Peter Quill: Star-Lord.
Rhomann: Oh, sorry, "Lord." [to his partner] I picked this guy up a while back for petty theft. He's got a code name!
Quill: Come on, man, it's an outlaw name.
Rhomann: Relax, pal, it's cool to have a code name. It's not that weird.
In general, the MCU goes out of its way to subvert, lampshade, and defy the concept of a Secret Identity. None of the Avengers have one — not even Iron Man, who had one for decades in the comics. Tony himself mocks how pointless it is and defies the trope by outing himself in the last scene of his first film before the end credits. That isn't to say that the heroes don't have their comic codenames, though they are usually given to the characters by another source, either as propaganda, used as a military call sign, or are dubbed as such by the media. Generally, heroes and villains will usually refer to each other by their real names while members of the general public are more likely to make use of the Codenames:
- Iron Man:
- Iron Man himself doesn't get called that name until the end of his first film and it's only used once or twice in the following films where he appears ("I am Iron Man" gets an echo in Iron Man 3 and Nick Fury refers to him as Iron Man once), but the name is also used in specific reference to the suit (i.e. "the Iron Man weapon" or "Tony Stark's Iron Man armor"). It does get namedropped in Luke Cage in a rap by Method Man ("And there ain't no Iron Man that can come and save us all?").
- The words "War Machine" originate in Iron Man 2 as an offhanded insult from Tony to James Rhodes. Averted in Iron Man 3, where "War Machine" is his official codename and Tony is incredulous that Rhodey actually adopted it just from that remark. Or rather, his official codename in 3 is "Iron Patriot", which Rhodey claims "tested better with focus groups"; but a number of people state they liked "War Machine" better. By Avengers: Age of Ultron, he's just "War Machine" again and uses the name in a Badass Boast.
- As for the villains, Obadiah Stane is never called "Iron Monger", although he briefly says the word in reference to Stark Industries' role as a weapon manufacturer. Meanwhile, there's Ivan Vanko: a Composite Character of two villains named "Crimson Dynamo" and "Whiplash". He gets called neither in the second film, though the marketing referred to him as Whiplash. In Iron Man 3, Eric Savin and Jack Taggert go by their real names, and are never once referred to as "Coldblood" or "Firepower" (and the Extremis soldiers all have heat powers, so "Coldblood" wouldn't even make sense anyway). The Mandarin is an aversion, being referred to as such, though the character Ben Kingsley played is ultimately revealed as a Decoy Leader. The real villain, Aldrich Killian, only refers to himself as the Mandarin once. This gets even stranger in the short All Hail the King, where it's revealed that Killian wasn't the REAL Mandarin either, and had stolen the name. The REAL one, though never shown, is naturally miffed at other people stealing his shtick.
- In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony uses a special massive set of armor designed to subdue the Hulk. It's popularly known and marketed as the "Hulkbuster", but the name only shows up in the movie on Tony's HUD - in dialogue, the actual codename for the armor seems to be "Veronica". It gets its "real" codename back in Spider-Man: Homecoming, being referred to as such by Happy during an inventory run-down.
- The Incredible Hulk:
- Averted by the Hulk, who is called "Hulk" four times in his debut film. The first time comes after the Culver University fight, where some college students refer to him as a "big hulk". Later, the military guys chasing the transformed Blonsky through New York mistakenly report that "the Hulk is in the street." Blonsky explicitly uses that name after the Hulk shows up for the final battle and the Hulk himself uses his patented "HULK SMASH!" at the end of the fight. In The Avengers, Bruce Banner notably takes pains not to call his alter-ego "the Hulk", preferring to call him "the other guy" instead. The one time he does say Hulk, he immediately corrects himself. But no-one else has the same qualms. In Thor: Ragnarok, the Grandmaster and the citizens of Sakaar exclusively refer to the creature as the Hulk, as they are completely unaware of his Bruce Banner alter ego. Even the Hulk himself uses the name:
- "The Abomination" a.k.a. Emil Blonsky goes by his given name and there is only an offhand reference to that title once, when Dr. Sterns tells Blonksky that augmenting him with the Hulk's blood might turn him into "an abomination". In The Consultant, the name Abomination is brought up but Agent Coulson says "[The World Security Council] really don't like when you call him that."
- Professor Hulk is not referred to as such in Avengers: Endgame.
- The Thor films:
- Inverted for the most part, since everyone's "superhero" identities are in fact their real names. Thor himself inverts it in the first movie, as the character once had a civilian identity in the comics, but the movies don't bother. So "Thor" is used all throughout the movie, while the name "Dr. Donald Blake" is the one that only gets a few token mentions.
- A very notable aversion is Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, who is only referred to as a valkyrie or as "Scrapper 142", her designation on Sakaar. Brunnhilde, her real name, only appears on some merchandise and in other ancillary material. The same goes for the Grandmaster, who is known only by that title, while his real name ("En Dwi Gast") is never mentioned.
