What Is Your Opinion on Secret Identities?

What is your opinion on secret identities? @Kon-El and everyone else let me know your thoughts on the subject?

Respect the S


I always think of what happens in the third Iron Man movie when this question pops up. Maybe the less destructible heroes would have fewer issues, but for those who are vulnerable when caught unaware, I have no idea how they’d survive having their identity exposed. Their homes could be bombed while they’re sleeping; they could be sniped when out and about, especially those who are public figures, like Bruce; etc.


I agree with @CynicalPink and I would add the protection of loved ones and friends is another reason to have a secret identity.


The second persona allows them to accomplish things that they couldn’t accomplish otherwise. Now, how that plays out depends on the era. Originally, Superman disguised himself as reporter Clark Kent, and socialite Bruce Wayne disguised himself as Batman. In more recent stories, that dynamic has switched: reporter Clark Kent disguises himself as Superman, and Batman disguises himself as socialite Bruce Wayne. Either way, the characters gain a certain level of freedom and mobility that they wouldn’t have if they never donned their “masks” (literal or figurative).


Very true. A superhero generally has a secret identity to protect themselves and others. Think of what would happen to the Robins if Bat’s enemies or the government found out that he was Bruce. That’s dangerous for everyone involved. Think of how many people would target his giant company building. That endangers millions of Gothamites who pass by the building every day.


I also forgot about time off and decompression (the good kind). Heroes need time off so they can relax a little. I remember when Clark was the persona that Superman could use to relax as he couldn’t “fix” every problem.


@CynicalPink really said it all. Unless the hero wants to go through what Tony Stark want through, he or she is better off not saying a thing about their secret and hopefully the enemy won’t find out. Also watch 2002 Spider-man where Green Goblin found out who Spider-man is, and what he did to the people Spider-man cares about.:frowning:


I guess it comes down to who you’re trying to protect.

Do you live in a large city? If you do and baddies know you’re there, then you’re risking the entire population without having a false identity.

Does Bruce need one? Sure! He runs a major corporation where every employee is at risk. Does WW? Not so much imo.

The heartbreaking character to me is Clark. He is Clark Kent pretending to be Superman. He has to do this to protect people he loves so he can continue being Clark. He didn’t choose to be a hero. Not really.

He’s a weekend warrior trying to make time for his true self. He didn’t leave an island to help human kind. He didn’t dress as a bat to prevent trauma that befell him as a child. He wasn’t selected by a wizard because of his disposition. He isn’t a reincarnated Egyptian archaeologist/space policeman?

Clark is a chance superhero. His secret identity works in reverse and against him. To me anyhow.

Anyway, hard to answer. Good post. It’s a yes and no for me. When I think about a character written like Clark, it makes me wish they (identity) weren’t necessary. Sometimes characters make choices that make me think “it’s a damn good thing people don’t know how to find their family”.


I think the reasons to have one are well documented. Getting a sense of normalcy in one’s life, protecting loved ones, taking a break… all understandable reasons. In some cases I think it works better than others. If I were to compare the big 2, Batman and Superman. I’d say it works better for Batman. The stealthy nature of Batman, coupled with the difficulty of connecting him to his loved ones make it easier for the secret identity to accomplish its mission. Superman on the other hand, not only does he work out in the open; his relationships with Lois, the Daily Planet, and to a much lesser extent Smallville are easier to identify, especially given the propensity of certain individuals to cover/follow his actions. The glasses? A classic trope for sure, and coupled with Clark acting a certain mild mannered way, have always convinced me that both Clark and Superman are disguises to a certain degree. That is what I have enjoyed about the secret identity as a storytelling tool: the exploration of the plurality of ways one can carry themselves. The filters/masks we use in different settings to live our lives. Works really well in Clark’s case. Is he Clark Kent, the farmboy turned reporter? Is he Kal-El, the last survivor of another planet? Is he Superman, the hero fighting for truth & justice? When is he most himself? Probably with Lois & Jon, maybe with his parents. Maybe not really with anybody? I know, that last one is a bit of an exaggeration. Not attempting to answer the questions, but I think they’re a lot of fun to explore. It allows each of us their own head cannon of who we think our hero really is, what they’re really like.

Sorry, I made this mostly about Superman again. I should probably stop posting for a while to give everyone a break from my ramblings :joy:.


I’m pro-secret-identity. It’s a good generally accepted convention that solves problems and is food for stories. Even if we ignore the dangers the close ones would suffer as extortion targets, heroes should be able to walk among the people and learn or go to school without having fans, enemies and paparazzis swarming them.


It all depends on the hero.

Full on meta human, do what you like
Rich guy who’s nuts, probably good to protect yourself and others


It’s situational.
Not every character needs one. Characters like Batman, Nightwing, Robin, etc. need one. They don’t have powers and well breaking and entering, hacking and stealing information, etc. If they didn’t they’d be arrested. Characters like Superman and Wonder Woman don’t. Superman has all the power to save anyone he needs to, cops don’t shoot or chase after him, he wouldn’t be arrested if his identity was public. Wonder Woman is a political figure, ambassador, warrior, having a public identity would help her rather that hurt her.


The short answer is “it depends”.

I do like the speech in Kill Bill Vol 2 about Batman and Superman. where Bruce suits up to become Batman, Clark is Superman’s disguise. the speech is more about how Clark is a reflection of society, weak and mild mannered, but i like how it addresses the secret identity.

In Kingdom Come, we are told Batman had been outed hence that almost steampunk exoskeleton he is wearing.

I have found I prefer my Wonder Woman to be without such an alias. Like Superman, she is always that strong, she is always Wonder Woman, but unlike Batman, a civilian guise is more about blending in because that armor of hers can be quite the attention getter.

It can be a great story telling device, particularly to generate drama. e.g., when one life gets in the way of the other.


I like to think that I could rock my Identity like John Constantine. Roll Solo, Make sure everyone who comes around me knows there is a 99.98% chance they are gonna die unless there name is Chas, and isn’t being played by a guy named Shia Labeouf. And let my somewhat “Salty” reputation precede me. Secret Identities are for those with something that they don’t want to lose. Family, Loved Ones, Money… I figure, for me, I would just own it!
It seems a lot of Heroes greatest “Kryptonite” is Family…

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