Great science fiction characters like Captain Kirk of Star Trek or Luke Skywalker of Star Wars are able bodied and heroic. Super heroes like Batman and Superman fight crime with all the powers of the human body and also of the super bodied and beyond. However some of the most popular and beloved sci-fi and comic book characters are not able bodied at all. In fact, the reason they’re so interesting and even so powerful is directly because of a physical disability.
From the most love to hate Star Wars villain Darth vader to one of Marvel Comics most celebrated super heroes, IronMan, here are the most popular disabled characters of sci-fi and comic books.
Darth Vader – Severe Burns – Lung & Limb Damage
This dark Lord Of The Sith is feared the galaxy over as the scourge of the rebel forces. He’s a former law abiding Jedi Knight – now a scheming pawn of the evil Emperor. He’s all of that and he’s also disabled.
Anakin Skywalker was severely injured in a fight with his comrade and Jedi mentor Obi Wan Kenobi. Since that time, he’s used advanced medical technical gadgets – including breathing equipment and a cool mask to help him get through life as a disabled man.
Luke Skywalker – Limb Damage – Hand Missing
Young Jedi knight in waiting and then Yoda intense training Luke Skywalker may start off as an able bodied farm boy on his Aunt and Uncle’s farm on the planet of Tatooine, but by The Empire Strikes Back, Luke is a disabled man.
Fittingly so, it is his father and fellow disabled sci-fi hero Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker) that causes his disability. In the film’s – perhaps the entire series of movies – most dramatically climatic and harrowing scene, Vader lops off Luke’s hand with his lightsaber. Later, a medical droid fits Luke with a cybernetic one, and even though the technology of the time may make Luke appear fully able, he’s still one of the most famous disabled sci-fi heroes around.
Geordi Laforge – Blind – Star Trek: The Next Generation
The original Enterprise’s engineer was a Scotsman played by James Doohan, named Scotty. In the Gene Roddenberry sequel series, the ship is now fixed and maintained by an African American named Geordi LaForge.
Levar Burton played LaForge in seven seasons on Star Trek: The Next Generation and wore a gadget called the VISOR to enable him to see after a fashion. Later on in the movie Star Trek: First Contact, Geordi was given ‘ocular implants’ – sort of bionic eyes to replace the bulky VISOR gadget.
Steve Austin & Jamie Sommers – Prosthetic Limbs – Bionics
The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman are a former astronaut and tennis pro respectively and they’re also disabled Americans. Actors Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner brought the bionic man and woman to life back in the 1970’s
“Colonel Steve Austin – astronaut – a man barely alive… we can rebuild him. We have the technology.” Fans of this landmark sci-fi show heard those words on each opening of the hour long drama in the 1970’s. After a devastating air craft crash, Austin (Lee Majors) is rebuilt by government agency OSI – to the price tag of six million bucks – a real bargain in today’s dollars. Subsequently his romantic interest, Jamie Sommers (Lindsay Wagner) is severely injured in a skydiving accident and she is made into a bionic person by OSI as well. We now live in an age where artificial limbs or bionic prosthetics are almost commonplace. They may not give recipients the cool super powers of Steve Austin and Jamie Sommers, but the technology can certainly revitalize the fractured lives of those injured.
Professor Xavier – Wheelchair Bound
This distinguished teacher and bald psychic is leader of one of the most famous and powerful groups of comic book heroes – the X-Men.
As Hugh Jackman stars in his big spin-off movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it’s a safe bet his disabled Professor is admiring his movie work. Professor Charles Xavier doesn’t let the fact that he must move around in a wheelchair cramp his heroic style. Professor X is one of the world’s most powerful psychics. He can pretty much do anything and everything with the power of his mind. One must ponder why he just doesn’t move his legs with his mind – since he can move other objects with his mental power – but I suppose that would be too big a drain on our smooth headed mutant leader.
Daredevil – Blindness
Matt Murdock was blinded by radioactive waste as a child growing up in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. Despite his vision loss, the toxic substance granted him heightened senses.
This Marvel Comics super hero is clothed in a blazing red uniform, skilled in gymnastic, martial arts and is equipped with his razor sharp super senses. Daredevil battles crime and all who oppress the weak. He ‘sees’ the world around him in a unique manner indeed.
Dr. Strange – Severe Hand Impairment
Dr. Stephen Vincent strange had it all. He was famous for his medical skill and his neurosurgeon abilities. The fame and fortune all ended abruptly for Strange, when his hands were physically damaged in a brutal car wreck. Now, the famous steady hands which operated on the sick and gave Dr. Strange a profitable career were useless. He was for all intents and purposes a disabled man.
Despite all his wealth and influence, Dr. Strange can’t get his own medical community to do the impossible – fix the injuries. Ultimately he seeks out a mystic called The Ancient One as a last resort treatment for his disability. Instead of restoring him to full health and operational capability, the Ancient One trains Dr. Strange in the mystic arts of magic. Once he becomes a magic master himself, Strange consults with superheroes around the globe to help battle evil, and he’s always trying to defeat his dread arch enemy Baron Mordo.
RoboCop – “Death” Severe limb & brain damage
Police officer Alex Murphy is brutally killed in the line of duty by a group of gross thugs. This doesn’t stop him from coming back to clean their collective clocks. The movie world was introduced to RoboCop (Peter Weller) in the 1987 sci-fi movie of the same name, directed by Paul Verhoeven.
Through the miracle of cybernetics and a multi-national corporation (OCP Omni Consumer Products) Murphy is resurrected into RoboCop. Robo – as his partner calls him – has the strength of a dozen cops, carries around the most deadly automatic weapons and wields a targeting system which would put a military tank to shame.
Iron Man – Heart Damage
Tony Stark may be a wealthy playboy and business tycoon, but he suffers from a debilitating heart ailment. He was played by actor Robert Downey Jr in the 2008 big blockbuster movie Iron Man.
When he was kidnapped by enemy forces and forced to design weapons for the bad guys, Stark’s heart was injured. By crafting a super suit with nifty weapons, Stark not only escaped his kidnappers, but saved his life with the Iron Man armor’s power source. Tony Stark now balances his business dealings, his bon vivant lifestyle of playboy playfulness and also his world saving endeavors as the mighty Iron Man.