The thing that always drew me to Marvel Comics is that despite their characters having superpowers and being capable doing things mere mortals like us could only dream of, they all have flaws and weaknesses that actually make them more pitiable than enviable. Some of these flaws go deeper than a checkered past or a simple personality defect and place more in the range of an actual disability. There is a vast amount of characters that fall into this category. The list could go on for days but here are 10 Marvel characters with disabilities.
1. Daredevil (Matt Murdock) – Blindness, Depression
Daredevil, the man without fear! My favourite fictional character. Blinded by radioactive waste in a freak accident as a young boy, his other senses were heightened astronomically to the point where they more than made up for his loss of sight. Abandoned by his mother at an early age and a son to a murdered father. He had his fair share of turmoil before he had even reached puberty. And the bad times definitely didn’t stop there either. Most of his girlfriends have either been killed, gone insane or ended up trying to kill him.
One of his girlfriends (Karen Page) left him to pursue a career in acting. Subsequently became a porn star and developed a heroin addiction. She then went on to sell his secret identity for drugs. This information then found its way to The Kingpin who systematically picked apart his life. After everything he’s been through it’s no wonder Daredevil suffers from severe depression.
2. Moon Knight (Marc Spector) – DID
Marc Spector was a mercenary on a mission in Cairo, Egypt when he was mortally wounded in the desert. He managed to find his way to an ancient tomb where he collapsed next to a statue of the Egyptian god, Khonshu. His spirit had an encounter with Khonshu who promised to save his life in exchange for his service as the fist of Khonshu. As the fist of Khonshu, Moon Knight is granted superhuman abilities under the light of the moon.
Moon Knight doesn’t just have one alter ego he has three; his own real identity (Marc Spector), a wealthy persona named Steven Grant and cab driver Jake Locksley. It was originally thought Moon Knight used these four identities for tactical purposes. But it was later realised that while this may be true, he was also suffering from dissociative personality disorder and schizophrenia.
3. Legion (David Haller) – DID
David Haller is an omega level mutant, and the illegitimate son of the X-Men founder and leader Professor X. Unbeknownst to him who his father was only his mother knew of his mutant heritage. His powers did not manifest until his stepfather was murdered in front of him in an event that provoked him to incinerate the brain of the assassins all whilst in telepathic connection with his victims.
This traumatised the gentle-natured David and drove him into a catatonic state. It also splintered David’s personality into multiple personalities controlling a different psionic power. Many of these personalities are still unknown. He gets the name legion from a biblical tale wherein Jesus met a man possessed by demons. When Jesus asked the man his name, he replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many”
4. Echo (Maya Lopez) – Deafness
Maya Lopez was born deaf. However, she also has photographic reflexes. This gives her the ability to perfectly duplicate any physical movement or action she sees having only seen it once. She was initially placed in special education but after a teacher witnessed her perfectly duplicate a song from a recital, she was placed in the gifted class. As a result of this, she is a concert level pianist, professional level dancer, master martial artist, acrobat, marksman.. the list goes on.
Maya’s father worked as a mob enforcer. Until, one day he was murdered by his employer, The Kingpin. She was taken in by her fathers killer who was impressed by her abilities. He sent her to the best schools that money could buy in hopes of turning her into his own personal assassin. Of course in true comic book fashion, she eventually found out the truth and turned on him…
5. Iron Man (Tony Stark) – Heart Condition, Alcoholism
Most of you know the story of the genius, billionaire Tony Stark injured by a roadside I.E.D. and kidnapped by terrorists. They told him told if he produced them a weapon (out of scraps) they would give him the operation he needed to save his life. Tony knew they were lying so he hatched a plan. He built an electronically powered suit of armour with a built-in pacemaker-like device that kept the shrapnel from entering further into his heart. He then used this device to escape, later upgrading it and using it to defend those in need. All while still relying on a newly designed pacemaker to live.
Most fans already know this story thanks to the ever-popular MCU movies grossing billions worldwide. But one thing that most fans aren’t aware of is Tony’s battle with alcoholism. A problem his father also suffered with and was often verbally abusive to Tony because of this.
6. Ant Man (Hank Pym) – Bipolar
Dr Hank Pym is a genius biochemist and a founding member of the Avengers along with his wife Janet a.k.a. the Wasp. Pym discovered a group of subatomic particles which through the use of magnetic fields Pym was able to entrap the particles and create two serums; one that reduced the size of atoms and one that restored them to their normal size. During his first experiment with the particles, he became trapped in an anthill. This event inspired Hank to create a helmet that gave him the ability to communicate with ants using electromagnetic waves.
