|Quotes • Headscratchers • Playing With • Useful Notes • Analysis • Image Links • Haiku • Laconic|
"Particle Man, Particle ManParticle Man"
Doin' the things a particle can
What's he like? It's not important
—They Might Be Giants, "Particle Man"
A quick-n-dirty way to make a superhero/supervillain name: call them "(Something)man". Alternatively, "(Something) Man" or "(Something)-Man". "Woman" or "girl" (or, very occasionally, "lass") can be substituted for "man", especially where a Distaff Counterpart of the "man" is needed; "boy", "lad" or "kid" can also replace "man". For variety, there are also a large number of "Captain (Something)"s, though those names are often sarcastic.
Common themes include using animals, weapons, items or elements. Expect a lot of Theme Naming if the heroes are in a team.
Compare Captain Superhero (perhaps the second most common superhero naming trope), Luke Nounverber (this trope's counterpart in Speculative Fiction), The Adjectival Superhero, Species Surname, All the Tropes Superhero Team (a Just for Fun page imagining any trope with a "something person" form was a superhero). Often, an Animal-Themed Superbeing might use this sort of naming scheme.
- Elongated Man, although lacking a Secret Identity, he was often just called Ralph.
- Invisible Woman (formerly Invisible Girl), of the Fantastic Four.
- Also Invisible Boy, of the Mystery Men
- Mega Man
- Normalman, the only person on the planet Levram without superpowers (due to not actually being a native).
- Superman, the original.
- A "Superwoman" occasionally shows up, mostly so Time Warner can secure the trademark.
- Superbaby. Seriously.
- While not people, The Super-person pattern continued beyond the human race into The Legion of Super-pets:
- Krypto the Superdog
- Streaky the Supercat
- Beppo the Supermonkey
- Comet the Superhorse (Who, unlike the others, was not a Kryptonian animal brought to Earth but a centuar magically transformed into a horse with super powers.)
- And finally, Super Turtle, who was not technically a member of the Legion of Super-pets but was a one-page backup feature in a number of comics and is part of the Superman Family.
- Strong Badman of Homestar Runner originated when someone asked why Strong Bad didn't have a name like this.
- Lampshaded by Strong Guy, from Marvel Comics. "Every team needs a strong guy!"
- Giant Man (Hank Pym; see below for more of his names)
- Radioactive Man, a nuclear-powered Chinese physicist.
- Let's not forget the other Radioactive Man, with sidekick Fallout Boy.
- Expendable Lad
- And from the same show, the Huntsman.
- Wild Child
- The Tall Man
- No connection to another tall man.
- Parodied in The Specials with Minute(pronounced my-noot) man, but often understandably mispronounced by people.
College girl: Hey, are you Minuteman? Can we have your autograph?
Minute Man: My-noot Man! Do I look like a soldier from the Revolutionary War? I don't think so! Am I wearing a three-cornered hat? No! I turn small. Think!
College girl: That costume makes you look gay.
- There actually is a Minuteman in Freedom Force.
- Stupendous Man from Calvin and Hobbes
S for Stupendous!
T for Tiger, ferocity of!
U for Underwear, red!
P for Power, incredible!
E for Excellent physique!
N for ...um... something ...hmm, well I'll come back to that...
D for Determination!
U for ...for... wait, how do you spell this? Is it I?
- Elasti-Girl and Negative Man of the Doom Patrol. Subverted in that they HATED the "freak names" given to them, mostly it seems by the media.
- Negative Woman as well.
- Metro Man.
- Blankman of the Gadgeteer Genius variety, named so because he couldn't say a word (i.e. was blank) when asked for his name.
- Animal Man.
- Ant-Man (Hank Pym again)
- Ant Woman, an ally of The Easy Breather.
- Bat-mite (arguably not a person, as he's a 5th-dimensional imp who's also Batman's biggest fan)
- There was also a Bat-hound (Definitely not a person, but part of the family)
- Beast Boy of the Teen Titans.
- Bee Man from Dr. McNinja
- Spider Woman, the name of three characters who aren't actually related to Spidey.
