Superhero Mental Illnesses

Yes, they'll come to your rescue, but they have needs too. And in some cases, what lies behind that mask might keep you from turning on the bat signal altogether...

...Christmas and Thanksgiving are pretty rough too...

Just The Facts

  1. Super heroes defend the weak and the defenseless, wearing masks and costumes to protect their identity.
  2. They are forced to make decisions in the course of their day (night) that will have lasting effects on them and others.
  3. They don't all get paid and they have to deal with other multi million dollar heroes that get Bat Cars, Planes, Segways...
  4. It's mostly a thankless job, receiving a thumb's up from an old woman from time to time, but rarely a parade for all of the effort.

With great trauma comes great mental instability...

They protect the world and the known universe from those super powered villains that want what they want. (Control of the planet, several boatloads of money, reality altering gems, etc.) At the end of the day, when the cheering crowds go home and rest in their safe little beds, these beings with superior abilities are left with the fact that "holy crap, I've got to do this again tomorrow when Doctor Doom gets back from vacation!".

Yes, they have special abilities, but that grey matter up there is still just grey matter.

Practically every hero has had to suffer from or is enduring some kind of mental illness, dealing in the field of super heroing.

Acute stress reaction: a psychological condition arising in response to a terrifying event
(Spider Man lost his uncle to a petty thief...or Sandman...damnit, Sam Raimi! You're skewing my point!)

Bipolar disorder: reacting in varying ways towards people regarding your mental state
(Every hero that puts on a mask and has fallen into their masked persona, pulling away from reality and not cleaning up after their super pets. They have laws, you know)

Depression: in many aspects, super heroes at one time were shinning examples of goodness and their lives were mirrored to be pretty damned perfect but as reality and writers decided to have these pseudo gods more human, the dynamic of these heroes lives pretty much revolve around depressing origins.

Not a fan of childproof caps and automated information systems

Not a fan of child proof caps and automated information systems

*Bruce Banner (The Hulk) was a hip, happening scientist who gets atom smashed by a gamma bomb and when he can't get his straw into his juice box, he multiplies three times in size and tends to destroy things (and his shirt and pants combo as well)

Her first husband had a warranty. How much can this lady handle?

*Wanda Maximoff (The Scarlett Witch) never met her mother and was left in the care, along with her douchey little brother with a cow woman named Bova. As she discovers that she's a mutant, hated and feared by the public, her super powered mutant dad comes along to tell her she's not supposed to fear humanity but beat it into submission and when it pleads for mercy, beat it some more and demand it dress in red and purple. Oh, and the two children she conceived with an android turned out to be created through magic and when she learns this, she gets a magical MIB mindwipe BUT when a friend of hers accidentaly mentions the kids she never really had, she breaks down and goes nuts CHANGING REALITY AROUND HER. Seriously. All existence.

Wouldn't even consider asking this man for directions. Proceed at your own risk.

*James Howlett was born in the late 1800's, making him more than a hundred years old and not only can he heal physical damage to himself but he's got super keen senses and retractable bone claws. His past is mired in mystery as people keep fucking up his mind, creating false memories so he won't remember stuff but the one thing that he does know for sure is that those bone claws were bonded with an indestructable metal that make him a killing machine. A killing machine that can't keep a girlfriend because they're either killed or want to kill him and has enemies that want his adamantium laced skull for stuff he can't clearly remember.

But among the heroes with various mental disorders, there is one man, who we can all agree is the poster child for needing extensive psychotherapy, though in the late 60's, you wouldn't think so.

He seems carefree. Did they even read a "Batman" comic? Stop Batusi-ing!

Bruce Wayne, playboy and man about town

When he was a boy, his parents took him to see a movie and they were mugged by a gunman that shot BOTH of his parents. Left without any family, the young man was raised by a British butler who taught him how to be a responsible young man about town, calling him "master" even years after achieving the title "Mr." in front of his name and keeping the young man from falling in with a bad crowd of cigarette holder clad criminals or question mark laden archvillains.

Wanting revenge for what happened to his parents and wanting to keep others from suffering the same fate, young Bruce Wayne plans to strike out against the criminals of Gotham City and depending on what retconned history you believe, he was trained by blue flower smoking ninja / master criminals to seek that vengeance. But what symbol could strike fear into the hearts of those criminals? They surely wouldn't fear a man dressed in a smoking jacket and carrying a glass of scotch in hand, right? Having the shit scared out of him by a bat that faceplanted into a window of his study, Bruce knew what he had to do.

After having Alfred clean the study window and the chair he was sitting in, he fashioned a costume with a toolbelt of fantastic gadgets that his wealth afforded him and descended on Gotham City as The Batman. look like the guy that killed my parents...YEAH you do...

The Batman character deals with a multiple of mental illnesses, all intermingled with one another in a thirst for vengeance to stop a criminal element that he can never truly stop, only thin out. What makes him stand out is that in the middle of his own problems, those around him have to deal with their own mental troubles.

*Youthful ward Dick Greyson, dealing with the name Dick for his formative years to his parents being murdered in a highwire accident. He eventually gets tired of Bruce's neurosis and branches off to be his own brooding dark hero

*Youthful ward Jason Todd who was beaten to a pulp and left to die in an explosion, coming back to life and seeking to stick it to his former mentor for getting him killed

*Youthful ward Tim Drake...are we seeing a pattern here?

And the rogues gallery that Batman goes up against are some of the most mentally twisted individuals, most being delivered horrible, life altering tragedies that they couldn't just brush off and keep moving on from. The man is unbalanced and handling those that are even more unbalanced than him.

But in the middle of all of this, if Bruce Wayne were a mentally level headed head of Wayne Industries, his parents alive and hanging out in a retirement compound in Boca Raton, where would Gotham City be?

Bruce Wayne deals with his issues, to the best of his abilities every day, haunted by the horrors of his past and the things that have shaped him into a man who can get close to no one for fear of losing them as he did his parents. Sometimes, he wins out and comes away with what he intended: saving the innocents and saving the day. Other times, he loses as the villains win, doubting himself and everything he's doing.

The Batman is a mentally unbalanced figure, a vigilante figure that spends most of his nights dodging bullwhips, umbrellas with blades in them, and Joker toxin but despite these gigantic obstacles, he finds ways past them. A promise that he made to make sure what happened to his parents wouldn't go unavenged and that no one else would suffer that fate.

Bruce Wayne is coping with his mental illness the best way he knows how.
And Gotham City is a better place for it.

Pictured: NOT coping with his mental illness, not even interested