People with disabilities deserve to be represented in the media and the arts just as much anyone. Whether it be TV, movies, literature or in this case comic books, characters that have certain disabilities can become shining examples of hope and relate-ability to the inspiring community that are dealing with certain conditions that have an altering affect on their lives.
While researching this subject, it must be noted that Comic-books have actually done pretty good work with disability representation over a rather long time. but what was interesting was that Marvel comics seem to have higher profile characters who have a disability rather than DC, who have less candidates for this list in rather ancillary roles. Hopfully that will change over time….
Starting off with the hero that at this point in time, is the most well known and popular on this list. Daredevil has had a rather bad film adaptation as well as a successful Netflix series under this marvel characters belt, which has led to a high profile given to a blind character that is unprecedented. Even the poor Ben Affleck portrayal in the aforementioned movie, there was great care in portraying Daredevil’s alter-ego Matt Murdock’s everyday life and the challenges and differences that being blind comes with. From handling money to common prejudice against the disabled. Yes Daredevil’s other superhuman senses softening the impact of losing ones sight could be argued, but still, Daredevil remains the poster boy for disabled superheros to date.
DC’s only entry on this list is quite a controversial one in some ways, but extremely inspiring in others. Barbra Gordon was most famously known as Batgirl, until in Alan Moore’s seminal Batman story ‘The Killing Joke’ where everything changed. The Joker shot Barbara, in her civilian guise, through the spine thus leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. Some fans thought inflicting such an injury only to mess with commissioner Gordon and in turn Batman, was not doing Batgirl justice. Later though Barabra became the eyes and ears for Batman, Justice league and the Birds of Prey as the Oracle, using her intellect and detective skills to become one of the most important characters in the DC universe.
When Spider-man’s old high school bully turned his life around by reconciling with Peter Parker as well as joining the US Army, things were looking like ending on a nice note for Flash Thompson. Unfortunately while on active duty, Flash lost both legs in an explosion. dark times laid ahead fro Flash, dealing with his disability and also alcoholism might be traumatic enough, but then add a government gifted, weaponized Venom symbiote to the mix, things got all together more complicated. What was most interesting though was seeing Flash prove himself a hero in the face of adversity. Flash showed repeatedly that he didn’t let his disability or the evil intentions from an alien former spider-man suit stop him from being an inspiring hero.
Professor Charles Xavier is arguably the most powerful mutant alive. His Telepathic powers make him able to control any mind if he wanted, but while his mind has no bounds, Charles himself needs a wheelchair due to a spinal injury inflicted on him by his half brother the Juggernaut (as it has now been retconned to). Xavier is completely iconic due to his role as the founder of the X-men, a team that later found massive success in film and television. What the character of Professor Xavier proves, is that having a disability doesn’t necessarily stop a character being an instantly recognizable pop culture phenomenon. I can honestly say that I doubt many people haven’t heard of Professor Charles Xavier.
While Mr Fantastic is one of the most prominent characters in the marvel universe, its not widely known that he is mildly autistic. During the ‘Fantastic Four Season One’ story, Reed reveals that he has self diagnosed himself as autistic. This is great as this reveals that the brightest mind in the marvel universe is a role model with young and old people who live with autism and the effects it has on the way they see and interact with the world. Whats sad though is that soon after the revelation of his Autism, Reed Richards then says that he is working on a cure for it. It must of been a ill informed misstep from the writer as there isn’t a cure for Autism and there is no need for it. Mr Fantastic’s genius and autism are woven into his impressive mind and make him such an intersting character to follow and look up to.
Just like real life, none of these characters let any disability stop them from being fully formed characters and hero’s. Comments would be greatly appreciated, especially if i have misrepresented any Disability issues.