There are a large number of superheroes who get around via some kind of super-parkour. These range from superheroes who swing webbing like Spider-Man and his many imitators (e.g., Spinnerette), to ones who use more "grounded" methods of parkour such as Daredevil or Batman.

My question is, from a legal perspective how many laws are these superheroes breaking by travelling across the city this way? I have a superhero character who is a parody of Spider-Man, and one of the jokes I am trying to make is by highlighting how in IRL New York city, citizens typically don't like somebody hopping across their rooftops at night, covering their streets in sticky webbing, etc. How many laws would this character be breaking just by web-slinging across IRL New York? No crime fighting, no vigiliantism, no superheroing (all of which are more punishable by existing law), just swinging across New York city to avoid NYC traffic like Peter Parker and similar heroes are often shown doing in comic books?

Would they get in trouble from littering from their webs? Speeding given they are travelling much faster than the speed limit of cars? I know that a flying superhero flying above the building line would violate air traffic restrictions and it's been pointed out within the Marvel Universe that Spider-Man riding on the rooftop of a car violates New York city law (Spider-Man got a ticket for this in the comics) but I don't know if just swinging around New York City would do anything.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think they'd fine him for speeding limit, just like they wouldn't approach quicksilver and say "excuse me sir, but it seems like you were...running on foot...above the vehicle speed limit". He could however be reprimanded by running in the middle of the street. Not too much of a difference with Spiderman, I assume. $\endgroup$ Jun 27, 2020 at 18:32
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    $\begingroup$ I’m voting to close this question because its a question about law, not world building. $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2020 at 15:24
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    $\begingroup$ @LioElbammalf We have questions about law if they pertain to worldbuilding here, typically used if its discussing how the law would interact with or handle supernatural phenomena. There is literally a tag for questions on this SE called "law". $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2020 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ One thing that doesn't come up is Spider-Man's webbing is biodegradable once it's been shot off and is gone in hours after it's expelled from the web shooters. $\endgroup$
    – hszmv
    Nov 29, 2022 at 19:17

5 Answers 5


As mentioned in other answers, vandalism (unwanted web residue) and trespassing (on top of buildings/cars) would be crimes. Other laws would be in Section 1150-1156, which focus on pedestrian traffic, where he would break the following:

1150, 1151, and 1151-a: This enforces obeying traffic signals and right of way for pedestrians. Spider-man can, through the air, break this, as he would be classified as a pedestrian.

1152 a,b, and c: This one is a little more interesting.

'(a) Every pedestrian [jaywalking] shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.'

If he crosses in the middle of the road, he would have to give right of way to the oncoming cars, which he does not. b follows the same logic, but c is more special.

'(c) No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic-control devices...'

so, if he gave right of way, he would still have to travel perpendicular to the road.

1155 states

'Pedestrians shall move, whenever practicable, upon the right half of crosswalks.'

if he ever swung above crosswalks on the left, he would be breaking this law.

1156 would be a little harder to pin down on him, as it talks about walking on crosswalks and nothing else.

' Where sidewalks are provided and they may be used with safety it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway.' (emphasis added)

If 'walk' was defined by travel without any external device assisting you (such as a car, bike, etc.) he would be subject to this law.

Feel free to add any other ones; I only focused on traffic laws; who knows how many vandalism, trespassing, and heath and safety risk laws he's breaking.

EDIT: Apparently, his web residue dissapears in an hour after its use. According to the law, all he would really get from web residue-related vandalism would be a slap on the wrist, as long as the webs did not damage or risk damage of anything, or the webs could not be interpreted to something distinguishable/offensive (ex. a middle finger, a painting, spelling out words. Reason for adding offensive is that it would probably have to be offensive to be accusable.

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    $\begingroup$ Is it practicable to cross on a specific side of anything while webslinging? $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Jun 27, 2020 at 21:43
  • $\begingroup$ If that's a joke, it's good. If its not, I'm not sure I understand your question lol $\endgroup$
    – Big Bird
    Jun 27, 2020 at 23:03
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure the various pedestrian laws apply here. For instance, they don't apply to people in tunnels or skybridges. There's certainly an argument to be made that because he doesn't enter the actual traffic flow of people and vehicles, Spidey isn't a pedestrian as contemplated by the law. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Jun 28, 2020 at 0:58
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    $\begingroup$ If you're parachuting and you're a few hundred feet above the city (whether or not this is legal in its own right being beside the point), would you still need to give right of way to cars, or otherwise follow traffic laws? Presumably not. So those traffic charges would probably have a hard time sticking, unless he were weaving through traffic or he were otherwise close enough to traffic for there to be a sense of danger there (in which case he could also face additional charges if any accidents happen as a result of him distracting drivers). $\endgroup$
    – NotThatGuy
    Jun 28, 2020 at 3:03
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    $\begingroup$ There's no problem with yielding right of way in 1152 a - if he's above the street, then he's not intersecting with the intended path of the car, the car can freely pass with priority without having to stop for him, so he is yielding right of way by crossing a street in this manner. Also, it's debatable if he should be classified a pedestrian, because he does not fit the legal definition if he's not walking on foot on the road ("Pedestrian is a person traveling on foot; a walker." from definitions.uslegal.com/p/pedestrian) - e.g. a stunt zipline between buildings is not covered. $\endgroup$
    – Peteris
    Jun 28, 2020 at 12:29

Two that I can think of is possibly vandalism and trespassing. As Spidey swings he usually perches on roof tops and ledges and this could be considered as trespassing on private property and because some webs could remain stuck to the sides of buildings this could be considered as vandalism.