- In the Captain America movies:
- The eponymous hero plays with the trope constantly. He only takes the name Captain America as a stage name in his first film, not as a superhero. Once he makes the transition to war hero, all of the characters call him Steve or "Captain Rogers" with a few exceptions (once by Bucky, once by Cap himself, and the other time by the Red Skull), and most of those examples are used as humor, irony, or mockery. Further, unlike in the original Golden Age comics, Cap does officially have the rank of "Captain", and since we've got various characters referring to him by "Captain", it's hard to know if they're using his stage name or military rank. By the time of The Avengers though, Captain America has become legendary and the name is in widespread use.
- Johann Schmidt gets called "The Red Skull" (by Hitler, no less) one time as an insult, much to his annoyance. For the rest of the movie, only his real name is used. However, when he's mentioned in future movies and shows, it's only done by his codename.
- Technically, this trope is true of Montgomery Falsworth, aka "Union Jack", in the first movie. However, Falsworth is not a costumed hero in this movie so there would be no reason to say the name at all.
- In Captain America: The Winter Soldier: The "Winter Soldier" codename is invoked frequently, but the heroes stop calling him this once they find out that he is Bucky Barnes, and in Captain America: Civil War it's explained that there are more HYDRA super-assassins, and Bucky refers to them as "Winter Soldiers" as well. Also HYDRA never refers to him as "The Winter Solder" which is a moniker given by his enemies. They only refer to Bucky as "The Asset" The film also introduces Sam Wilson/The Falcon, whose name is taken from the code name of the elite military program where he gained his wings; despite or because of this, Maria Hill actually does address him as "Falcon" while acting as Mission Control. Georges Batroc is revised to be a normal mercenary instead of a supervillainous one and is never called "Batroc the Leaper". Finally, Sharon Carter is referred to as "Agent 13" throughout most of the movie, with Natasha only revealing her first name during the movie's last scene; in Civil War she only goes by her given name (and may in fact have lost her "Agent" designation after S.H.I.E.L.D. fell. She's now a CIA operative, making her Officer Carter.).
- Captain America: Civil War: Brock Rumlow is never referred to as Crossbones, though a tie-in comic establishes that the codename does exist in-universe (it also wasn't used when the character was in Winter Soldier, but at that point he hadn't taken the identity of Crossbones yet). Zemo never had a codename to begin with, but is nonetheless changed from Baron Zemo since he's a Sokovian soldier rather than a Nazi Nobleman as he is in the comics.
- From multiple movies, Natasha Romanov's handle of "Black Widow" never comes up in Iron Man 2, and is only used in The Avengers twice. In the first instance, it was spoken in Russian, so anyone watching the film outside of its Russian dub actually only gets to read the name in subtitle form. Its other brief appearance is on the screen of a dossier Coulson is viewing. It's used all of once in The Winter Soldier, where an agent refers to her as Black Widow while communicating with Rumlow. The name was almost absent from Avengers: Age of Ultron with one near exception when Banner mentions "Widow?" during the Mjölnir lifting challenge, but reappeared in Civil War when Zemo mentions "the Black Widow". Spider-Man: Homecoming also has one of Peter Parker's classmates refer to her by the codename as well.
- In The Avengers, Clint Barton is called "Hawkeye" all of once by the Black Widow during the Battle of New York. It appears to be his radio callsign, with the name appearing briefly when Coulson is viewing his dossier in the film's beginning. The closest anyone comes otherwise is Dr. Erik Selvig semi-dismissively calling him "the Hawk". During his prior cameo in Thor it wasn't even alluded to, and in Avengers: Age of Ultron it's used once in an affectionately mocking way by his wife. It's absent again in Civil War, and when meeting Black Panther he explicitly introduces himself as "Clint", not "Hawkeye". In Avengers: Endgame, he is never called Ronin, in spite of having become this following his family's death.
- This trope can be applied to the MacGuffin of Captain America and The Avengers. In the movies, it's called the Tesseract, or "the cube". They never use its comic book name, the "Cosmic Cube". However, it and other related MacGuffins are collectively known as Infinity Stones, a name that is taken from the comics.
- Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: In general, the Guardians movies have the same aversion as the Thor movies in that everyone's names are their real ones, but there are a few examples:
- The team's name "the guardians of the galaxy" is a mocking nickname given to the group by Ronan the Accuser. Peter throws it back in his face when they defeat him, and by Vol. 2 they've officially adopted it as their team name.
