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The Secret Identity Conundrum

06 Nov 2019 13:52 #65503 by Woody
The Secret Identity Conundrum was created by Woody
Firstly dibs on that as a title for a story 

It's a pretty standard trope these days that heroines have a secret identity that they use. Everything I've written uses one in some form. The transformation is a great plot point to change the tempo of the story and reset the next scene

What i'm interested in is how different in your opinion should a secret identity be to the heroines guise?

Should the heroine basically look the same or similar to their normal guise but with glasses?

Should every aspect of their body change so the two entities barely resemble each other?  

Woody

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06 Nov 2019 15:49 #65506 by Woodclaw
Replied by Woodclaw on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum
I think that the main point is to decide what is the purpose of a secret identity and work from there. While maintaining one might seem too difficult and even superfluous in this day and age, I think they're an important part of the superhero mythos.

There are a number of real-world professions that require something similar to a secret identity (for example, many counter-terrorism units keep the names of their soldiers under wraps) for security reasons. Usually, this imply the heavy use of masks, balaclavas and so on when you're on the job. Even so, this is mostly meant to protect you from the casual observer, not from dedicated scrutiny.

Years ago, I wrote a scene (and never used it) where Steel explained that the reason why he never figured out that Superman was Clark Kent was that he actually never put his mind to it, mostly out of gratitude, and the underlying subtext was that others (like Perry White) probably did the same.

Usually, I prefer some noticeable difference between the two versions of a character, not just because it makes easier to tell them apart, but also because it adds a bit of plausibility.

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06 Nov 2019 15:54 #65507 by lojack
Replied by lojack on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum
I would say it depends on how she is powered. I would think if she is magic/artifact based, or Jekyll/Hyde based (She-Hulk), sure two forms make sense for something that. It is your story, so if you want her to be gifted with a psychic scrambler that makes everyone think she looks different, go for it! (How would that work against cameras?) 

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06 Nov 2019 15:57 #65508 by TwiceOnThursdays
Replied by TwiceOnThursdays on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum
The answer to your questions are "yes".

They're all good answers.  Though "just putting on glasses" is a harder sell.  Some kind of full transformation is much easier to explain working.

Even a super-fast costume change (like Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel), goes a long way because the heorine can change to/back in a second and thus makes it easier to convey the idea both identies were present at the same time.

Shazam/Captain Marvel/Mary Marvel transformation works, but it's also so loud and noisy that it calls attention to itself and it's easy to catch one of them saying their word and figuring it out.

Super-speed/teleportation also helps.  If someone can walk to the rest room, change/ zip 100 miles away, appear on live TV, and zip back, walking back into the room instantly after, people will naturally think that the person was there all along.  or "they were here all day" and there is a story about the hero rescuing people a thousand miles away.

But, realistically fooling people who know you... much harder.

OTH, I'm not fully face blind but when I watch Orphan Black I have to remind myself it's all the same actress.   I think anyone thinking about this topic needs to watch Oprhan black a bit. ;-)  Esp when one close tries to be another clone and fool that clone's friends.

but even someone in full costume, you'd expect friends to figure out who Spider-Man was.  I like that the comics portray a few times that New Yorker's look out for him, and help protect him when his identity might be compromised (ripped mask, etc). It displays a willful destire to let him be Spider-Man, that I think ends up being displayed in a few of his friends who _should_ have figured it out but actually don't want to.

People do love Superman, but I think it's a different sort.   People would be facinated about his identiy. I think Spidey is viewed more as "one of us just trying to do good" and gets some love from that direction.  Superman is a god/celebrity, and people won't even stop to think they're ruining his life.  (I think Astro City #1 is one of the best Superman comics despite not staring Superman and this is a core idea to it.)

And generally when you write a story, exploring the problem is not what the story is about, so spending time on it doesn't help move the story or characterization forward.  Now if (as the title would suggest) that IS what the story is about... then explore away.  I'd read the hell ouf of that. ;-)

Otherwise, lean on the trope, and just move on and tell the story you want to.
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06 Nov 2019 18:43 - 09 Nov 2019 13:35 #65510 by Monty
Replied by Monty on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum
A big conundrum I can remember is Lyle Waggoner, the actor who played Steve Trevor admitting how he couldn't believe his character, a top ranked military official couldn't figure out Diana Prince, his Secretary, was Wonder Woman! I guess this added to the show's quirkiness (as well as Lynda's attractiveness).
Last edit: 09 Nov 2019 13:35 by Monty.

