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Celebrity Superhero

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This trope is when the hero is famous. By the nature of going and saving the city, of course they would be known by everybody and be in the news all the time, but this hero takes it a step further. They will give interviews, sign autographs, maybe even get paid to sponsor products. Most of the time in these cases the hero doesn't have a secret identity, and just presents himself as the hero all the time.

Oftentimes this type of hero is given the same feet of clay that actual celebrities tend to be; for instance, caring more about their image than about actually saving people. However, don't rule out the possibility of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.

See also Corporate-Sponsored Superhero, in which superhero life is what makes him/her famous. For cases on the other side of the law, see Villain with Good Publicity.

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Sister trope of Celebrity Masquerade, in which being the big star is the secret identity for a superhero.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • DC Comics:
    • Wonder Woman has been known as an ambassador of Themyscira on the United Nations as the Princess Diana when she's not fighting.
    • Booster Gold came to the past with the intention of becoming this, and can be seen occasionally wearing logos from his latest sponsors. He was once part of a superhero team called the Conglomerate, which was entirely made of these.
    • The second Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, was known as a famous scientist and businessman who managed his own enterprise, Kord Industries.
    • Watchmen:
      • Adrian Veidt and Dr. Manhattan became famous first for doing work for the government, and then for developing alternative energy energy sources. Other heroes just retired, went insane, or died.
      • The first Silk Spectre was a model who started fighting crime for the publicity, even having her first few fights staged by her manager. This heavily contributed to the jaded bitterness of the second Silk Spectre, her daughter.
  • Marvel Comics
    • Wonder Man. As Simon Williams, he's an actor. Wonder Man is famous for being a movie star who does his own stunts. Being an invulnerable hero basically made of Hard Light, he doesn't need a stunt double. Lately writers have been playing up his vanity, with him once stopping pursuit of an enraged Hercules to sign autographs for a smitten fan. His appearance in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 has him introduce himself as though posing for a photo.
    • The Fantastic Four are sometimes portrayed this way, being some of the earliest superheroes with publicly-known identities. The 2000s films crack a few jokes about them signing deals with big corporations.
    • Dazzler uses her powers to become a successful disco singer. Or punk. Or whatever was popular at the time of writing.
    • Strong Guy from X-Factor is a famous comedian.
    • Doctor Strange has kind of a reputation. In early appearances he'd get called in by ghost-breaker TV shows who wanted to disprove his power (he usually ignored them). The fact that he used to be a respected doctor might contribute.
    • In Ultimate line, The Ultimates: They've even got a toy deal coming up, and Iron Man gets into a sex tape scandal. Their obsession with PR sometimes made them seem a lot less heroic than their mainstream counterparts.
    • The second X-Force and later X-Statix parodied this with a celebrity superhero team who were often far more interested in the material and sexual perks of stardom than actually being heroic.
    • The Order (2007) were half-way between this and Celebrity Masquerade, being a group of existing celebrities who were given artificial superpowers as part of the short-lived Avengers Initiative project after the Marvel Universe's Civil War. Despite their publicity-oriented origin, they ended up as a well-intentioned and quite competent superhero team, until Ezekiel Stane picked them as C-List Fodder to be curb-stomped as his first major act of supervillainy, leading to the death of one member and the others being too mentally affected to continue.
    • In the 2017 Runaways series, Karolina Dean has reluctantly become a public figure, having inherited a position on the board of her celebrity parents' charitable organization.
    • An issue of What If? purports to show what would happen if Spider-Man had stopped the burglar who later killed Uncle Ben, but for selfish reasons. It boosts his celebrity and he becomes a movie star who happens to have superpowers. (The long hair and revolving-door bed seems to suggest they had Warren Beatty in mind.) He eventually walks away from celebrity resemblance when Daredevil dies protecting him and he has a Heel Realization.
  • Ex Machina: The Great Machine is pretty much Charles Foster Kane (and therefore a few degrees separate from William Randolph Hearst) with superpowers.
  • The Authority. They often appear on TV in between being a super edgy pro-active strike force.
  • With Youngblood, Rob Liefeld claims he wanted to explore the concept that superheroes would be treated the same way as star athletes or actors. Of course, while Youngblood do endorsements and TV appearances, they also do black ops for the government (how many people in the Phoenix Program could you really call celebrities?).
  • The Boys: Official superheroes are funded by Vought Corporation, who keeps them up to their eyeballs in drugs, booze and prostitutes to keep them from using their powers on innocents (it rarely works) and hushing up the (many, many) scandals the Smug Supers they produce get up to. As a result, supers are adored like rock stars by the unwitting masses, which allows Vought to make a fortune on merchandise and advertising.
  • A subversion with Evan Dorkin's comic Kid Blastoff; the eponymous character is marketed in-story as a fresh new superhero with a fan club, but he's completely incompetent as a superhero, and only one kid shows up to his debut party (and is only there for free food).

