Superheroes And Their Weaknesses And Disabilities

During a visit to my son’s college we were offered lectures on various subjects, and I did chose one by Jay Boyar, Professor for Film, with the title ‘Superheroes With Disabilities’! Turns out that Professor Boyar used to work for Stan Lee at Marvel, and I really enjoyed listening to what he had to tell us.

Stan Lee for Marvel

Stan Lee for Marvel, picture by Getty Images

Since the early comics of the 1930’s superheroes always had to have a weakness to even out the odds and the playing field.  If those heroes would have been too powerful, their stories would have been over too quickly. Superman was allergic to Kryptonite, Aquaman couldn’t leave his element, water, for too long and Wonder Woman was really into bondage! Boyar said he couldn’t believe what the writers of Wonder Woman got away with in those days, after all those comic books back then had to be no more than level PG.

Wonder Woman and bind games

Wonder Woman and her bind games or bondage

Some time in the 1960’s a dramatic change happened. Stan Lee with his comic books transferred superheroes imaginary weaknesses to regular disabilities real people might face. Stan Lee quote: ” The characters would be the kind of characters I could personally relate to. They’d be flesh and blood, and they’d have their faults and foibles; they’d be fallible and feisty.” The question comes up if he had any experience personally with disabilities himself or in his family, but the answer is “no”. It was very unusual to think of people’s disabilities in the 1960’s. Back then we were not as sensitive or concerned about that subject.

Stan Lee with the help of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko worked on a formula to get his superheroes right. He had a vision of new Marvel characters.

Steve Ditko at Marvel

Steve Ditko working for Marvel

Jack Kirby at Marvel

Jack Kirby working for Marvel

This fact about the flaws and disabilities of the superheroes is well known, but hardly ever gets commented on or pointed out. It gets largely overlooked, and I never realized the common factor until Professor Boyar pointed it out. So one new hero of the 60’s had an eye patch like Nick Furry, The Shield. But he changed over the years too from the war hero and veteran in the comic to the latest Nick Furry of The Avengers.

The old Nick Furry

Nick Furry Agent Of Shield in the comic book

the new Nick Furry

The new Nick Furry in The Avengers movie by Marvel

Quoting Will Jacobs and Gerald Jones:” By 1963 Lee had finally found the formula to ensure that all his heroes possessed the originality he sought. The key to the formula lay in the idea of a flawed hero…..Lee and his collaborators moved on to develop heroes who were more subtly impaired, either by common handicaps or spiritual unease.”  So the new superheroes have real disabilities. They are mentally, physically or emotionally challenged. There is also a link between their disability and their power. Thor needed a walking stick which turns into a hammer. The Daredevil is blind and his cane turns into his weapon when he changes forms.



Dr. Strange was a surgeon until a car accident destroyed his hand nerves, Iron Man has a weak heart, the Hulk and the Thing have no real disabilities, but monstrous appearances. Spider Man has an emotional challenge, he is very neurotic. In one scene he actually visits a psychiatrist while in full costume! The only real exceptions, that have no handicaps after they became a superhero are Captain America, Antman and the Sub-Mariner. It makes you wonder why nobody did ever stress the fact of the handicaps or flaws before! Stan Lee was certainly ahead of his time in recognizing the existence of disabilities. I also think it makes the heroes more relatable to all of us flawed and average people.


The “neurotic” Spider Man by Marvel

Marvel Comics innovations of the 1960’s:

Stories set in real locations like New York City

Superheroes with character flaws

Characters with realistic emotional lives

Superheroes with financial problems

Superheroes without secret identities

Frequent meet-ups among superheroes

Stories with complex political content

Superheroes with disabilities………… just like some of us!

Welcome The New Spider-Man Tom Holland!

After an all-day screen-testing last Saturday of six teenage boys, Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios finally announced today, Tuesday June  23rd, who will be the next Spider-Man.

The Hollywood Reporter describes the process of selecting who gets to wear the blue and red suit next “The tests cap off a worldwide search in which the producers looked at over 1,500 boys from around the world, narrowing them down to the final six only in the last two weeks or so.

