Archive for November 6th, 2011

Nov 06 2011

Ideas About How to Name a Superhero

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

First, I’d like to reiterate that superhero names generally don’t matter very much and probably won’t mean the difference between getting published and getting rejected. That said, if you can’t come up with a superhero name or a team name, here are some possible sources of inspiration.


1. Something thematically and/or symbolically appropriate. For example, “Captain America” is more interesting than “Shield Throwing Man,” because the America and military angles matter more to his story than the details of his superpowers. Alternately, Oracle can’t actually predict the future, but her name sort of makes sense because her main role is providing information and assistance. There are also a bevy of characters named after mythological or literary references (e.g. Ozymandias is acutely aware of human limitations/mortality, which also happens to be the main theme of the poem Ozymandias). Please note that you can either gloss over the symbolism or skip over it — e.g. Watchmen and Breaking Bad spent less than a minute discussing where “Ozymandias” and “Heisenberg” came from.

2. An emotional impression. Some characters have names that evoke the right emotions, but aren’t related to the characters’ powers. Some heroic examples include Wonder Woman and the Martian Manhunter, as opposed to villainous examples like Venom and Carnage.


3. Something in the character’s origin story. For example, Green Lantern is named after the source of his powers (and his organization). Batman is named after a bat even though his powers aren’t actually bat-related. (Unless bats are secretly master ninja-scientist-detectives. That’d go a long way to explaining how the bats trapped in my attic have survived this long, actually).


4. The character’s goal. This is more common in team names (e.g. the Avengers or any name with Guardians in it), but names like The Punisher or The Question make it pretty clear what the characters want to accomplish.   Continue Reading »

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