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Maybe because a lot of modern comics and movies have desensitized the idea, but I honestly think it makes no sense for characters to keep their close friends and families out of the loop.
It's like how OMD resulted in Aunt May no longer knowing Peter's identity, after years of her knowing and actually being supportive of Peter. It's a straight up Artifact.
Aunt May was an annoying plot inconvenience for YEARS until JMS let her discover Peter's secret. She was a much better character after that, and she finally had a relationship with Peter that wasn't one big lie. And then OMD got rid of all that.
I agree with most of what's been said here. The MCU hasn't had secret identities, really, so it's nice to see Spider-Man keep his ID under wraps. However, I did really admire how, from the very beginning, the MCU was like, "Nah, we're not gonna make you sit through this stupid secret identity stuff," and so Tony Stark's very first attempt at hiding his secret identity results in him messing it up and just screwing it and admitting he's Iron Man.
I do think that Thor could work with a secret identity, though. I had an idea for how the character could be reworked if they wanted to retell the original origin story. You could have Don Blake live his normal life, only to discover one day that all of it is a lie, all his memories are fake, and he's really the god of thunder. So Don still has memories of a life that never was, memories that make him Don Blake, but he knows that he can change at any time into Thor, this entirely different person that he was before, this person he was for millennia. Thor could be in Don's head, talking to him, sort of like a Yu-Gi-Oh deal, and only gets to act when Don taps the cane to transform. And the catch is that Don Blake doesn't really like Thor all that much, he thinks Thor's kind of an arrogant meathead, which is the same reason Odin banished him in the first place. And then Don/Thor has to reconcile these two aspects of himself, as each personality learns from the other, until the two of them essentially just merge into the same complete personality, which is what Odin intended all along.
edited 15th Sep '17 3:37:50 PM by RedM
One other thing I will say is I know Bendis gets a Love It or Hate It rap on the internet, but one thing I will give him in his runs with both Peter and Miles is how he utilized the Secret Identity so well. Eventually the supporting casts in both titles started naturally figuring out on their own because common sense would dictate that this person you've known most or all of your life suddenly starts to become super flaky, it starts to send red flags.
Then there's also Kingdom Come. Set at a time when Superman no longer has any need for the Clark Kent masquerade, he embraces it anyway. The idea, also explored by Thor, is that a superpowerful alien might need this to keep himself grounded, to avoid losing the perspective of the regular people. Superman is not a regular guy, but if he keeps working and interacting with regular guys (such as those at the Daily Planet), he can still know how do they think and feel. If he encloses himself in a fortress of solitude, or in a space satellite with just other cosmic gods, he is not.
And other superheroes with less fancy powers may also enjoy that, by taking out the mask, they can go around the street and nobody will annoy them (real-world celebrities know this well). Not all superpowers are also rich socialites like Wayne or Stark, so even if loved ones were out of the equation, for a guy like Peter Parker revealing himself can have all the disadvantages of being a celebrity with little of the advantages.
Seriously, the Aunt May thing is absolutely ridiculous and the fact that it's so bizarrely never even brought up just gets more and more insane, now that he revealed it to freaking Jameson. And it doesn't allow for any new or desired story possibilities either, in fact it led to things like "Peter's greatest sin".
Having read a lot of Silver Age Superman lately, Lois' plans after figuring out his secret identity appear to be bit inconsistent. In most comics I've read dealing with it, she is firm on not revealing to the public and in fact, her main motivation to find out is to prove to Superman she is trustworthy and convince him to marry her. One story had Superman and Jimmy give her a fake ID and test if she can keep herself from revealing it, which she tries but through a bunch of comedic hijinks she repeatedly does so by accident.
I've read plenty of Silver Age stories, too, where Lois's revealing Superman's secret, should she learn it, is practically taken as inevitable by everyone, including Lois herself. There's also the notion that doing so would end Superman's career (for some reason).
The radio show had Clark choose to trust Perry and Lois with the fact that Kryptonite exists and what it does to Superman in the hopes that they could help him get rid of the only piece known to exist, only to have them decide (after they had both promised to keep the information secret) to publish the info in the Daily Planet. Such an occurrence wouldn't exactly have made him feel he could trust them with any other secret personal information.
One story I've read, can't remember what it was called or what issue of what it was, had Superman suffer amnesia and adopt entirely new identity until he figured out what his old one was, so he decided to be a jolly English man. The story ended with him regaining his memories and I can't remember if it was on purpose or accident, but Lois finding out who he was in his new ID. She then said she now has to decide if it's more important to get a story or her loyalties to him as a friend-and he tells her that it doesn't matter, since he can just easily create a new one. Which I'm pretty sure invalidates every single story from then on dealing with it.
My thoughts on SID'S: Fuck 'em. I get why SID's exist. They're a classic staple of the genre, but on top of that, some heroes may get concerned that their worst enemies would go after everyone they cared about if they knew who they really were. Not to mention some just don't want the pressure of everyone knowing you're a Superhero all the time. So I get why they exist.
