For years now the big 2 comic publishers have been doing away with the “secret identities” of their heroes. Marvel has been doing it since the 2000s in the comics and Marvel Studios has barely kept any with a normal life in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. More recently, DC has done away with keeping the Clark Kent and his Superman connection a secret. Mark Millar has now weighed in about his thoughts on the matter thanks to a thread from the John Siuntres’ World Balloon podcast.
The short and sweet of it, Millar isn’t thrilled about this change in direction for the characters, and here is what he shared as his reasoning behind it:
“I do think from a storytelling point of view I’m a massive fan of secret identities. I think secret identities is the most important component of all superhero things. It’s one of Marvel’s mistakes of 2000 to get rid of the secret identity.
‘Secret identities’ is what the reader is, and then they become the hero through reading the stories… Kids identify with the human and then get a chance to do these adventures. Something quite unique to superheroes, someone who pretends to be a coward or a dandy. It works when Bruce Wayne pretended to be a shallow, shallow person, the last person you’d believe to be Batman. And the same with Clark Kent, a guy who can crush a diamond, and yet chooses to spend eight hours a day sitting and typing and taking abuse and hiding behind a pair of glasses. That’s the mythology of it. A god choosing to become a person, and I love that…”
It should be noted that Millar is the one responsible for Spider-Man revealing to the world that he was Peter Parker during the original “Civil War” story arc before having it retconned thanks to a deal with Mephisto in “One More Day.” The secret identity is key to so many heroes, though from having to deal with the same issues that we mere humans have to deal with, such as the emotional roller coaster of relationships and paying our bills on time. Not only that, but there is the added element of secrecy needed to keep the hero’s loved ones safe because we’ve all seen what happens when villains know a superhero’s real identity.
Do you agree with Mark Millar that DC and Marvel have dropped the ball on not keeping these secret identities vital to so many heroes? Or does it offer a different type of storytelling that focuses just on their heroics? Share your thoughts in the comments below!