"Of all the descriptive names of all the things people say when they hear a hero in action, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Invincible Iron Man, the only descriptive word for this guy is 'The God-damn Batman!"
A Comic Book Naming Convention
- sort of - with roots in the Silver Age
. The superhero's name is preceded by some sort of silly, over-the-top adjective. Usually in the actual book's title even if rarely used in the story.
Keep in mind that not just any descriptors qualify for the trope - "New Trope-Man
" is too simple, but "All-New, All-Different Trope-Man" can be sufficiently over-the-top. Now mostly used in the modern day either due to the Grandfather Clause
or as a deliberate homage to the Silver Age
. If the superhero gets a movie, expect the descriptor to be used at least once.
Comes from the same era as Something Person
names and Superhero Sobriquets
, and often provides Added Alliterative Appeal
. Replace a team's name with the number of members, and you have The Notable Numeral
. Also compare other name and title tropes involving adjectives, Adjective Noun Fred
and The Magnificent
. Contrast the Dark Age of Supernames
. See also The Fantastic Trope of Wonderous Titles
Not to be confused with The Adjectival Man
, where the adjective is the main part of the character's "name". In this trope, the adjective is just thrown in for the heck of it.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Especially in the 70s and 80s, there was a trend to give hyperbolic names to Humongous Mecha series. For example: Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh, which translates literally into "Absolutely Invincible Thundergod-King". The 90s largely replace these with Word Salad Titles, such as Neon Genesis Evangelion.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, as a Reconstruction of the Super Robot genre, would be a callback to this - the protagonists' main mecha is the Gurren Lagann, and "Tengen Toppa" means "Heaven-Piercing". However, the two most powerful mecha the heroes use are actually called the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Super Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, being the size of a galaxy and a hundred times bigger respectively.
- The Great Saiyaman!
- Many of the characters in One Piece have titles in the same way pirates had in real life.
- The crew of the Strawhats each have a title. Luffy is "Strawhat Luffy", Nami is "Catburgler Nami", Zoro is "Pirate-Hunter Zoro", Sanji is "Black-Leg Sanji" similar to his mentor "Red-Leg Zeff", Nico Robin is "The Devil Child Robin", Franky is "Cyborg Franky", Ussop is "The Sniper King Ussop", Brook used to be called "Humming Brook" but after the time skipped is called "The Soul King" instead. Tony Tony Chopper is humorously called "Cotton Candy Lover Chopper" on account of people thinking he is a pet instead of an actual member of the crew.
- Irresponsible Captain Tylor. Technically a case of Adjective Noun Fred, but can be read as this depending on whether you read "Captain" as a descriptive noun or a proper title.
- In general, when a franchise has multiple books, some of them will have adjectives in their titles and one won't; this one is usually given the Fan Nickname "The Adjectiveless ________". This was mostly seen in the 90s, when Uncanny X-Men ran alongside a title simply called X-Men.
- Marvel also uses "All-New, All-Different" from time to time. It originated with a roster overhaul for the X-Men, and is now a go-to phrase to hype up ReTools and relaunches.
- Marvel NOW! 'introduced' the All-New X-Men, who are actually the team's founding members in their teenage years, flung into the present. It's an ironic thing, obviously.
- The Amazing/Spectacular/Sensational Spider-Man, although Spidey himself prefers to use "Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" (which was eventually used as a book title itself). He may well have been the Trope Codifier for this, as his first appearance was in Amazing Fantasy, which was soon after canceled, and replaced on the newsstands with Amazing Spider-Man.
- X-Men has Uncanny, Astonishing, and X-Treme.
- The Invincible Iron Man
- This became the Superior Iron Man shortly after Spider-Man ended its own Superior run. While there's no direct connection between the two, Marvel explained that Iron Man's use of Superior is supposed to reflect that he's in a morally-grey Well-Intentioned Extremist phase that mirrors how the Superior Spider-Man was a Villain Protagonist.
- The Incredible Hulk. This one actually transferred to two television shows and a movie.
- Lampshaded by Peter David (who else?) in a story where the Hulk meets Rick Jones' mother-in-law. When she exclaims "Green skin! Amazing!" he replies "No, Spider-Man is amazing. I'm incredible!"
- There was also a short-lived series called Rampaging Hulk, and later the similarly-"not around for very long" Indestructible Hulk.
- The Savage/Sensational She-Hulk
- The titles are currently being used to differentiate between multiple She-Hulks: The "Sensational" She-Hulk is Banner's cousin Jennifer Walters; while the "Savage" She-Hulk is Lyra, the Hulk's daughter from an alternate future.
- The Mighty Thor
- The Immortal Iron Fist
- The Astonishing Ant-Man. This adjective serves as a reference to the fact the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, made his first appearance in the anthology comic Tales To Astonish.
- One Ant-Man, Eric O'Grady, was a complete Jerk Ass, so his series was titled The Irredeemable Ant-Man. "Irredeemable" is still used to differentiate him from Pym.
- There's a D- or E-list joke hero called the Fabulous Frog-Man.
- Who eventually gained a sidekick in the Tenacious Tadpole.
- The Craptacular B-Sides, a lesser-known Marvel team.
- The Fantastic Four (itself a Notable Numeral) has the Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Thing.
- This one is almost exclusively used by the Editor/Narrator, or by Ben himself in a self-deprecating way. It may be worth pointing out that "Ever-Lovin'" is a euphemism/bowdlerization of another, vaguely similar sounding phrase that begins "mother".
