Published January 12, 2017

5 Super Heroes Who Had Their Identities Exposed

These champions of justice survived forced outings and lived to tell the tale!

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Sometimes when Super Heroes' identities are revealed, they find not just their own lives in danger, but the lives of everyone they hold near and dear as well. The below five champions of justice survived forced outings and lived to tell the tale!

An identity exposure that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. In a back-up tale from 1967, Hulk finds himself accused of redirecting a missile towards a populated city and having to fight the aptly named Hulk-Killer as a result. Even as it is learned that Hulk did not cause the missile’s change in trajectory, the battle still rages on.

Then, after Rick Jones intercedes but fails to help, the “Strongest There Is” reverts to his Bruce Banner form. His mind his own once more, Banner figures out how to stop the Hulk-Killer and puts his plan in motion. He wins the day but the consequences of the fight prove far more complex than that. With his reversion, for the first time, Hulk’s alter ego has been revealed.

In the years that followed, this public identity would make Banner’s life a nightmare of being hunted by the government, especially Thunderbolt Ross, and never really being able to settle down or make connections with others without risking his own freedom and possibly their lives.

Iron Man
With mounting concerns about his privacy and loved ones, Tony Stark seized on a moment and, using a villain’s powers, erased knowledge of his identity from anyone who had ever known it. Besides a lecture from Captain America, the fallout proved minimal.

However, by the time IRON MAN #55 rolled around Stark realized he had to expose his identity—not just to a selective few, but to the world at large—to outmaneuver The Mandarin.

Unlike most of the other heroes here, Stark has done relatively well as an out hero since. Only while being hunted by Norman Osborn during Dark Reign did it appear that having no alter ego made life markedly harder for the Golden Avenger.

Arguably the only hero with an exposed identity who has done better than Tony Stark, She-Hulk—aka Jennifer Walters—bowed to the reality of her transformations and decided to stop fighting them. Rather than attempt to awkwardly hid herself from the world as it became increasingly impossible, she simply decided to live as her green-hued alter ego.

The result has been a confident, strong, intelligent hero and lawyer who has largely lived in the Marvel Universe as she pleases, reaping all the benefits her super powers can provide her.

Yes, Peter Parker stood before cameras and unmasked himself, but, much as with Iron Man above, it did not come as an enthusiastic choice. Instead, thanks to pressure by Stark himself, Spidey felt the need to reveal himself for the greater good.

As he began to question his involvement with the pro-Registration side of Civil War, Parker also began to realize the error of his choice. At first, it made him easier to hunt by the pro-regs for betraying Stark and his vision. Then, it made him and his family an ongoing target of numerous villains with grudges.

In the end, only a deal with Mephisto put that toothpaste back in the tube, saving Aunt May’s life and giving Spider-Man back his anonymity.

Simultaneously the scariest example on this list and the surest sign that being exposed can be overcome.

The Man Without Fear has lived through it four times now. The first proved a limited exposure, to Kingpin, and cost Matt his job, his apartment, his friends, his sanity, and nearly his life. And yet, he survived, earned back his license to practice law, and saw Kingpin brought low, thanks, in part, to what Fisk did to him in “Born Again.”

The second time happened because an overzealous reporter stole her mentor, Ben Urich’s, notes and sold the story he never would: that Daredevil and the blind lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen were one in the same. Murdock had to fake his own death, live as a grifter, and slowly lose touch with reality to escape the fallout. Thanks to Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., however, Murdock “returned” to life with a story about being asked to fake his death by S.H.I.E.L.D., seemingly completely discrediting as well the story that forced him into hiding.

The press pulled the trigger yet again and the resulting brouhaha found Murdock become increasingly angered until being incarcerated. With Iron Fist playing the part of Daredevil in the outside world and the real Hornhead’s own stubbornness, the secret identity business, somehow, once again fell out of the public’s attention. Not before Murdock’s wife Milla Donovan would be driven to a nervous breakdown by the DD villain Mr. Fear, however.

Lastly, Murdock admitted the truth himself, on the stand, to win a legal battle. This exposure forced him west to San Francisco for a time and into a rather daring red three-piece suit cum super hero costume. Recently, however, he has returned to New York City, secret identity once again under wraps due to soon-to-be revealed machinations.