Off My Mind: Should Heroes Be Allowed To Change Names?

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Posted by G-Man (37730 posts) - - Show Bio

A superhero's name can say a lot about them. Prior to launching a new career as a crimefighter, you really need to give thought to what you're going to call yourself. I believe that once you have chosen a name and have started your career, you should stick with that name. There are some heroes that obviously don't agree with this.
 
Take someone like Hank Pym. How many different names has this guy gone by? He started out as Ant-Man and has also gone by Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, "Doctor Pym" and is currently calling himself the Wasp.
 
Hank's not the only one constantly changing his name. Others that have include Clint Barton, Dick Grayson and Roy Harper. Is changing your superhero name show a sign of failure?
 == TEASER ==
In some cases, a name change could make sense. Like with Dick and Roy, they outgrew their sidekick personas. It wouldn't make sense for a twenty-something Wally West to still call himself "Kid Flash," but then perhaps more thought should have gone into that name to begin with (like when Bart Allen went by "Impulse," even though that didn't last either).
 
Does this mean there should be some exceptions? Obviously with Hank, when he stopped playing with ants and decided to make himself grow, calling himself "Ant-Man" wouldn't make sense. Then again, this is a guy whose superhero name was actually "Doctor Pym" when he was in the West Coast Avengers (and his costume was actually a lab coat with lots of pockets so he could carry shrunken items around).
 
Someone like Iron Man has had several upgrades but still kept the same name (you have to admit that "Iron Man" isn't the cleverest name but it's what he went with and has stuck with it). Creating an identity and sticking with it establishes who you are. Unless you're an incompetent hero, you should build on that reputation. With an established "career," the villains will know that they will be defeated. Civilians can also be relieved when they see a familiar hero coming instead of fearing over yet another masked person showing up. 
 
I say if you're going to create a superhero persona, you need to put some thought into your name (just like you should here on Comic Vine when you create an account). Unless they're undergoing a major overhaul and their "cool" name doesn't match their superpowers any longer, a hero should choose a name and stick with it. (Especially since it causes headaches in our database here as well). Does it matter to you if a hero changes his/her name?
#1 Posted by doordoor123 (3721 posts) - - Show Bio

no

#2 Posted by Robrat93 (56 posts) - - Show Bio

I like it when heroes have different identities it gives somethng more to the characters story and how as the comics universe evolves so does the character

#3 Edited by Cosmic Sentinel (3749 posts) - - Show Bio

I think heroes should try to stick with their original name whenever possible, it's part of your identity and helps people know who you are when they can't know who you really are. Still, we can't all have cool names like Cosmic Sentinel.

#4 Posted by ComicMan24 (147115 posts) - - Show Bio

The name change thing is seen mostly in lesser heroes. Heroes who are more popular and established don't change their names. For example Superman and Batman have kept their names since the late 30s.
#5 Posted by Gambit1024 (9890 posts) - - Show Bio

The only time a hero (or villain) should change their name is if they go through some sort of change in persona or they outgrow it. Take Robby Baldwin for example. He used to be the most flamboyant "superhero" ever :Speedball. After that Stamford explosion, the dude went through a huge transformation and started going by the name Penance. In that instance, the name change fits. 

#6 Posted by SupremoMaximo (209 posts) - - Show Bio

Hank Pym is the Sean Combs of super heroes.   
 
But usually it's the public that names the hero and it just catches on.   
 
If the heroes had it their way Spider Man would be The Human Spider...

#7 Posted by G-Man (37730 posts) - - Show Bio
@ComicMan24: Exactly. They picked names and stuck with them (well, maybe Superman didn't exactly pick his). If Bruce ever changed his, it would go against everything he believed in. The bat that smashed through his window was the final sign for him to begin his career.
#8 Posted by CrimsonInuTears (465 posts) - - Show Bio

The change from sidekick to hero makes sense, but otherwise it's just a hastle to follow. Plus some heroes people would prefer to have just under one persona. I still can't see Dick as Batman, an he's been it for what 2-3 years now? Sure, the comics explained it away, but really, all I see is Nightwing under that cowl an am reminded of why I miss Bruce.
#9 Posted by bingbangboom (746 posts) - - Show Bio

I thought the whole Wasp thing with Pym was weird and at least everyone joked about it. Problem is that everyone knows Wasp is Wasp. I never really understood the whole Ronin thing, I mean... there is no more Ronin anymore, was there ever one? For a cool ninja character you think someone would just stick to it.