- Parodied with "Star-Lord"; Peter Quill introduces himself as that, but people just respond with confusion. When the space cops later look at his rap sheet, they comment that apparently the only person who calls Quill "Star-Lord" is himself. Comically, he is ecstatic when, in the last act of the film, someone actually does call him Star-Lord without a trace of irony.note
- Vol. 2 has a similar parody with the leader of the Ravager mutiny, who calls himself "Taserface". Nobody can take that name seriously. And yes, this is his name in the comics, along with "Nameless One" and "Overkill".Rocket: [in hysterics] Sorry, I'm so sorry, I just keep imagining you waking up in the morning, looking in the mirror and in all seriousness to yourself saying 'You know what would be a really kick-ass name? Taserface!'. That's how I hear you in my head! What was your second choice? Scrotumhead?
- Inverted with Drax the Destroyer. In the comics, he's a transformed human named Arthur Douglas. In the movie, he's an alien and Drax is his real name (with the "Destroyer" nickname earned for his Roaring Rampage of Revenge).
- Rocket's full name in the comics is "Rocket Raccoon," but everyone calls him Rocket. It's justified by two reasons: 1) Rocket hates being called an animal, which the name clearly insinuates; and 2) he doesn't even know what a raccoon is.
- One character is formally introduced, both here and in The Stinger of Thor: The Dark World, as "Taneleer Tivan, the Collector", covering both real name and "codename" in one fell swoop.
- Like the Cosmic Cube example from Captain America and The Avengers, nobody refers to Ronan's hammer as the Universal Weapon (partly because it never comes up; the bigger threat is Ronan himself).
- In the second film, Ego the Living Planet is simply referred to by his name and never with the title. Similarly, Yondu calls his old Ravager captain by "Stakar" and not "Starhawk".
- Avengers: Age of Ultron:
- Averted with Ultron and The Vision, who have no other names. Vision was originally referred to as a metaphorical vision of various characters', but later Tony, and eventually Steve and Thor, use it by the end of the movie, with subsequent media confirming that it's been adopted as his official name.
- Wanda and Pietro Maximoff are never referred to as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, the closest is when Tony refers to Wanda as "that little witch". This one is caught up in some legal ramifications - since the Maximoffs are also technically X-Men characters, a deal was made with Fox that they could appear, but could not use their codenames.
- All this was parodied by Honest Trailers:...The Avengers roster bloats even further with Vision, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, who for some reason, are never called Vision, Scarlet Witch or Quicksilver.
- Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp:
- The "Ant-Man" moniker is used by S.H.I.E.L.D. in its anti-Soviet propaganda films to refer to Hank Pym. The latter then passes the title (along with the corresponding powered suit) to Scott Lang. Hank also explicitly refers to his wife Janet van Dyne as "The Wasp", and Hope inherits the identity in the sequel, but in dialogue, she's only ever called by her name.
- "Yellowjacket" is the name for the new powered suit Darren Cross develops rather than a specific person's nickname, although he is the only person to use this technology in the movie.
- Scott actually refers to Sam Wilson as "The Falcon" when they meet in the first Ant-Man movie, suggesting it's a publicly known moniker at this point.
- In Civil War, Scott uses his powers to grow to Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever size for the first time, but none of the related codenames like "Giant-Man" or "Goliath" are mentioned. They instead appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Bill Foster (one of the comics Goliaths) says that he was a test subject for those powers under the codename "Project Goliath", and a news report uses "Giant-Man" when reporting on Lang's public reappearance.
- In Ant-Man and the Wasp, Luis refers to the woman with Intangibility as "this creepy, creepy ghost", and the "Ghost" nickname sticks.
- Ghost's backstory involves a scientist named Elihas Starr. In the comics, he's known as "Egghead", but the name isn't used in the MCU.
- Doctor Strange (2016) is another case where nobody has codenames to begin with. Yes, even our hero himself, who is legally Stephen Strange, MD. Like the Zemo example above, Baron Mordo is not actually a Baron here and is just called Karl Mordo.
- Infinity War later riffs on this:Peter: Im Peter, by the way.
Dr. Strange: Doctor Strange.
Peter: Oh! Were using our made up names. Then, I am Spider-Man.
- Infinity War later riffs on this:
Adrian Toomes: And you're out there, wearing that goofy thing lighting up cars, calling yourself "THE SHOCKER! I'M THE SHOCKER! I SHOCK PEOPLE!" What is this, pro wrestling?
- Taking a similar approach to that of The Dark Knight Trilogy, the film shows that the news and general public actually refer to Spider-Man as "the spider-man", which fits into the idea that he's a new, mysterious hero who works on the streets rather than a well-known figure tackling world scale threats like the Avengers. In fact, in Spidey/Peter's debut appearance in Captain America: Civil War, he and Tony openly discuss his codename:Tony: So you're the Spider-ling? The Crime-Fighting Spider? Spider-Boy?
Tony: Not in that onesie.
- The closest we get to Adrian Toomes being called "The Vulture" in Spider-Man: Homecoming is Peter and Tony calling him "flying vulture guy".
- Phineas Mason is never referred to as "The Tinkerer" in Homecoming, but he reportedly calls himself that, which his criminal buddies find ridiculous.
