The 6 Stupidest Ways Superheroes Protected Secret Identities
Every respectable superhero must have a secret identity, because there's nothing more heroic than lying to everyone you know. We've pointed out how transparently stupid these disguises tend to be, and yet superheroes still go to extreme lengths to protect their secret identities with some incredibly bold lies. Oh, did we say bold? We meant stupid. Incredibly, incredibly stupid lies. Like the time ...
Batman Hires a Deaf Blind Man to Impersonate Him
In World's Finest #39, the improbably named detective author J.J. Jason decides that for kicks he wants to find out who Batman is. He comes up with a diabolical scheme that had us readers on the edge of our seats, which involved inviting Batman over for supper and then conversing with him to get clues to his identity.
"If he starts farting I'll know he's lactose intolerant!"
After spending the night studying Batman's appearance and mannerisms, Jason comes to the earth-shattering conclusion that Batman is a rich guy who's in pretty good shape so he can only be Bruce Wayne, which means Gotham is either in a huge economic slump or every other millionaire in town is an obese little troll.
J.J. Jason employing the most dangerous superpower of all -- basic logic.
Not able to just sit at home giggling to himself about how he figured out Batman's identity, Jason decides to make the now-common mistake of gloating in the face of a man who he knows spends his nights breaking people's spines. What will Batman do now? Well, the next day Jason shows up at Wayne Manor only to find Bruce Wayne and Batman together at the same time!
Either Batman didn't tell Robin his plan, or the dumb kid just forgot it. Most likely the latter.
It turns out that Bruce had figured out what Jason was up to, and brought someone in to play Batman for him. So who the hell is covering for him? Alfred? Superman? If you guessed a random deaf, blind man he hired then there's something seriously wrong with you, and also, you're right.
"Or at least, he's deaf and blind now."
Seriously, who the hell is this guy? This random Bat-Helen Keller is never mentioned before or after this incident, and we are given literally no information about him. Does he know where he is right now? Is his family looking for him? Did Batman kidnap a blind, deaf man, dress him up in a costume, give him a grisly cheek wound and then let him wander around Wayne Manor? Also, he had no idea when Jason was going to show up at the house -- that man could have been waiting around for hours, even days.
But wait! The great detective J.J. Jason won't just blindly accept a blind man is Batman -- he's going to ask him questions. But not to worry, Bruce Wayne only hires the best blind, deaf guys money can buy, and this one has a special "talking" feature built in.
Bruce Wayne is totally ready to shank this guy if he doesn't buy the "Baked Alaska" defense.
Yes, Jason is fooled into believing this guy is Batman because even though he can't make eye contact or form words, the fake Batman is able to answer questions only the real Batman would know. But how the hell is this possible kidnappee even talking? It's all due to the power of Bruce's ventriloquism skills, logic be damned.
"Ventriloquism! It explains everything! Especially that time you caught me trying to put my hand up the blind man's ass!"
Superman Dresses Up as a Giant Bird
In this insane tale, Clark Kent's neighbors ask him to babysit their bird, Samantha. However, we soon learn that Superman freaking hates birds.
"Did the Marigold twins live in one of those skyscrapers Zod punched me through?"
The problems start the next morning when Samantha starts saying "CLARK KENT IS SUPERMAN!" -- apparently, Clark likes to talk about his deepest secrets in his sleep and the bird is just repeating what he said.
Sure Superman, the bird is the dumb one in this situation.
Worried that Samantha will give away his identity, Superman tries a number of tactics to get her to say something else, like (and we're not kidding here) leaving her all day with a tape that says "CLARK KENT IS A SUPER NEWSMAN!" (finally, some use for Clark's unsold audiobook, Clark Kent is a Super Newsman). Unfortunately this plan doesn't work and Superman is seriously starting to get really, really aggravated.
He's like, one squawk away from frying her with heat vision.
Desperate, Superman sees only one solution: Yes, it involves taking Samantha to his Fortress of Solitude and dressing himself up like a giant bird, how did you guess? Super-birdman then spends the entire night squawking madly at the poor creature in an attempt to traumatize it, and anyone else who read this comic.
Incidentally, this comic was written around the time cocaine was really catching on.
Obviously this plan works, because that's just basic science. Clark then returns the bird to its owners ... and it turns out they intentionally taught it to say "CLARK KENT IS SUPERMAN!" as a hilarious prank. The neighbors were never heard from again.
Daredevil Pretends to Be His Own Twin Brother (Who Isn't Blind)
Anyone who had the mental fortitude to sit through two hours of Ben Affleck in skintight latex knows that Daredevil is actually Matt Murdock, a legitimately blind lawyer who fights crime with his enhanced senses. So if anyone tried to blow his cover, he'd have the easiest alibi in the world: "A superhero? I'm blind, you insensitive asshole!"
But hilariously, when his friends stumbled across his secret in the comics, Matt "Daredevil" Murdock came up with the dumbest lie imaginable: He's not Daredevil -- Daredevil is actually his twin brother, Mike Murdock, whom they've never met and who has never, ever been mentioned before!
"Ugh ... you're going to take that asshole Spider-Man's word for it?"
To be clear, these aren't random strangers he's trying to convince. One of them has known him since college, and the other is his love interest, two people who would probably know if he had a twin brother. Not surprisingly, they don't believe him and ask to meet this Mike Murdock.
"Of course you can meet him, but I'll probably be busy around that time, whatever time it ends up being."
Matt then proceeds to muss up his hair, put on some flashy clothes and buy a new pair of sunglasses to pretend to be his twin brother. At this point he makes the scam a billion times harder on himself by also deciding that "Mike" isn't blind. Fortunately, his friends are apparently as dumb as his walking stick, because they buy it instantly and at no point question that they never once see both "twin" brothers in the same room together.
"Are you sure you're not Matt? You certainly dress like a blind guy."
But in their defense, he only fooled them for ... let's check here ... 16 goddamned issues. So almost a year-and-a-half. Finally, this already terrible plan backfires when Matt's girlfriend, who doesn't know that Mike's a superhero version of Mrs. Doubtfire, starts to fall in love with both guys and Matt finds himself getting cock-blocked so hard by his fictional twin brother that he even considers switching his identity permanently to marry her.
The whole charade gets so exhausting that Matt gives it up by pretending Mike was killed while out Daredeviling. That should have been the end of his secret identity problems, except in the very next issue he needs Daredevil to show up in front of the same friends again. Since they clearly have the intelligence of goldfish, he blatantly stops even trying to come up with decent lies and instead declares that he knows for sure Daredevil is alive but that it's not him, it's "someone else."
That's it, that's the whole lie in all its complexity, he basically says "it's totally not me" and they all believe him.
"How do I know all this? Uh, I subscribe to the Daredevil newsletter! It's got all the latest secret identity scoops!"
Iron Man Reveals His Identity to Save a Dog
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.
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.
"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.
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 dog died of cancer the next day.
Superman Takes off His Pants on National TV
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:
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.
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 ...
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.
"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.
Related: Rudy Giuliani Puts His Hands Down His Pants, Seemingly Flirts With Fake Reporter In 'Borat 2'
Hulk Puts on a Hulk Mask
"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?
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.
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?!
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.
"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.
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.