#10 Posted by mimschkin (626 posts) - - Show Bio

It's a bit annoying having to adjust when characters change their names, but if it's indcative of their growing character or abilities it's just a necessary evil. I like the idea that there's a "mantle" that people can pick up - like the Green Lantern or Batgirl mantles, the notion that those heroes can be "played" by different people. There's something transcendant about it that I really like.

#11 Posted by RedGhostman (104 posts) - - Show Bio

  

 
"It's Fumbles. It was always Fumbles."
#12 Posted by dondasch (926 posts) - - Show Bio

I think that the changing of names occurs so little that it's unnoticeable and doesn't really create problems, for me at least.  Now, of course, if an established character along the lines of Batman or Wolverine should try that, it wouldn't work out well at all

#13 Posted by SUPER-MAN 23 (2190 posts) - - Show Bio

Changing names could also mean a sign of respecting mentors and past partners. Like Dick Grayson, he took up the mantle of Batman because he is respecting Bruce Wayne. So sometimes it is good to change names and other times it isn't

#14 Posted by sora_thekey (8184 posts) - - Show Bio

Also, Clint Barton took on the name of Ronin because he felt he wasn't ready to take on his original mantle...
I think they should be able to change their name super hero but there should be a good reason behind it.

#15 Posted by Golden Cod (438 posts) - - Show Bio
Name changes for changes of identity, as in how the person perceives him/herself.   Wasn't the Yellowjacket identity a separate personality at first?
 
@RedGhostman: 
 
+thumbs
 
I personally enjoy "Dr. Killshot".   It's so fantastically 80s.
#16 Posted by speedlgt (2109 posts) - - Show Bio

i think for some guys it makes sense but for most NO they should stick to the same name changing names means you dont know who you are. 
 
the idea of the mantle is a cool idea because it becomes greater than one man and become elemental in some ways.  Grayson is the main guy that comes to mind he kinda had to become nightwing. I mean the whole point of robin is hes a kid as he grows he kinda cant stay robin. Now i had no problem with him becoming batman but really nightwing is just as good a identity. really he built himself up sooo much as nightwing there was really no need to leave that persona. I could see tim drake being batman and needing the mantle of batman because he never really had his own persona to start with he is the type to carry a torch for robin or batman. Grayson made his OWN torch to pass.

#17 Posted by ahumancartoon (368 posts) - - Show Bio

It's funny you mention Wally, after Barry came back I was hoping Wally would change his name again. I mean really, how many Flash's can you have at one time?

#18 Posted by DMC (1551 posts) - - Show Bio

Cleverest?
 
Anyway.....yeah there should be exceptions and whatnot and sometimes the original name isn't all that great to begin with. Take "Power Man" and "Rescue".......yeah Pepper needs a new super-hero name

#19 Posted by Nova`Prime` (4165 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't have a problem with a character changing their names, as long as there is a reason behind the change. Someone like Pym it seems he changes his name when he wants to try and forget a moment in his life, and someone like Barton I thought he called himself Ronin because Cap was gone, he had lost his leader. Which by the way is what a Ronin is, they were masterless samurai.
 
Another issue to go with this, different people calling themselves the same name. Just an example how many Batgirls are there?

#20 Posted by ComicMan24 (147115 posts) - - Show Bio
@Nova`Prime`:
Right now only one, Stephanie Brown. You should check how many Flashes are there. All of them exist at the same time.
#21 Posted by SlightConfuse (105 posts) - - Show Bio

Change in powers requires  name change, Hawkeye became Goliath for  a while
Hank Pym change his name to honor his dead wife
 
but their should not be 3 flash runnnig arround

#22 Posted by Dracade102 (8167 posts) - - Show Bio
#23 Posted by kennybaese (1151 posts) - - Show Bio
@ahumancartoon said:
" It's funny you mention Wally, after Barry came back I was hoping Wally would change his name again. I mean really, how many Flash's can you have at one time? "
How many are there now? Three? The biggest thing for me is how similar Barry and Wally's costumes are. I realize they changed Wally's costume a bit in Rebirth, the cowl design and some other details, but it still makes it hard when I'm jumping between trades and floppies to tell which character I'm looking at.  
 