    Fan Works 
  • The Secret Return of Alex Mack: Alex doesn't have any particular interest in the limelight, but she lets a trusted friend collect and use the intellectual property for "Terawatt" in order to make it harder for others to misuse it. So there is official Terawatt clothing, and merchandise, and a Twitter account, and even Terawatt Barbie. She also takes an opportunity to appear at Comic-Con (in costume) and judge the Terawatt impersonators.
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    Films — Animation 
  • The title character of Disney's Hercules is the Ancient Greek equivalent of this: a famous, rich and incredibly popular monster slayer with superhuman strength. According to the musical number "Zero to Hero", he's "person of the week in every Greek opinion poll", "they slapped his face on every vase", and "from appearance fees and royalties [he] had cash to burn".
  • Superheroes in The Incredibles were practically celebrities during the prologue, a point Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, and Frozone all discuss in interview clips at the start of the movie. Mr. Incredible in particular is one of the most popular supers. Unfortunately, this celebrity also made supers juicy targets for lawsuits after Mr. Incredible gets sued for stopping a suicide attempt, which sends their popularity crashing to the ground and gets them banned by a Super Registration Act. The plot of Incredibles 2 centers around an attempt to get the act overturned and restore superheroes' celebrity status.
  • Metro Man of Megamind, a Superman Substitute, is a beloved celebrity, who signs autographs and kisses babies when he's not saving people. Although the fame gets too much for him, and the plot is kicked off by him pretending to die.
  • In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Spider-Man/Peter A. Parker is a celebrity beloved by all, and even has licensed merchandise.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • In Aquaman, Arthur is shown to be this after the events of Justice League. He's approached by a bunch of tough guys in the bar, who ask if he's the fish guy they've heard so much about and look like they're about to start a fight... then ask if they can have a selfie with him.
    • In SHAZAM!, Billy is embraced by the citizens of Philadelphia as the local hero, and becomes a viral sensation due to Freddy's YouTube videos. The film also shows the Justice League are now beloved celebrities, with all of them, even Batman, having merchandise. (Complete with DC Comics branding!)
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: The Avengers have a bit of this trope. Tony Stark is the most famous, since he was already a tech billionaire before he became a superhero, but the others have their moments. A young boy recognizes Steve Rogers when he visits the Smithsonian's Captain America exhibit in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and two young women ask Thor to pose for a selfie with them in Thor: Ragnarok. Hulk also is asked for selfies in Avengers: Endgame. The phase 4 MCU shows seem to confirm that this is totally true after the events in Endgame with especially Scott Lang/Ant-Man becoming one: Hawkeye introduces the audience to a commercial in-universe musical adaptation of the events of the franchise (with Scott being included in events he wasn't involved) and Ms. Marvel having an AvengersCon, celebrating the heroes as well as revealing Scott has his own podcast now.
  • Mystery Men: Parodied with Captain Amazing, a famous Corporate-Sponsored Superhero whose costume has more advertisements on it than a NASCAR racer. Given that he gets his Arch-Enemy set free to bolster his image, he comes across as a Nominal Hero Glory Hound who's in it entirely for fame and fortune.

