Marvel Universe Movie Names: How influential are they?

Could Thor: Ragnarok shake up baby name trends?

By Joe Satran

At the movie theater, we’re living in the Age of Marvel. Last weekend, Thor: Ragnarok, the latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), opened at the top of the box office with a $122 million U.S. debut, pushing the total of the series past the $13 billion mark. That’s almost as much as Harry Potter and Star Wars combined!

But what about on birth certificates and in pre-schools?  We know that plenty of parents are naming their babies after Harry Potter, Star Wars and Game of Thrones characters. Curious to see if the same was true of Marvel, we combed through the SSA most popular baby names data to find out how many babies had been given Marvel character names since the debut of the first MCU movie, Iron Man, in 2008.

A few tricky issues popped up right away. For starters, many Marvel characters, having been invented decades ago, have extremely bland first names. When a baby boy is named Kylo, you can be pretty sure Adam Driver‘s Star Wars character was a factor. It’s much harder to figure out whether any particular baby Steve was inspired by Captain America. Or how many parents avoided naming their daughter Natasha because they hated Black Widow.

Still, it’s clear that the MCU has had an effect on baby naming. Three examples in particular stand out. Loki is up 67% since 2008, while Pepper and Odin have both more than quadrupled since that year. You could also easily make a similar case for Falcon, Clint, Rhodes, Captain and Nebula.

Plus, we may only be in the early stages of this phenomenon. Since Marvel audiences tend to skew young, as they age into becoming parents, they might start calling up their love of the Avengers movies when they consider baby names. And new Marvel productions seem to be appearing almost every month. Since Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxyboth came out in 2017, their influence won’t show up until next year, when we won’t be surprised to see a few more Valkyries, Thors and even Gamoras pop up.

Here’s the full list of Marvel character names, ranked from most to least popular in 2016.

 Boys

1. Luke 

Character: Luke Cake (Mike Coulter) from Luke Cage

Number of babies in 2016: 9930

Change since 2008: Up 6%

2. Everett

Character: Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) from Captain America: Civil War

Number of babies in 2016: 3495

Change since 2008: Up 335%

3. Peter

Characters: Peter Parker (Tom Holland) from Spider-Man: Homecoming, PeterStarLordQuill (Chris Pratt) from Guardians of the Galaxy

Number of babies in 2016: 1904

Change since 2008: Down 13%

4. Jasper

Character: Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez) from Thor

Number of babies in 2016: 1885

Change since 2008: Up 201%

5. Stephen

Character: Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) from Doctor Strange

Number of babies in 2016: 1367

Change since 2008: Down 35%

6. Erik

Character: Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) from Thor

Number of babies in 2016: 937

Change since 2008:Down 48%

7. Odin

Character: Odin (Anthony Hopkins) from Thor

Number of babies in 2016: 831

Change since 2008: Up 313%

8. Bruce

Character: Bruce Banner (Ed Norton/Mark Ruffalo) from The Incredible Hulk

Number of babies in 2016: 697

Change since 2008: Up 20%

9. Scott

Character: Scott Lane (Paul Rudd) from Ant-Man

Number of babies in 2016: 655

Change since 2008:Down 37%

10. Tony

Character: Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) from Iron Man

Number of babies in 2016: 560

Change since 2008: Down 37%

11. Sam

Character: SamFalconWilson (Anthony Mackie) from Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Number of babies in 2016: 474

Change since 2008: Down 22%

12. Steve

Character: Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) from Captain America: The First Avenger

Number of babies in 2016: 205

Change since 2008: Down 51%

13. Nick

Character: Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) from Iron Man 2

Number of babies in 2016: 175

Change since 2008: Down 26%

14. Clint

Character: Clint “Hawkeye” Barton (Jeremy Renner) from Thor

Number of babies in 2016: 123

Change since 2008: Up 23%

15. Loki

Character: Loki (Tom Hiddleston) from Thor

Number of babies in 2016: 92

Change since 2008: Up 67%

16. Thor

Character: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) from Thor

Number of babies in 2016: 87

Change since 2008: Down 16%

17. Rhodes

Character: James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Terrence Howard/Don Cheadle) from Iron Man

Number of babies in 2016: 59

Change since 2008: Up 181%

18. Matt

Character: Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) from Daredevil

Number of babies in 2016: 58

Chance since 2008: Down 29%

19. Pietro

Character: Pietro Maximoff (Aaron TaylorJohnson) from Avengers: Age of Ultron

Number of babies in 2016: 37

Change since 2008: Up 6%

20. Captain

Character: Captain America, AKA Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) from Captain America

Number of babies in 2016: 31

Change since 2008: Up 182%

21. Rocket

 