- The Mighty Avengers. (There have been other "_____ Avengers" teams, but none with titles quite overblown enough for the trope.)
- Ghost Rider villain the Orb insists on being known as the All-New Orb.
- Averted with Doctor Strange, who uses Superhero Sobriquets instead, but his enemies often fit this trope (the Dread Dormammu, the Unrelenting Umar).
- Marvel even made fun of themselves for this trope back in the '60s with Not Brand Echh. For example, their muscular green guy in ripped pants was the Inedible Bulk. You whippersnappers might have seen him in Nextwave.
- The Awesome Slapstick.
- Any character's counterpart from the Ultimate Marvel universe is invariably referred to as "the Ultimate [X]"; though the books themselves have technically dropped this kind of title system for a while in favor of Ultimate Comics: [X].
- Marvel's also been known to play with the system, giving one hero another's descriptor for crossover projects:
- Spider-Man has been the Fantastic Spider-Man when working with the Fantastic Four, and a book called the Avenging Spider-Man features him teaming up with various Avengers.
- When Hercules took over Hulk's book, it was retitled from The Incredible Hulk to The Incredible Herc.
- For a team made up of both Avengers and X-Men members, they titled it Uncanny Avengers ("Uncanny" being associated with the X-Men).
- The Savage Wolverine (a reference to the story's setting, the Savage Land).
- The Fearless Defenders, a short-lived Amazon Brigade team. The name comes from a Fear Itself spinoff, The Fearless; and is likely doomed to be shorthand for "not that Defenders team, the all-girl one".
- This was spoofed in the humorous Marvel Now What?! one-shot, where a supercomputer powered by nuclear fission created adjectives for team names. How's "Avenging Avengers" sound?
- The Legendary Star-Lord (a Guardians of the Galaxy spinoff)
- The Savage Sub-Mariner, though this name didn't really stick.
- Thanks to All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder and Memetic Mutation, DC finally has one: "the Goddamn Batman".
- The Savage Dragon. Yes, contrary to popular belief, Officer Dragon lacks a first name and does not go by "Savage" in-story.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures spinoff The Mighty Mutanimals.
- As a superhero parody, normalman has been called the Unconvinceable normalman and the Excruciatingly Average normalman.
- Back in 2006, DC busted out The All-New Atom! Sadly, they brought back the original Atom not long after, and the all-new one got left by the roadside.
- The Incredible Popeman. Not as serious as the other examples, obviously.
- The Terrific Whatzit, DC's first Funny Animal superhero (named "Whatzit" since he was a turtle who in his superhero identity didn't wear his shell, making it harder to tell what species he was), a turtle with the powers/costume of the Golden Age Flash (and Johnny Quick's flying/strength abilities).
- DC's New 52 reboot includes The Savage Hawkman.
- Parodied in Skullkickers, which had "Uncanny Skullkickers #1", "Savage Skullkickers #1", and "Mighty Skullkickers #1", and so forth, as individual entries in an ongoing story. Yes, instead of one title and sequential numbers.
- Project Superpowers' version of the Golden Age, public domain Daredevil had a comic called "The Death-Defying 'Devil".
- Parodied in Static, where the local Girl Posse all had My Nayme Is names (Bryttyni, Tyffyni, and Krystyn) and were therefore dubbed "The Insufferable Y-Wymyn".
Live Action Television
- The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Since other Power Rangers teams have shown up, it's become their proper title.
- The Big Bad Beetleborgs. (For the record, they're not that kind of Big Bad.)
- Discussed in the episode of The Big Bang Theory "The Hofstadter Isotope" since Penny knows that her nephew wants a Spider-Man comic book for his birthday but is unfamiliar with the adjectival system.
- An S Club 7 song refers to the band as "The One and Only Wonderful S Club"
- The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
- The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Their earliest compilation appearances credited them as just The Bosstones (which is still something fans call them for short), but it turned out there had already been a group called The Bosstones in the 50's.
- James Brown's back-up band was once called "The Famous Flames".
- The Fabulous Thunderbirds
- When Hulk Hogan became WWF World Champion in 1984, he was called "The Incredible Hulk Hogan" - until Marvel Comics sued them. Later, in 1991, he was called "The Immortal Hulk Hogan.
- His heel persona was "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan, but it never really "took"; this may have been at least partly because a substantial portion of his fanbase was too young to really understand the concept of a Face-Heel Turn and continued to assume Hogan was "the good guy" regardless of what he was actually doing.
- The Hurricane had a couple of sidekicks who had this: Molly Holly (Mighty Molly) and Stacy Keibler (Super Stacy).
- The Unsinkable Molly Brown
- Several college sports teams, like the Fighting Illini and the Fighting Irish.
- And on The Simpsons, the Fighting Hellfish!
- And on The Colbert Report, whenever Colbert does his "Better Know A (Congressional) District" segment the district is called "The Fighting Xth".
- In the League of Intergalactic Cosmic Champions is The Amazing Quantum Man.
- The Fabulous Hudson Hornet, from NASCAR in the '50s but more would probably know it from being referenced in Cars.
- The Pervasive Simon-man and Unbreakable Indie Girl is a story about a duo of crimefighters who apparently have read their Marvel comics.
- The Mighty Ducks hockey team, named after the movie; though they're just "The Ducks" since Disney sold them.