This, I guess, is another interesting point, what about a whole bunch of characters sporting the same name? With the Lanterns it isn't an issue so much, but with the Flashes it kind of starts to be. I guess these are the only ones I can think of, so maybe it's not so much of an issue after all...
#24 Posted by whirlwind6 (235 posts) - - Show Bio

I changed my name in real life... It's just hard to make friends when your name is Evil von Hitler....

#25 Posted by Secret Identity (224 posts) - - Show Bio

No need to change names willy-nilly but nothing wrong with some name changes. Grayson to batman has reason and purpose. Roy had purpose for going from one name to the next. I see no problem with it so long as there is a reason. Roy going back to Arsenal now he can't use a bow for example. Dick Grayson as Batman makes sense because from an outside point of view (the civilians in comics) there hasn't been a change. As far as they are concerned. so yeah its fine 

#26 Posted by ArtisticNeedham (2302 posts) - - Show Bio

With Hank Pym, him constantly changing his name and identity and powers went along with his unstable mental situation.  One issue Iron Man even said that Hank changing his costume and identity isn't a good sign.  So for him it makes sense.  He never feels good enough so he is constantly changing his identity hoping it will be good enough this time.
So His identity is much less important to his character in the comics than he is, its more like he is Hank Pym and he changes his identity occasionally.  Its sort of become his hero identity.
But I did wonder in the past about that.
So when Hank Pym changes from Ant Man to Giant Man, or to Yellow Jacket, or to the new Wasp,
Does the public know its Hank Pym?  Or do they assume that the Avengers got a new member?  Someone knew and unheard of and someone who has to earn the public's trust?  Because the Avengers know who he is, but what about the public?  Was this addressed in the past, before they knew who Ant Man/Giant Man was?
 
I liked the idea of the Spider-Man Identity Crisis thing, where he couldn't be Spider-man so he made up 4 new personas and pretended to be a different hero each time.
When Iron Man was War Machine, did everyone think he was someone new?  If he had been really popular in that suit would he had stayed War machine?

#27 Posted by Archetype (731 posts) - - Show Bio
@doordoor123 said:
" no "
Noh!
 
as in "-Varr"...yeah he is now known as Protector.I think if there is some change in the character's life then I suppose they should be able to change their name but there should be a logical reason for the change because sometimes it just doesn't work out.There are good examples though Tim from Robin to Red Robin,Asgardian to Wiccan...
#28 Posted by Girth (1041 posts) - - Show Bio

If two different characters have the same name then one of them needs to change theirs. Other than that they need to pick a name and stick with it.

#29 Posted by SigersonLTD (134 posts) - - Show Bio

In at least two of the cases you mention above, the name changes were as a result of the individual character's growth as a superhero. 

#30 Posted by NightFang (10198 posts) - - Show Bio

Times change and the  character has to change with it, even if it means taking new names.

#31 Posted by SigersonLTD (134 posts) - - Show Bio
@Nova`Prime`: Well, there's really only one at a time, however, they're different people wearing a variation of the costume.
#32 Posted by Robin 47 (47 posts) - - Show Bio

Wel is depends on the situation like Dick Grayson he had to change, He couldnt be Robin the Boy Wonder forever so he went to Nightwing but he had to be Batman to live on the Role since Bruce "died" and Tim went to Red Robin because Dick chose Damian as his partner. So it really depends on the situation.
#33 Posted by X-93 (234 posts) - - Show Bio

If there is a good reason behind the name change,  like change in powers(pym) or addition of powers I guess it is the right thing to do.   I think some times characters get an overhaul to get with the times.  Some of the older characters are just silly and need to be up graded with times we live in. 

#34 Posted by EpitomeofCool (2779 posts) - - Show Bio

It depends.  It worked for Wally, but no so much with Hank.
#35 Posted by jamdown (294 posts) - - Show Bio

it gets confusing
#36 Posted by N7_Normandy (2430 posts) - - Show Bio

if it represents a change in the character or a new direction of the series, then the name change doesn't bother me that much, given it only happens once or twice.  However, when identities are contantly changing, things get way to convoluted.
#37 Posted by extrememage (184 posts) - - Show Bio

yes i think they should. if only they have reason. like the teen titans passing down the torch or the need for a identity change to improve themselves.
#38 Posted by Silver2467 (16527 posts) - - Show Bio

Very good article. With some like Grayson or West, it does make sense that they outgrow their original personas. With others though like Pym, it does seem strange on that he's gone through so many different aliases. Maybe it is a sign of failure. He has made some serious mistakes. Food for thought, I guess. 