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06 Nov 2019 20:46 #65512 by Markiehoe
Replied by Markiehoe on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum
I never once questioned nor cared if Lois Lane or Steve Trevor figured out the BIG SECRET
It was all in good fun that only the readers or viewers knew.
Glasses for a civilian or a mask for a hero was a perfectly good disguise for me.
What bothered me is things like in Superman II, Clark Kent "tripped" and fell into an open fire then tried to hide the fact his hands were not burned.
How does Superman trip and fall?

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06 Nov 2019 20:51 #65513 by Gincognifo
Replied by Gincognifo on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum

What bothered me is things like in Superman II, Clark Kent "tripped" and fell into an open fire then tried to hide the fact his hands were not burned.
How does Superman trip and fall?


When he's exasperated that Lois Lane still hasn't figured it out, so he decides to give her a helping hand.

Nice "accident" Clark.
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11 Nov 2019 20:29 #65586 by MisterK
Replied by MisterK on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum
My original superhero, Ms. Infinity, can change her form. Her "civilian" identity is actually her natural form.  She made herself taller and more "model pretty" for her alter ego. (Her mother only reluctantly approves, saying, saying "not as beautiful as my Bonnie." She's a good mom like that. )

So no problem explaining how she is not recognized. I made an opposite twist in that her best friend, Lisa Lin, recognizes her anyway through her mannerisms. 

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11 Nov 2019 20:47 #65587 by MisterK
Replied by MisterK on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum
Oh, and Ms. Infinity's transformation: She says "Infinite power!" Then she changes in puff of smoke. That's when she bothers. Both the words and the pyrotechnics (caused by her power of illusion) are just for her own motivation.

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13 Nov 2019 01:56 #65607 by Random321
Replied by Random321 on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum

TwiceOnThursdays wrote: The answer to your questions are "yes".

[Snip]

Otherwise, lean on the trope, and just move on and tell the story you want to.


Agreed. I've always found it interesting that even in the Supergirl character lineage it's not consistent.  Kara/Supergirl had her wig or magic comb but stayed similar in stature. Linda/Matrix would change height and build. Other than one cover I cant think of many times Kara/Linda have worn glasses in the comics.

I agree with the do what works for the story comments - so long as there is an alter ego.  Ha!

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13 Nov 2019 19:04 #65613 by Agent00Soul
Replied by Agent00Soul on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum

Random321 wrote:
Agreed. I've always found it interesting that even in the Supergirl character lineage it's not consistent.  Kara/Supergirl had her wig or magic comb but stayed similar in stature. Linda/Matrix would change height and build. Other than one cover I cant think of many times Kara/Linda have worn glasses in the comics.


And doubly ironic considering that DC never did anything like that on the occasions they gave Power Girl a secret identity.  Karen Starr is quite obviously just Power Girl in civvies.  She doens't really try to hide her face, hair, or figure that much but no one ever suspects.

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13 Nov 2019 19:10 #65614 by Gincognifo
Replied by Gincognifo on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum

Agent00Soul wrote: And doubly ironic considering that DC never did anything like that on the occasions they gave Power Girl a secret identity.  Karen Starr is quite obviously just Power Girl in civvies.  She doens't really try to hide her face, hair, or figure that much but no one ever suspects.


She had the advantage that nobody is ever looking at her face...
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14 Nov 2019 02:11 #65623 by MisterK
Replied by MisterK on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum

Gincognifo wrote:

What bothered me is things like in Superman II, Clark Kent "tripped" and fell into an open fire then tried to hide the fact his hands were not burned.
How does Superman trip and fall?


When he's exasperated that Lois Lane still hasn't figured it out, so he decides to give her a helping hand.

Nice "accident" Clark.


Supes could be pretty damn fickle too. One minute he's moving heaven and Earth to stop her finding out, next minute he's arranging an "accident."

