Superheroes' secret identities

Says it all:

Well, the last case is exceptional because the civilian identity was famous long before (and is still probably more famous than) the superhero one.

Yup, he’s certainly exceptional.

Spider-Man revealed his identity in the comics.

It was such a mistake that the writers then literally changed reality to undo it.

That says it all. :slight_smile:

Same thing happened with Wally West.

The underlying premise of costumed vigilantes is their secret identity.
Scarlet Pimpernal, anyone?

I really disliked the fact that Tony Stark revealed his identity as Iron Man. Yes, it goes to his amazingly large ego, and truthfully if I were Iron Man, I might reveal it as well. I mean, come on… how cool is that? But, it puts all of his friends and loved ones in harm’s way. If Pepper Potts were my daughter, I’d recommend a name change and relocation immediately.

Is Pepper Potts really in any less danger for being associated with Iron Man, than she is for being associated with Tony Stark?

I have wondered about the tradeoff of risks occasionally. True, once it’s known that you’re important to Superhero X, X’s enemies are likely to target you for something. On the other hand, I suspect danger from general violence is going to go way down. What mugger is going to knowingly jump the girlfriend/kid brother/buddy of an established vigilante who can bench press a bus?

For that matter, the supervillains might hesitate a bit more than they do in most comics. If they’re smart enough to try indirect tactics, they ought to be smart enough to consider the consequences: “You know, X is already unstable enough to fly around in public with his underwear on the outside of his pants. What if this pushes him over the edge? Right now, if he wins, he’ll just haul me off to jail again. If I off his girlfriend, he might snap and punt my head into the asteroid belt.”

I think that Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man all have fairly legit reasons for their secret identities. Both Batman and Spider-Man are street level heroes that have pissed off hundreds of hoodlums and maniacs over the years. For Spider-Man that would mean incredible levels of danger for his loved ones (which was completely confirmed with the death of Aunt May post Civil War). Batman’s status as a vigilante would make him lose everything, and that means no more funds for his gadgets. Superman may be practically invulnerable, but he’d be constantly hounded by both villains and fans.

Now Iron Man kept a secret identity for most of his career, but he didn’t have a whole lot of reason to do so. He was an Avenger making him fairly official as far as the 616 goes. He really wasn’t protecting Pepper, Happy, or himself either. Villains knew that Stark had Iron Man as a “bodyguard” and they knew that if they wanted to fight Iron Man all they really had to do was attack Stark’s factories, or to kidnap Stark, Pepper, or Happy. Now the secret identity came in handy at certain points like in Armor Wars, but the bulk of the time it served to do nothing but hinder him.

He was already the world’s foremost weapons manufacturer. All this means is that if you mess with Stark Industries the CEO will grab the most advanced weapons system on the planet and come down to personally kick your ass, as opposed to letting the US military do it for him.

Yeah; I’ve thought for some time that realistically, going after the friends and relatives of costumed vigilantes would be a major criminal taboo, backed up by a history of very bad consequences to those who have broken it. I’d expect the vigilante community to as a whole to go after the individual or group responsible; gloves off. It would be like a gang shooting a policeman’s family to intimidate him; the rest of the department would be out for blood.

Relevant Super Stupor comic

Who’s the third guy in the OP’s link?

New Spidey I think.


It was a mistake, but that’s not why they changed reality. They changed reality because even though it had been the status quo for nearly two decades, Joe Quesada just couldn’t handle the fact that Spider-Man was married.

I suspect they only had the stupid identity reveal plot going because they knew Joey boy’s big stupid retcon was on the way and they could wipe it out then.

Iron Man–at the end of his first movie–hadn’t accumulated a rogue’s gallery of enemies, just Obadiah Stane, now dead. And he had no more dedicated himself to a life of crime fighting than that Jet Man guy who pops up in the news every now and then. That light bulb in his chest is pretty hard to ignore. No real reason he’d have a secret identity at that point.