Tricks & Tips For Naming Superheroes & Supervillains

Since the release of The Avengers, there are more people searching for superhero name generators. Personally, I don't feel that superhero (or supervillain) names are something that generate well, so I've written this to give people ideas to figure out names for their superhero and supervillain characters for themselves.

  • There's the old (Word)-Man/Woman/Boy/Girl style of name, eg, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Invisible Woman, etc. Unfortunately, this one's been in use for so long that probably everything you can think of has already been used, and it might sound a little old-fashioned.
  • A similar formula is the "Human X" formula, eg, the Human Torch. It's old, but it hasn't been used quite as much as the above, probably because it usually ends up sounding just plain silly.
  • Some characters have a single-word name, eg, Cyclops, Hulk, or Magneto.
  • There's the (Title) (Name/Word) formula, eg, Captain America, Doc Samson, Mister Incredible, Miss Marvel, Lady Deathstrike, etc.
  • There is the (Noun)(Noun) formula (eg, Starfire), the (Adjective)(Noun) formula (eg, Black Cat, Scarlet Witch), and even the (Verb)(Noun) formula (eg, Shatterstar).
  • Some characters just use their own names and titles most, if not all of the time. The Asgardians in The Mighty Thor use their own names. So do most superheroes and supervillains in recent superhero movies, in fact.

Superhero names typically clue us in to something about the character. For example:

  • X-Men has Jubilee, and a jubilee is a type of celebration. This relates to her power of creating plasma "fireworks," as fireworks are associated with celebrations.
  • Magneto gets his name directly from his powers, which is magnetism. No points for guessing what Graviton's powers are!
  • Captain America's name indicates that he stands for American ideals.
  • The Red Skull gets his name from the fact that... well, he looks like a red skull.
  • Batman gets his name and whole schtick from that time he was traumatized by bats as a child.
  • Gambit's name relates to his fondness for throwing cards.
  • The Incredibles was extremely fond of puns and wordplay. For example, there was a Cyclops-expy named "Gazerbeam." His name makes it pretty clear that his powers are firing lasers from his eyes. "Frozone" is a portmanteu of "frozen" and "ozone." "Underminer" is a name with layered meanings - not only does it refer to his modus operandi of digging underground, but the word undermine means to stop or impede something through secretive or stealthy means.

So, what to name your superhero in specific? Here are some tips:

  • It shouldn't be too long or difficult to say. Innocent civilians could die in the time it takes to say "Hey, Bombardier Goldenrod Axlotl!" Seriously, most superheroes have about 1-3 syllables in their names, unless their names are preceeded by a rank/title such as "Captain" or "Mister," which we've had plenty of practice saying already so they easily roll off our tongues.
  • The meaning (or at least one meaning) of your superhero/supervillain name should be fairly obvious to the average person. "Batman" is far more effective at conveying meaning to Bob and Alice Average than "Chiroptoman."
  • If your superhero is black, the word "black" probably shouldn't be in xir name.
  • Just don't create characters whose names and schticks relate to a national stereotype. I feel like I shouldn't have to mention this by now, but considering that The Incredibles threw us Bomb Voyage (hardly the worst example, but still mildly awkward) fairly recently... yeah, I'm gonna mention it.
  • Exactly how serious your character's name should be depends on how serious the story is. If you have a fairly serious universe, names like "Unicorn-Man" and "Bubblebunny" are probably right out, but if it's a sillier setting, then go for it.
  • I've seen some pages that tell you not to use dashes in names (eg, "Unicorn-Man") because they make the names look clumsy or awkward. Personally, I think they look fine, so this may be a subjective issue.

You might also be interested in:

Tips & Ideas To Make Better & More Interesting Powers
Superhero & Supervillain Name Origin Generator
Superhero & Supervillain Costume Generator
Superpower Generator
How You Got Your Superpowers
Quiz: What Kind Of Superhero Would You Be?
Big Bad Generator
Basic Tips To Write Better & More Despicable Villains
Mindsets & Rationales That Lend Well To Villainy

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