Disability in pop culture 1

September 20, 2008

Charles Xavier

Charles Xavier, leader of the X-Men, is typically depicted in a wheelchair. This character debuted in Uncanny X-Men #1 in 1963.

Professor Charles Xavier

Professor Charles Xavier

Professor X is a superhero in his own right. The wheelchair serves as a cue that his powers are mental rather than physical. Charles is amongst the most powerful telepaths in the world. While other superheroes deliver physical ass-kickings, Charles’ domain is the mind. Depicting him as an old man (baldness?) in a wheelchair emphasizes this.

Thinking about other examples of how disability is used in popular culture to emphasize some other positive quality…

2 Responses to “Disability in pop culture 1”

  1. Pete Says:

    Professor X is an example of a sympathetic hero. There is some strange charm about a character that is so powerful and yet cannot walk. This is not like Achilles’s heel or Superman’s kryponite – generally the story does not regard Professor X’s disability as a weakness, but rather a symbol of respect.

    There’s an interesting thought there. Professor X will not (or did not) perish due to being in a wheelchair, unlike Achilles or Superman. Nor did he use the wheelchair to compensate for something else, like Daredevil using his lack of vision as a weapon.

    Professor X comes off in the comics and on film as a very wise and powerful person – a prophet, perhaps? His wheelchair is like Homer’s blindness… someone with no vision can so wonderfully describe the world; as someone with limited motor skills can so wonderfully understand and interact with it…

  2. adambowker Says:

    Ooo. Daredevil. Have to make an entry for him at some point.

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