Marv (Sin City)

Marv (Sin City)
Sin City character
First appearance The Hard Goodbye
Created by Frank Miller
Portrayed by Mickey Rourke
Publisher Dark Horse Comics
Full name Marvin (Lastname Unknown)
Gender Male
Affiliation(s) Dwight McCarthy
Nancy Callahan
Goldie and Wendy

Marv is a fictional character in the graphic novel series Sin City, created by Frank Miller. In the 2005 film adaptation, he is played by Mickey Rourke. He first appears in The Hard Goodbye and follows with appearances in A Dame to Kill For, Just Another Saturday Night, and Silent Night. He makes a brief cameo in Blue Eyes (as featured in Lost, Lonely, and Lethal).

Marv has been well received both as a comic book character and a film character.


Appearances in the Sin City series

Marv is one of the major characters of the series, and appears or is mentioned in nearly every book. He is the protagonist of the first Sin City "yarn", The Hard Goodbye, as well as two shorter installments, Silent Night and Just Another Saturday Night. He also has a supporting role in A Dame to Kill For.

The Hard Goodbye

The Hard Goodbye begins as Marv has sex with a beautiful blonde prostitute named Goldie, only to wake up to find her dead and himself framed for her murder. He escapes from the cops and swears to track down Goldie's murderers and give them "the hard goodbye". He kills his way through a chain of small-time thugs who are related to Goldie's death. The last one, a priest, sends him to an abandoned farm outside of town where he confronts Goldie's killer, a mute cannibal named Kevin. Kevin is the ward of the most powerful man in town, Cardinal Patrick Henry Roark. Before he can go after the Cardinal, however, he is captured by Goldie's twin sister Wendy. He convinces her of his innocence and she assists him in his revenge with a revolver.

Marv proceeds to torture and kill Kevin with an axe, then stages a one-man attack on the Cardinal's fortress. He confronts the Cardinal, and it is revealed that Goldie was killed because she found out that the Cardinal and Kevin were kidnapping and eating prostitutes. Marv kills Roark in an unspecified but extraordinarily violent way before being gunned down by his guards.

Marv survives the shootings, and is told to confess not only to the murder of Roark and Kevin (as well as all the people he did kill along the way), but also to that of Lucille, Goldie, and the other girls Kevin killed. Initially refusing to do so, Marv confesses after the authorities threaten to kill his mother, breaking an attorney's arm in three places in the process. He is sentenced to death. Before his execution, Wendy visits him one last time. Marv is executed by two jolts from an electric chair. After surviving the first jolt, he defiantly says to his executioners: "Is that the best you can do, you pansies?" The switch is thrown again and Marv is soon pronounced dead.

Marv (right) and Dwight from A Dame to Kill For

A Dame to Kill For

In A Dame To Kill For (which is set just before The Hard Goodbye) he becomes a sidekick of sorts to his good friend Dwight McCarthy, agreeing to help him rescue his former lover Ava Lord. When it is revealed to be a set-up, he rushes a mortally wounded Dwight to Old Town, where he is taken in by his former 'associate' Gail. Shortly afterwards, Marv becomes involved with Goldie.

Silent Night

In Silent Night, Marv rescues a young girl from sexual torture. The story is told with almost no dialogue.

Just Another Saturday Night

In Just Another Saturday Night, Marv wakes up on the side of a highway, surrounded by dead men, and tries to piece together how he got there.

Physical appearance

Marv is an imposing, 7-foot-tall (2.1 m) man with a flattop buzzcut, a falcon-like nose and a heavily scarred face, making him unappealing to the opposite sex. He has a massive frame and is distinctly broad-shouldered, generally towering over his fellow characters. He is usually seen dressed in an overcoat, white undershirt, leather pants and combat boots.


In the book Sin City: The Making of the Movie, creator Frank Miller describes the creation of Marv as a juxtaposition of his two biggest influences: film noir and medieval stories. The result was the idea for a character he called "Conan in a trench coat."

In the film and A Dame to Kill For his good friend Dwight remarks "most people think Marv is crazy. He just had the rotten luck of being born in the wrong century. He'd be right at home on some ancient battlefield swinging an axe into somebody's face. Or in a Roman arena, taking his sword to other gladiators like him."

Marv has an incredible level of strength which, coupled with his well-developed fighting skills, allow him to bring down nearly anyone who challenges him or breaks his personal code of ethics with startling ease. Marv is also fond of long trench coats, and immediately prior to killing someone in possession of such a coat, he often remarks something to the effect of "That's a damn fine coat you're wearing", after which he takes their coat, especially if the one he had was damaged.

