Rappers and comic book characters have some clear similarities: they both require a compelling origin story, they often answer to several aliases, and (ideally) they've got a special skill that sets them apart from mere mortals. So it's no wonder the two have been feeding off of each other for decades.
Hip hop is an endless battle of pop cultural one-upmanship, and comic book references crop up in songs by everyone from The Sugarhill Gang to Eminem. In honor of San Diego Comic-Con, we highlight 9 artists who took it one step further, assuming the names of characters the others just talk about.
When Bronx native Christopher Rios rapped, “Hop in your Hummer, the Punisher's ready / meet me at Vito's with noodles, we'll do this dude while he's slurping spaghetti,” he was referring to himself, the man we know as Big Pun. But it’s just as easy to imagine Marvel antihero Frank Castle—aka The Punisher—on his way to dish out some vigilante justice in the New York City streets.
This one's a technicality: as any Hulk fan can tell you, David Banner is the name of Hulk’s alter ego in the TV show that ran in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, while he's Bruce Banner in the comic books and recent Avengers movies.
Why the change? According to The Incredible Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno, CBS felt the name Bruce was, quote, “too gayish,” while David sounded more macho.
Making his solo debut with the 1996 Ironman album, Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface has peppered his entire body of work with references to the billionaire superhero Iron Man and his not-so-secret identity Tony Stark. One wonders if the differences in spelling (Ironman/Iron Man, Tony Stark/Tony Starks) are mistakes or just a fun way to dodge a cease and desist from Marvel.
Marvel's clearly cool with it: "Slept On Tony" from 2008's GhostDeini The Great appears in the Iron Man movie, though Ghost's cameo ended up on the cutting room floor.
British-born DJ and producer Daniel Dumile debuted as MF Doom in the late '90s, and his trademark mask is the sole constant amid shifting aliases and collaborations with artists like Madlib and Danger Mouse.
While he’s (PROBABLY) not an evil sorcerer like Fantastic Four nemesis Victor von Doom, he is prone to villainy: Dumile has sent an impostor to perform in his mask on at least two occasions.
Rapper Kathryn Beckwith will never be confused with Kitty Pryde—she can't phase through walls, and she dropped "Pryde" from her alias last year. Kitty's explanation for the name change was that she "didn't wanna keep pissing off X-Men fans, partially didn't wanna seem like I was playing a character."
Method Man adopted the Johnny Blaze alias early in his Wu-Tang career, and he's recorded as Johnny Blaze—the name of Ghost Rider's alter ego—several times in the years since. Despite his seemingly laid-back demeanor, Meth must identify with Ghost Rider, a stunt motorcyclist who's doomed to ride the nights away while consumed in a blazing hellfire.
You may not be familiar with Bruce Wane who, according to his Twitter bio, resides in Gotham. But we've got to give him points for his very on-theme The Dark Knight Album.