Posted: October 15th, 2012 | Author: Kieran Brown |
Most superheroes can’t go public and reveal to the world who they are, they have friends and family to protect and somewhat normal lives that they don’t want interrupted. Why then do so many superheroes have such terrible disguises?
If anyone around them ever took some time to stop and think about things they’d see through these poorly concieved alter egos in a second.
Clark Kent / Superman
Let’s start with the biggest and most obvious offender. Superman should not have the kind of anonymity that he does, it just doesn’t make sense, parting your hair a little differently and wearing glasses is not an effective disguise under any circumstances but there’s also the problem that Clark also becomes quite a famous reporter in his civilian life as well.
Has nobody ever seen a picture of both of them? And why does nobody ever follow up on their suspicions when they start to realise that Clark disappears at the first sign of danger, only to have the Man of Steel turn up seconds later? It’s not like Superman’s outfit even attempts to cover his face.
The only real explanation is everyone is stupid.
In fact Superman’s disguise is so ridiculous the whole idea of having a disguise that ludicrously transparent is generally known as ‘Clark Kenting‘ now.
Peter Parker / Spider-Man
You’d think that Peter Parker would have a solid secret identity wouldn’t you?
He’s quiet, nerdy and neurotic in his day to day life and his Spider-Man outfit covers every inch of his body, leaving no distinguishing features… and yet all this effort is pretty much wasted.
This again is textbook dumb; Not only does Peter constantly disappear when there’s a big story [only to have Spider-Man turn up and save the day] but he also takes photographs that could only be taken one of two ways:
Either Spider-Man took the photos himself or Peter has his own personal invisible chopper and a tracking device on the infamous wall-crawler.
Nobody once questions how he takes pictures of Spider-Man from hundreds of feet up as if he’s standing right next to him!
If we start talking films then the Raimi trilogy throws an even bigger wrench in the works… Why oh why does Peter keep telling everyone that he personally knows Spider-Man? If a secret identity is supposed to protect your loved ones, telling everyone about some special connection to the hero that you’re supposed to be distancing yourself from as much as humanly possible, suddenly makes you and everyone around you a target for every villain with a grudge against Spider-Man. This is actually the reason his aunt’s house is ripped open in the first film and also the reason Peter and Mary-Jane get a car thrown at them in the second.
Bruce Wayne / Batman
In terms of maintaining differing personas Bruce does a reasonably good job, his Batman costume covers his face and he speaks with a voice so gravelly you could mistake it for a driveway. The problem is that his superpower is being rich and angry…
Now, given all the incredibly expensive toys that he uses to beat the ever-living crap out of Gotham’s criminals, you have to wonder why nobody has speculated that maybe the one local billionaire with the resources and motive to be Batman isn’t actually the hero himself?
This falls apart even more under scrutiny, a lot of gear that Batman tends to use was developed at Wayne Enterprises/WayneCorp. While you can argue that Lucius Fox keeps the work under wraps, there’s still the problem that some of this was developed for various defence contracts, there must be a mountain of paperwork in some government office or military base somewhere featuring a fair few of those gadgets. How has this never been an issue?
In the comics Bruce does eventually admit that his company makes and supplies most of Batman’s gear. But really… this is the excuse he uses? In spite of playing the crass playboy, he’s still got motive and [more importantly] is in better shape than most pro-athletes. Surely all he would achieve ye doing this is raising suspicions.
Then there’s the problem of the Batcave. Given that he’s capable of fudging/concealing all the transactions for the equipment and work that went into making it [remember this would have to be out of his own personal finances] there’s still the problem of getting the place built. Did he seriously do it all himself by hand? Did he hire a bunch of blind ninja contractors? There’s just too much money leaving a trail between Bruce and The Bat.
Dick Grayson / Robin
So Bruce Wayne may have the problem of being the only person rich enough to be Batman getting in the way of keeping his identity secret, but Robin has an even tougher time of it.
He’s essentially wearing the costume he used in his family’s trapeze act to fight crime. They weren’t exactly inconspicuous and getting shot to death in the middle of an act might make you posthumously quite well known.
So after being adopted by an incredibly irresponsible billionaire [who is the only conceivable person who can be Batman] nobody twigs that the sudden new child sidekick of the violent vigilante is wearing the exact same outfit as the kid who was rather publicly orphaned…
If someone were to spot the none too surprising link between Dick Grayson and Robin, it might be laughed off as a conspiracy theorist spouting nonsense [assuming everyone is really that stupid] but do you think it would still be so easy to dismiss when Bruce gets new adoptees and a suddenly younger Robin turns up?
Is there something in Gotham’s water supply keeping the people there stupid or something?
Diana Prince / Wonder Woman
She’s another offender as bad as Superman… well, almost.
She’s certainly not a headline reporter for a major newspaper so her face isn’t readily known to everyone; but she does kind of work for the military who at one point gave Diana the job of capturing Wonder Woman. She doesn’t even cover her face, they have files on both women… why was this connection not made?
All this in a costume that in no way conceals her face… or much of anything else for that matter. Maybe that’s why nobody made the connection, they were too distracted!
Admittedly for the more recent comic reboot, the writer [Brian Azzarello] seems to be aware of how stupid this was and has scrapped the alter ego for now.
Oliver Queen / Green Arrow
In the Smallville version of the character he dresses up in a green costume and eye mask that can only be described as a Robin Hood outfit. Despite the mask he has some very distinctive features that should be able to render the superhero identity of the billionaire playboy [and one time mayor] completely ineffective. He’s pretty much the only man in the DC universe with a blonde Van-Dyke goatee… seriously it’s the single most distinctive facial feature in the DC universe, second only to Two-Face’s scarring.
Seriously though, has nobody looked at the flamboyant guy in the Robin Hood costume and teeny-tiny eye mask [that doesn’t cover his most distinguishing feature] and said… “That guy looks like the famous and very public billionaire Oliver Queen!”
Prince Adam / He-Man
Okay, He-Man was one of the 1980s toy selling devices that just happened to become ludicrously popular. Still, there’s no real excuse for having a character with a secret identity as paper-thin as his. Just look at the difference [or lack thereof] between Adam in his princely pink shirt and Adam in his He-Man getup.
For some reason only three people in the entire universe seem to know that Prince Adam and He-Man are the same person, I have no idea why though, he doesn’t even bother trying to disguise his face. He literally changes out of his flouncy pink shirt and into bondage gear by shouting as loud as he can and not one person bats an eyelid.
He doesn’t even wear glasses or do something with his atrocious mullet. He’s actually worse at the secret identity thing than Superman!
Charles Xavier / Professor X
Okay, it’s not clear that he’s really trying to keep his identity all that secret, he is however supposed to be providing safe refuge for all the young mutants in his school in a world that seems to be ever more violently against them.
Unfortunately he as well as running a safe haven for mutants also heads a team that very publicly stops alien invasions every other weekend, fights an ‘on-again off-again’ ground war with government funded anti-mutant groups and on occasion accidentally destroys vast amounts of government and public property…
He has also worked ridiculously closely with various government agencies under his real name, using the resources of his school and on occasion revealed himself to be a mutant…
Even if he sets about wiping the memories of everyone involved can he really completely wipe out the massive trail that leads back to him and the X-Men?
It’s even worse in the X-Men: First Class film.
Here he is bragging to the CIA how much of a mutant he and his friends are.
Also nobody seems to question the number of times his vast estate/school has been blown up, trashed and raided by super-villains. You know, the place that’s full of children…