He suffers from an unnamed mental condition that causes him to "get confused", which, judging from his own awareness of his illness and the effects it is shown to have, probably involves short-term memory loss and possibly hallucinations. He also fears "turn(ing) into what they always said [he] was gonna turn into- a maniac, a psycho killer." Lucille, his parole officer, supplies him with medication (presumably antipsychotics) through her girlfriend Claire to control these effects of his condition. Claire, a psychiatrist, once tried to analyze him, but he claims she got "too scared."

Marv has convinced himself that he doesn't have a particularly high intellect, but he shows a surprising amount of intelligence when needed, noticeably an ability to logically deduce confusing and complex events quite accurately, and his skills in combat also imply a degree of intelligence from a strategic viewpoint. However, in most situations he just smashes his way through conflicts, such as kicking down a door and sending police flying, or charging a squad of heavily armed cops whilst only armed with a hatchet.

Marv has a well-developed skill and a strong appetite for torture. He never blinks or seems to think twice about inflicting the slowest, most creative and painful death he can possibly implement on his worst enemies. He speaks in a soft, plain-spoken, and calm manner, almost bordering on the nonchalant, showing no sign of hesitation or fear, even while committing gruesome killings. He admits in The Hard Goodbye that he never feels bad about killing hired hitmen, though he may show some small measure of mercy when extracting information from them. He also shows little to no fear in dangerous situations, even when heavily outnumbered, and faces them with a dry laconic wit. In The Hard Goodbye, instead of panicking when cornered by several members of the SWAT team, upon being asked to open the door, he very calmly states "I'll be right out.", before successfully fighting his way out of the building.

While Marv has no compunction about maiming and killing anyone he feels has wronged him or those close to him, even he has his limits. He is deeply afraid of winding up as "a maniac [or] a psycho killer" (as mentioned previously). He will only kill someone if, as Marv himself puts it, "I know for sure I ought to", making it a point to avoid unnecessarily hurting or killing those who have not earned it in his eyes. A perfect example of this was when he knocks out Wendy rather than let her watch him dismember Kevin, since he believed Wendy witnessing Kevin's dismemberment would cause her a lifetime of nightmares, and would therefore be unnecessarily hurting her. He also adheres unrelentingly to his own personal code of honor, which dictates the repayment of debts and chivalry towards women, stating that "it really gets my goat when guys rough up dames,". He also highly values kindness, often going out of his way to repay kindness shown to him. As such, anyone whom he considers a friend and/or has shown him kindness, he will defend until he is no longer capable, or he feels the debt has been repaid, whichever comes first. Marv is shown to have a platonic relationship with Nancy, being a sort of guardian angel to her, especially after an incident in which "some Frat boyfriend of hers roughed her up". And another platonic relationship with his social worker, Lucille, who is a lesbian. Both Nancy and Lucille clearly adore Marv and do what they can to help him. He also has a soft spot for children, suggested when he rescues a little girl from pimps in Silent Night, as well as for animals, as shown when he knocks out, rather than kills, Kevin's wolf, which he only does as a matter of necessity to maintain the element of surprise, since Kevin's wolf had otherwise done nothing wrong to him. Throughout the story, Marv often shows a good-natured, humorous side, unresentful of even the worst fate throws at him and often showing a wry sense of humor at the absurdity of his situations.

Marv in Silent Night


  • Carries a .45 ACP Colt M1911 which he took from the toughest person he tangled with in high school who "was dead at the time, so he didn't mind." He named it 'Gladys' after the toughest nun at his school.
  • Grew up in the Projects of Sin City.
  • Suffers from short-term memory loss due to an unnamed mental condition.
  • Highly respects his mother, to the point of breaking an assistant DA's arm in three places for even suggesting they would harm Marv's mother if he failed to sign a false confession. She frequently dusts off his childhood room, leaving it just as it was when Marv moved out. Despite being blind, she lives by herself and by all accounts, leads an independent life.
  • Avoids hurting women, to the point that he willingly takes blows from them without lifting a finger, and frequently beats up any man who would dare to hurt them. He only deliberately strikes (and knocks out) one woman, Wendy, but does so only because he felt doing so would cause less harm than the lifetime of nightmares she would endure by witnessing Kevin's dismemberment at Marv's hands. He has only been shown killing one woman, a sex slave trader, whom he shot in self-defense and to save a little girl from slavery.
  • Often hangs around Kadie's and has a close relationship with the woman who owns the place, citing that she would rather break his arm than let him pay for a drink. This is because Marv is the only one who "knows where the bodies are buried."
  • Is a good friend of Dwight McCarthy and is a sort of a guardian angel for Nancy Callahan, on whom he has an unrequited (and mostly unrealized) crush.
  • Has a laconic wit, especially in situations where he is fighting someone.
  • He is highly skilled in hand to hand combat. He is shown executing various strikes and disarming movements from Krav Maga, Jujutsu, Tae Kwon Do, and Keichu Do. Coupled with his staggering strength and finesse, Marv is victorious in nearly every fight he is involved in, both in the books and film.
  • An incessant drinker with a high alcohol tolerance, even for someone of his size.
  • Possesses a keenly acute sense of his surroundings.
  • Has been known to withstand more physical pain than most humans, even in Sin City. Survives one jolt on the electric chair.

