Secret Identities: Are They Really Secret?

Joseph Gioeli Joseph Gioeli

June 25th, 2017

ComiConverse Expert Contributor focusing on film and television.

Secret Identities: Are They Really Secret?

The secret identity has been a staple in comic books since the very beginning; but it seems that as time goes on, these secret identities are starting to become less and less secret. Our Joseph Gioeli delves into this situation to get to the bottom of it.

 Secret Identities: Are They Really Secret?

Since comic books first hit the shelves, most of the heroes depicted needed to keep their identities a secret from the world. Some, for the safety of their loved ones, others, for the safety of themselves. But whatever way you look at it, a hero’s identity could manifest as one of their biggest weaknesses, regardless if it is known or not.

This draws the question, is it better to have a secret identity or just let everyone know who you are?


Two prime examples of this, that may provide some answers, are Iron Man and Batman.

Everyone knows that Tony Stark is Iron Man, in the comics and in the movies. The general public, at some point or another, are aware of this fact. In both adaptations this causes nothing but destruction and pain to Tony and his loved ones.

Iron Man

Credit: Marvel Comics


Batman, on the other hand, is very cautious of who knows that Bruce Wayne is actually under the cowl. Excluding fellow Justice League members and Bat-Family members, roughly 20 people know the true identity of the Bat. This may seem like a lot, but with the amount of people that know Batman, for so few to know who he really is, is relatively impressive. Also, in comparison to Iron Man, Bruce’s numbers look pretty good.


Credit: Warner Brothers


This brings us back to the original question; should a hero’s identity be a secret?

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In both cases, the hero has felt tremendous pain and loss, but would that have been avoided if their true identity was reversed; with Stark hidden or Wayne a secret?

If everyone knew Bruce Wayne was Batman, would Wayne Manor fall under attack? Just one man knew who Batman was in Batman Begins (2005) and his mansion was burned to the ground. Given, Ra’s al Ghul’s beef was more with Bruce Wayne than it was Batman, Wayne Manor still laid in ashes by the end.

Gotham is a criminal breeding ground and a certain caped crusader has made quite a few enemies. If these enemies could walk right up to the front door to get to Batman, it would take away a significant amount of thrill from the storylines; along with the fact that an unprepared Bruce Wayne probably would not fare well against an ambush at his front door.

Batman The Dark Knight

Credit: Warner Bros.

Similarly, Tony Stark did actually announce his home address in the third Iron Man movie and a few scenes later, his mansion was also destroyed.

Therefore, I think it is safe to say that if people know who you are, they certainly shouldn’t know where you live.

If Stark were to keep his identity under the metal helmet and within the Stark premises, it may be much easier to operate as Iron Man. Nobody would know where he lived nor how easily they could find him.

Side note, Tony Stark was actually responsible for convincing Peter Parker to reveal his secret identity as Spider-Man. As you probably could have guessed, this turned out poorly as Aunt May was eventually killed, but I digress.

If Stark were to take a page out of the Bruce Wayne-masked superhero/vigilante playbook, it may be incredibly beneficial to Tony and everyone surrounding him.

Iron Man

Credit: Marvel Entertainment

All things considered, I have come to a final verdict.

In terms of logic, reason and safety, it is absolutely better to keep your true identity a secret from the general public and foes.

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But in terms of being a total badass, public identity is the way to go.

Do you agree? Is there any aspect that we may have glossed over? Let us know in the comments below.

Joseph Gioeli is a ComiConverse Expert. Follow him on Twitter: @joegioeli

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