re-imagined villains, including Crime Master. And if the creative team can’t call Doctor Octopus by the name Otto Octavius, he could still work with a different name. Hopefully we get Doc Ock in some form in the series, because he’s rarely been more evil or more intimidating than he was in this incarnation.

Into the Spider-Verse‘s Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are producing the series alongside Orien Uziel (2021’s Mortal Kombat), who has been tapped to write the show. This is only one of the Spider-Man-adjacent shows in development at Amazon Prime Video that Sony is producing. The other one that has currently been revealed is Silk: Spider Society, which is based on the heroine who emerged shortly before the original Spider-Verse comic book. It’s too soon to say whether the new Spider-Man Noir series will crossover with Silk: Spider Society. Even if it took time travel and/or universe-jumping, we wouldn’t bet against it!

Blair Marnell
Freelance writer for almost every major geek outlet, including Fandom!