The Adjectival Superhero

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Mrs. Chandler: My! Marlo wasn't exaggerating. I see... green skin... amazing!

Hulk: No. Spider-Man is amazing. I'm incredible.
"Of all the descriptive names of all the things people say when they hear a hero in action, The Amazing Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, The Invincible Iron Man, the only descriptive word for this guy is 'The God-damn Batman!'"
SF Debris on The Dark Knight

A Comic Book Naming Convention - sort of - with roots in the Silver Age. The superhero's name is preceded by some sort of silly, over-the-top adjective. Usually in the actual book's title even if rarely used in the story.

Keep in mind that not just any descriptors qualify for the trope - "New Trope-Man" is too simple, but "All-New, All-Different Trope-Man" can be sufficiently over-the-top. Now mostly used in the modern day either due to the Grandfather Clause or as a deliberate homage to the Silver Age. If the superhero gets a movie, expect the descriptor to be used at least once.

Comes from the same era as Something Person names and Superhero Sobriquets, and often provides Alliteration. Replace a team's name with the number of members, and you have The Notable Numeral. Also compare other name and title tropes involving adjectives, Adjective Noun Fred and The Magnificent. Contrast the Dark Age of Supernames. See also The Fantastic Trope of Wonderous Titles.

Not to be confused with The Adjectival Man, where the adjective is the main part of the character's "name". In this trope, the adjective is just thrown in for the heck of it.

Examples of The Adjectival Superhero include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

Comics[edit | hide]

  • Marvel Comics is the king of this:
    • The Amazing/Spectacular/Sensational Spider-Man, although Spidey himself prefers "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" (which eventually became a short-lived Spidey title). He may well have been the Trope Codifier for this, as his first appearance was in Amazing Fantasy, which was soon after canceled, and replaced on the newsstands with Amazing Spider-Man.
      • Spider-Girl also eventually inherited Amazing and later Spectacular from her dad.
      • Also seen: the Dark Avengers' Costume Copycat is the Sinister Spider-Man.
      • What do you get when Spidey regularly teams up with Avengers and other superheroes? A series called The Avenging Spider-Man!
      • When improvising a mask out of a paper bag, he became the Amazing or the Bombastic Bag-Man.
      • After joining the Future Foundation (formerly known as the Fantastic Four), he's the Fantastic Spider-Man.
    • X-Men has Uncanny, Astonishing, and (briefly) X-Treme.
    • In general, when a franchise has multiple books, some of them will have adjectives in their titles and one won't; this one is usually given the Fan Nickname "The Adjectiveless ________".
      • Marvel also uses "All-New, All-Different" from time to time. It originated with a roster overhaul for the X-Men, and is now a go-to phrase to hype up ReTools and relaunches.
    • The Invincible Iron Man
    • The Incredible Hulk. This one actually transferred to two television shows and a movie.
      • Lampshaded by Peter David (who else?) in a story where the Hulk meets Rick Jones' mother-in-law. When she exclaims "Green skin! Amazing!" he replies "No, Spider-Man is amazing. I'm incredible!"
      • There was also Rampaging Hulk, but honestly nobody cares.
      • When Hercules took over Hulk's book, he gained the Incredible moniker.
    • The Savage/Sensational She Hulk
      • The titles are currently being used to differentiate between multiple She-Hulks: The "Sensational" She-Hulk is Banner's cousin Jennifer Walters; while the "Savage" She-Hulk is Lyra, the Hulk's daughter from an alternate future.
    • The Mighty Thor
    • The Immortal Iron Fist
    • The Astonishing Ant-Man
      • This adjective serves as a reference to the fact the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, made his first appearance in the anthology comic Tales To Astonish.
      • The latest Ant-Man was a complete Jerkass, so his series was titled The Irredeemable Ant-Man.
    • There's a D- or E-list joke hero called the Fabulous Frog-Man.
      • Who eventually gained a sidekick in the Tenacious Tadpole.
    • The Craptacular B-Sides, a lesser-known Marvel team.
    • The Fantastic Four (itself a Notable Numeral) has the Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Thing.
    • When The Avengers split, the pro-registration team became the Mighty Avengers. (There have been other "_____ Avengers" teams, but none with titles quite overblown enough for the trope.)
    • Ghost Rider villain the Orb insists on being known as the All-New Orb.
    • Averted with Doctor Strange, who uses Superhero Sobriquets instead, but his enemies often fit this trope (the Dread Dormammu, the Unrelenting Umar).
    • Marvel even made fun of themselves for this trope back in the '60s with Not Brand Echh. For example, their muscular green guy in ripped pants was the Inedible Bulk. You whippersnappers might have seen him in Nextwave.
    • The Awesome Slapstick.
  • Thanks to All-Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder and Memetic Mutation, DC finally has one: "the Goddamn Batman".
  • The Savage Dragon. Yes, contrary to popular belief, Officer Dragon lacks a first name and does not go by "Savage" in-story.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures spinoff The Mighty Mutanimals.
  • As a superhero parody, normalman has been called the Unconvinceable normalman and the Excruciatingly Average normalman.
  • Back in 2006, DC busted out The All-New Atom! Sadly, they brought back the original Atom not long after, and the all-new one got left by the roadside.
  • The Incredible Popeman. Not as serious as the other examples, obviously.
  • The Terrific Whatzit, DC's first Funny Animal superhero (named "Whatzit" since he was a turtle who in his superhero identity didn't wear his shell, making it harder to tell what species he was), a turtle with the powers/costume of the Golden Age Flash (and Johnny Quick's flying/strength abilities).
  • DC's New 52 reboot includes The Savage Hawkman.

Film[edit | hide]

Live Action Television[edit | hide]

  • The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.
    • Borderline, as it's sort of the team's proper name (at least compared to all the other Power Rangers teams there have been since then). However the original show was supposed to be one season, so it counts.
  • The Big Bad Beetleborgs.
  • Discussed in the episode of The Big Bang Theory "The Hofstadter Isotope" since Penny knows that her nephew wants a Spider-Man comic book for his birthday but is unfamiliar with the adjectival system.

Music[edit | hide]

  • An S Club 7 song refers to the band as "The One and Only Wonderful S Club"
  • The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
  • The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Their earliest compilation appearances credited them as just The Bosstones (which is still something fans call them for short), but it turned out there had already been a group called The Bosstones in the 50's.

Theater[edit | hide]

  • The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Video Games[edit | hide]

Webcomics[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Other[edit | hide]