Why Live-Action Spider-Man Noir Doesn’t Need to Be Peter Parker

In a surprise report, it appears Sony is developing a Spider-Man: Noir live-action series for Prime Video. This would be the second Spider-Man-related live-action show for them, following their announcement of Silk. Given how popular this relatively obscure Spider-Man variant became after the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and one great Nicolas Cage voice performance, it makes sense.

However, the biggest change for this live-action Spider-Man iteration is that, unlike the comics, he won’t be Peter Parker under that mask. Or under that stylish hat. But we’re here to explain why that may not really matter in the long run. But first, a brief history of Spider-Man Noir in the comics.

The Marvel Comics History of Spider-Man Noir

Spider-Man Noir gets ready for action under spooky moonlight.
Marvel Comics

Before 2018’s Into the Spider-Verse, Spider-Man Noir only had a few appearances. He first popped up in a gimmicky publishing initiative by Marvel in 2009, titled as Marvel Noir. They took versions of some of their well-known heroes, like Iron Man and Luke Cage, and put them in a pulpy, 1930s hard-boiled setting. Each received a four-issue mini-series. Yet it was Spider-Man that stood out. David Hine and Fabrice Sapolsky, and artist Carmine Di Giandomenico, created that first series. Artist Marko Djurdjevic designed that distinctive costume. Of the six initial Marvel Noir titles, only Spidey and X-Men got a follow-up mini-series.

Spider-Man Noir fights thugs in 1039 New York.
Marvel Comics

This version of Peter Parker leaned hard into all the pulp fiction detective story tropes of the era. Not just the detective stories, but also the high adventure stories from pulp magazines that heavily influenced Indiana Jones. In fact, this Peter Parker got his powers in 1932 when he ventured into a warehouse with stolen artifacts, and a mysterious ancient spider-idol cracked, unleashing mystical spiders on him. All that’s missing to go full Indy is a giant boulder. Becoming “the Spider-Man,” he looks out for the little guy in an era when the poor and downtrodden were more stomped on than ever. His Uncle Ben was murdered by criminals before he ever got powers, so he vowed to continue the fight in his name.

The Key Differences Between Classic Spider-Man and Spider-Man Noir

The Peter Parker that is Spider-Man Noir, holding a gun, next to the classic Peter Parker, who hates firearms.
Marvel Comics

The origin story of Spider-Man Noir is certainly similar to classic Peter Parker in some respects. He’s from New York City, had an Aunt May and an Uncle Ben, and gained cool spider powers. But, the other differences are more than just cosmetic. And we don’t just mean the time period shift. This Peter Parker was a full-grown adult, eliminating a lot of the adolescent drama that makes classic Spider-Man Spider-Man. That’s a big one.

Spider-Man Noir, looing over building in the rain, is very reminiscent of Batman.
Marvel Comics

Most importantly, this Peter got his powers from an ancient spider-god, and not a science mishap. He was also an investigative reporter and not a photographer. And he definitely was not cracking-wise all the time like mainstream Peter. He’s much more Batman-esque in his approach to fighting crime. In fact, he even killed occasionally, a line “our” Peter never really crossed. There are enough changes to make him Peter Parker in all but name. So why not change the identity under the mask too?

Is the Peter Parker Name Even Important?

Peter Parker as a character remains a precious asset to Sony, not to mention Marvel Studios. The latter is not involved in this production, we should add. They probably wanted to limit the appearance of any character named Peter Parker in live-action. Especially since post-Spider-Man: No Way Home, they have three Peter Parkers swinging around, likely to return. But we feel a good workaround would be to make Spidey Noir a Parker, or Parker family adjacent, just not Peter Parker.

Spider-Man Noir: Peter’s Grandpa?

Spider-Man Noir, who is Peter Parker in his reality, and Peter Parker's grandpa in the 616, William Fitzpatrick.
Marvel Comics

Given that the time period of the series will be the Great Depression, it could be fun to make this Spidey a young version of Peter’s grandfather. In 60 years of Spider-Man comics, we know next to nothing about Peter Parker’s grandparents, except for the name of his mother’s father, William Fitzpatrick. It would be a deep-cut reference to make Spider-Man Noir into William, a character who would have presumably been in his prime during that time. And it would still keep ties to the Parker family and legacy.

Of course, as Miles Morales and others have proven, one doesn’t need to be Peter Parker to be Spider-Man. As Stan Lee famously once said “anyone can wear the mask.” So if they choose to make him completely unrelated to Peter, that’s fine too. He’s already substantially different enough as a character that it wouldn’t really matter. In the end, it’s not the Parker legacy that makes Spider-Man Noir so memorable. It’s the look and the attitude. And one killer fedora.

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