Superheroes with Disabilities – The Top 6

Handicapable Heroes

Arsenal:Gotta love modern weapons tech. Easier for a one-armed man to fire a missile launcher than to pull on his pants.

Young Justice “Satisfaction” (Season 2, Episode 8)

Superheroes always throw themselves at danger, but they don’t always emerge unscathed. An explosion can deafen them. Falling debris can cripple them. A bullet grazing their face can blind them. People don’t instantly heal like they can in a video game. Complications can follow them for the rest of their lives. No one would fault a superhero with a disability for quitting. And yet, these heroes rise to the challenge and keep going.

So who are the top 6 superheroes with disabilities? Let’s find out.

#6 Echo

Played by Alaqua Cox
Disability: d/Deaf

Echo: [about a recital] “When I’m finished, the people are clapping. Of course, I don’t hear this. I just see all the hands hitting each other… I feel the echo, the vibration on my body, like war drums.

Daredevil Vol. 2 #20

The first of our superheroes with disabilities is obscure, but Echo has a bright future ahead of her.

Maya Lopez was the daughter of Kingpin’s enforcer Crazy Horse. Her father was murdered for failing Kingpin, but begged him to take care of his daughter. He took Maya in and learned that she had been born deaf and had the ability to perfectly copy any action she saw.

Maya attended a school for prodigies and had her career fast-tracked by Kingpin. Behind the scenes, he trained her to be an assassin called Echo. She would use her piano performances as a cover to get close to targets before killing them. 

Echo came to Daredevil’s attention when she tried to assassinate him. Her copied skills kept him on the ropes until he took advantage of her hearing impairment by luring her into a dark building. He convinced Echo to turn on the Kingpin and become a hero. She would go on to join The Avengers. Recently, Echo became a host of The Phoenix and changed her name to Thunderbird.

Echo will appear in 2021’s Hawkeye before being spun off into her own show. She will be played by Alaqua Cox, who is also deaf and has taught at multiple schools for the deaf.

#5 Jericho

Played by Chella Man
Disability: Mute

Jericho: “Why don’t you go tell Nekron he underestimated the Wilson family? We’re tougher than he thinks.

Teen Titans Vol. 3 #78

Many superheroes with disabilities monologue about the challenges they face, but Jericho’s actions speak louder than any words.

Joseph Wilson was the son of Army vet Slade Wilson. What he didn’t know was that his father was an internationally feared mercenary called Deathstroke. Joseph was kidnapped by the Jackal, a villain who wanted to know who had hired his father. Deathstroke refused to answer, even when Joseph was held at knife-point. He killed the Jackal, but wasn’t fast enough to stop him from slashing Joseph’s throat, rendering him mute.

Joseph was taken from Deathstroke by his mother and the two of them went into hiding. He learned ASL to cope with the loss of his voice. Joseph also discovered that he had the power to possess people by making eye contact and could talk through them if they were unconscious when he did it. This makes zero sense whatsoever because any power he has should be like his father’s rather than non-demonic possession.

Joseph joined the Teen Titans as Jericho when he learned that his father was targeting them. The Titans were wary of letting their archenemy’s son join, but Jericho proved himself. The writers and artists deserve props for going the extra mile to demonstrate his disability. They never gave Jericho thought bubbles or an internal monologue. They only used sign language, body language, or written messages when he communicated.

#4 Oracle

Played by Yvonne Craig and Dina Meyer
Disability: Paraplegia

Oracle:For a long time I felt I had to cope with losing the use of my legs. I had to learn to get over it. And I beat myself up for the longest time. I couldn’t “get over it!” I missed walking and running and turning on the bathtub faucet with my toes. It wasn’t until I realized that I’d always miss my legs. It wasn’t until I realized I’d never not miss them. That’s when I could get on with my life.

Nightwing Vol.2 #38

Most superheroes with disabilities were born their disability or develop them during their backstory. Oracle is one of the rare few who developed a disability after her creation and wasn’t almost immediately healed.

Barbara Gordon was the daughter of Gotham City’s Police Commissioner Jim Gordon. She idolized Batman and went to a costume party dressed as a female version of him. The party was attacked by villains, who Barbara defeated before Batman and Robin arrived. The incident inspired her to become Batgirl.

Batgirl had a long career until a story called The Killing Joke. The Joker shot her in the gut as part of a plan to drive her dad mad. The attack left her paralyzed from the waist down. Unable to still be Batgirl, Barbara became a hacker and information broker called Oracle.

Don’t think being stuck in a wheelchair makes Oracle less of a threat. She was trained by Richard Dragon in Escrima, which permits her to use multiple weapons for more reach. Oracle’s hacking skills are second to none and allowed her to become the de facto mission control for Batman’s allies. She also advises many heroes, including the Birds of Prey and her non-vocal successor, Cassandra Cain.