Using this tech he and his wife became Ant-Man and The Wasp. However, despite these accomplishments, the good he has done is often overshadowed by his mental illness. One of Marvel’s earliest stories where his illness became clear was a story within which he suffered a mental breakdown and subsequently lashed out on his wife Janet when she questioned his behaviour. Eventually, he diagnosed himself with bipolar disorder. Pym being diagnosed with this illness was a big thing for Marvel. This demonstrates to people that an illness that affects millions of people around the world is something that even the most intelligent people can suffer from.
7. The Sentry (Robert Reynolds) – Agoraphobia, Anxiety Disorder, DID & Schizophrenia
Robert Reynolds was a meth addict who broke into the lab of an unknown professor. There he consumed an unknown substance (later revealed to be the golden sentry serum). This substance gave him “the power of a million exploding suns”. In a transformation, that killed both his friends whom he had broken into the lab with and the guards who were “guarding” the facility. Appalled by the carnage their creation had caused the scientists involved in Project: Sentry convinced Reynolds to let them test his powers in their facility.
He adopted the guise of Sentry and began to use his powers for good. Then another being (The Void) arose started causing havoc killing over one million people in Manhattan. This other being was actually a repressed persona of Reynolds. Upon discovering this Reed Richards and Dr Strange joined forces to create a system which made the Earth’s entire population (including Reynolds himself) forget his existence. This didn’t last forever, of course, years later his memories returned and with them so did The Void. Before he became Sentry, Reynolds suffered from agoraphobia and anxiety disorder. After he gained his powers the number of mental illnesses he possesses increased dramatically.
8. Wolverine (James “Logan” Howlett) – PTSD
After 130 years of life, it’s not hard to imagine why a person would develop PTSD. In Logan’s case, if you actually break down and take into account the events of his life it’s a wonder his PTSD isn’t a lot worse than it is. Born as the illegitimate son of Elizabeth Howlett (a rich woman) and the groundskeeper of her estate, Thomas Logan. As a young boy, he was noticeably frail and prone to allergic attacks.
His mother neglected him and his grandfather physically abused him. His disturbed stepbrother (Thomas Logan’s son) killed his dog, his biological father killed his stepdad right in front of him. Logan has also fought in world war I, II, the cold war and the Vietnamese war. And he was experimented on by the nefarious Weapon Plus program. Where they laced his skeleton with adamantium and brainwashed him after beating him and pumping him full of drugs. These are just a few of the things Logan has been through…
9. Task Master (Tony Masters) – Amnesia
Out of all the Marvel Characters with disabilities, Tony Masters a.k.a. The Taskmaster is one of the more interesting in terms of how his disability links with his powers. Much like Echo, he was born with the ability to duplicate the movements of others after only witnessing them once. He can copy the subtle muscle movements of others so precisely he can even do things like copying their voices.
While Tony can retain all this information about the skills he possesses things like names, faces, dates and memories. Whenever he learns a new skill he forgets something personal to him. His implicit memories replace his explicit memories. In one story someone placed a bounty on his head and the severity of this amnesia became clear when he had to rediscover who he was to track down the one responsible.
10. Maximus The Mad (Maximus Boltagon) – Antisocial Personality Disorder
Maximus is the genius brother of Blackbolt king of the Inhumans. A race of humans that were experimented on by the Kree. These experiments gave the Inhumans dormant superpowers. When Inhumans are exposed to a gas known as “terrigen mist” these powers can be unlocked. Traditionally, Inhumans are exposed to terrigen mist after reaching some kind of merit. However, Maximus was exposed to the terrigen mist as an infant by order of his parents. But to the disappointment of his family, he never showed any signs of superhuman powers, they developed as he grew. Maximus had gained the ability to control the minds of other sentient beings. Unfortunately, as his powers grew stronger so did his descent into madness. He kept his powers a secret from those around him and used them for his own personal gain.
His jealousy of his brother pushed him to join forces with the ancient enemy of the Inhumans, the Kree. When exposed to the superhuman scream of his brother, Blackbolt this drove him over the edge. As time went on Maximus became more antisocial and often delusional. As time has gone on it has become clear that Maximus displays all the traits of antisocial personality disorder.