Movie appearance

Marv is played by Mickey Rourke in the film adaptation; Rourke took to the role despite the heavy amount of make-up work required and the minimal use of sets and even other actors. Because of the speed at which the film was shot (and the fact that most of the cast who appeared in multiple stories hadn't yet been cast), several of the people Rourke is seen interacting with weren't necessarily there during the day it was shot. During the scenes at Kadie's, he never met or interacted with Brittany Murphy, Clive Owen or Jessica Alba, all of whom were yet to be cast or scheduled for filming; those scenes were all shot on different days several months later. Similarly, Rutger Hauer and Elijah Wood never met Rourke either. Hauer was one of the last people to be cast and his scene was shot months after The Hard Goodbye had finished principal photography. Wood and Rourke were shot fighting each other's respective stunt doubles.

He also makes a cameo appearance in the segment That Yellow Bastard at the same bar where John Hartigan went to look for Nancy Callahan, just as featured in The Hard Goodbye.

Rourke's portrayal of the character was very popular among audiences and critics, winning awards from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, Online Film Critics Society, Chicago Film Critics Association, and the Irish Film and Television Awards. On the Sin City DVD, Frank Miller commented that "After [the interview] with Rourke, I was only able to get down one note: 'He IS Marv!'"


In 1999, Marv's likeness was captured in the form of three McFarlane Toys action figures, all depicting scenes from "The Hard Goodbye." One comes with Kevin's severed head and a gun, while another figure was made with bandages on his face. The latter also comes in black and white and a gun, while the other, known as "Death Row Marv", comes with an electric chair.

Death Row Marv was comparably rare to most other action figures on the market, as it was offered exclusively to comic book specialty stores and was not made available to larger chains such as Toys R Us and Walmart. Despite the fact that this was a collectible marketed solely towards adults, it caused a considerable amount of controversy.[1]

In 2005, the license for Sin City toys has been acquired by NECA, who has also done their own versions of "Death Row Marv".

In 2007, Marv was announced to be in the second series of Marvel Toys Legendary comic book heroes action figure line. Shortly afterward, another company, Dynamic Forces announced a full series of Sin City comic figures, which will start with a repaint of the Marvel Toys Marv figure.

In popular culture

In 2006, French country troubadour Steffan Rock recorded a song called "The Return of Marv", which is a tribute to both the character and Mickey Rourke.

Marv and "Sin City" was parodied in Robot Chicken episode "Bionic Cow". As in the comics and film, Marv is portrayed as a gruff, mean-spirited good protector of cats and grandmas in "Virtue City". He was voiced by Breckin Meyer.


Marv has been well received both as a comic book character and a film character. Marv was ranked as the 24th greatest comic book character in Wizard magazine. [2] Empire magazine also ranked Marv as the 26th greatest comic book character of all time stating that Marv is a Frank Millar Grade A patsy, the fall guy, the hapless hero at the center of a conspiracy that he can't even begin to understand but with a traditional Miller tweak; Empire described Marv as a force of nature, cutting a path through the corrupt power-brokers of the city, until his pound of flesh (and more) has been exacted. [3] Also In 2008, Empire Magazine also selected Marv as the 82nd greatest film characters stating that he ain't too bright, but it turns out that Marv, despite his seemingly indestructible (if bandage-swathed) exterior, has a soft center. [4] IGN also listed Marv as the 75th greatest comic book hero of all time stating that Sin City is a place where only the strong and sadistic can survive. Marv is a little of both, but he also has a noble streak and an unbreakable sense of loyalty towards those few people who can see beneath his craggy exterior and recognize the good man within. [5]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Wizard's top 200 characters. External link consists of a forum site summing up the top 200 characters of Wizard Magazine since the real site that contains the list is broken.". Wizard magazine.. Retrieved May 07, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Marv ins number 26". Empire magazine. Retrieved May 11, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Marv is number 82". Empire magazine. Retrieved May 11, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Marv is number 75". IGN. Retrieved May 11, 2011. 

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