Despite spending twenty-three years as Oracle, DC Comics decided to make Barbara Batgirl again in their New 52 relaunch. She was given a high-tech implant that allowed her to walk and resume being Batgirl. Many fans were disappointed in DC for getting rid of their most prominent superhero with a disability, especially using a method that the character had refused for decades on moral grounds. 

#3 Hawkeye

Played by Jeremy Renner and Troy Baker
Disability: d/Deaf

Hawkeye:That girl, she’s your daughter? Can I ask-
Deadpool: [answers in ASL and runs his index finger down his non-dominant arm, then pinches his thumbs and index fingers closed and pulls them apart twice.]
Hawkeye:Got it, long story.

Hawkeye vs. Deadpool

Hawkeye has made many appearances in the MCU, but there’s still a lot about this deaf superhero that hasn’t been told.

During his first solo series, Hawkye fought a villain called Crossfire. Hawkeye hid a sonic arrowhead in his mouth to counteract Crossfire’s sonic weapon, but lost 80% of his hearing from the blast. He incorporated a hearing aid into his costume, but many writers ignored his disability, assuming they even knew about it.

Hawkeye’s disability was acknowledged in the acclaimed 2014 run of the book. Many stories feature Hawkeye communicating with his allies via sign language or seeing blank text balloons when his hearing aid is damaged. There is even a textless issue where the characters only use (untranslated) sign language to show what an average day is like for Hawkeye.

Hawkeye was indirectly responsible for another deaf superhero. A young deaf comic fan refused to wear his hearing aid, and his mother wrote to Marvel for advice. Marvel pointed out that Hawkeye had used one since the Eighties and created a hearing aid-themed superhero called Blue Ear, named for the kid’s claim that “superheroes don’t wear blue ears.” Blue Ear later appeared in a PSA comic alongside Iron Man.

If you want to learn more about Hawkeye, check out our Hawkeye backstory.

#2 Daredevil

Played by Charlie Cox and Ben Affleck
Disability: Blind

Captain America: “The fact he has been able to take what most people call a ‘disability’ and turn it into his greatest strength, the fact a blind man takes to the streets every night to defend strangers, at huge personal cost… Well. I know people look up to me. I look up to Daredevil.”

Marvel: Avengers Alliance

Justice is blind, and so is our penultimate superhero: Daredevil.

Matt Murdock was a child who saw a blind man about to be hit by a truck. He saved the man out of the way, but was blinded when a canister of radioactive ooze fell from the track. The radiation caused Matt’s other senses to be enhanced and gave him an echolocation-esque “radar sense.”

Matt learned to control his new senses by training with a ninja called Stick. He became famous as an adult for being a blind lawyer and used his training to fight crime as Daredevil. You’d think an enhanced sense of touch would make you want to avoid a profession where you get punched, shot, and blasted a lot.

Daredevil’s powers should honestly count as a disability in-universe. His sense of touch is strong enough to read books by feeling the ink on paper through gloves. He can hear plays being staged across town. The 2004 Daredevil movie even gave him a sensory deprivation chamber to explain how he is able to sleep. Daredevil is cool, but life would be difficult with his powers.

How about checking out our Daredevil backstory?

#1 Professor X

Played by Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy
Disability: Paraplegia

Xavier:You have to stay with it, Jean. I don’t want to lose her. Remember, whatever obstacles get in the way, they can be overcome. [rolls to the top of a flight of stairs] Though, some obstacles are more irritating than others.

X-Men: Evolution “The X-Impulse” (Season 1, Episode 2)

Our number one superhero with a disability may need a wheelchair to get around, but there is a reason that Professor X is considered one of the strongest X-Men.

Charles Xavier was the son of a wealthy nuclear physicist. He developed telepathy as a child and grew to be one of the strongest psychics in the Marvel Universe. Xavier earned a professorship at Oxford University and began traveling the world.

While visiting the Himalayas, Professor Xavier encountered an alien scout named Lucifer. He defeated the alien and forced him to cancel an invasion, but Lucifer had the last laugh by slamming a boulder into Xavier. He was paralyzed from the waist down. Xavier was rescued and returned to America, now understanding that the world needed protectors.

Professor Xavier used his wealth and powers to track down five teenaged Mutants and convince them to become superheroes. He named this team the X-Men for their “ex-tra powers.” I suspect he may have gained his professorship through mind control if he thinks extra starts with an X.

A wheelchair isn’t the best transportation for a crime fighter, but Professor Xavier makes it work. He can telekinetically levitate his chair for short distances. He later was given a hoverchair by Forge that can float over most obstacles. Even without a fancy chair, Professor X can amplify the range of his powers with the psionic computer Cerebro.

Who is your favorite superhero with a disability? Is there one even better than these?

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