The actors were flown to Atlanta for the tests; that is where Marvel is currently in production on Civil War, the movie in which the character will be introduced before going on to headline his own hopeful trilogy that will be made by Sony Pictures.

Present for the tests were Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige, former Sony head and now a Spider-Man producer Amy Pascal and Joe and Anthony Russo, the brothers who are directing Civil War.”

Now we have our new Spider-Man! The British Actor Tom Holland, just 19 years old, will be directed by Jon Watts. According to ABC News Tom Holland will follow in the footsteps of
Andrew Garfield and Toby Maguire on the big screen.

Tom Holland Getty Images

Tom Holland Getty Images

This role is a big responsibility for a young actor and Tom Holland will join Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk and his fellow Avengers on the big screen for the first time.

The news about Tom Holland being cast as the new Spider-Man was trending all day on Social Media and here are two of many reactions:

Josh Gad on Twitter

Josh Gad tweet

And we think it is also fair to mention another point of view and reaction to Tom Holland being cast as Spider-Man. There was hope that Mike Morales could be playing Peter Parker as the first black and Latino character, but reading Forbes “A contract between Sony Pictures and Marvel outlines “Mandatory Character Traits” Peter Parker and Spider-Man must have. Peter Parker must be a white, heterosexual male with all the basic origin story elements — Aunt May and Uncle Ben, costuming, and life in Queens, New York. Spider-Man, meanwhile, has to be a squeaky clean male (no foul language, smoking, drugs, et al) who is not gay, unless Marvel decides to portray a gay alter ego first.”

Times are changing and it is up to each and every single one of us to decide what is right, and at the box office we all count.

“I need a Hero!”- We all need more Superheroes!


We were writing in an earlier article how CGI is making a lot of Marvel’s Superheroes possible, and that we are looking forward to seeing those in movie theaters soon.
Lately there has been a lot of criticism of Superhero movies, and lets face it, none of those will ever be nominated for any award!
Deadline just published this article about the “loser geeks” at San Diego Comic-Con.

Umberto Gonzalez, who can be found on Twitter at @elmaimbe, wrote June 1st this article for Heroic Hollywood asking for it to be shared with everybody who loves Superheroes!

He made a good point about why we needed Heroes, they inspire us and are great role models for kids and adults. Please check out the video of Zachary Frost a young, talented filmmaker, that he shared.

Avengers: Age of Ultron came out May 1st, next is Jurassic World with Chris Pratt. The Marvel movie Ant-Man will premiere July 17th in the U.S. The plot is about con-man Scott Lang who has to embrace his inner hero armed in a super suit with the amazing ability to shrink in size but increase in strength, to save the world. It stars among others Evangeline Lily, who we just saw in The Hobbit BOFA.

Ant-Man Marvel Movie

Ant-Man Marvel Movie

At the end of summer, in August 2015, Fantastic Four will be released. Per IMDb “Four young outsiders teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe which alters their physical form in shocking ways. The four must learn to harness their new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy”

Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four in US cinemas August 7th 2015

In 2016 we can look forward to Captain America: Civil War staring Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr., as well as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.

Joss Whedon Explains Why Loki Is Not On ‘Age Of Ultron’

Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Thor

Director Joss Whedon explained to millions of disappointed fans why Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is not part of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

If you were excited to see Thor (Chris Hemsworth) getting taunted by his evil brother Loki in the huge blockbuster you will be in for a big let-down. He is only in it for a very short scene.

In an interview with MTV, Whedon is talking about why the major character is M.I.A.

“We did shoot something, but it didn’t play. The movie has so much. It’s so filled. We didn’t want it to feel overstuffed. I really wanted to have Loki in it, but I understood the decision that there were now too many voices in the chorus.”

Laughing, Whedon added, “At some point the embarrassment of riches is actually embarrassing.”

Loki, played brilliantly by Hiddleston is a fan favorite and despite all the stars that do make an appearance in Age of Ultron, many will be sad not to have the character creating problems this time around.

Avengers: Age of Ultron’s all star cast includes Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), James Spader (Ultron’s voice), and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) and is now open in theaters. Check your local listings.

[Image via Marvel]