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14 Nov 2019 06:19 #65625 by guimachajo1
Replied by guimachajo1 on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum
you remember the 80 the new teen titan. Robin later Nigtwing was a Starfire (Kory) couple. both in bodysuit costume and in civilian clothing. even living together and sleeping.an alien with orange skin yellow eyes and two meters and a peak in a body of goddess who worked as a model on top. It is not that we were both very discreet.also the fist wonder girl donna troy was always in the open face what at least they did not notice her face for obvious reasons.

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14 Nov 2019 06:39 #65626 by guimachajo1
Replied by guimachajo1 on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum
In superman & batman generations, kara the daughter of superman and lois lane wore a black wig to hide her identity. And the wonder woman daughter wore a mask as much as wonder girl as when she assumed the role of the mother.

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14 Nov 2019 12:00 #65628 by Woodclaw
Replied by Woodclaw on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum

guimachajo1 wrote: you remember the 80 the new teen titan. Robin later Nigtwing was a Starfire (Kory) couple. both in bodysuit costume and in civilian clothing. even living together and sleeping.an alien with orange skin yellow eyes and two meters and a peak in a body of goddess who worked as a model on top. It is not that we were both very discreet.also the fist wonder girl donna troy was always in the open face what at least they did not notice her face for obvious reasons.


The Wolfman/Perez era of the Teen Titans had very little in the way of secret identities, the book focused mostly on the in-team dynamics, with very little outside of it.

(formerly Anon, still Librarian)

"What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?" ("Gentleman" John Marcone)
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14 Nov 2019 18:04 #65629 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum
One of the things I'm experimenting with in my Little Krypton storyline is that Kal El and Kara Zor El have given up their secret identities, revealed themselves to the world, and now live on a big ranch raising a herd of kids who also have no secret identities. 

I'm not sure where this takes the story and characters in the end (big stories have a life of their own once launched), but it'll be fun to imagine both the upsides and downsides of living a public but super life. 

While this starts with them dealing with Kryptonian Theists who worship them as gods (something Kal and Kara discourage any way they can), but also those who seem them as alien devils and blame them for everything that's wrong in the world. 

In any case, the traditional superhero meme around secret identities is just one way to think about what it would really be like if superhumans lived among us. 

Shadar
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15 Nov 2019 16:57 - 18 Nov 2019 17:35 #65632 by Monty
Replied by Monty on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum
Didn't they have the delectable (not detectable) Laura Van der Voort as 'cover' for the 'hidden behind glasses' i.d. idea when she revealed herself to the world as Supergirl in Smallville? Her initiative was said to lead to Clark picking up the idea himself...



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Last edit: 18 Nov 2019 17:35 by Monty.
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15 Nov 2019 18:14 #65633 by TwiceOnThursdays
Replied by TwiceOnThursdays on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum

Monty wrote: Didn't they have the delectable Laura Van der Voort as 'cover' for the 'hidden behind glasses' i.d. idea when she revealed herself to the world as Supergirl in Smallville? Her initiative was said to lead to Clark picking up the idea himself...




I'm not face blind. But i'm BAD.

When I look at the top picture I think "Lynda Carter" not "Laura Vandervoort". (I didn't think it was Lynda, I thought "who is trying to look like Lynda Carter" and didn't recognize Laura.)

The bottom picture is closer and isn't invoking Carter.

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15 Nov 2019 18:27 - 15 Nov 2019 19:25 #65634 by Monty
Replied by Monty on topic The Secret Identity Conundrum

TwiceOnThursdays wrote:

Monty wrote: Didn't they have the delectable Laura Van der Voort as 'cover' for the 'hidden behind glasses' i.d. idea when she revealed herself to the world as Supergirl in Smallville? Her initiative was said to lead to Clark picking up the idea himself...




I'm not face blind. But i'm BAD.

When I look at the top picture I think "Lynda Carter" not "Laura Vandervoort". (I didn't think it was Lynda, I thought "who is trying to look like Lynda Carter" and didn't recognize Laura.)

The bottom picture is closer and isn't invoking Carter.


I don't notice the Lynda Carter look in the top picture, I just see Kara looks really pleased and content with herself (as Laura can) for pulling her stunt in public with her disguise, and with all her powers too.
Last edit: 15 Nov 2019 19:25 by Monty.

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