- Spider-Girl, his Alternate Continuity daughter.
- WCW's infamous Spider-Man knockoff, Arachniman.
- Spider-Man, according to industry legend, went from 'Insect-Man' to 'Mosquito-Man' to 'Spider-Man'. Spider-Man was just the version that stuck.
- "Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig, does whatever a Spider-Pig does."
- Squirrel Girl, who as you can probably guess is not intended to be entirely serious.
- The Astounding Wolf-Man
- Gorilla Man
- and Gorilla Girl
- Not to be confused with the possibly-real alien Mothman.
- Snake Man, Toad Man, Centaur Man, Tengu Man, Hornet Man and Sheep Man.
- Along with every other animal or "actiony" word you could possible think of, plus man. Seriously.
- Puma Man (he flies like a moron!)
- One Piece has Panda-man
- Dragon Kid from Tiger and Bunny.
- Iron Man
- ...and his foes Titanium Man (2 incarnations) and Cobalt Man.
- And Iron Lad of the Young Avengers
- The Metal Men, with individual elements as members; Gold, Iron, Tin, Lead, Mercury, and token female Platinum (although these days, she's joined by Copper).
- The Breeders--sounds like a superhero team, but...as for what their power oughta be...let's not go there--began as a one-off including members of Pixies, though finally way outlasting their progenitors. Debut CD Pod closes with "Metal Man", the lyrics an odd hybrid of Super-Hero Origin and Alien Abduction. Unusually subdued for the Deal sisters, though before it's over they shoehorn an Epic Riff in the mélange. Only a bit of singing; most words are spoken by Josephine Wiggs, the band's "Coastal cutthroat" bassist (for details on said epithet, ask Kim what the song "Hag" means). Wiggs' deadpan Brit mumble adds an air of mystery to a track already notable for its opacity.
Over my head the hot wire was sparking
I got something down on my chest
And it began to bubble
- And of course, Element Lad from the Legion of Super-Heroes
- There was also Element Girl, an obscure DC hero who later turned up, suicidally depressed, in The Sandman.
- The Tin Man from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz kinda sorta qualifies, maybe. Except he's not a superhero. (Except in that one scene in the book where he single-handedly decapitates an entire onrushing pack of wolves.)
Minerals and Compounds
- Aquaman and his side-kick Aqualad
- Asbestos Woman, a Golden Age Marvel villain.
- Hydro-Man, a Spider-Man foe.
- Iceman of the X-Men
- Sandman, another Spider-Man foe.
- DC Comics' Golden Age and Silver Age Sandmen. (The title character of The Sandman is a) not a superhero and b) not called Sandman.)
- Would a Sandman from Logan's Run qualify?
- Molecule Man, an unambitious average joe who could rend the universe asunder with a thought.
- Plastic Man
- Steeljack's codename can be somewhat confusing, considering his given name is Carl. When you know that it's short for "The Steel-jacketed Man!" it makes a lot more sense.
- Gatchaman, with gatcha being the Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound of metal striking.
- Some Digimon names, like Garurumon, with garuru being a Japanese onomatopoeia for "growling".
- Robot Man, AKA Cliff Steel of the Doom Patrol. Subverted in that he hated the name.
- Rockman, the original name of Mega Man. (As in Rock music.) Other characters (many of whose names were changed) went along with the Theme Naming to music.
- Marvel Girl of the X-Men.
- And Marvel Boy of the New Warriors.
- And a string of Captain Marvels, and Ms. Marvel.
- This is particularly hilarious, as Captain Marvel was the name of one of DC Comics's flagship heroes long before Marvel made it big. Marvel managed to secure the rights to the name and the DC comic is now sold under the name "Shazam"...but the character is still called Captain Marvel. (Whereas in Marvel's universe there are about four Captain Marvels.)
- The original Captain Marvel was a Fawcett character. Most people have never heard of Fawcett, because DC sued them into oblivion and ended up with the rights to the character, supposedly because the Big Red Cheese was too similar to Superman.
