Superheroes are often the idols of many a child growing up. They are role models, strong and pure, fighting against injustice and evil – but they are also examples of adversity overcome.
Throughout the years, many comic book writers have created their greatest characters through the idea that the human strength of will is able to rise above even the most challenging of problems. Some of these characters have had a disability of some sort yet have managed to either turn it to their advantage or adapt to become stronger.
There are more than you might think. With that in mind, here are some of the great superheroes of our time to have lived with and overcome their own disabilities, with some real-life comparisons thrown in for good measure.
Daredevil: Blindness does not hold him back
This famous character had to deal with being blind following an accident involving a truck carrying radioactive waste. The incident may have seen him lose his sight but he developed genetic mutations that gave his other senses a boost to superhuman levels.
He would swing across the cityscape, high above the people below using an ability similar to radar in order to guide his path and stop criminals in their tracks. Remade into a modern hit movie, the reach of this blind superhero will hopefully have changed peoples misconceptions. There are real-life examples of people who have accomplished this, too, though. For example, MMA fighter Lee Holy has driven home the message about how people with impaired vision should be perceived.
Professor Charles Xavier: The mind can overcome anything
Better known as Professor X, Charles Xavier is the leader of the X-Men, a power band of mutants that fight their own kind who wish to dominate others, rather than live in peaceful coexistence. Professor X uses his telepathic and psychic powers to help people in need.
His disability is almost inconsequential and due to his intelligent and considered manner. He leads by example and has been a massively positive character for people with disabilities who are hugely underrepresented in movies and video games. While not everyone is able to tap into their psyche in this way, there are real-life readers on sites like TheCircle, who devote their skills to improving lives, for example, through clairvoyance and Tarot readings.
Professor X as a character transcends the limits of his own physical being by showing strength of character and standing up for what is right. In another real-life example, this has been seen as a metaphor for the American Civil Rights movement under Martin Luther King.
Thor: Showing his inner strength
The original Marvel character of Thor also has its roots in an ordinary man with a disability. Dr Donald Blake can only walk with the aid of a cane, but he transforms into the superhero Thor, a God in Norse mythology.
In the original comics, he was sent to earth as a punishment by his father Odin for showing insufferable pride in the form of a man who is weak and vulnerable but Thor’s character is seen as an example of inner strength people often carry with them through life.
Oracle: Wheelchair-bound but super intelligent
Oracle is another disabled hero who, despite being wheelchair bound, uses her intelligence to fight crime by directing Batman on his missions from her computer console. She features heavily in the popular video game series which includes Arkham Asylum and Arkham Knight.
With all of these famous characters overcoming their own disability to become heroes in their own right, they have been inspirational for generations of fans. Let’s hope that they can keep on appearing on the big screen to give misconceptions about disability the boot for good.
More on Disability Horizons…