OK we"ve had three Flashes, two each of Batgirls and Green Arrows, four Robins (five if you count DKR’s Carrie Kelly), and four thousand seven hundred eighty-six Green Lanterns. It seems that there are some heroes who aren’t so much a character anymore as a role that a well-written character who was somehow deemed worthy could step into. Robin in particular seems to have become more an apprenticeship position than an actual handle for Batman’s sidekick.
But there are some who I don’t think anyone but the original character could be. Superman, for one. Nobody but Clark Kent, midwestern, corn-fed, homespun Boy Scout last surviving son of a planet that blowed up real good, could adequately fill those tights.
Then there’s the Batman. We tried it with Az-Bat, and it didn’t work out so good. Nobody but Bruce Wayne could be the Batman. Nobody else could be the driven, obsessed, incredibly self-disciplined, kinda psycho but not too psycho, carefully created alter-ego who is a totally inept flake.
Spider-man. Peter Parker. Even if there were an epidemic of guys getting bit by radioactive spiders and acquiring superpowers, nobody could have that delicate balance of power and chronic angst that Peter Parker has. Nobody, man.
Excluding the X-Men, whose “superhero” personas (if that is the correct terminology) are defined by their mutations and therefore nobody but the original could really fill the role, how many superheroes are there whose roles simply could not be filled by another character, no matter how strong and/or well written?