Hiding secret identities is becoming too difficult now, what with the prevalence of the internet, sites like Wikileaks, and the payment for data trade. Any author with pen names (Rowling-slash-Galbrieth anyone?) knows the truth of this.
And our superheroes are giving up on the secret identity effort also.
It’s not just the internet, blogs and newscasts. Society overall is less willing to allow any of our public figures to have a secret life, for fear they’re getting up to no good. (Possibly a relevant fear with some of our authority figures. Even Obama was constantly questioned over his own origins and claims, to the point of publishing birth certificates.
And we like to think we’re not as stupid as all those people who apparently can’t see Superman when Clark sticks on a pair of glasses.
Socially, we can be many different people across the internet. On Twitter I am a different version of myself. This blog gives you one side of me, but not all of me. Behind the scenes I could even be a different gender than you may think.
As a society, we no longer can trust what we see in public. We no longer simply rest our faith in costumery.
And who’s the most public of all? Superheroes, of course.
Whereas the U.S.A. appears to accept Amazonian princesses and superhumans from outerspace (provided they help out occasionally with supercriminal mastermind plots and such), other nations are more suspicious of people just showing up out of nowhere. Here in Australia such people are sent back on boats to places like Papua New Guinea, and must await months of confinement before any hope of getting into the country.
Although Peter Parker/Spiderman (Note: Peter came out in 2006 in Marvel event, Civil War, which was a bit of an anomaly ) and Clark Kent/Superman are still holdouts for a good secret identity, many others of our well-known superheroes no longer see the need to pretend.
Thor roams around the Marvel Cinematic Universe without being Donald Blake (but with a pesky brother) but then again he’s having a sex-change soon. Going by American laws he’ll (sorry, force of habit – she’ll…) have problems establishing
his her new gender on official documents, though. S.H.I.E.L.D. associates and the Avengers do pay tax, right?
Most of the X-Men’s real names are well-known. The Fantastic Four are out in the public arena. Wonder Woman and Diana are used interchangeably. Tony Stark uses his Iron Man for Stark Industry promotions. Never mind this promotion has led to the destruction of two of his residences, not to mention the endangerment of his girlfriend.
Captain America is wiki-listed publicly as Steve Rogers. The Green Lanterns are known. Ex-Robin Dick is unmasked as Nightwing.
Some other holdouts – Bruce Wayne and Batman, although down in the batcave, his confidants call him “Bruce” and *spoiler* in a recent Batman and Robin, Bruce told the world he had funded the Batman franchise for years.
Television’s Arrow keeps his own identity as secret as possible in the first series to protect his family, or possibly where the fortune is coming from to fund all those electro-arrows.
So that makes two reasons for upholding a good secret identity–
- To protect loved ones, and
- Vigilantes reliant on inheritances, massive funding and savings plans.
- Whereas working superheroes can live a life out of the closet. But superman likes to stay there. In the closet, or retro telephone booth if he can find one.
Yes, we all like a good mystery. Hence the need to replace one Stig for another a couple of years ago, when Britain’s BBC2’s Top Gear masked car-racer revealed himself.