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Is it realistic for superheroes to have secret identities?

  1. Stevennix2001 profile image82
    Stevennix2001posted 2 years ago

    Okay, I've been talking to a person about this topic for awhile now, and he firmly believes that the whole notion of superheroes having secret identities is unrealistic by citing that if heroes existed in rl, then chances are everyone would go out of their way to find out who they are that they would eventually figure it out anyway.  Therefore, the whole concept of secret identities is unrealistic. 

    My argument was that the notion of tony stark confessing who he was in iron man was a great original idea from a narrative perspective, but it's not realistic.  Granted, we all know tony is egotistical, but if a superhero confesses his true identity like that, then what's to stop the mafia, terrorists or any other supervillain from going after the people the hero cares about?  I mean batman even said this himself in "The dark knight rises" to john blake. "The mask isn't to protect you.  It's to protect the people you care about."  I even pointed out how if a hero did exist in our world, then chances are he would be legally held accountable for any collateral damage during his fight with any said supervillain; regardless whether he saved the day or not.

    Needless to say, he said i was full of s***, and said that I didn't know what i was talking about.  He even went on to say that im too damn egotistical to see that a superhero having a secret identity to begin with is unrealistic.  However, I want to ask you all now this same question.

    Pretending superheroes like spider-man, iron man, hulk and etc all existed in our world.  not the fantasy world like we see in comics and movies and stuff, but the real world, then what's more realistic to you.  Does it make more sense for them have secret identities?  or do you think they should just tell EVERYONE who they really are under their masks because people are going to find out anyway?  please discuss.

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      hlwarposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Well, if we're talking about living in society and our real world, than I agree with you. It is most definitely realistic to think these people would try to maintain secret identities. Unless they had zero interest in marrying, having kids, going to PTA meetings, etc. than most would want to have their "normal lives" and a certain amount of privacy and safety for themselves and their families. Similar to undercover detectives or those in witness protection, I'd imagine.

      However, the idealism behind these sorts of superhero characters is that they desire to do right, defend the weak, save the day. So they won't idly sit by and do nothing as most people do. Except when you're super-powered it's difficult to feel accepted by society; it automatically makes you an outsider, human or alien born. They are also doing good but like you said there's a certain amount of fear because of their powers, their differences. It would be normal to "put on an act" in public.

      I also agree that if they publicly announced who they were, than absolutely, whenever they demolished a building or something went wrong, they'd be held accountable. That's just the way our real world works. Even though they have good intentions and try to work with the police/government, what they do is often times dangerous and probably illegal. And what do you do when you do something illegal and don't want your face seen? Wear a mask.

      Only the strongest and most vain would want to be known by their real identity. Is that the smart option? Ask our celebrities... XD

      This conversation makes me think of Disney's "The Incredibles" by the way. (LOL)

      I also want to add that even in the fantasy world of most of these comic book stories, I find the secret identity thing pointless because they never hold. Most of the supervillains find out who Batman really is. In the JLA they all call each other by their real names (it shouldn't be interchangeable while on the job). And even Red Arrow's 8 year old daughter knew who all the heroes were and went with him to their secret base. It's just sort of silly in any world to think the whole secret identity thing will keep you safe; it's just human nature that all secrets come out...

  2. Nickalooch profile image85
    Nickaloochposted 2 years ago

    The best point is by bringing up Bruce Wayne's line in Dark Knight Rises like you said. If superheroes were to exist, they wouldn't fear for themselves, they would constantly be afraid of the people they love being hurt. Secondly, how well do you think superheroes would be received in a world like we live in today? I know Superman is my favorite character and all, but the notion that they brought up in Man of Steel about us fearing someone like him is very real. If we had a real life Thor, Iron Man and so on....we'd be terrified of them. The government would issue for them to come in and essentially study them so that we could build a weapon to counter them. With all that in mind, if we did have a superhero in today's world...they would have to be very very quiet. They would not want to be known at all.

  3. Stacie L profile image88
    Stacie Lposted 2 years ago

    These Superheroes all have social issues or mental problems, if you think about it.
    Thinking that you are all powerful and that you are the only one to save the world makes you sound narcissistic at best or borderline personality.
    IMO. hmm

  4. Zelkiiro profile image85
    Zelkiiroposted 2 years ago

    I'll answer your question with another question:

    Is it realistic for a secret identity to consist only of a pair of glasses?

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    Jayfortposted 2 years ago

    Uh...Superman's secret identity was not just a pair of glasses. As Clark, he slouched reducing his height by about 2 inches. Superman was left handed, Clark was right handed. He also changed the register of his voice, his mannerisms, and so on. They even explained in a story back in the 80s that he continuously projected a hypnotic suggestion (amplified by the Kryptonian glass in Clark's glasses) that made people see Clark as smaller and frailer.

    There was a study on the "Clark Kent effect" back in the 80s that stated that such minor changes (glasses/no glasses, posture changes, vocal changes, etc...) could make you fail to recognize someone you are familiar with.

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    Beth37posted 2 years ago

    I mean if we're really being realistic, is it realistic for a secret identity to have a super hero?

    Every one is Clark Kent, it's the superman that makes him outlandish.

  7. Alphadogg16 profile image88
    Alphadogg16posted 2 years ago

    For those Super Heroes that don masks, I think it could be conceivable to keep their identity secret, but those that do not, Superman, Thor, The Hulk, Wolverine, etc....It would be extremely difficult to keep it concealed. Especially the Hulk, if he got pissed off in a public place, everyone would see the transformation. Even in the comic book/TV series he was always moving from city to city, trying to hide himself.

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      Beth37posted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Yeah but look at Wolverine... who else on the planet has those mutton chops besides Elvis impersonators and possibly convicts? Even with his blades in and a suit on, he's not fooling anybody.

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      hlwarposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      That is a valid point, Alphadogg16. There are a lot of superheroes who can't hide themselves.

      "What secret identity? You're GREEN." ~ Raven to Beast Boy in Cartoon Network's Teen Titans. (^_~)

  8. 0
    Beth37posted 2 years ago


    Look at this guy's costume... it's a little scruff and a low hanging hoodie... perfect for shooting arrows on target.

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      hlwarposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Yeah, the Robin Hood hat was much more ergonomic. XD


      I don't watch the show, however, in its defense, Arrow isn't suppose to be realistic to our world but a more realistic version of the updated comics (where his suit has a hood and not the hat).

      1. 0
        Beth37posted 2 years ago in reply to this

        I think he wears the hat pulled down real far at first... though if you do watch, you'll wonder how he hits any target ever. But later in the series he does get a mask. A hoodie's gotta be one of the cheapest costumes ever though, gotta give him props for being thrifty, of course he plays a billionaire so... lotta odd choices there.

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          hlwarposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          Well, that's one reason I dislike live-action superhero media. I don't care how "realistic" it is, there will always be that element of fantasy which comes off rather pretentious. Here, he hits every target despite costume flaws because he's the Emerald Archer.

          Although I'm glad to hear he eventually gets a mask too. Makes more sense for hiding the face. I doubt I'll ever watch because I don't care for that version of Roy Harper.

          It's a billion-dollar hoodie, I'm sure. XD But actually, his outfit is medieval-based so it's not a modern hoodie, but a Middle Ages inspired cowl.

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            Beth37posted 2 years ago in reply to this

            There's not a single friar in it either.

  9. Katie Armstrong profile image86
    Katie Armstrongposted 2 years ago

    Hey, Hannah Montana had a secret identity...and she doesn't have any powers.