- Jackson Brice actually does call himself the Shocker, but Adrian Toomes is quick to point out how stupid that sounds.
- After killing Brice by accident, Toomes hands Herman Schultz the weapon and says "Here, now you're the Shocker." Schultz himself never uses the codename, though.
- While Aaron Davis is only referred to by his real name, Karen's profile of him does mention "The Prowler" as an alternate alias.
- In Spider-Man: Far From Home, the Italian news show dubs the strange new superhuman "uomo di mistero", which literally translates to "man of mystery". Ned Leeds and Betty Brant mishear it as "Mysterio" and start calling him by that name. Later, when Spider-Man meets Quentin Beck in person, he tells the man about his friends' nickname for him. Beck takes a shine to it and adopts Mysterio as his nom de guerre.
- Averted for laughs when Peter has to fight in Europe, but doesn't want to be identified there because it could give away his Secret Identity. Ned tries to cover for him by claiming he's a European knockoff hero, and when pressed for his codename he can only come up with "Night Monkey". And unfortunately for Peter, the media catches wind of it and the name sticks.
- Taking a similar approach to that of The Dark Knight Trilogy, the film shows that the news and general public actually refer to Spider-Man as "the spider-man", which fits into the idea that he's a new, mysterious hero who works on the streets rather than a well-known figure tackling world scale threats like the Avengers. In fact, in Spidey/Peter's debut appearance in Captain America: Civil War, he and Tony openly discuss his codename:
- Black Panther (2018):
- When Black Panther a.k.a. T'Challa is introduced in Civil War, he mentions the name to explain why his costume is cat-themed, but it's otherwise unused. Even so, its existence is justified since it's not merely a codename, but a tribal and royal title passed down from generation to generation.
- As established in Age of Ultron, Klaw appears under his original surname of Ulysses Klaue (pronounced the same), instead of his supervillain name. Then again, Klaue never truly "becomes" the Klaw of the comics — while he does have an Arm Cannon, the comics version eventually became a man of living sound.
- Erik Killmonger is renamed Erik Stevens, with "Killmonger" being a military nickname. In both cases, he was born N'Jadaka and legally adopted a Western name after being exiled from Wakanda, but the film is less blatant about making him Obviously Evil. Ultimately averted, as the heroes freely call him "Killmonger" after learning of the name.
- M'Baku does not go by "Man-Ape" due to the Unfortunate Implications of a black character named and patterned after a gorilla. His tribe does retain the Animal Motif, though (just as all the other tribes have their own animal themes), and he is respectfully called "Great Gorilla" at one point as an honorific.
- While the character doesn't appear, the codename "White Wolf" is used as a Mythology Gag; it's an Affectionate Nickname by Wakandan children for Bucky Barnes in The Stinger, as he's one of the few pale-skinned men in Wakanda. T'Challa uses it more formally in Infinity War, but it's not clear if it's an official codename or if T'Challa was just being poetic.
- Apart from Thanos briefly referring to Ebony Maw as "the Maw", none of the Black Order's extravagant titles are given in Avengers: Infinity War. Thanos is also never referred to as "The Mad Titan", though he briefly references that his people called him mad for his plan for the universe.
- Captain Marvel (2019):
- Carol Danvers is never called "Captain Marvel". Fury does mispronounce Mar-Vell's name as "Marvel", though, and says that it sounds better. (Fun fact: The comics version of Mar-Vell was the first Captain Marvel, and got his superhero name from that same mispronunciation.) "Captain Marvel" does come up in conversation in Spider-Man: Far From Home and even then Fury (who was actually a disguised Talos) doesn't want anyone to invoke the name of someone he respects so much.
- While Monica Rambeau is just a kid in the film, her mother Maria has "Photon", one of Monica's comic codenames, as her Air Force callsign. Monica also has the Affectionate Nickname "Lieutenant Trouble", which is used in the comics the same way for another young fan of Carol's.
- Played with when it comes to Carol's Air Force callsign. In the comics, she was nicknamed "Cheeseburger" after she threw up on a training simulator, and she lampshades how pilots don't actually get the cool codenames you see in media. The movie goes ahead and gives her one of those cool codenames: it's "Avenger", and Fury names the Avenger Initiative after her.
- Avengers: Endgame:
- Clint Barton is never called "Ronin" at any point in the movie. It's possible that this is also an example of sticking to the One Steve Limit, as Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel already had Ronan the Accuser.
- Pepper Potts is never called "Rescue," though the reasoning for that specific codename doesn't exist in the MCU (the comics version is explicitly a pacifist who avoids combat when possible, while her MCU gear is fully weaponized); and she appears in a Big Badass Battle Sequence where there's not a lot of dialogue to spare to make the reference anyways. However, merchandise based on the character does use the name Rescue.
