Superheroes With Disabilities: Ranking 5 More

Disabled, Not Defeated

[A pirate has been injured while saving a child]
Shanks:Hey, don’t cry. You’re a man.”
Luffy:But Shanks…  [screen pulls back to reveal a bloody stump] YOUR ARM!”
Shanks:Luffy, it’s just an arm. I’ve got another one. I’m just glad you’re alright.”

One Piece “Luffy’s Past! Enter Red-Haired Shanks!” (Season 1, Episode 4)

Disabilities are challenging, but not entrapping. There are many ways to cope with afflictions while living a fulfilling life. Those who do are heroes. Superheroes that do so are on another level.

We’ve already ranked 5 superheroes with disabilities, but there are more who soar. Who made this list? Let’s find out.

#5 Superhero With A Disability: Hornet

Played By: N/A
Condition: Cerebral Palsy

Hornet: “The name’s Edward McDoughnagh, but that’s Hornet to you!”

Slingers #1

Sometimes, a superhero with a disability doesn’t become popular. They can’t all be Daredevil, Echo, or Oracle. But a hero doesn’t need to live forever. This hero made the most of his short time.

Spider-Man was framed for murder in the 90s. To find the culprit (and provide Marvel a counterpart to DC’s Reign of the Supermen), he created four alternate identities. Prodigy, a Superman-esque paragon, Dusk, a shadowy anti-hero, Ricochet, a hero similar to his usual style, and Hornet, a tech geek in flying armor. Spider-Man abandoned these alter egos after proving his innocence.

Four teenagers were then given those identities by a retired hero called Black Marvel. Hornet went to Edward McDoughnagh, a genius living with cerebral palsy. The Hornet armor gave him flight, sedative blasts, superhuman strength, and the ability to move his palsied arm. 

Hornet became a superhero, but remained obscure. He mostly appeared in crowd shots of heroes fighting groups of villains. Hornet was murdered by a brainwashed Wolverine, with only Nick Fury caring enough to remember his name. Several other characters have taken up the mantle, including his niece, who became Red Hornet.

#4 Agent Venom

Played By: Joe Manganiello, Patrick Labyoteaux
Condition: Amputee

Flash:I’ve taken beatings in my life. Had body and mind put to the test. Football. Dad. Boot camp. Mosul. Both legs amputated above the knee. An entire lifetime of getting my ass kicked to the ground can’t begin to measure up to these past twelve hours.”


It’s an unfortunate stereotype that no one gets through war unscathed. Mental health issues are common, but others have more visible injuries. But they needn’t be the end. So how did this superhero with a disability get back into the swing of things?

Flash Thompson bullied Peter Parker in high school. He tormented Peter, but hero worshiped Spider-Man. Flash enlisted in the Army and matured, making peace with Peter. He served in the Iraq War and lost his legs while saving a platoon from an ambush. Flash turned to self-deprecating humor to publicly cope with the amputation.

Despite his disability, Flash was recruited to be a special agent in return for receiving the Venom symbiote. He accepted and became Agent Venom.

Agent Venom reveled in his new mobility, but had to periodically remove the symbiote to avoid its corrupting influence. Venom abandoned him to rejoin its original host, Eddie Brock, leaving Flash in a wheelchair again. However, a sample of the symbiote grew into a new copy. The new symbiote was exposed to an anti-symbiote poison and absorbed its properties. Flash Thompson now stands as the military’s answer to rampaging Symbiotes: Agent Anti-Venom.

#3 Superhero With A Disability: Captain Marvel Jr.

Played By: Jack Dylan Grazer, Barry Gordon
Condition: Lame

[Captain Marvel Jr. is about to fight a villain] 
Freddy:He made me handicapped and an orphan. And [Billy] made me a hero. Now he needs me to be his champion. And that’s exactly what I am.

