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Off My Mind: The Benefits of Superheroes Not Having a Secret Identity

Superheroes usually focus on maintaining a secret identity but perhaps there are advantages to not having one.

Yesterday we looked at the obvious and not-so-obvious reasons why it's important for superheroes to maintain a secret identity. The main argument is always over a concern for the safety of friends and family of the heroes. Villains are usually motivated by revenge and greed so targeting a hero's family would be expected.

Yet there are numerous superheroes that have given up their secret identities or never had one to begin with. Some of the greatest heroes around don't feel the need for one. Whether precautions have been made or they don't have anyone that could become a target for supervillains, the idea of a secret identity is the least of their concerns.

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While it might make complete sense to have one, there could be something said about not having to worry about a secret identity. What are the benefits for superheroes not having a secret identity?

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Heroes such as Captain America, Aquaman, Iron Man and members of the Fantastic Four and X-Men are some of the heroes that don't have a secret identity to protect. They are free to fight crime whenever they want. They don't have to worry about keeping up a false identity or try to make excuses when they need to rush off and defeat a villain. Being a hero is who they are. It's pretty much what they live for. They have embraced their powers and their role in the fight against evil.

Heroes without a secret identity don't have to be tied down to a normal life. They don't have to watch the news out of the corner of their eye when out with friends, half listening to their conversation. Everyone knows what the score is with them and there's no surprises if a villain suddenly discovers who they really are.

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Walking around with a secret isn't really a healthy thing. It can eat away with you. In a sense, the hero becomes a liar when making excuses to their friends about where they were at or why they had to run off. The hero is not allowed to be themselves around those that are supposedly closest to them. What will the friends and family think if they ever uncover the lie/secret?

What wealth and fame? Some like Spider-Man might feel action is enough of a reward but there is money to be made as a superhero. We're always seeing superhero paraphernalia in comic universes and heroes with secret identities can't cash in on it. They don't have to try to sell out but they could easily collect on some royalties from others using their likeness or by making the occasional appearance. It was mentioned before that Superman allowed merchandise to be made and sold provided some money from profits went to a charitable cause.

They might get a lot of phone calls or fan mail but if the authorities know who they are, they can be reached if someone like Galactus was detected heading towards Earth. Not everyone has a Bat-signal to shine in the night when a hero is needed to save the lives of innocents.

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One of the biggest advantages to having a public identity is making sure the villains are prosecuted for their crimes. If a masked vigilante captures a superhvillain and ties them up for the authorities, there could be some legal holes the villains can worm their way through. Superheroes don't have the power to read an apprehended villain his rights. They can't testify in a court of a law if they can't state their real name and the take the oath.

The testimony of a masked hero can't be used. The hero could perform certain feats in the court to try to prove they have the abilities of who they say they are but there are too many heroes and villains with the ability to mimic other heroes. If there was major damage or deaths during a battle between a hero and a villain, it would be the word of one against the other. Chances are the villain's identity is known while the hero is hiding behind a mask.

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For the superhero trying to save as many lives as they can and rid the world of evil, trying to balance a superhero identity and a secret one is too much work. The time and energy put in to maintain a secret identity could be used for other things. How is it all of Tony Stark's employees manage to live their lives without being threatened? Batman practically revealed his identity by publicly stating Wayne Enterprises funds his activities and there hasn't been any fallout over that so far. Villains may be evil but they are a little cowardly as well. They could attack a hero through their friends but most of them are smart enough to know the boundaries.

Deathstroke the Terminator never really went after those close to the Teen Titans because of the wrath from the team, Batman and the Justice League that would be placed upon him. As long as the hero proves their friends and family are under their protection, villains most likely won't take the risk of the entire superhero community going after them. Besides, if you had superpowers, wouldn't you want to show it off to the world?