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Not being a comics expert, I can't be sure, but I think this applies mostly to Marvel comics.

Why do so many characters have double initials? There's Pepper Potts, Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Peter Parker and I think at some times there was Bruce Banner (when it wasn't David Banner).

Is this an inside joke or is there some reasoning for this?

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Lex Luthor, Lana Lang, Lois Lane, Clark Kent (yeah there's a C, but it sounds like a K!). – Keen Jan 20 '12 at 2:03
You just saw that Big Bang Theory episode didn't ya? – cambraca Jan 20 '12 at 3:23
It's called alliteration – apoorv020 Jan 20 '12 at 5:02
The search query that led me here "Does stan lee name ubuntu releases ?" (I use – JaDogg Dec 3 '13 at 4:16
@Tango: Why the rolling back and forth between alliteration and double initials? They are actually slightly different questions (I would suggest including both) -- but at any rate, the answer you accepted refers to alliteration, so it seems the question should match. – ThePopMachine Sep 16 at 17:17

5 Answers 5

up vote 37 down vote accepted

Given the fact that Stan Lee was the writer and co-creator across so many of the titles and characters at the formative years of Marvel Comics, it was a way for him to make it easier to remember them when writing and fleshing out the scripts.

Here's a snippet of a Q&A with Stan Lee around the premier of Spider-Man 2 that explains it all:

And we can chalk up all the alliterative names in the Marvel universe to Stan Lee's one failing. "It would be hard for you to believe this, because I seem so perfect: I have the worst memory in the world," Stan said. "So I finally figured out, if I could give somebody a name, where the last name and the first name begin with the same letter, like Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Matt Murdock, then if I could remember one name, it gave me a clue what the other one was, I knew it would begin with the same letter."

If you want to look at DC Comics, and in particular Superman, it may have been due to a personal romantic connection of Joe Shuster, one of Superman's co-creators:

What is the L. L. connection for Superman?
A remarkably large number of characters in the comics have the initials L. L. Most notable are Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Lana Lang, and Lori Lemaris. A rumor says that these names were chosen because Joe Shuster's first girlfriend had the initials L. L.

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I will never, ever, be mature enough to not giggle at Lex Luthor being on that list. – Zibbobz Oct 16 '14 at 14:30
@Zibbobz Your comment made me giggle! – Mooz Oct 16 '14 at 20:55
@Zibbobz add in the fact Lex and Clark are both Superboy's biological parents ;) – Brouellette Mar 9 at 4:36
Care to explain "Vicky Vale"? – Wad Cheber Sep 14 at 23:51
@WadCheber Not sure what you mean by explain, but Vicki (with an i) Vale is a recurring DC character who lives in Gotham City, and therefore encounters Batman. I know linking Wikipedia is frowned upon here to say the least, but her entry appears to be pretty comprehensive: – maguirenumber6 Sep 15 at 17:34


From "AlliterativeName" article on TVTropes (having a name with the same first and last letter is called "Alliterative Name"):

In comic books, this is especially true of the names of superheroes or their close hangers-on. It was a favorite tool of Stan Lee's, since, swarmed with projects, he often had trouble remembering the characters' names, and the alliteration worked as a mnemonic device. (Though it didn't always work perfectly — Lee occasionally referred to "Peter Palmer" and "Bob Banner".)

In comic books, the Alliterative Name is often also "Two First Names". In cartoons, it goes hand-in-hand with "Species Surname".

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I expected to see a particular reference about names with the same initials in TVTropes, but was sadly disappointed. Don't make me elaborate. Anyway, your warning was too late. Now I must spend the next hour trapped inside TVTropes. – Andres F. Jan 20 '12 at 2:17
Accio Andres... – DVK Jan 20 '12 at 2:27
+1 for TVTropes Alert! :-) – PhilPursglove Jan 20 '12 at 13:07
@AndresF.: Hmm? – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 5 at 14:46

I think he just did that to remember easier and its cool Bruce banner, sue storm, reed Richards , peter parker , pepper Potts, and the one no body thought of THE THING

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ok, ok... +1 for "THE THING" – yrodro Oct 16 '14 at 14:28

Although it is not unique to Marvel Comics, which means that Stan Lee's own poor memory is somewhat irrelevant, I would imagine that it did begin as a mnemonic device to facilitate easy recollection of the characters' names, which became a longstanding tradition in the comic book industry. In my opinion, it's just too common to be explained any other way:

screen capture of showing an extensive list of alliterative comic book character names

Believe it or not, this is nowhere near a complete list - for example, Vicki Vale and Beast Boy are missing, as are many, many more in the DC and Marvel universes. Other comic book publishers are no exception to the rule - e.g., Archie Andrews and Jughead Jones. Cartoon characters with alliterative names include Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck, Fred Flintstone, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Mr. Magoo. And long before any of these, we had Peter Pan.

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@recognizer - Thanks! – Wad Cheber Sep 16 at 19:02

Because Alliteration is fun! Also when you're working in a larger comic book universe with a complex plot and multiple important major and minor characters I would imagine alliterated names assist the reader in remembering who's who (especially when characters come and go all the time).As a writer myself, I often use Alteration in names as a way to assist readers (and myself occasionally) in remembering those characters- especially if they are relatively minor characters as these catchy names are unique and act as a kind of mnemonic:)

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Welcome to the site, @Anna W.! The purpose of the site is to provide clear, and if possible, definitive answers to questions. While we have chat rooms, the site is not intended as a discussion site or for speculation on possible reasons for an answer. – Tango Mar 9 at 4:57
You may be 100% correct that this is the reason why. Do you have any quotes you can cite from any Marvel comics creators backing up this idea? – phantom42 Mar 9 at 5:03

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