Posted by Gareth Cavanagh @garethcavanagh
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Gareth Cavanagh

A huge part of the superhero genre involves maintaining a secret identity. The idea that a character should use an alias in order to protect their loves ones has been a plot device that is synonymous with the superhero genre. This gives us a secret that is shared by the protagonist, a select few and the audience. Ongoing stories of double lives have raised many interesting questions in the past, such as: "Should the government be aware of a superhero's identity?" in X-Men and Marvel's Civil War, and "Is Superman Clark Kent's secret identity, or is it the other way around?"

The use of secret identities in the superhero genre is so ordinary that if they don't, there is usually a defined, psychological reason for it. In this list I compile the few superheroes that do not keep their identity a secret and explore how (and why) they have avoided the use of an alias.

6. Doctor Manhattan

Doctor Manhattan didn't exactly keep a low profile, in fact, he grew fifty feet tall and marched through Vietnam. Manhattan is one of the central characters in Alan Moore's critically acclaimed graphic novel Watchmen. He is also the most powerful entity in the universe and has the ability to bend matter to his will.

When you can do anything imaginable and see every possible future event, what is there to be afraid of? The reason superheroes give for concealing their true identity is usually to protect their loved ones. They don't want a villain showing up at their home or school. However, Manhattan is so powerful that enemies just can't pose him a threat; he would know what you were going to do before you did.

5. Peter Quill a.k.a Starlord

Although he has a superhero name, Peter Quill does not hide the fact that he is Starlord. After being kidnapped and taken to a different galaxy as a child, he no longer has a family to protect. Peter Quill is a wandering space pirate, the only human in the galaxy. But Quill doesn't want to hide anyway, he actually wants to make a name for himself.

One of the more noticeable character traits Quill has in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie is bravado. A perfect example of this is when he is almost captured on Morag in the beginning. He expects the name Starlord to be notorious across the stars and is disappointed when the people trying to capture him have never heard of him.

4. The Fantastic Four

The world is well aware of who inhabits the Baxter Building, as The Fantastic Four do nothing to hide their identity. It is Reed Richards's policy of being open and honest with the public that is the cause of this. Humanity can turn on people that they are afraid of or don't understand — people that are different to them (just ask the X-Men). Mr Fantastic's solution to this is to step into the public eye without wearing a mask. This is their way of saying:

"We are a force for good. We are not vigilantes. We have nothing to hide."

3. Frank Castle a.k.a The Punisher

Perhaps it is wrong to label Frank Castle a hero. He is more of an antihero. Even then, you could probably make a case that he isn't a hero in the slightest. Maybe the term vigilante is more appropriate.

Like most comic book characters Frank Castle has an insignia (a white skull on a black background) as well as a persona. However, he makes no bones about the fact that he is the one behind the moniker of "The Punisher." There is an obvious logical reason for this and that is that, as sad as it sounds, he has no family to protect. There is another deeper reason for it though: Frank Castle doesn't believe he is doing anything wrong. Something that Daredevil Season 2 did so well was getting across just how convicted and strong in his beliefs he really is. He doesn't feel the compulsion to hide his face because he believes that what he is doing needs to be done.

2. Doctor Strange

Perhaps the reason Steven Strange does not conceal his identity is because such insignificant worldly matters do not concern The Sorcerer Supreme. The powerful magician is not worried about enemies showing up at the Sanctum Sanctorum or a legislation to apprehend heroes. He is more concerned with distant realms, averting catastrophes of multi-verse shattering proportions. That kind of thing.

1. Tony Stark a.k.a Iron Man

The billionaire inventor isn't just open about the fact that he is Iron Man, he flaunts it. Tony Stark is never done reminding the world that he is responsible for saving their lives many times over. In the past, comic book writers have actually made Tony Stark an alcoholic. This was a pretty unprecedented change but one thing that has been with the character for many years is addiction.

Stark has a very addictive personality, it just so happens that the dependency he has always had is fame. He turns to alcohol and the like for a similar buzz, but being in the public eye is his primary thrill. Despite his fellow Avengers choosing to live a double life, Iron Man chooses to live in the spotlight because he needs the attention.

Did I miss any characters? Let me know in the comments section. If you enjoyed this article please share it with your friends. Thank you for reading.