The Trials of Shazam #3 (2006)

Superheroes with disabilities are rare in older stories. If someone has a disability in ye olden comics, it’s the character’s motivation for villainy or an endangered bystander. Luckily, there’s one superhero with a disability who paved the way for later handicapable heroes.

Freddy Freeman was an average child. While fishing with his grandfather, they saved a drowning swimmer. Unfortunately, they had saved a madman called Captain Nazi, who murdered Mr. Freeman and broke Freddy’s back.

Shazam (then called Captain Marvel) found Freddy dying and took him to a hospital. The wizard Shazam helped Captain Marvel save him by sharing his powers. Freddy’s back was healed, but his legs were permanently weakened and he required a crutch. Freddy also learned that he could become a hero by saying Captain Marvel’s name, leading him to become Captain Marvel Jr.

Captain Marvel Jr. has all of Shazam’s powers, which negate his condition. Freddy refuses to live in his superpowered form because he feels like he’s wasting magic. He became Shazam’s affable sidekick, but often goes after his nemesis if he learns that Captain Nazi is in the area.

#2 Son Goku

Played By: Masako Norizawa, Sean Schemmel, Lawrence Simpson
Condition: Traumatic Brain Injury

Goku: “I’m glad I hit my head when I was a baby! That’s why I didn’t end up like you!”

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3

Disabilities often make someone introspective since their circumstances have changed and new coping methods will be necessary. An accident turned a child into the strongest superhero with a disability.

Son Goku is a Saiyan alien who was sent to conquer Earth as a baby. Goku was discovered and taken in by kindly martial artist Gohan. Goku was violent and uncontrollable until he fell into a ravine and hit his head. Brain damage altered his personality, making him kind, carefree, and protective.

Following Gohan’s death, Goku was recruited by traveling scientist Bulma to help her find The Dragon Balls, seven crystals that grant a wish when united. Goku fought powerful foes and befriended many people through his new good nature and willingness to forgive attempted murder.

Goku has difficulty with math, science, and social skills, made worse by a lack of formal education. Saiyan instincts drive him to make mistakes like healing enemies for a fair fight or challenging gods. Goku is a martial arts genius, developing cunning strategies and learning new techniques with ease. He is also insightful and wise in a folksy way.

We didn’t call Goku the strongest superhero with a disability for laughs. He has superhuman strength, speed, durability, energy blasts, teleportation, and several transformations that multiply his powers. Goku also mastered Ultra Instinct, a divine technique that allows him to fight without conscious thought. It’s telling that the only opponents who can hold off Goku now are gods and Lovecraftian monsters like Zamasu.

#1 Batgirl

Played By: Ella Jay Basco, Tati Gabrielle
Condition: Learning Disorder

[Batgirl is teaching herself to read with A Tale of Two Cities]
Cassandra:Uh… eh, no, ih? Ihh-kuh. Iih-duh? Ihh-tuh… it? Yes, must be. It yuh? It vuh… vuh-uss. It vuss? No. Wuss? It wuss? Oh! Was. It was…

Robin/Batgirl: Fresh Blood

Many disabilities aren’t readily apparent. Some people will picture missing limbs and heavy scarring, unaware of the many invisible handicaps that millions live with. This superhero with a disability is one of them.

Cassandra Cain is the daughter of assassins David Cain and Lady Shiva. David raised her without speech to force Cass to develop her mother’s body language reading ability faster. Any vocalization was harshly punished. The training worked and made Cass a perfect assassin at the cost of her being illiterate and borderline mute.

Cassandra escaped from her father and found her way to Gotham City, where she was taken in by the Bat-Family. They discovered that her language centers had been disrupted by the training, making it difficult for Cass to learn, even after a telepath rewired her brain. She fought crime as Batgirl while studying with Alfred to learn to read, write, and speak.

If you want to know more about the new Batgirl we have her backstory right here.

Image: (Right): Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios’ Echo, releasing on Hulu and Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2023. All Rights Reserved.

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