TV - S.H.I.E.L.D. and Inhumans Shows (ABC)
- From Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Most characters don't go by codenames, though a reference is often snuck in somewhere:
- The name of the Gravity Master supervillain Graviton is instead given to a liquid metal with the same powers (as "Gravitonium"). A couple characters involved with the metal take on other aspects from the comics Graviton, but none get his codename. Presently, it appears that Glenn Talbot is the direct counterpart to the character. While he has not yet taken the codename, the Gravitonium containers are seen splattered with Remorath blood, covering up the last three letters to read "CAUTION: GRAVITON.
- Donnie Gill didn't go by his supervillain name Blizzard in his introductory episode... but then again, he wasn't a supervillain yet. When he reappears, it's mentioned that the experiments with his powers had been codenamed "Project Blizzard".
- Lampshaded aversion: In Season One, Raina manipulates a pyrokinetic's ego by suggesting he adopt the name "Scorch," commenting on how nobody knows "Steve Rogers" but "Captain America" is a household name. Everyone who hears it is incredulous at the idea, including the pyro at first, but he warms up to it (pun not intended) and by the time S.H.I.E.L.D. shows up he's embraced it; which is then taken as a sign he's getting out of control.Coulson: Ah, crap, they gave him a name.
- Another episode in the first season concerns a device whose name is Russian and translates to "Overkill" in English; there's some snark that something must have been lost in translation but it's generally referred to as the Overkill Device in this and future episodes — in the comics it was called the Overkill Horn (since it uses sound waves).
- Averted again with the first season Big Bad, who is known as "the Clairvoyant"; although almost every character rejects the possibility of actual psychic powers, they keep calling him that because they don't have another name for him. They eventually are able to communicate with him directly, where the Clairvoyant says his subordinates coined the name and he himself finds it a bit overdramatic. Once he drops his cover he encourages everyone to use his real name. (And for the record, no, he does not have psychic powers; his "omniscience" is based on high-level S.H.I.E.L.D. security clearance.)
- Coulson's team discovers a super-soldier project codenamed "Deathlok", and they soon start referring to the project's subject himself as Deathlok completely unironically. Later in the first season, it's discovered that there is more than one subject, at which point Deathlok becomes somewhat of a generic label.
- Season One Villain Of The Week Marcus Daniels is never called "Blackout" in dialogue, though eagle-eyed viewers can make out the name on his profile. The source of his powers is called the Darkforce, however, with requisite lampshading:
Mack: Who names these? Are there focus groups for evil things?
- Darkforce and its other name from Agent Carter, "Zero Matter", get referenced in a later season, prompting another round of snark:
- Other villains that don't have their codenames used include Carl Creel (the Absorbing Man, though it is referenced in dialogue), Daniel Whitehall (Kraken), Marcus Scarlotti (Whiplash, likely because it was already taken by Vanko in Iron Man 2), and David Angar (Angar the Screamer). The same goes for one of the heroes, Bobbi Morse (Mockingbird).
- Inverted in Season Two with one of Whitehall's Dragons, Agent 33, who had suffered a Loss of Identity thanks to Brainwashing and whose name (Kara Palamas) was not known, even to her, until she started getting it back.
- The real names of Skye and her father (originally credited as "the Doctor") were deliberately withheld from the audience in order to hide their identities and the fact that they are even from the comics in the first place. Eventually their names were revealed to be Daisy and Cal Johnson respectively, known in the comics as "Quake" and "Mister Hyde" (real name Calvin Zabo). Cal's codename wound up never being used during his time on the show, but he implied that it existed (he mentioned that he changed his surname, though he didn't specify whether it was to "Zabo" or "Hyde"). Skye eventually switched to using "Daisy Johnson" full-time, while the name "Quake" didn't appear until another season and a half after the reveal, when Daisy became a vigilante and the media caught wind of her.
- Canon Foreigner Lincoln Campbell is called "Sparkplug" by Mack, but while it was occasionally mentioned as his codename in promotional material, S.H.I.E.L.D. never uses it in any official capacity and most of the promotional material ignores it.
- Averted in Season Three with Lash for similar reasons as the Clairvoyant; to preserve the mystery of his real name. After The Reveal, it's still used to differentiate his human identity from his less rational superpowered side.
- The Season Three Big Bad is known in the comics as Hive (as in Mind Hive). In the show, it took most of the season to reveal that in ancient times it was known as "Alveus" (Latin for "Hive"), but once that's known the English translation caught on quickly. Up until then, the closest thing it had to a name was "It".
- Defied with James in Season Three. As soon as he gets heat and explosion powers, he starts brainstorming fire-related codenames to use before he settles on his comics name of "Hellfire".
- Played with for Elena Rodriguez. In the comics, she's Yolanda Rodriguez, with the nickname of "Yo-Yo" but the official codename of "Slingshot". In the show, she still gets the nickname "Yo-Yo" despite the fact that it no longer links to her given name (it's a reference to how her power forces her to snap back), but "Slingshot" is never used... until a series of web videos starring her came out, bearing the title Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Slingshot. Even then, "Slingshot" still isn't used in-universe.
