THE NOT-SO-SECRET IDENTITY
What happened to a super-hero's secret identity? If you blinked, it disappeared.
I know I'm an old-timer. I've been reading (and loving) comic books for more than a half-century now and have always loved the concept of a good, solid secret identity. It was a given. A constant.
You could count on it--like death and taxes. A super-hero had to have a secret identity--an alter ego--to protect his loved ones. So his enemies couldn't strike at him through those close to him.
Not so much anymore.
Actually, Stan Lee started the "no secret identity" aspect of comics way back in 1961 with his very first title, "The Fantastic Four". The members of the FF never hid their true identities from the world and even went public in midtown Manhattan, by living in, and operating from, the Baxter Building.
But this trend seemed to really catch fire in 2008 at the conclusion of the first Iron Man film, when Tony Stark--in all his pompous glory--proclaimed to the world during a news conference, "The truth is...I am Iron Man."
And super-hero secret identities have never been the same since.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have regularly had the major players refer to each other by their real names. Even an old warhorse like Captain America is not immune. Seems like everyone in the world knows he's Steve Rogers and he's comfortable walking around without his mask.
We already know about Stark, but even Thor is simply known as the God of Thunder, with no mention of his mortal alter-ego--Dr. Donald Blake--who was a staple in comics for decades.
In the same vein, it's common knowledge that Bruce Banner is The Hulk and Dr. Stephen Strange isn't just some mysterious sorcerer, but a well-known Greenwich Village resident.
OK. That's Marvel, but certainly rival DC honors the time-tested idea of a secret identity. Wanna bet?
In "Batman V. Superman," both heroes figure out the other's secret midway through the film, and seem to gloat by calling each other "Bruce" and "Clark". Heck, even Lex Luthor gets into the act by calling Superman "Kal-El" and "Clark..Joseph..Kent". Is nothing sacred anymore?
And let's not forget Wonder Woman, who is initially called "Diana" by everybody except Commissioner Gordon. And you know he knows who's under The Dark Knight's cowl!
All in all, though, I've come to embrace the idea of my favorite heroes not having secret identities anymore. It makes them more human, more in touch with their real selves.
It's kinda cool to see Tony Stark in his armor without his helmet and Cap almost never wearing his familiar mask.
And, to quote Arthur Curry (aka Aquaman--who never sported a mask): "You dress up like a bat? You're out of your mind, Bruce Wayne!" Maybe he has a point.