- One of the Marvel universe Captain Marvels stars in "Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E." along with a "hero" named The Captain, who is implied to be every fourth-string hero named "Captain Something" in Marvel's history. Apparently, being from Brooklyn, he originally used the name "Captain ****", until he introduced himself to Captain America and wound up stuffed into a dumpster with a bar of soap in his mouth.
- There is a Power Girl in DC and a Power Man (although he usually just goes by Luke Cage) in Marvel. There was even a What The...!? one-panel gag about "What if Wonder Man was a woman and Power Man was a girl...?"
- DC's Amazon princess, Wonder Woman, and Marvel's completely unrelated character, Wonder Man.
- DFE's Super 6 had three: Elevator Man, Granite Man and Magneto Man.
- All of the members of Terrytoons' The Mighty Heroes: Strong Man, Cuckoo Man, Diaper Man, Rope Man and Tornado Man.
- Particle Man, Triangle Man, Universe Man and Person Man from the song "Particle Man" by They Might Be Giants.
- British comics and cartoon character Bananaman. (And his Evil Counterpart Appleman.)
- Hanna-Barbera had Birdman and the Galaxy Trio:
- Vapor Man
- Meteor Man
- Gravity Girl
- ...and the Impossibles
- ... and the Super-Globetrotters
- Multi-Man (again)
- Liquid Man
- Sphere Man
- Spaghetti Man
- Gizmo Man
- ...and the prehistoric Sidekick:
- The Starman dynasty, which also includes Starboy of the Lo SH, Stargirl (formerly the Star-Spangled Kid) and at least two future Starwomen. How they're related to a star's properties varies. Most of the current Starmen and Stargirl wield "cosmic energy", while Starboy can alter gravity.
- Real Life: Tank Man.
- Maid-Man from Empowered
- Dead Girl
- Multiple Man (Madrox)
- Thor Girl
- Ringo Kid (no relation to any Beatles)
- Outlaw Kid
- Two Gun Kid
- Shiver Man
- Machine Teen
- Ghost Girl
- Demolition Man
- Dinobot counts, right? Shapeshifting alien robots are people too!
- Thunder Girl
- Spider-Plant Man (A parody of Spider-Man by Rowan Atkinson)
- Liberty Lad from Freedom Force
- Man-Bot, also from Freedom Force
- Might Guy from Naruto
- Deadpool once had a short lived sidekick. His name? You guessed it: Pool-Boy.
- Marvel villain Purple Man.
- Combustion Man
- Blood Boy
- Pizza Girl
- Mermaidman and Barnacle-Boy
- Konami Man and Konami Girl from the Konami game Wai Wai World.
- The generic character's name in Temple Run is "Guy Dangerous".
- Messiah Lady
- Karate Kid from the Legion of Super-Heroes (who predated the movie of the same name).
- He-Man. Probably the most unimaginative name ever.
- He-Mom, the no-nonsense mom of the superhero team The Ripping Friends. And yes, it is worse than it sounds.
- And another parody from the same show, Man Man and his sidekick Boy Boy showed up for one episode.
- Powdered Toast Man, a parody courtesy of the creators of Ren and Stimpy.
- Male Man from the webcomic I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space.
- Ro-Man from the So Bad It's Good movie Robot Monster. As ridiculous as the name.
- The above-mentioned Person Man.
- Strong Sad's fictional superhero persona: Twelve-Times-A-Day Man!
- Man-Man, though he did get his "powers" from the bite of a radioactive man.
- There was also a Man-Man (pronounced Mon-Mon) in Normalman. With the power of Ganja Breath.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000, in a sketch where Joel and the Bots were making up their own superhero names, also used Man-Man, describing him as "the man with the proportionate strength of...a man!"
- Old Man-Man from Dresden Codak.
- Machine-Man, best known now from his time with Nextwave.
- U-Go Girl (No, really)
- Fan Boy (Again, really)
- Rocket Man, maybe?
- Melt Man, with the power to... melt!
- Not to be confused with Coupling's Melty Man
- In a backwards example, Marvel's Man-Thing (which is a big humanoid plant).
