The superhero trope of superhero tropes.
Clark Kent and Superman
Bruce Wayne and Batman
Peter Parker and Spider-Man
We are all very familiar with the idea that superheroes disguise their real identities to either have or protect their personal lives.
There are very few exceptions to this, the most prominent that I can think of being Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. Sure he has the superhero name, Mr. Fantastic, but he and the whole Fantastic four are publicly known, celebrities even.
In current Marvel continuity and the Marvel movies Tony Stark is known to be Iron Man, but back in the 60’s (hell, well into the new millennium) Tony Stark maintained his secret identity where Iron Man was employed as Stark’s body guard, the reasons for which will be deliberated complained about later. The stories of Iron Man 10 and 11 focus on how Stark deals with the fact that The Mandarin has discovered his secret identity.
The short answer: he tricks Mandy into thinking that Stark and Iron Man really are two different people with the clever use of masks and a Life Model Decoy. In other words, it’s not really dealt with at all, it’s just needless manipulation all the while Stark factories are sitting idle and the whole country is busy thinking Stark is a pinko commie.
Fantastic plan, Stark.
Of course, because this is a comic book, Stark’s plan to save his identity works out perfectly:
- Mandarin is convinced that he’s not Iron Man.
- The LMD distracts the press and, during Shellhead’s battle with Mandy, they hear how Mandarin planned the whole thing and faked the pictures that started the whole mess in the first place.
- Oh and the Mandarin’s betrothed totally turns on him because he doesn’t believe in love… but that’s not really related to secret identities.
- Oh and we found out why he made a Hulk robot in issue 9 – turns out Hulk destroyed his castle in China and Mandy wanted to tarnish Hulk’s name… which is a bit redundant for Hulk but there you go.
- Mandarin seemingly blows up at the end, but even Iron Man says he’ll be back, eliminating the drama of that moment.
- Protecting people he loves – Tony Stark is a public figure, a target for foreign enemy nations, so his loved ones are already targets. Publicly being Iron Man might actually help in this case.
- Protecting his privacy/private life – Again, public figure so there is no privacy. If anything he’s under a microscope so really shouldn’t the question be how bad are the journalists in the Marvel Universe that they couldn’t figure out his identity? Also, he owns a major business so there are existing security measures in place to protect him and his factories.
- The legality of actually being a superhero – This one’s tricky, but the fact that Stark helped to create SHIELD and equips them and is, like, totes BFF with Nick Fury gives his a pass on this in my opinion.
- Being able to hold down a job – Again, he owns it. It’s hard to get fired from your own company (even though that totally happens but not for a while…).