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In a single fantasy universe, which Superhero character has had the most individuals portray themselves as being(secretly temporally substituting for) the Superhero, or have actually taken over the role of the Superhero?

For instance, Alfred sometimes donned the cape and cowl and was seen as Batman.

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There's been a bunch of supermen but I'm guessing someone will come up with a clever answer based on some superhero meeting his clones –  Richard May 24 at 21:05
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Does the finale of V for Vendetta count? –  Philipp May 25 at 5:51
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@b_jonas: There are 3, one of them die, the second become Nightwing, and the third is still Robin. –  DrakaSAN May 25 at 13:07
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V is definitely a superhero. Super powers? Check. Does heroic things? Check. –  Richard May 25 at 18:12
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I think the real question we must ask ourselves here is... Does Sparticus count? –  Zibbobz May 27 at 18:07

6 Answers 6

up vote 24 down vote accepted

The Phantom is a hero identity passed down from father to son since 1536, when (according to Wikipedia) the father of British sailor Christopher Walker was killed during a pirate attack. Swearing an oath on the skull of his father's murderer to fight evil, Christopher started the legacy of the Phantom that would be passed from father to son. There have been 22 Phantoms.

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True dat! The Phantom is a legacy hero passed down throughout the ages and eventually landing on the shoulders of Billy Zane ;] –  22nd Century Fza May 25 at 4:24
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Actually, the Phantom of 2040 is the last Phantom in the timeline of the canon. He is the 24th Phantom in the line. –  FuzzyMcNubNubs May 25 at 17:03

The movie V for Vendetta ends with a protest march of several hundred people portraying the titular protagonist V.

Due to being the involuntary subject of a government experiment, V has certain superhuman abilities so he definitely qualifies as super. But whether or not he also qualifies as a hero is a matter of debate.

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In the case of V, several hundred people dress up as V, but none believe that all of the others are V. –  Major Stackings May 25 at 16:40
    
@MajorStackings - I think they're all under the impression that at least one of their number is V. –  Richard May 25 at 18:42
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I interpret the ending as conveying the message "V is not a person, V is a symbol. Everyone can be this symbol. Everyone can be V" –  Philipp May 25 at 20:29
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Yup. All you have to do is buy a WB Officially Licensed "Guy Fawkes" mask. –  nomen May 26 at 3:36

Along the lines of The Phantom, in the Marvel world, there is also Black Panther. Unfortunately, I don't know the exact history of how long that mantle has been past, but it's another hereditary role that has been passed through the royal line of Wakanda for centuries.

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I'd nominate Green Lantern. Not only the short list of human Green Lanterns, but the entire Green Lantern Corps. They aren't really individual super heroes, they are members of a universal police force. According to this wikipedia entry, there are 3600 active GLs at a time.

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I don't think this applies as only one would be 'that Green Lantern from Earth that gets his own comic'. There are many green lanterns, but only one Green Lantern. Just like there are many sergeants, but only one Sergeant Fury. –  Oldcat May 27 at 22:07
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But there's more than one Howlin' Commando. :) –  mpez0 May 28 at 0:56

I think Batman easily tops the Phantom. In the Nolan Trilogy Imposters are only mentioned shortly, but there's also the whole "I am Batman" movement going an - I don't think they ever mention the exact numbers or anything unfortunately.

Also, if you expand superhero and make it being with superhuman feats, then the Master from Doctor Who might qualify as well. He created like 7 billion copies of himself in The End of Time (called those new humans the Master Race). It's only hinted at, but he most likely transformed dead bodies as well, making the number even bigger. It's not obvious whether they just share appearance or abilities as well though. They don't really take over his role though, also he considers them all being "us", himself included.

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Wow! 7 billion sounds much more than Agent Smith had ever achieved. –  b_jonas May 25 at 8:43
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But they weren't "portraying" the Master, they were all the same person. –  Richard May 25 at 8:52
    
@b-jonas - Indeed. The population of the Matrix was probably about 6 billion. –  Richard May 25 at 8:52
    
@Richard Yes, although we don't know how perfect that copy's been made, like indeed two hearts and stuff or just similar appearance (compare it to the Chameleon Arch, which changed the body, but not appearance - but that might have been just for the audience as well). –  Mario May 25 at 8:57

According to the definition "A being with extraordinary physical or mental powers, far beyond the range of normal human ability, who uses these powers to protect the innocent and for the general good."

Lets look at the obvious. Jesus. Hes been around alot longer than the likes of batman. I am sure he has been played by the most number of individuals

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Would you really classify Jesus as a 'Superhero' (at least in this context)? Firstly I don't think it's really relevant to this site and secondly it's not really in the spirit of the question. –  N.Soong May 26 at 10:20
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Also, you misread the question as "portrayed by different actors", which the question actually means in universe. –  Mr Lister May 26 at 13:58
    
@hugh This site is only about fiction. –  DJClayworth May 27 at 15:59
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And to some Jesus is fiction.. and the bible could be someones favorite fantasy fiction book. –  John Riselvato May 27 at 20:39
    
@JohnRiselvato Still, there are no canonical clues that there could have been more than one person behind the mask. Just a lot of out-of-universe clues! –  Mr Lister May 28 at 9:00

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