Character: Rocket (Bradley Cooper) from Guardians of the Galaxy

Number of babies in 2016: 23

Change since 2008: Up 28%

22. Falcon

Character: SamFalconWilson (Anthony Mackie) from Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Number of babies in 2016: 21

Change since 2008: Up 75%

23. Stark

Character: Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) from Iron Man

Number of babies in 2016: 18

Change since 2008: Not on list in 2008

24. Phil

Character: Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) from Iron Man

Number of babies in 2016: 15

Change since 2008: Down 35%

25. Hawkeye

Character: Clint “Hawkeye” Barton (Jeremy Renner) from Thor

Number of babies in 2016: 5

Change since 2008: Not on list in 2008

Not on popularity list, because fewer than 5 babies: Bucky, Drax, Groot, Heimdall, Skurge, Strange, T’Challa, Vision, Yondu

Girls

1. Claire

Character: Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) from Daredevil

Number of babies in 2016: 5190

Change since 2008: Up 30%

2. Maria

Character: Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) from The Avengers

Number of babies in 2016: 2788

Change since 2008: Down 50%

2. Jessica

Character: Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) from Jessica Jones

Number of babies in 2016: 1375

Change since 2008: Down 71%

3. Hope

Character: Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) from Ant-Man, Hope Shlottman (Erin Moriarty) from Jessica Jones

Number of babies in 2016: 1324

Change since 2008: Down 14%

4. Jane

Character: Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) from Thor

Number of babies in 2016: 1129

Change since 2008: Up 37%

5. Natasha

Character: NatashaBlack Widow” Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) from The Avengers

Number of babies in 2016: 387

Change since 2008: Down 50%

6. Sharon

Character: Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) from Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Number of babies in 2016: 295

Change since 2008: Down 37%

7. Pepper

Character: VirginiaPepper” Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) from Iron Man

Number of babies in 2016: 136

Change since 2008: Up 353%

8. May

Character: May Parker (Marissa Tomei) from Spider-Man: Homecoming

Number of babies in 2016: 131

Change since 2008: Up 40%

9. Valkyrie

Character: Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) from Thor: Ragnarok

Number of babies in 2016: 48

Change since 2008: Up 337%

10. Wanda

Character: Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olson) from Avengers: Age of Ultron

Number of Babies in 2016: 30

Change since 2008: Down 21%

11. Elektra

Character: Elektra (Elodie Yung) from Daredevil

Number of Babies in 2016: 21

Change since 2008: Down 57%

12. Peggy

Character: Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) from Captain America: The First Avenger

Number of babies in 2016: 19

Change since 2008: Down 30%

13. Nebula

Character: Nebula (Karen Gillan) from Guardians of the Galaxy

Number of babies in 2016: 8

Change since 2008: Not on list in 2008

14. Topaz

Character: Topaz (Rachel House) from Thor: Ragnarok

Number of babies in 2016: 6

Change since 2008: Not on list in 2008

Not on popularity list, because fewer than 5 babies: Gamora, Hela, Frigga, Mantis

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5 Responses to “Marvel Universe Movie Names: How influential are they?”

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beynotce Says:

November 10th, 2017 at 9:55 am

My partner and I are both big Marvel fans – but that love isn’t limited to the MCU. We also love the X-Men and Wolverine. My partner loves Wolverine so much that she’s talked me into agreeing to use Logan (at least in the middle spot) if we have a son.

I always put forth Stark as the ultimate fannish name, as it could be homage to Tony Stark, Stark from Farscape, or House Stark from Game of Thrones – or any combination of the three!

alleigh76 Says:

November 10th, 2017 at 2:59 pm

It’s worth noting, Valkyrie is up 337% but the first Marvel movie to mention valkyries just came out, so that increase is *before* any direct effect the movie could’ve had on it. It’s possible the movies led to an increased interest in the comics (where there are several valkyries) or in Norse mythology itself, but it’d be pretty hard to tell, especially since valkyries have also appeared in at least a few video games over the last decade.

And speaking of the comics, that’s another factor that makes it difficult to tell what effect the movies have had. There are lots of people who are fans of the movies but not the comics, and others who may not care that much about the movies/characters but like the sound of the names, but most of the people who’d deliberately name their kids after the characters are probably also fans of the comics, and those have been around for decades.

LexiLorelei Says:

November 10th, 2017 at 5:26 pm

My father chose my middle name (Lorelei) while following the Thor comics – my sisters are still jealous. 😉

klutzy_girl Says:

November 10th, 2017 at 5:55 pm

I’m seriously considering “Skye” as a name (have tried to use it for several pets, to no avail) since Agents of SHIELD came out – it’s now on my favorites list.

Aunt_ning1 Says:

November 13th, 2017 at 4:08 pm

My friends named their son Logan Xavier (He is now in 2nd grade.) Dad is a HUGE X-Men fan, and his wife agreed because with out knowing that connection, you would think these were just normal names for the time.

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