With a growing social consciousness in the contemporary milieu, even large corporations such as Disney have begun to take an activist turn. Of late, Marvel has been especially sensitive to ongoing issues regarding race and gender. This is particularly evident in its latest incarnations available through Disney +: Wandavision and Falcon and the Winter Solider. Accompanying this messaging has also been a positive representation of mental health care and the effects of individual and collective trauma. These are not superheroes who take a beating and walk away unscathed; these are highly developed and nuanced characters whose arcs take shape over several different films and multiple episodes. Key to the MCU’s success is the interdependency and vulnerability the characters show through their relational networks and often non-romantic friendships. And yet these representations are fraught with potential propagandistic tendencies and are not unproblematic in other ways; for example, these “heroes” themselves inflict violence on others.
This panel invites papers that explore mental health representation and trauma suffered through violence throughout the MCU from a wide variety of theoretical approaches and perspectives. Papers might consider questions about the intersection of race and vulnerability, the role of counselling and restitution in the healing process, and the tension between redemption, guilt, and responsibility.