10 Marvel Characters Who Have Disabilities
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. Weaknesses, that more often than not, 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 number of characters that fall into the category of superheroes with disabilities. But it’s not just heroes on this list their are supervillains with disabilities too.
So, who are the Marvel characters that have disabilities? How do they overcome their disabilities?
The list could quite literally go on for days but here are 10 Marvel characters who have disabilities…
1. Daredevil (Matthew Murdock) – Blindness, Depression
Daredevil, The man without fear! My favourite fictional character and a perfect example of the flawed characters Marvel like to create. Blinded by radioactive waste in a freak accident as a young boy, his other senses were heightened astronomically and brought to a point where they more than made up for his loss of sight. Transforming his disability into one of his greatest assets!
There’s also another illness that casual fans may not know Daredevil suffers with, depression. It’s really not hard to see why either. Before he’d even reached puberty, Daredevil had already been through a lifetime of turmoil. He was abandoned by his mother at an early age and later witnessed the murder of his father.
The bad times didn’t stop there either! Most of his girlfriends have either been killed, gone insane or ended up trying to kill him. Everyone that’s close to him eventually finds themselves sucked into the vortex of hell that ironically surrounds him.
One of his girlfriends (Karen Page) left him to pursue a career in acting. However, instead of finding success, she instead developed a heroin addiction and ended up in the porn industry. Which then led to her selling his secret identity for drugs. Information that then found its way to The Kingpin who systematically picked apart his life piece by piece.
These are just a few examples of the trauma Daredevil has endured. After everything he’s been through it really is no wonder Daredevil suffers from severe depression. Wouldn’t you?
2. Moon Knight (Marc Spector) – DID
Marc Spector was a mercenary on a mission in Cairo, Egypt when he was seriously injured and left for dead in the desert. Before he passed out, he managed to find his way to an ancient tomb where he collapsed next to a statue of the Egyptian god of the moon, Khonshu.
It was here that 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.
Sounds like your normal Marvel superhero vigilante, right? Well, here’s where Moon Knight differs. He doesn’t just have one alter ego he has three; his real identity (Marc Spector), a wealthy persona named Steven Grant and cab driver Jake Lockley.
It was originally thought that Moon Knight just used these other identities purely for tactical purposes to gather useful information from the different walks of life that his alter egos transversed. However, it was later realised that while the multiple identities definitely gave him a tactical advantage, he was also suffering from dissociative personality disorder and schizophrenia.
These disorders are said to have been caused by an incident with a close friend of the family Rabbi Yitz Perlman. A man that actually turned out to be a Nazi deserter and a serial killer of Jews (Marc Spector is Jewish for anyone that didn’t know).
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 (Charles Xavier). Neither Charles nor David knew of their relation till much later on. David wasn’t even aware of his mutant heritage until tragedy struck when he was living in Paris with his mother.
His mother was a member of the Israel diplomatic service and terrorists were sent to her home with the orders to kill every Israeli they could find there. David’s stepfather was then murdered right in front of him causing him to lose control and incinerate the brains of the assassins. All whilst telepathically connected to them.
This meant he experienced all of their thoughts and feelings as they died. An experience that left gentle-natured David traumatised and drove him into a catatonic state. It also splintered David’s personality into multiple personalities, each of which controlling a different psionic power.
The first personality to manifest was Jack Wayne, an adventurer with telekinesis. Other notable personalities are Cyndi, a rebellious young girl with the power of pyrokinesis, and Styx who has the ability to absorb people’s minds (with the added option of completely killing them and granting him control of their corpses).
David has over 762 personalities, many of which are unknown. This gave rise to the name Legion, originating from the biblical tale wherein Jesus met a man possessed by demons. And when asked his name, the man replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many”.
4. Echo (Maya Lopez) – Deafness
Maya Lopez was born deaf, but much like Daredevil, her powers directly oppose her disability. Born with photographic reflexes, her lack of hearing is compensated by her uncanny ability to copy any physical movement, right down to the tiniest detail after having only witnessed it once.
It’s because of these powers that Maya is a concert level pianist, professional level dancer, master martial artist, acrobat, marksman, extremely talented artist, and is also fluent in many different languages. So, as you can imagine with someone who can learn practically anything, there’s really not a lot that she can’t do.
When she was younger, she was placed in a special education class for children with learning disabilities. However, when her teacher witnessed her perfectly recite a song after having only seeing it played once (bear in mind she is deaf), she was placed in a class for gifted students.
Maya’s father, worked as a mob enforcer for The Kingpin. That is until one day, he fell out of favour with his boss, and he was killed. Maya was taken in by her father’s killer who was impressed by her abilities and wanted to turn her into his own personal assassin.
He had her trained by the best instructor’s money could buy and led her to believe that Daredevil was responsible for her father’s death. Inspiring hatred within her so she could be convinced to try and kill him. Of course, this eventually backfired but that’s a different story for a different day…
5. Iron Man (Tony Stark) – Heart Condition, Alcoholism
Tony Stark has two main origin stories, both follow the same basic plot points, but one is a reimagined/updated version. In the updated iteration, Tony’s in Afghanistan consulting the U.S. Military on ways to contain Al Qaeda when he’s (ironically) injured by a Stark Industries landmine and kidnapped by the Taliban.
