millarworld.tv Comics Creators

It shouldn't be so hard to think up good superhero names


#1

I’m writing something at the moment that I plan to make into some kind of film at some point in the future. As you may be able to guess from the title it involves superheroes, well more superhero. Anyway I’m having serious trouble trying to come up with a name and just wondered if anyone could help.
Not sure if the character will be male or female yet but they don’t have any powers, will mostly wear a blue (maybe yellow) costume and may have some kind of shield type weapon


#2

Do you want a character name (Peter Parker) or their alter ego (Spider-Man)?


#3

Alter ego


#4

Maybe something Latin or Greek that relates to the character’s costume or mindset? Being serious here, try putting English words in Google Translate and see what they are in different languages.


#5

Awesome I’ll give that a try thanks


#6

With non-powered characters, a successful way of doing things seems to be a name that conveys what sort of stories you’re telling with the character. Take three characters who are arguably the most popular non-powered superheroes;

Batman - Emphasis on darkness, use of motif to scare people, Gothic.
Captain America - Militaristic, patriotic.
Kick-Ass - Comedy violence, tongue in cheek.

The name of your character can be the punchiest and most effective way of telling people what sort of stories you’re telling, so the setting and tone of your story is something to consider.


#7

As a rule there’s 3 different ways to name a superhero:

  1. The two word combo. Bat-Man. Super-Man. Green-Arrow. Iron-Fist. Nice useful strategy this, you can create something snappy and original that can describe the character quickly. You can either go Noun-Noun (Star-Lord), Adjective-Noun (Black Panther) or Verb-Noun (Shatter Star).

  2. Single word character. Typically a riff on an historical characters (Thor, Cyclops, Colossus) or a hybrid of an existing word (Magneto, Hulk, Invincible, Nova) or named after a creature of some kind (Wolverine, Puma). Hard to find something original here - they’re usually not quite right if they haven’t been used after all these years (case in point - Sentry).

  3. Title character. Captain-America. Doc-Strange. Miss Marvel. Gives you lots of options but it’s kind of an easy path for new characters and I don’t know if you’ll get anything memorable.

I’d expect you’re going to be combining two words together to create something original, and to be honest most two word combinations will exist in some shape or form so I wouldn’t worry too hard about being completely original. Best that you pick two words that kind of both describe the character in different ways - Spider-Man. Wonder-Woman. Human-Torch. So if your character carries a shield and wears blue you could go with something like The Cobalt Guardian for example. If you character is cool, pretty quickly the name will become cool too.


#8

Captain Rex Steel-Man


#9

Super Blue/Yellow Shield-bearer.


#10

The Lightning is always a good superhero name as Nietzsche came up with it in the 1800’s. :wink:

But like Jim points out, tone and focus determine the best names. If it’s a patriotic superhero, The Eagle is more straightforward while Commander-In-Chief or Capitol Punishment is more tongue in cheek. Superman has a ton of analogues that play off various aspects. Apollo off his solar powered version or Majestic off his more elite, above the rest of mankind version. Alpha, Hyperion, Titan, Miracleman, Metro-Man and so on - Overman, again.

A superfast character could be obvious names like the Flash or Quicksilver, with equally obvious copycat names like the Blur or Blip. I think the Whoosh would be more comical or the “What The F**k!” as that would be the likely response to a faster than the eye can see character in any situation (think Quicksilver in DAYS OF FUTURE PAST - “WTF” would be a better name for what he’s like)

As far as specifically the character you are thinking of, it’s like totally vague at this point. Male or female with no powers and a blue, possibly yellow, costume? I think the name is the least of your concerns at this point, but the look of a character - unless they are dressed as a bat - has little to do with the name. Superman is not called that because of the S on his chest, but because he can fly and punch through steel walls. Spider-Man is not called that because of the webs and spiders on his costume, but because he’s a man who seems to have the same abilities as a spider - and the costume follows that as well.

A shield type weapon is somewhat contradictory because a shield is defensive, not a weapon. Still, a gun is a defensive weapon in some cases, but what does the character use the shield for? You could use various names for shield - Fortress, Bastion, Buckle - or you could come up with a name that is specific to the story and has nothing to do with anything universal. Like if the shield is formed by some manipulation of photonic energy, they could be called Hard Light or Solar Solid or Photazmic.


#11

How about Johnny California?

His name could be Arnold, and live in Pittsburgh, but uses the JC Moniker to hide is true identity!


#12

Johnny Something is always the default choice. Johnny Lightning!

For a shield based character, The Shell is nice as it can go in a lot of directions. The character can be very defensive or cut off from other people and the Shell is also a metaphor for her alienation as well as the source of her power. Without it, she is both vulnerable and more human.

Hard Case or Hardcase would be similar.


#13

Just a warning: the names “Huck” and “Finnegan James O’Hara” are already taken.


#14

Thanks for all the help on this, given me a lot to go on


#15

When I have had to create heroes for RPGs I tend to find a word that invokes their power or mission, then break open a thesaurus. A blue and yellow costume doesn’t make me think sneaky or detective, so I would look under signal, protection (for the shield), and warrior / fighter.

Then if you are going to publish this you need to make sure someone else doesn’t own the rights (something I didn’t have to worry about). @JimOHara’s advice about a two word name is very helpful in minimizing this potential.


#16

Great advice thanks, think I might finalise the character before I get serious about a name. Oddly struggling with a name is a minor part of the story


#17

Well, like they say, “write what you know”. :slight_smile:


#18

Conan is a good example of naming. It’s really just an Irish name. However, throw something cool after it, Conan the Barbarian - brutal - or Conan the Cimmerian - mysterious - Conan the Conquerer - and it totally rocks.


#19

It doesn’t always work, though:


#20

I’m hoping that they will film the long rumored King Conan film before it turns into Conan the Octagenarian.