The 6 Stupidest Ways Superheroes Protected Secret Identities

#3. Iron Man Reveals His Identity to Save a Dog

The Invincible Iron Man vol. 3 #55/Marvel Comics

Contrary to what the Marvel movie universe would have you believe, Tony Stark actually had a secret identity for most of his career. For decades the public at large believed that Iron Man was simply Tony's bodyguard (one who was almost never actually seen with Tony and only showed up to do his guarding job after danger struck, making him the worst bodyguard of all time). Oddly enough, the story of how Tony eventually lost his secret identity actually starts with him calling a press conference to tell everyone he was just on vacation when he was actually out Iron Manning in the arctic.

The Invincible Iron Man vol. 3 #55/Marvel Comics
Listen, you really don't have to call a press conference every time you pass out drunk in the tub.

After the press conference, all of the news crews are invited to attend an after-party that we assume just spontaneously appears wherever Tony shows up. An armed robbery and car chase also appears, and that has Tony jumping into action in front of everyone. So the entire world watches as he jumps off a balcony and into his Iron Man suit.

The Invincible Iron Man vol. 3 #55/Marvel Comics
"This party suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks."

So what was so urgent about this routine car chase that Tony was willing to sacrifice his secret identity in order to stop it, rather than just let the cops take care of it? The car was about to run over an adorable little doggy.

The Invincible Iron Man vol. 3 #55/Marvel Comics
OK, you're Iron Man. Makes sense. Now explain the metal thong, Tony.

As we see in the next panel, the cops were literally right behind the robbers and really didn't need Iron Man's help, but that dog was about to be pancaked and there was nothing the cops could do about that, so this was a job for Iron Man. And now the whole world knows they can call Tony Stark if they need to get their cat out of a tree.

The Invincible Iron Man vol. 3 #55/Marvel Comics
The dog died of cancer the next day.

#2. Superman Takes off His Pants on National TV

Action Comics #345/DC Comics

In a classic story titled "The Day Candid Camera Unmasked Clark Kent's Identity!" ... well, we just told you the entire plot of the story. Clark is changing to Superman in a phone booth, when the door opens and CBS' hidden camera show broadcasts his "oh shit" face to 40 million viewers:

Action Comics #345/DC Comics
So, Allen Funt and a bird named Samantha. Superman's rogues gallery just isn't as cool as Batman's, is it?

Oh boy, how will Superman save the situation this time? By taking off his pants. Seriously.

Action Comics #345/DC Comics
Above: the creation of the Chewbacca defense.

Clark Kent has Batman pants under his suit, you see, so clearly he CAN'T be Superman. He was just trolling! Everyone buys this ridiculous bullshit, and the day is saved ... even though Clark also took off his glasses, for no reason whatsoever, and they all could see that he has the same face as Superman. The stupidest part? Superman planned it this way all along -- he heard the camera crew coming when he was changing, so he escaped the phone booth by drilling through the earth at hyper-speed ...

Action Comics #345/DC Comics
No doubt causing several earthquakes in the process.

... and then broke into Jimmy Olsen's apartment and stole the Batman costume Jimmy keeps in his trunk, along with all his dresses. Superman also grabbed a convenient miniature TV to explain how Clark knew about the prank.

Action Comics #345/DC Comics
"Must hurry! Now I only have a fraction of a second to try and find Jimmy's porn collection!"

This was apparently easier than just closing his damn shirt.

#1. Hulk Puts on a Hulk Mask

The Incredible Hulk #6/Marvel Comics

"What would happen if Bruce Banner's body transformed into the Hulk, but not his head?" That's the question Stan Lee dared to ask in an early issue of The Incredible Hulk from 1963, because what is fiction for if not making us ponder life's hardest dilemmas?

The Incredible Hulk #6/Marvel Comics
And drawing giant dudes with comically undersized heads?

Anyway, even though it's pretty well established that Hulk hates his puny alter-ego (and people in general), he doesn't want to ruin Banner's life by letting his face be seen on top of a mass of green muscles hatepunching an entire residential district, because that would be a dick move. Luckily, Banner kept plaster casts of his own face and of Hulk's in his lab, so Hulk just grabs a Hulk mask and puts it on.

The Incredible Hulk #6/Marvel Comics
Why Banner had these masks was explained in Stan Lee's 'I'm Writing Every Marvel Comic At Once, So Whatever' Special #7.

Later, Hulk is caught off guard by soldiers and knocked out. At this point the soldiers notice he's apparently wearing a latex mask of himself and start taking it off -- what will Hulk do if his secret identity is discovered?!

The Incredible Hulk #6/Marvel Comics
Besides, you know, just punch everyone to death.

Yes, the already confused soldiers see that the face under the Hulk's face mask ... is Hulk's face. He'd already fully transformed by then, making us wonder what the point of this whole sequence even was.

The Incredible Hulk #6/Marvel Comics
"Giant green Frankenstein monster? Eh, whatever. Wait, is he wearing a mask? This is crazy!"

There was also the issue where Hulk's entire body turned back into Banner except for his wang, but that's a tale for another time.

Maxwell Yezpitelok lives in Chile, and you can follow him on Twitter. If you've got an itch for more superhero comedy, check out Diana's website, Texts From Superheroes.

Related Reading: Yes, secret identities DO get dumber than Clark Kent. We're talking The Thing in a trenchcoat dumb. People in the real world have "secret" identities too: just ask Shigeo Tokuda, a seventy-six year-old retiree who kept his 350-film porn career hidden from his entire family. Of course, if you REALLY want to know how to keep your identity secret, take a hint from the Tienanmen Square guy or Jack the Ripper. Both remain unknown to this day.

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