Luckily, Tony’s fellow captive, Ho Yinsen, intervenes before the injury proves fatal. Unfortunately, despite Yinsen’s timely intervention Tony still has shrapnel inches from his heart and the measures taken only stopped the shrapnel from moving any closer. Nevertheless, Tony was now in a stable condition.
After regaining consciousness, Tony’s told that if he wants to live, he needs to build them a weapon (out of scraps). However, instead, Tony builds an electronically powered suit of armour and uses it to escape, but not without sacrifice, as sadly Yinsen dies in the process.
Upon returning home, Tony upgrades his armour and vows to use it to defend those in need as Iron Man. He also develops a pacemaker-like device to prevent the shrapnel from getting any closer to his heart as it would be too risky to completely remove.
Thanks to the ever-popular movies of the MCU, most fans are now aware of Tony’s heart condition. However, one illness most fans won’t be aware of is Tony’s alcohol addiction. This is hinted at in Iron Man 2 but it’s not made anywhere near as clear as it is in the comics with storylines like the famous “demon in the bottle”.
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 Pym (The Wasp). He discovered a group of subatomic particles (later dubbed the “Pym Particles”) and through the use of magnetic fields, he managed to entrap these particles, creating 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 Pym to create a cybernetic helmet that gave him the ability to communicate with ants using electromagnetic waves.
Pym also designed a suit that would allow him to safely expose himself to the particles whenever he needed. Using this tech, he and his wife (still his girlfriend at the time) became Ant-Man and The Wasp. Together, they took on multiple supervillains and were also an integral part of The Avengers for many years.
However, despite these accomplishments, the good he has done has largely been overshadowed by the destruction caused 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 struck Janet when she questioned his behaviour.
Eventually, he diagnosed himself with bipolar disorder. Which, at the time was a pretty big deal for Marvel. As it brought awareness to the illness and showed the audience that mental illness is something that even (and often) the most intelligent of people suffer from.
7. The Sentry (Robert Reynolds) – Agoraphobia, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, DID & Schizophrenia
Robert Reynolds was a meth addict who broke into a science lab and consumed an unknown substance (revealed to be the golden sentry serum), triggering an event that not only gave him “the power of a million exploding suns”, but also killed every one in the room at the time.
The members of Project: Sentry (the scientists that created the serum) were disgusted by the destruction they had caused. Worried about the further repercussions this power might have, they convinced Reynolds to let them test his powers in their facility before before he would go back out into the world.
However, they couldn’t hold him back for long as he was eager to use his new powers for good. Ultimately, he created a costume and began fighting crime under his new superhero identity, The Sentry, a superhero of the people. Reynolds seemed to have found a new lease on life…
That is until his dark side manifested as an evil being that came to be known as The Void. In this persona, he laid siege upon Manhattan killing over a million people. Causing Reed Richards and Dr Strange to make the Earth’s entire population (including Reynolds himself) forget his existence.
This didn’t last forever, of course. Many years later his memories did return, and with them came The Void. Before he became The Sentry, Reynolds suffered from agoraphobia and generalised anxiety disorder. However, after he gained his powers the number of mental illnesses he possesses, and their intensities increased dramatically.
8. Wolverine (James “Logan” Howlett) – PTSD
After 130 years of life, it’s not hard to imagine why any person would develop PTSD. In Logan’s case, if you actually break down, and consider the events of his life it’s a wonder his PTSD isn’t a lot worse than it is. He really has been through a lot.
James Howlett was born to a rich Canadian family, after his mother Elizabeth Howlett had an affair with the groundskeeper of their estate, Thomas Logan. He was a feeble young boy who was not only prone to illness but was also neglected by his mother and abused by his grandfather.
Growing up, James had two friends; his half-brother “Dog” (Thomas Logan’s Son), and a girl named Rose. The three were close friends but as they grew older the abuse Dog faced unhinged him. This led to him killing James’s puppy and being thrown off the estate (along with his father).
Later, Thomas invaded the estate with a shotgun and killed James’s stepdad right in front of him. James’s powers then manifested as he popped his claws for the first time and killed his biological father in a bezerker rage. His mother then took the shotgun and killed herself immediately after.
This was just the beginning. He’s also, fought in every major war that he’s lived through, survived a nuclear bomb, and found himself kidnapped as the test subject of the Weapon Plus Program where his skeleton was laced with adamantium as he was brainwashed, beaten, and pumped full of drugs.
After the trauma he’s endured during the 130 years of life, it’s a wonder his PTSD isn’t a lot worse. He really has been through a lot. This is just the small fraction of his history that we could fit in this little section! There’s a lot more than this.
9. Task Master (Tony Masters) – Amnesia
Out of all the Marvel Characters with disabilities, Tony Masters (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 “The Mad” Boltagon 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.
Who is your favourite disabled Marvel Character? Let Us Know In The Comment Section Below…
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