#39 Posted by Crom-Cruach (8901 posts) - - Show Bio
@Nova`Prime` said:
" I don't have a problem with a character changing their names, as long as there is a reason behind the change. Someone like Pym it seems he changes his name when he wants to try and forget a moment in his life, and someone like Barton I thought he called himself Ronin because Cap was gone, he had lost his leader. Which by the way is what a Ronin is, they were masterless samurai.  Another issue to go with this, different people calling themselves the same name. Just an example how many Batgirls are there? "
This I agree...
#40 Edited by Emperor Gonzo Noir (19714 posts) - - Show Bio

If it's a natural progression, then Yes

#41 Posted by ArtisticNeedham (2302 posts) - - Show Bio

Whats funny is that it didn't work with Pym, and it seemed like after a certain number of time it, Marvel decided that was his thing and had to do with his mental instability.  So it made sense with his character.

#42 Posted by Meteorite (3351 posts) - - Show Bio

Characters should only change their names (and costumes for that matter) if they get new powers, or if their old name sounds horrible (anyone remember Paste-Pot Pete?)

#43 Posted by jagged glass (47 posts) - - Show Bio

Sometimes a superhero/villain changes their personality, their powers, their lives, etc, and then the name they originally gave themselves does not symbolise who or what they are anymore. People change all the time, why should they be any different?
#44 Posted by Solitaire (45 posts) - - Show Bio

You know, in general, I agree with G-man, but there are some obvious exceptions to take into account too. Changing the identities of his Super-Villain hit-squad, was instrumental in cementing Norman Osborn's Dark Reign. Would the public really have been okay knowing that Bullseye, Venom, and Moonstone were part of the Avengers? This also gave Daken the freedom to pursue his own interests, and any negative actions would be blamed on his father. Speedball's transformation into Penance is one of my favorite story-arcs of the past few years, and a huge change of character. After coming to terms with his role in the Stamford explosion he devoted himself to atonement, and revenge. The change from happy-go-lucky super-ball into the masochistic electro-kinetic powerhouse definitely merited a name change. Lastly, the fact that of the 3  people that have been "The Whizzer" not one of them has thought that their alter-ego warrented a name change just doesn't compute. The fact that there still exists a hero named "The Whizzer" just, no....

#45 Posted by Thor'sHammer (67 posts) - - Show Bio

Superheroes are all about shifting names and identities.  Your question G-Man is really "Should superheroes change identities?"  The answer is yes because that is precisely what they do best.  Bruce Wayne is Batman but he's also Matches Malone, or the Bat, or the caped crusader.  Clark Kent Err..Superman changes identities from cover to cover or if there's some off-color kryptonite nearby.  Moon Knight has three separate alter egos!!!  Matt Murdock is Daredevil, well unless Bullseye is or Iron Fist.  Thor was Donald Blake, and Eric Masterson, and Jake Olson I could go on and on but you get the point.  Superheroes must have many names and identities to aid the storytelling.

#46 Posted by LP (675 posts) - - Show Bio
Only on rare exceptions like to remove "Kid" from their name...
#47 Posted by LP (675 posts) - - Show Bio
@Cosmic Sentinel: I love your name
#48 Posted by TheMess1428 (2176 posts) - - Show Bio

Having Jay, Barry, and Wally all as the Flash at the same time needs to be fixed. Some people like Stephanie Brown or Dick Grayson should have changed their names since they decided to fill a preestablished role like Batman and Batgirl. Tim Drake had to become Red Robin because Damian Wayne already was Robin.

#49 Posted by DarkSyde79 (214 posts) - - Show Bio

Changing names is cool but some cats go a lil’ crazy with the name changes. Once you get on original name 3 or 4, then you need to stop… 

#50 Posted by CellphoneGirl (18858 posts) - - Show Bio

Nahh

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