Article: The Secret Is Out! - Exploring The Comic Book Superhero Secret Identity In The Age Of Social Media

Let's face it. The charade of a superhero with a secret identity is becoming a less believable storyline in modern comics. Especially for masked vigilante characters with no superhuman abilities. As comic book films continue to focus on realistic adaptations, it creates a challenge for heroes who hide their identities from the prying eyes of the public. Many of these characters were created long before surveillance videos, GPS tracking, and facial recognition technology. A handful were even created before the invention of television. Superman and The Lone Ranger were popular radio programs long before they were TV shows. Between the Marvel and DC universe, this is where Marvel has the edge in the film adaptation department. The Avengers are all Agents of Shield. The public and government are aware of who these people are. Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff. 

They are all known individuals. While characters like Daredevil and Spider-Man still maintain secret identities, the identities of many of Marvel’s film and television adaptations are known. As exaggerated as their abilities are, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are at least presented in a realistic manner. No masks or flashy names needed. And then there is DC. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Arrow, The Green Lantern. These characters are all the Secret Santas of justice. Of course there is a romanticized element to a hero who secretly walks among the common folks when not fighting crime. Although an argument can be made that realistic film and television adaptations set in modern society exposes an unbelievable scenario. 

With this mask, no one will recognize me or my flamboyant personality.

World population and technology have become so advanced, it’s almost silly to think that if introduced today anyone would buy that Batman would be able to maintain a secret identity. It was a believable concept when first introduced in 1939, but not in today’s “nothing is secret or private” society. Anonymous would quickly identify him as Bruce Wayne. Then Mr. Wayne would deny he was Batman at a press conference at Wayne Enterprises the following day. 

If we’re really being honest about our modern culture, Mr. Wayne would then be hounded by TMZ and the paparazzi at airports and charity fundraisers for months afterwords. He would constantly be on the radar. The whereabouts of Bruce Wayne during Batman sightings would turn into Gotham City’s version of Where in the World is Carmen San Diego. Fame seeking social media trolls would turn into the real life Riddler and create false emergency scenarios and expose Mr. Wayne for the sake of entertainment. Batman’s identity would be discussed by Barbara Walters and Whoopi Goldberg on The View. Exposing celebrity secrets is the media’s guilty pleasure. It’s the new version of The Enquirer, and the public eats up every juicy detail. And let's be honest. Could Bruce Wayne really build the Batcave all by himself without hiring a contractor? That would take a lifetime. Maybe he did and erased everyone’s memories afterwards. Maybe Superman helped him build it? That certainly would explain the giant penny. Nothing is secret anymore, we’re living in George Orwell’s 1984. The media exposes every personal crisis for the world to critique and criticize. Let’s face it, secret identities in modern films have gone the way of fairy tales and fantasy. Identity theft is a real and serious issue being dealt with on a daily basis. 

The Marvel "I'm just a civilian" starter pack.

At the end of the day comics are… well, comics. Hours have been spent between fans on what fictional character could beat another fictional character. Fans of Marvel and DC have spent years waving their flags and claiming dominance over the other. “Your comic characters suck!” “Oh Yeah! Well your comic movies suck!” “They stopped fighting because both of their mom’s names were Martha! Really!?” And so on, and so on, for the end of eternity. Yet as studios continue to produce realistic modern interpretations of these classic characters, the secret identity storyline really has found its true place - something that only happens in the movies.

In Marvel films, to avert authorities, just dress like Christian Slater from Mr. Robot.

Ring Ring! Ring Ring! 
[Clark Kent] – “Hello”
[Bruce Wayne] – “Clark, it’s Batman. Do you think you could help me move a life size replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex into the Batcave?”

Lee L. Lind