- It doesn't help that the full title of his comic, due to its page count, was Giant-Size Man-Thing.
- Splosion Man.
- Superhero League of Hoboken features on its roster, among other heroes, Tropical Oil Man and Treader Man. The latter of which has the superpower to be really good at treading water. (The power of Heart is starting to look good now...)
- The Civic-Minded Five on The Tick included The Carpeted Man. Don't let him rub up against you, or you'll get a nasty static-electric shock!
- Also Four-Legged Man in the TV series, Oddman in the Comic Book, and Feral Boy in both.
- Dole Man, the banana company's Japanese mascot. He can shoot bananas.
- All of the Robot Masters of the classic Mega Man and most of the Navis in the Mega Man Battle Network series have their names with the suffix "-Man".
- ...Except Mega Man 9. Which stirs things up by adding
Token FemaleSplashwo Man.
- Even if certain Navis in Battle Network did not have "-Man" attatched to their names, all of their names will still end with .EXE, as they are (very personal) computer programs. However, from the third game onwards, most Navis dropped the .EXE extension when referring to other Navis by name.
- ...Except Mega Man 9. Which stirs things up by adding
- The Legion of Super-Heroes, amongst its approximately 100 members, mostly all have names of this makeup. The most popular suffixes are "-Boy", "-Lad", "-King", "-Girl", "-Lass", "-Queen", "and "-Kid". Some notable examples are Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Bouncing Boy, Invisible Kid, Chemical King, Insect Queen, Shadow Lass and, of course, Matter Eater Lad...
- Wizard magazine once parodied this practice with a Top 10 list of rejected Legion characters, including "Lad Lass" and "Keep-Squeezing-Them-Monkeys Lad".
- ...of course, they were about 30 years late to the party; the Legion of Substitute Heroes existed back in The Silver Age of Comic Books, with characters like Stone Boy, who had the ability to turn into an immobile statue; Color Kid, who could change the color of things; and... Arm-Fall-Off Boy.
- An occasional bit on Whose Line Is It Anyway, called "Superheroes," has the performers coming up with ludicrous superhero identities for each other, which then have to be played out. For instance: "Touchy-Feely Man," "Boneless Boy," "Says Everything Twice Man," "The Rhyming Couplet Kid," and "Ripped Off In The Divorce Settlement Man."
- Spoofed by the webcomic Supermegatopia, which features a team called the Men-Men. Their roster includes Fire Man, Space Man, Sails Man, Snow Man, and even a token female called Milk Man. Their leader is an anthropomorphic chair called (wait for it) Chair Man.
- They play with the trope in other ways, such as how there are both Wonder Woman and Wonder Man analogues, both of whom are wombats and call themselves Wonder Wombat. Canon has it that there were many lawsuits before they decided no one was likely to confuse them for each other all that often.
- Oddly enough, Who Wants to Be a Superhero rarely has contestents with names like this, as the applicants are mostly Genre Savvy and consider these names overused. On rare occasion, however...
Stan Lee: And what's your name?
Contestant: I am Hommmmmeeeeeeeleeeesssss Maaaaaan!
- When Cyclops is injured in an issue of Astonishing X-Men, he hallucinates having a Fire-Man, Clothing-Man, and Ability-To-Hop-Man on his team along with the real Iceman -- although he considers that they may be the same person.
- Elastigirl, of course. (Brief mention was made of other "supers" with names following this pattern: Strato-girl, Dynaguy, etc.)
- The Mavericks from the Mega Man X games deserve mention, as they (mostly) fall into the "something-animal" naming scheme.
- Most common way of naming characters in Soreike! Anpanman, even when they're not superheroes, usually based on some kind of food. Frequent recurrers are the titular Anpanman, Shokupanman, Kareepanman, Baikinman ("baikin" means "germ", so... yeah), Horrorman (a really cute living skeleton), Tendonman and Katsudonman from Donburiman Trio, Hamigakiman (a toothpaste tube), Naganegiman... well, you got it. Women usually have their names end -na instead of man (Melonpanna and Rollpanna) or have another kind of feminine suffix such as -chan or -hime. Recent characters tend to have different kind of names, maybe because it becomes hard to follow the same pattern over time.
