Spider-Man on PlayStation 4 has already made some big changes to Spider-Man lore for its story. (And we’d argue that that’s a good thing.) But in Insomniac’s new story add-on for the game, “The Heist,” there’s one character who has a significantly expanded role.
The events of “The Heist” were first hinted at within the main story of Spider-Man. As our web-slinging hero, the player is tasked with visiting a series of collectible locations where Felicia Hardy, the notorious thief known as the Black Cat, has stolen valuable items. But Felicia comes much further to the fore in her downloadable content, and that DLC has made its own changes to her backstory.
In Spider-Man, there’s a different original Black Cat.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for Spider-Man PS4’s “The Heist” DLC, which is the first chapter of downloadable content made available for the game.]
Spider-Man introduces Walter Hardy as the original Black Cat, before Felicia. To be fair, he does exist in Marvel Comics canon — but his existence is terrifically minor.
Who is Black Cat?
Felicia Hardy was created by writer Marv Wolfman (also co-creator of the Teen Titans, Blade, Bullseye and Spider-Woman) and artist Dave Cockrum (also co-creator of Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus), and made her first appearance in 1979’s The Amazing Spider-Man #194 and #195.
In her introductory story, she commits a series of crimes that culminate in breaking Walter Hardy out of prison, where he has been serving a life sentence. Only then do we find out why: Walter is her father, and he’s dying. She believes that he should be able to die at home, with his family, and she sprung him as a last resort after her attempts to accomplish that legally failed.
Walter was put in prison after a long and successful career as a cat burglar, and he and Felicia’s mother tried to hide his criminal life from her by telling her that he’d died in a plane crash. It didn’t work, and Felicia discovered his exploits and was inspired to become a thief just like her dad. Walter shuffles his mortal coil just pages later in the same issue, and has almost no appearances in any further Marvel Comics, outside a couple of dream sequences and flashbacks.
In Spider-Man for PS4, Walter Hardy is also pretending that he died during an attempted breakout from Rikers to keep Felicia safe. Only after collecting 10 pieces of art the elder Hardy had stolen and cleverly hidden around the city does Spider-Man learn that Hardy isn’t actually dead, but wants to continue the illusion to protect his daughter from the Maggia crime family.
In the comics, Walter wasn’t flashy enough as a cat burglar to get a fancy superhero name. But in “The Heist” DLC, Insomniac Games alters Walter’s story slightly, to establish that he was the first person to be known as the Black Cat. It’s a little tweak, but one that keeps one of Felicia Hardy’s original emotional through-lines — her relationship with and admiration of her father.