National “Change Your Name” Day is this weekend, which might be the most appropriate holiday for superheroes ever. It’s almost a tradition for teen sidekicks and legacy heroes to change their codenames at some point in the career, either to give themselves an edgier name to match their post-sidekick mentality or to distance themselves from their past mentor. Even the most iconic superheroes will change codenames occasionally, either to make room for a (temporary) replacement or because they’re trying to go incognito. In the spirit of National Change Your Name Day, we’ve picked five of our favorite superheroes whose codenames are almost too numerous to mention.
While she’s now one of Marvel’s most prominent superheroes, Carol Danvers has bounced between identities for most of her career. Danvers began her superhero career as Ms. Marvel, basing her codename and costume after her ex-lover Captain Marvel. When her powers went cosmic thanks to alien experimentation, Danvers switched her name to Binary and explored the universe, but then changed her codename to Warbird after returning to Earth. After briefly changing her name back to Ms. Marvel, Danvers switched to Captain Marvel in honor of her dead friend and to acknowledge her military background. We’re guessing Danvers’s upcoming movie adaptation will leave out her many alternate codnames.
In hindsight, the Avengers probably should have realized Hank Pym wasn’t right in the head when he started switching codenames every few missions. Pym joined the Avengers as Ant-Man, but quickly switched his name to Giant-Man after feeling inferior to team powerhouses Thor and Iron Man. Pym kept the “giant” theme when he changed his name to Goliath, but then switched back to an insect theme when he suffered a psychotic break and developed an alternate “Yellowjacket” personality. Recently, Pym took up his ex-wife’s “Wasp” identity to honor her when she was presumed dead. When she came back to life a few years later, Pym returned to his Giant-Man identity before accidentally merging with Ultron. I’m not sure what Pym is calling himself nowadays, but it will probably change soon.
Captain Marvel’s legacy seems to come with tons of name changing. Monica Rambeau started her career as Captain Marvel, only because the media kept referring to her by the dead superhero’s name during her first appearance. As Captain Marvel, Rambeau became a respected Avenger and even led the team before she retired due to injuries. When Genis-Vell, the son of the original Captain Marvel, became a superhero and took up his father’s name, Rambeau switched her name to Photon out of respect. Genis decided he liked the codename “Photon” even more, so an annoyed Rambeau switched her codename a third time to Pulsar to avoid confusion. Nowadays, Rambeau’s fighting under the codename Spectrum and fighting alongside the Ultimates. Since Genis-Vell is dead, Rambeau hopefully won’t have to switch her name again anytime soon.
Although she’s donned many costumes and codenames over the course of her long superhero career, most superhero fans only know Donna Troy by her real name. Troy was the original Wonder Girl, but abandoned that nickname in favor of Troia after learning she was an alien demi-god. After sacrificing her powers to prevent her newborn son from becoming a mad God, Troy became a Darkstar and fought intergalactic crime alongside her new boyfriend Kyle Rayner. After Infinite Crisis, Troy briefly became Wonder Woman before returning to her “nameless” superhero identity as Donna Troy. While Donna recently made her first appearance in the rebooted DC universe, she hasn’t adopted a new superhero name…yet.
Green Arrow’s first sidekick, Roy Harper’s superhero names are a great reflection of his ever-evolving identity. Harper’s first superhero name was Speedy, a reference to being a faster shot than his mentor and friend. After splitting away from his mentor, Harper started using guns and other weaponry and changed his name to Arsenal to reflect his badass new identity. Eventually, Harper reconciled with Green Arrow and adopted the name “Red Arrow”, with a costume to match. He returned to Arsenal after losing his arm and daughter during a supervillain attack on Star City and the name stuck with him into the New 52. The CW show Arrow has played around with Harper’s many nicknames, with characters jokingly using the “Red Arrow” and “Speedy” codenames, while he prefers Arsenal.