- Darkwing Duck, an affectionate parody of the genre, used this in the in-world style; note Darkwing Duck, as well as GizmoDuck, a somewhat more respected crimefighter, and NegaDuck, his Evil Twin. And then there's the aliens from Mertz, all of whom are superheroes. The only named natives were Comet Guy, Official Guy, and Ordinary Guy (the only one on the planet without superpowers).
- Stephen Lynch's "If I Could Be a Superhero". Not just the song (which has Awesome Man, Immigration Dude, and Justice Guy), but the point during a live performance when Lynch calls out for audience suggestions. They're mostly NSFW... except for Homeless Man and Narcolepsy Boy. Lynch takes the examples and flies with them, taking a moment to describe what each sort of superhero would do.
- Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap lists the turned-to-animal forms as "Lion-Man", "Mouse-Man", "Piranha-Man"... and the regular form as the groan-inducing "Hu-Man".
- In the Play Station 2 version of Spider-Man 3, Bruce Campbell poses a question to the players during 'combat training': 'What would Spider-Man be without his spider-powers? He'd be....-Man. Is that what you wanted to play? -Man 3? I didn't think so.'
- Boxerman, pictured above, who can't tell which way is up and which way is down.
- Later, we meet Barebuttman and Pancake-Loving Man.
- The Legion of Net Heroes is filled with these. They're often either outright parodies or just plain silly. The list includes Particle Man, Bicycle Repair Lad, and Fourth Wall Lass.
- One Mac Hall comic featured three of the characters going to a Halloween costume party as "The Bag Brothers Three". Each of the three was wearing a different kind of bag over his head (paper, plastic, and sleeping).
- One of Toei's Metal Heroes was actually called Janperson. It seems that the title was actually supposed to be romanised as "Jumperson", as the titular character (who is a robot, not a person) wears a jumpsuit from time to time.
- Lampshaded in an issue of Marvel Team-Up, where Spider-Man meets Image Comics superhero Invincible who ribs him for his unimaginative name. Later, Invincible meets the Avengers:
- In a Sluggy Freelance "Stick Figure Week" story, Torg is exposed to radiation and becomes "Lost All My Hair and Teeth Man."
- While this is mostly averted in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, it does occur every once in a while. Notable examples include Brain Boy, Gravity Man, Jungle Boy, Patchwork Man, and Fantastic Man.
- Harry Enfield parodied this with The Palace of Righteous Justice, a superhero team who take on incredibly mundane missions such as washing dishes or opening a bank account: "Law Man (Wielder of the mighty sword of Dobber)", "Fire Man (Whose fiery balls of fire can start fires)", "(Kometh the) Ice Man" and "She Woman Cat Type Thing"
- Lampshaded by Mystery Science Theater 3000 endlessly.
- During the Joel era, he and the bots came up with ludicrous superheroes for The Fantastic 85, with such heroes as "Lint Attachment-Man", "Jazz Trio-Man", "Really Deep-Man" ("He's really deep, man!") and "Always Smells Like Maple-Man". (And Man-Man, described above)
- During the Mike era, Crow declared himself Turkey Volume Guessing Man.
- Online reviewer Marz Gurl (who is a female fan of Marvin the Martian).
- A bunch of earlier Super Sentai teams are name liked this this: Denziman ("Electromagnetic Man"), Dynaman, Bioman, Changeman, Flashman, Maskman, Liveman, Fiveman, Jetman and Gingaman ("Galaxy Man").
- Perhaps the most famous of them all, predating Superman by more than half a century: Joseph Merrick, "The Elephant Man"
- Also, Grady Stiles, aka "Lobster Boy". Suffering from ectrodactyly, he was born with his his fingers (save for the thumb) fused together, causing his hands to look like the claws of a lobster.
- This was also passed on to his son, much to the joy of Stiles and his wife, since that meant the boy's financial future was secured for life.
- Contortionists are sometimes referred to as "snake men/women".