That said. Having a SID and keeping it secret from just about everyone just gets tiring after a while. If most of your supporting cast doesn't know Joe Schmoe is Hero Man, then there's only so much they can do and only so far that they can be a part of the hero's life. It's limiting and becomes old hat after only so long. At the very least, their friends and familiy should be in on it. Clark should have told Jimmy who he was ages ago and Peter should have told May he was Spiderman rather than her stumbling on it by chance. Not only does it make for better stories, but it just makes more sense than keeping everyone in the dark.
That said, there also isn't as much of a need of it as some may think. Cops put themselves on the line all the time and many even have families, but you don't see them putting on masks and quoting Uncle Ben day and night. When you're a cop or a crime fighter or in any sort of job that involves putting yourself on the line for the sake of others, there can be a risk that your family might be hurt or otherwise involved in some way, but it's just something most people accept. And if you're that concerned that your family might get hurt, then you shouldn't even bother being a cop or doing hero work in the first place.
Besides, heroing might as well be a fulltime job. Hell, for some heroes like the Avengers or the Lanterns, it is. And if it's gonna be a job, you might as well act like it is.
edited 24th Jun '18 12:36:49 PM by kkhohoho
Ultimately it comes down to the fact that having a secret id depends on the character. It's be silly to just mandate that all superheroes have to have one, or all super-heroes should not.
In Superman's case, it's been pointed out that the argument of "keeping his friends safe" doesn't hold water, as they get mixed up regularly with super villians just by dint of knowing him at all. His need to decompress and not be Superman sometimes is valid, but there's really no reason why he couldn't have a few of his friends be confidantes. Jerry Siegel apparently thought so, too, because as early as 1943 he wrote a story (that was never published) that would have introduced Kryptonite (called here the "K-Metal from Krypton") and would have had Lois learn his secret ID, and then go on to be his confidante, much as Margo Lane was to The Shadow.
Bendis wrote about the secret identity during all his run in Ultimate Spider-Man, and with a notable confidant of it (Mary Jane for Peter, Ganke for Miles). He pointed the many disadvantages of this.
Which kind of raises the question of what happens if you are hurt and no one knows you are a superhero. It'll make for a good exercise on bullshitting.
Funny thing is something like that have been brought up in a lot of Spider-Man movies.
Like in the first Raimi movie during the Thanksgiving scene when Aunt May ask Peter where he gain those scratches which he lied and say it was a moterbike accident or something like that.
Amazing Spider-Man did something like that as well involving Peterís late night vigilantism which May gets worried about when seeing him obviously bruised that didnít gone away.
And lets not forget the ending to Civil War where Peter makes an excuse for his injuries being from a guy name Steve and his big friend . . . probably the most believable lie as the truth is way too far fetch if you think about it.
There was a scene from Kurt Busiek's Untold Tales of Spider-Man where the school nurse at Peter's high school says (to herself, if I remember correctly) that if she didn't know Peter lived with an elderly aunt, she'd think he was the victim of abuse, with all the bruises he frequently came in with.
I actually think that territory was covered a bit by Stan Lee himself, who showed on a number of occasions that Spidey had something of a quick-healing factor. It's possible a lot of his injuries would mostly clear up before anyone else could notice them.
There's a very early (pre-Alfred and pre-Robin) Batman story where Batman is shot, and later the doctor does ask Bruce how he managed to shoot himself without getting any powder burns, to which Bruce responds "That's a funny story, Doc. Maybe I'll tell it to you some day." The subtext I got from this was "How about I throw money at you until you shut the hell up?" Prior to Frank Miller's rewriting things so that Alfred had been with the Wayne family since Bruce's childhood, the canonical story was that Alfred learned Bruce and Dick were Batman and Robin when Dick had to make a judgement call and brought a severely injured Bruce to him for help.
edited 25th Jun '18 12:36:36 PM by Robbery
Another thing to consider is, if most person DO happen to discover a secret ID (or some other secret), most of them don't really have the immediate impulse to go running down the street yelling "HEY EVERYBODY!" (Unless that person happens to be a complete moron, or D.W. Read, of course).
Edited by Starbug on Aug 5th 2018 at 1:33:59 PM
Funny thing is this reminds me of a some obscure direct to dvd animated movie I watched as a kid involving this dad who all of sudden gained super powers and his son (who is very much into comics and superheroes) had to guide him to become their cityís protector. There was this amusing running gag where the father, through each training, accidently reveal he is a super hero to the people he know; but they all ended up deciding to keep his super alter ego a secret because they like him and its kind of an unspoken rule that super heroes must have secret identity. This gag ended leading up to literally all of the people in the city know the dad is a super hero but all of them are keeping it a secret.
. : . Holy shit, that joke from that kids movie I watch was actually pretty clever now that I think about.
Shortly before the New 52 reboot, Superman writers did a couple of stories that strongly indicated that Clark Kent having super-powers was kind of an open secret in Smallville. Regionally, the "Superboy of Smallville" became a local legend, but the people of Smallville, it was hinted, mostly knew that it was Clark. Elliot S. Maggin put forth similar ideas in his Last Son of Krypton novel. This was not to say that everybody knew, just a lot of folks.
Already know about that. In fact that was actually my favorite plot element from New 52 Superman that I like to incorporate in my revised universe. Not only does it fills some of the plot holes involving the characterís origin but also give a creative way of doing the Superboy stories.
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