    Literature 
  • Velveteen vs.: The Super Patriots, Inc. specifically sets up their heroes as this, controlling their life down to every last detail to make them more marketable to a general audience. Non-sponsored heroes are subject to this as well — for example, the titular character has to deal with the paparazzi while out on her first date with fellow hero Tag.
  • Wild Cards:
    • A ton of Aces: Peregrine has a talk show similar to Oprah's, Fatman runs an eminently famous restaurant, Golden Boy is a washed up actor, etc. This is in contrast to jokers, who come from lower walks of life and tend to have horrible disfigurements to go with their powers (if they even have powers).
    • Some jokers still manage to be this, by joining the scuzzier variety of rock band: just look at Joker Plague and the Jokertown Boyz.
    • In a neat twist, aces in other countries tend to be celebrity-equivalents. In India, they're always members of higher castes, in Europe they're nobility, and in some places they're believed to be ancient gods reborn.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Arrowverse treats a lot of it's heroes that way:
    • Arrow zig-zags and downplays it with Oliver Queen and his teammembers: In the first three seasons his acts as an outright murderous Vigilante is seen as outright criminal of police and media, with the general public of Starling City being sceptical to say the least. However, when Oliver gives his superhero career a fresh start as Green Arrow he's still devisive, but is generally seen more positve and gets an action figure to say the least.
    • However, The Flash plays it totally straight with The Flash being celebrated as the hero of Central City from the beginning, complete with coffee drinks being named after him and having action figures. Furthermore, the same can be said about every superhero that joins Team Flash (Vibe, Killer Frost, Kid Flash, Elongated Man). However, all the heroes still have Secret Identities, so the celebrity status only appeals to their superhero personas, while their civilian personas are pretty normal.
    • Supergirl plays it similar: Supergirl also is seen as the local heroine of National City while her Secret Identity Kara Danvers lives pretty normal. It helps that her cousin Superman also is a very big celebrity superhero in this universe.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue has the Lightspeed organization, a government-backed organization, thus making it the first time the Power Rangers have their identities known to the public from the beginning.
    • Power Rangers S.P.D.: Their identity is known because being a Ranger is a full-time job in the era the setting takes place, and their identities are also well-known among the citizens.
    • Power Rangers RPM also has the Rangers' identity be known to the public, but for different reasons, as they're usually fighting on a domed city holding the last members of humanity.
  • The Boys: As in the comics, all heroes are this, by nature of being sponsored by Vought Corporation. Unlike the comics, they do actually stop crimes, but only those selected by Vought to look good.

    Video Games 
  • Mortal Kombat has Johnny Cage, a Hollywood actor from action movies who entered the tournament of the first game as an excuse to get a plot for his next movie.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Captain Qwark is a Fake Ultimate Hero who is narcissistically more concerned with getting as much good publicity and endorsement deals than doing what is best for the common good, even being willing to ally with villains (such as Chairman Drek) in order do some Engineered Heroics. The narrator for a vid comic in Up Your Arsenal even calls him a "A High-profile Celebrity Superhero". In the later games of the series, Ratchet and Clank themselves have become famous across the universe for their adventures.
  • Amara of Borderlands 3 is a crimefighter on her home planet known as the "Tiger of Partali" whose actions in fighting off baddies have earned her fame and fortune to the point that she has an agent and is the spokesperson for a line of hair product.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: The character Pyrrha Nikos was on a box of cereal. In-universe, hunters and huntresses are treated as celebrities and superheroes when they stop the creatures of Grimm.

    Webcomics 
  • Airstrike of Wake of the Clash frequently boasts about her own popularity(to comedic effect). Fans sporting merch with her face or colors are often seen in the crowds, and she has been seen on multiple occasions hamming it up to news cameras or taking selfies with bystanders.
  • Arianna's purpose within ARCHON in Grrl Power is to create this kind of image for superheroes to prevent people fearing supers and making pariahs out of them. ARC-SWAT purposely has a large focus on public visibility when not out fighting and saving lives. Sydney even posts on (presumably) Instagram or some similar service.

    Web Videos 
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Captain Hammer is a well-known superhero who is regularly on TV. All the fame goes to his head, and he is incredibly narcissistic and transparently only into heroing because of the attention, not because he actually cares about helping people.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10: Ben becomes this after being exposed in Ultimate Alien, often signing autographs and having to run away from his legion of fangirls.
  • SheZow: SheZow has a convention dedicated to her as well as a fan club. Guy is pretty nervous about showing up and answering fan questions when he first steps into the heroine's shoes.

 
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Video Example(s):

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Iron Man 2 Intro

Tony Stark is a hero, and he wants the whole world to know it.

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