- Mack tends to be The Nicknamer. As a general rule, the names he comes up with are never the codenames from the comics and never get used in a superhero codename manner; they're just his names for people 'cause that's his thing.
- The results of an imperfect attempt to create Inhumans in Season Three are dubbed "Primitives". In the comics, these are the Alpha Primitives, the Inhumans' slave race. The "alpha" part gets a nod when their creator says they're just an alpha version and begs his boss to let him make improvements for a beta test.
- Averted in Season Four with Ghost Rider, who is introduced as having already started to become an urban legend under that name in LA. When S.H.I.E.L.D. learns his identity, "Ghost Rider" used to refer to the Spirit of Vengeance possessing Robbie Reyes.
- Jeffrey Mace (Season Four) doesn't use the codename "Patriot", but is referred to as a patriot a few times in dialogue. And the serum that gives him his powers is also called "Project Patriot". He's also compared to Captain America in-universe, referencing how he held that title in the comics for a while as Rogers' successor. Averted in the Framework simulation, where he is referred to as the Patriot pretty regularly, even by his enemies who hate the name.
- Averted during the "Agents of HYDRA" arc, as AIDA freely adopts the title of "Madame Hydra" while acting as the head of that organization in the Framework.
- Inverted with Flint during season 5 - in the comics, his birth name is Jaycen, and he eventually takes the codename Flint. In the show, on the other hand, Flint seems to be his real name. Which turns it into a case of Steven Ulysses Perhero, as both comic and show versions of the character have Dishing Out Dirt powers.
- In Agent Carter:
- Neither of Season One's main villains are called by their codename. A Black Widow agent has no direct reference made to her codename (or any real name for that matter; her given name is explicitly an alias) and is only identifiable by sharing a backstory with Natasha Romanoff. The codename of Doctor Faustus gets a nod when he's shown reading his namesake play. Codenames are also referenced when Peggy teams up with her war buddies in the Howling Commandos and "Dum Dum" Dugan realizes she never had a nickname like the rest of the squad. He suggests "Miss Union Jack" (see in the Captain America section above), which she declines.
- In Season Two, Whitney Frost doesn't go by her codename Madame Masque; there are some visual references made to it but as Whitney never actually wears a mask, the name wouldn't make sense if it were used. Joseph Manfredi also doesn't go by "Blackwing", though it's another case where this version isn't a supervillain and so has no need for a codename. The conspiracy of powerbrokers has been renamed from the Secret Empire to the Council of Nine or just "the Council". Finally, the season's Phlebotinum is called Zero Matter instead of Darkforce, though Wilkes calls it a "dark force" (and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had already established that it will be called Darkforce by modern times).
- Inhumans is yet another aversion where everyone lacks codenames to begin with and only use their real ones; or at least nicknames derived from the real ones. For instance, "Black Bolt" sounds like a codename but in the comics is short for "Blackagar Boltagon".
TV - The Defenders Shows (Netflix)
- Shared among multiple shows:
- The Chitauri invasion from The Avengers is simply known as "The Incident". The early script drafts for Daredevil were originally going to refer to it more directly, but it was found that the words "Alien Invasion" killed the mood the series was going for. As time goes on, the shows are more willing to directly refer to the attack and use the word "alien", especially in Jessica Jones (2015) and Luke Cage (2016).
- Another cross-show example is Claire Temple, a Composite Character with the comics character codenamed "Night Nurse". Across all the shows so far, the codename has only been mentioned once, by one of Diamondback's henchmen in Luke Cage.
- Daredevil (2015):
- Daredevil starts out as just "the man in the black mask". After the bombings of the Russian hideouts and shooting of Detective Blake, Wilson Fisk paints him as a terrorist and the media dub him "the Devil of Hell's Kitchen". It's only at the end of the season when he's proven himself a hero by stopping Fisk's escape attempt, that he becomes "Daredevil". Matt Murdock and his friends make fun of it but admit it's better than the last name. However, the "Daredevil" name is not used that often afterward, as the dramatic "Devil of Hell's Kitchen" name is still more popular. Even in The Defenders proper, the only people who call him "Daredevil" are the hero characters, and the Hand members only call him the Devil of Hell's Kitchen. Frank Castle even mocks the name at one point:Frank Castle: What the hell kind of name is "The Devil of Hell's Kitchen" anyway? I mean really?
Matt Murdock: (Beat) I didn't ask for that name.
Frank Castle: I'm sorry. I don't see you running from it.
Matt Murdock: I don't do this to hurt people.
Frank Castle: Yeah, so what is that, just a job perk?
