With the television series of Legion coming looming on the horizon, it brought the mind the juxtaposition of these mighty heroes whose only weaknesses are their own mind. It made me really think about all the characters in the realm of fantasy who struggle with mental illness and disorder, so it seems like an appropriate time discuss some of these characters specifically in the Marvel universe. The first one to come to mind is one of my personal favorites Moon Knight. Similarly to Legion, Moon Knight suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder as well as schizophrenia. While his body and reflexes were honed by the CIA and marines, his mind is fractured and is forced to work around his issues and violent tendencies.
In the most recent series written by Jeff Lemire, It begins with Moon Knight waking up in an insane asylum not knowing who he is or how he got there, and confronting what he views as reality which may not be as clear as you would think. Depression is common condition many heroes fall under due to the high stresses of their jobs. Tony Stark, Matt Murdock, Clinton Barton, and many other characters have been shown dealing with depression in their own ways, and can be used very effectively to humanize our characters and make them more relatable to the reader. Alternatively Insanity tends to appear as either a form of humor or an excuse to turn a character into a villain. Deadpool is probably the poster child insanity as a form of comedy, and obviously it is successful with his presence as a pop culture icon. The spasmodic, random, high-energy humor resonated extremely well especially in the film environment, which even successfully had Marvel and Fox share character rights.
Insanity has also lead to characters like Norman Osborn to become villainous. While these are only a few views on different mental illnesses that exist in the marvel universe, many more heroes and villains suffer through these difficulties. It is an interesting tool that writers can use to expand upon a popular characters, create new characters, and overall add some complexity and reality to this constantly shifting fantasy universe.
Here is Comics After Dark breaking down Marvel Comics X-Men’s Legion history and powers.
Written by Timitao Groff