Mental health depicted in superheroes | Sadler Emory

Heroes remain a prevalent part of human history since the writings were found on cave walls. Stories and epics depict heroes, gods, and demigods who strive to serve those who are less fortunate or those who cannot protect themselves.

The Hero’s Journey is used to teach valuable lessons to children and adults. From wanting to help your neighbor to just doing your best to be a good person in general. But what happens when these heroes don’t reflect the world around us? Or can people not imagine themselves in the place of their hero?

Hollywood always has a problem that these heroes are not portrayed as written. Some basic parts of these characters have been altered due to what society considers beautiful or acceptable. But recently changes were made in the right places to accurately portray the characters that made fans fall in love with them in the first place.

One of the latest Marvel movies is “Eternals” which has a crew full of people from different parts of the world. The cast represents the world we live in and they have the first ever same-sex couple sharing screen time. Although the “Eternals” is not appreciated by everyone, especially for the plot and story, fans still loved the movie because many of the characters are similar to them in real life.

Marvel has stepped into the realm of TV series, for the second time, but now it’s only streaming on Disney+. The last television adaptation of the comics was the character Moon Knight.

The Moon Knight character derives his power from the ancient Egyptian god Khonsu. The purpose of Khonsu in Egyptian mythology is to be the god of the moon and protector of all who travel through the night. In the comics, Khonsu needs someone to be his “avatar” or “host” so that he can protect those who travel at night and punish the bad guys.

Mark Spector was chosen to be Avatar Khonsu due to his background in the army and contract work, the man is essentially a mercenary. While the character is a superhero, he also suffers from a serious mental illness that sets him apart from all other superheroes. Spector suffers from dissociative personality disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder. Which means he developed different personalities or changed as a child in response to prolonged trauma.

Now series director Mohamed Diab and star Oscar Ishak have stated several times how the series was not an entirely accurate representation of DID. This is because the core of the show revolves around a superhero who speaks Egyptian gods.

But this portrayal of DID is better than it has been in the past. Lots of talk about how movies portray negatively people with mental health issues. This can range from depression to schizophrenia, and most of the time these people portray villains rather than the hero. “Spilled” starring James McAvoy was a good movie, but many people had problems with how DID was represented.

Although the Moon Knight series isn’t an entirely accurate portrayal of DID, the series does highlight how a person with a serious mental illness will not always be the villain. In this case the hero.

Representation in film and television is essential to the building blocks of who we are. Stories shape us from a young age and if we can’t see ourselves in these characters, it’s as if something is missing.

Marvel has touched on mental health in previous films. In the third installment of Iron Man, audiences see Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., dealing with past trauma from the events of the first Avengers movie. Stark works through PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) to beat the latest villain and save the situation.

At the conclusion of the Infinity War saga, the great Norse god Thor fights a severe depression. He goes on a personal journey to understand the real causes behind his depression.

But both cases deal with trauma experienced in adulthood. The difference between trauma that occurred in childhood and not as an adult. During this developmental stage, children are still understanding and developing their own personalities. So, when some children go through prolonged trauma, they can create or change another personality to help them adapt to what they are going through.

In Mark Spector’s case, his shock stems from the death of his younger brother and the abuse he received from his mother after the incident. This differs in some of the comics but still captures the hearts of fans.

It is extremely rare for someone to have DID. Less than 200,000 cases are counted in the United States each year. Many people receive misdiagnoses of schizophrenia or other mental health problems because of the sounds they hear. But instead of the voices being auditory hallucinations accompanied by schizophrenia, when someone lives with DID they hear thoughts of their other personality or changes.

Hear another character’s voice or change happening in the Moon Knight series with Stephen Grant’s first Spector change. In the first episode, Grant thinks he has a sleep disorder as he goes to sleep but wakes up somewhere else. But what Grant doesn’t know is that Spector actually controls their bodies and practices as Khonsu’s servant, like Khonsu’s Moon Knight.

Although this wouldn’t be entirely accurate portrayal of DID, more importantly the series makes the audience aware of the condition. Raising awareness can help those who may be experiencing this and get the help they need. But she also continues the battle for proper representation in the film.

Representing real people with real problems is something the world needs most. So instead of seeing people with mental health issues as weak or violent, viewers get a chance to see someone like them as a hero.

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