- Eventually averted for Wilson Fisk, as it takes him several seasons for him to grow into the role and title of The Kingpin. In the first season, there were simply some Mythology Gags made. In the second, a fellow prisoner tries to intimidate Fisk by claiming he's the kingpin of the joint. Fisk, of course, arranges his death and claims the name for himself. It's only in the third season that he truly becomes the Kingpin of the comics, and he has the FBI agents under his control strictly use his codename.Benjamin "Dex" Poindexter: That's one of the rules, Ray. We only refer to him by his codename.
Ray Nadeem: What codename?
Benjamin "Dex" Poindexter: Kingpin.
- In a January 2016 interview, Deborah Ann Woll (Karen Page) commented that she more often than not has a habit of referring to Fisk and Frank Castle by their pedestrian names more often than their alias names, and posits that the non-usage of their codenames establishes these characters as complex people who gradually evolve into the persona of their codename.
- The majority of Wilson Fisk's henchmen have codenames in the comics, like Leland Owlsley (The Owl), John Healy (Tenpin and/or Oddball), Roscoe Sweeney (The Fixer), Melvin Potter (Gladiator), and Ben Donovan (Big Ben). Obviously, codenames are not used since these are just normal people and not costumed supervillains. There are a few nods to the names, but not many: Healy is arrested for killing one of Fisk's rivals with a bowling ball, Melvin has some Roman gladiator posters on his workshop wall and uses some pieces of his comics armor on occasion, Roscoe Sweeney is a fixer of boxing matches, Owlsley is shown getting a business suit that looks like his comics suit, etc.
- Season 2 has a rare inversion, assigning a codename to someone that didn't have it before. A mysterious drug lord called "the Blacksmith" was responsible for orchestrating the shootout that led to the death of Frank Castle's family, but he's hard to track down when no one knows his real identity. The character existed in the Punisher comics, and like the show was a drug dealer and Frank's former commanding officer Ray Schoonover, but didn't have a codename.
- Benjamin "Dex" Poindexter is never once called Bullseye in Season 3, with the closest they come to it being a couple of nods to the bullseye pattern—for example, the season ends with a closeup of his iris, which shows a bullseye pattern. For most of the season he doesn't have a supervillain identity yet, so he doesn't need a name—he poses as Daredevil when committing most of his crimes.
- Daredevil starts out as just "the man in the black mask". After the bombings of the Russian hideouts and shooting of Detective Blake, Wilson Fisk paints him as a terrorist and the media dub him "the Devil of Hell's Kitchen". It's only at the end of the season when he's proven himself a hero by stopping Fisk's escape attempt, that he becomes "Daredevil". Matt Murdock and his friends make fun of it but admit it's better than the last name. However, the "Daredevil" name is not used that often afterward, as the dramatic "Devil of Hell's Kitchen" name is still more popular. Even in The Defenders proper, the only people who call him "Daredevil" are the hero characters, and the Hand members only call him the Devil of Hell's Kitchen. Frank Castle even mocks the name at one point:
- Jessica Jones (2015):
- Jessica Jones never really had one in the comics to begin with. In a flashback, Trish encourages Jessica to take up superheroics, showing off a costume and suggesting she use the nickname "Jewel" (the codename in her comic backstory). Jessica shoots the idea down and says "Jewel is a stripper's name, a really slutty stripper. And if I wear that thing, you're gonna have to call me Cameltoe." Kilgrave is quite disappointed that she's "just Jessica Jones" when asking for her superhero name.
- Trish Walker (Hellcat) and Will Simpson (Nuke) don't get their codenames referenced either. Given Simpson's first name was changed for the series,note it isn't immediately apparent that he's Nuke, right down to the pills that give him super powers, until he utters his (in)famous catchphrase, "Give me a Red" while Dr. Kozlov is tending to him.
- Not even established superheroes like the Avengers have their names stated when they're mentioned, with Jessica using sarcastic nicknames like "the flag-waver" or "the big green guy", though justified given it's Jessica saying it.
- Played with for Kilgrave. In the comics he's "The Purple Man", real name Zebediah Killgrave. In the show, he's simply "Kilgrave", and characters still mock it as sounding like a blatant scary name, the kind of name a kid would come up with to sound threatening but is actually ridiculous. It turns out that "Kilgrave" is an alias. His real name is Kevin Thompson, and he really is that childish. While he's never referred to as the "Purple Man" on screen, the name is still alluded to, as most of his wardrobe and related visual effects are purple. The soundtrack to the show, however, does reference the name in the track title "Final Justice for the Purple Man."
- Gregory P. Salinger never goes by his comic book alter-ego, Foolkiller. He also doesn't go after fools, per se, but those whom he deems frauds and cheaters. He also hates super-powered individuals.
