top of page

Stories + News

Marvel Joins the Fight Against Stigma with the Hit Series, "Moon Knight"

What is it about with our fascination with superheroes? For those of us at TFOJ, it's pure fun and fantasy. It represents our zeal to do good in the world (but without the violence!). And this Marvel hit series thrusts a positive hero with mental illness into the center pop culture with a most positive "bang." The series has experienced phenomenal success, and we can't wait for Marvel to make a feature film starring this incredible super hero!

Moon Knight, whose legend is intertwined with Egyptian mythology, is out to save the world from evil just like every other superhero, but with a twist. This hero's mental illness is actually an important part of who he is and why he does what he does. On top of that, it's great acting on the part of Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke. As a matter of fact, this television show has allowed Oscar Isaac to showcase his masterful talent in a way that can only bring admiration: you can tell just by looking at him which character he is portraying. It is a complex and difficult role, and Isaac portrays it with truth, compassion, and passion.

Marc Spector/Steven Grant/Jake Lockley (aka Moon Knight) has disassociative identy disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder. DID is a mental illness that typically manfests in early childhood in reponse to a severely traumatic event. (You'll have to watch the series on Disney + to find out more about Spector's trauma.) The splitting of the personality is the psyche's way of dealing with that intense trauma. Splits may continue to occur as long as traumatic life events continue. Typically, the central personality is unaware of his alters, or may only be aware of one. In the case of the Moon Knight, thus far we have seen three of these alters in season one. The series is filled with darkness, great story-telling, and unexpected humor. And his illness is integral to his superpowers -- although it is a hindrance at first -- and portrays the illness in a humorous but realistic fashion.

Why do we think this series is so important? Since the start of the film industry, mental illness has been portrayed as violent madness in characters who were more likely to be the villian than the hero of the story. Such films have fueled the perpetuation of stigma, from early depictions of Dr. Frankenstein to Freddy Kreuger and more lately, the psychopath in Split. There are very few positive ones, most notably, A Beautiful Mind (2001), which portrays the life and battle with schizofrenia of Nobel Prize winning mathemetician, John Nash. In this beautiful film, we see an accurate portrayal of Nash's mental illness, and it's devastating effect on his life and family, as well as his triumphs.

So thank you, Marvel Cinematic Universe, for bringing this unusual yet inspiring hero to audiences and joining the fight against stigma.


bottom of page