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    $\begingroup$ Canonically, Spider-Man's webs evaporate within an hour of leaving his web-shooters, so it might be a bit difficult to pin vandalism on him for the webs themselves. That said, a ridiculously strong man yanking on a tether temporarily attached to stonework while swinging by at several dozen meters per second is probably not represented in the building codes, as he's only been at it for less than 15 years, in-comic-universe. $\endgroup$
    – notovny
    Jun 27, 2020 at 22:01

You're likely looking at trespassing and petty vandalism for the web slinging in and of itself (that said, the comics address the webs lingering by explaining that the web fluid is biodegradable once it is expelled from the shooters and will completely break down in a matter of hours). Some of his villains might have some more serious trouble for their movement. Vulture and Green Goblin might be in trouble for FAA violations. I imagine they don't file flight plans prior to their bank robberies (Now I want a meme of Norman Osborn calling to file a flight plan from the Residence of Gwen Stacy to the George Washington Bridge and then explaining his deviation to the Brooklyn Bridge... I'd also like to see how many people get that reference.).

I don't think there is any serious violations because, well, most people don't travel by web slinging.

That said, there is at least one gag where NYPD wrote a ticket for the Web Head for riding on the roof of a taxi cab (A passenger on the outside of the car is a traffic violation... though the operator of the vehicle should be the guy receiving the ticket, not the passenger) So Spidey should avoid Parkouring off of moving vehicles. Additionally the times where he is running on paved roads may be jay walking violations, but Jay Walking only occurs when crossing the street at grade. Crossing the street over a pedestrian bridge would not trigger Jaywalking violations, since the traffic and the pedestrian are grade separated so, swinging over 5th Avenue should be fine.

For other law violation close to the real world I could find was Philippe Petit's 1974 tight rope walk between the World Trade Center's twin towers, in which he made 8 passes while walking on rope 400m above the ground from the observation decks of both towers. The only charges he faced were "trespassing" charges, which the district attorney's office dropped after media attention made the act quite popular with New Yorkers and Petit agreed to give a free show to kids in Central Park. Considering this, it's likely that the DA would likely not prosecute the charges against someone who helps them put the guys away. After all, washing web goo off a building's side is not on the same level as "The Rhino is tearing up Times Square".

Of course, I'm no Daily Bugle reader, so it could be further proof that Spider-man is a threat AND a menace and we need more pictures of him!

Edit: Damn... I should have wrote this as if I was J. Jonah Jamerson.


Spiderman's webs are biodegradable though, it states in the comics. That's gotta have some affect. On top of that swinging above the traffic would be air laws not traffic or pedestrian laws wouldn't it? Though yes the trespassing is a definite thing. However someone could say he's being a distraction to drivers, I can't remember what it's called but that's one too.

  • $\begingroup$ Neither. The pedestrian laws would concern an at grade crossing only (You aren't jaywalking if you cross over a pedestrian bridge) and Spiderman is not operating an device capable of sustained flight, which disqualifies the FAA from having Jurisdiction.). $\endgroup$
    – hszmv
    Nov 29, 2022 at 19:47

Mainly FAA regulations

Most likely, as an individual locomoting via the air (with negligible web-based propulsion and lift mechanisms) Spider-Man would fall under some subset of FAA regulation, such as parachuting or operating an ultralight.

As such, he’s going to run afoul of a number of possible regulations, e.g

91.119 Minimum safe altitudes; general

Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:

(b) Over congested areas – Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open-air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.

However, the FAA might end up making an exception for him, as it does for helicopters.

Helicopter Spider-man operations may be conducted below the minimum altitudes set for fixed-wing aircraft. The reason: they have he has unique operating characteristics, the most important of which is their his ability to execute pinpoint emergency landings during power-out emergencies. Furthermore, the helicopter's Spider-man’s increased use by law enforcement and emergency medical service agencies requires added flexibility.

  • $\begingroup$ Pretty sure that Spider-Man in a "Power-Out emergency" can execute a pinpoint emergency landing as well as anyone falling from great height while unconscious, but I make the argument that Spidey qualifies as a Sky Diver, not an aviation vehicle, which, while regulated by the FAA is surprisingly under regulated. $\endgroup$
    – hszmv
    Nov 29, 2022 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ @hszmv strongly disagree, Spider-Man is able to control his altitude, direction, and velocity at will, and, importantly, starts locomotion from a stationary surface (ground or roof) not an aircraft. BASE jumping regs might apply, but given the powered nature of the flight, I’d be hesitant to declare it that $\endgroup$
    – Daniel B
    Nov 29, 2022 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Dainel B, Either way, I think it's safe to assume that Spider-Man does not qualify as a Helicopter (although I think they had a Transformers toy tie in where his alt mode was a helicopter, but that's way outside the scope.) $\endgroup$
    – hszmv
    Nov 29, 2022 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ @hszmv “the FAA might end up making an exception for him, as it does for helicopters.” $\endgroup$
    – Daniel B
    Nov 29, 2022 at 21:11
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    $\begingroup$ that would likely be a violation of the Constitutional Ban on Bills of Attainer (i.e. a law that targets a specific individual person). $\endgroup$
    – hszmv
    Nov 29, 2022 at 21:21

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