- Luke Cage (2016):
- Luke himself and Misty Knight barely have codenames in the first place. Luke does have an infrequently-used name of "Power Man" in the comics, which is shown here as one of Pop's Affectionate Nicknames for him. Of course, as in the comics, Luke Cage isn't his birth name either; he was born as Carl Lucas but had to go by an alias when a fugitive from the law. He's since adopted Luke Cage as his actual name even after being caught and serving his sentence. Lampshaded in The Defenders (2017) when Foggy is greeting Luke as he's being released from prison:Foggy Nelson: Mr. Lucas? Or Mr. Cage? Which do you prefer, I forget?
Luke Cage: Cage. And you are?
- In a clever aversion, the codenames used by criminals, such as Shades (real name Hernan Alvarez) and Diamondback (real name Willis Stryker), are repurposed as street gang nicknames.
- Played with for Cottonmouth. In the comics, it was his surname. Here, he's Cornell Stokes. "Cottonmouth" was an Embarrassing Nickname he gained from a childhood injury where he had to stick cotton balls in his mouth afterward, and he absolutely hates it.
- Mariah Dillard is almost never called "Black Mariah", as the name acts as a Berserk Button. She explains in Season Two that it was a racist childhood nickname that other kids gave her.
- In the comics, John McIver had his name legally changed to John Bushmaster. When he appears in Season Two, he stays a McIver and "Bushmaster" is now his gang nickname taken from his family's brand of rum.
- Tilda Johnson doesn't call herself "(Deadly) Nightshade" like she does in the comics, but she's seen working with the nightshade flower that gives Bushmaster heightened abilities.
- Luke himself and Misty Knight barely have codenames in the first place. Luke does have an infrequently-used name of "Power Man" in the comics, which is shown here as one of Pop's Affectionate Nicknames for him. Of course, as in the comics, Luke Cage isn't his birth name either; he was born as Carl Lucas but had to go by an alias when a fugitive from the law. He's since adopted Luke Cage as his actual name even after being caught and serving his sentence. Lampshaded in The Defenders (2017) when Foggy is greeting Luke as he's being released from prison:
- Iron Fist (2017):
- Averted for Danny Rand. The "Immortal Iron Fist" is a proper title that was bestowed upon him by K'un-L'un, and he'll boast about it every chance he gets (to the confusion of anyone who has never heard of it before).
- Played with for Colleen Wing: she didn't have her own codename in the comics, she does make a reference by calling herself "Daughter of the Dragon" when participating in underground cage matches; which is the team name for her and Misty Knight as a duo.
- Oddly done with Davos. In the comics, he goes by the name of Steel Serpent; but in the show, the Steel Serpent name and insignia are used for Madame Gao's brand of heroin and have zero connection to Davos. A hint was dropped at the end of Season One that the two might be connected eventually through Davos and Gao working together, but nothing ever came of it. Instead, all that happened was that Davos got a serpent tattoo in Season Two, and he insisted that it be done with steel needles.
- Mary Walker has a Split Personality, but in the comics her ruthless side is called "Typhoid Mary" while the show uses the less over-the-top name "Walker". She also has a third alternate, "Bloody Mary"; the show leaves this personality unnamed but references the comics by saying she left a "bloody mess".
- The Defenders (2017), in addition to nearly all of the examples and aversions from the other shows, never calls its leads the Defenders; the team remains unnamed throughout the series and there's not even a Title Drop reference.
- The Punisher (2017)
- Frank Castle's alias as "The Punisher" started out in Daredevil as a codename the NYPD used while trying to figure out who the guy was, and the media popularize it from there. But outside of the media, Frank is only addressed by his name.
- David Lieberman uses the alias "Micro" as an online handle, but otherwise is only referred to by his real name.
- Inverted with William Rawlins. He goes by the codename "Agent Orange" in Afghanistan, which he never used in the comics. "Agent Orange" in fact belonged to an entirely different character.
- Billy Russo does not use the name "Jigsaw" due to the fact that he doesn't get disfigured until the finale of season one.
TV: Other Shows
- Runaways (2017):
- Played straight, but Runaways is a special case where the codenames barely existed in the comic to begin with (and Alex never had one). The only remnant of the original codenames in either medium is Old Lace the velociraptor (a reference to Arsenic and Old Lace, with Gert being "Arsenic"), and only because, as the Team Pet, she never had a birth name. The show treats it as a nickname that stuck (after Gert compared them to famous duos, including the film) rather than anything superhero-related.
- The teens also don't have a group name in either version; they're usually referred to as "runaways" since, well, that's what they are. Oddly, the show has Alex suggest that they officially name themselves "the Runaways" late in the first season; not because they've run away from home (because they haven't), but in memory of all the actual runaways their parents have sacrificed. It gets a mixed reception from the others. (And then they do run away from home.)
Peter Parker: There's gotta be someone else you can use. What about Thor?
Nick Fury: Off-world.
Peter Parker: Doctor Strange?
Maria Hill: Unavailable.
Peter Parker: Captain Marvel.
Nick Fury: Don't you invoke her name!
—>— Spider-Man: Far From Home