Whenever a superhero or villain makes the leap from the pages of a comic book to the big screen, they inevitably undergo numerous changes both big and small. Typical alterations include revisions being made to their origin story, how their powers work and what kind of costume they wear. A less common modification is the decision to jettison the flamboyant codenames these do-gooders and archfiends are well-known for adopting.
Nevertheless, this does happen from time to time, and amazingly, some movie superheroes and villains have never adopted their colorful aliases on-screen. Below, we’ve rounded up 10 big-time comic book protagonists and antagonists who have starred in a live-action flick without rocking their comic book alter-ego.
10 Lady Deathstrike
As depicted in the pages of Marvel’s X-Men comics, Yuriko Oyama is a cybernetic mercenary who is known to her prey as Lady Deathstrike (or “Deathstryke”, as it is sometimes spelled). Director Bryan Singer didn’t stray too far from this brief to portray the character in X2 – although here, she’s a mutant, not a cyborg, and she’s only ever addressed by her civilian first name.
Still, Oyama is at least listed as Deathstryke in the closing credits. Between that and actress Kelly Hu’s butt-kicking performance, most fans are willing to overlook the fact that Yuriko’s villainous moniker is never actually spoken aloud in X2.
9 Captain Marvel (Both Of Them)
In this sneaky “doubleheader” entry, we’ve grouped together both superheroes who use “Captain Marvel” as their nom de guerre. The first of these costumed adventurers is Carol Danvers, who makes it to the end of her debut Marvel Cinematic Universe outing without once being called Captain Marvel (although Nick Fury comes this close).
Then there’s Billy Batson’s alter-ego in Shazam!, who until as recently as 2011, was known as Captain Marvel in comics published by DC. Sick of jumping through legal hoops to keep Marvel Comics – the trademark holder of the “Captain Marvel” name – happy, DC has officially renamed its otherwise unrelated character “Shazam”, a retooling reflected on the big screen.
OK, we’ll admit it: strictly speaking, Doomsday doesn’t even have a secret identity, much less a codename. “Doomsday” is simply the latest in a long list of titles applied to this unstoppable berserker, ever since he was first branded “The Ultimate” by his creator, Bertron, many centuries ago.
All the same, Doomsday is the handle that comics fans have always associated with this Superman villain and the one they expected the creature to the sport when he appeared in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. That didn’t happen and Doomsday went unnamed – although his sobriquet was referenced in dialogue by Lex Luthor at one point.
7 Madame Hydra
With Fox now under Disney's control, it’s easy to forget that their separation effected how they both portrayed the Marvel Comics characters they owned the respective rights to in the past.
Take Madame Hydra: since Fox couldn't reference the Hydra organization (which belongs to Disney/Marvel Studios), the filmmakers behind The Wolverine resorted to using her “Viper” alter-ego, instead. Marvel Studios would later introduce a version of the villain operating under the “Madame Hydra” codename in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – but we’re not counting this one, as it was on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show.
You’d need to have serious self-esteem problems to call yourself “The Abomination” – which is probably why the Marvel Cinematic Universe incarnation of Emil Blonsky doesn’t! As depicted in The Incredible Hulk, Blonsky is arrogant enough to participate in a crazy-dangerous effort to restart the Super Soldier program that created Captain America. So he’s not the kinda guy you’d expect to assume such a self-deprecating callsign.
Still, screenwriter Zak Penn managed to include a shout-out to Blonsky’s comic book history, courtesy of Doctor Samuel Sterns (who likewise never uses his supervillain name, The Leader). When Blonsky demands Sterns perform further experimentation on him, the mild-mannered scientist describes the potential end product as “an abomination”.
5 Marvel Girl
Unlike her fellow female X-Men, Jean Grey has never laid claim to a cool codename like “Storm” or “Rogue”. True, in the comics, she’s known by the halfway decent alias “Phoenix” – but in X-Men: The Last Stand, this is established as being an alternate personality, rather than a proper alter-ego.
This just leaves the movie version of Jean with her other, seldom-used pseudonym from the source material, Marvel Girl, which we can all agree is…not very good. In fact, Marvel Girl is such a lame name, that would explain why no one involved with the X-Men film franchise has even bothered paying lip-service to it on-screen – and why fans haven’t really cared, either.
4 Iron Monger
“Ironmongery” is an incredibly outdated term for trading in (you guessed it) iron goods, as well as other metals. We’re willing to bet your average guy or gal on the street is unlikely to be familiar with the term – unless they’re a Marvel Comics reader. More specifically, Iron Man fans will recognize “Iron Monger” as the moniker used by multiple supervillains to plague Tony Stark over the years, starting with Obadiah Stane.
However, in 2008’s Iron Man, Stane doesn’t adopt the Iron Monger handle – possibly because it’s ridiculous to assume that a slick operator like him would want a codename, much less such an archaic one. Even so, Stane does make use of the terminology in a more general sense, applying the label to himself and Tony.
It’s kinda funny that a movie named after Apocalypse never actually has this X-Men archvillain addressed this way on-screen. But go back and re-watch X-Men: Apocalypse – you’ll notice that the cinematic version of this ancient evil is never christened with the name that lends the film its title!
Instead, Apocalypse is known as En Sabah Nur, his true identity in the comic books. Despite this, the Darwinian theory-obsessed baddie’s codename is featured in the movie’s promotional materials – including an altered line of dialogue in its trailer – which is a bit misleading, to be honest.
Iron Man 2 marks the arrival of revenge-fuelled engineer Ivan Vanko, an antagonist modeled on both Whiplash and Crimson Dynamo. Given his status as a composite character, it’s hardly surprising that Vanko doesn’t wind up taking either villainous alias for his own, content to operate under his civilian ID.
The comic books soon emulated the film franchise they inspired, with a new Whiplash named Anton Vanko introduced in 2009. This, in turn, has led fans – l to retroactively brand his MCU iteration “Whiplash”, too.
1 Scarlet Witch
When Tony Stark labels Wanda Maximoff a “witch” in Avengers: Age of Ultron, casual viewers probably thought nothing of it. But to hardcore fans, this decidedly tame insult also represents the closest they’ve come to hearing the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Wanda referred to by her superhero codename, Scarlet Witch.
Interestingly, Wanda’s twin brother Quicksilver has used his extravagant alter-ego on screen…just not in the MCU. That’s right: as this was in 20th Century Fox’s rival X-Men franchise, these two Maximoffs aren’t technically siblings – or even based in the same fictional universe!