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10 Big Screen Superheroes With Incredibly Uncomfortable Family Issues

Features
by Gabe Toro
November 7, 2013 3:00 PM
2 Comments
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Daredevil
What's The Issue? "My father was a mob enforcer, but when a tragic accident blinded me, he went back into boxing to help keep me on the straight and narrow, away from the criminal element. This got him killed by his former employer, so naturally, I kind of felt like this is my fault. Ain't no guilt quite like Catholic guilt. If we're talking about family issues, I suppose I should let you know my girlfriend's name is ELEKTRA. I mean, seems relevant."

How Does He Cope? Jack Murdock's (David Keith) death leads young Matt (Ben Affleck) to become the Daredevil, a hero who seeks vengeance against those that evade justice. The hero's name is taken from a nickname given to his father, the first of several complex links to his father. Murdock doesn't discuss it. Another is the Irish Catholic upbringing that Murdock doesn't shed, even when he's using extra-legal means to pursue baddies. He's his father's son, jumping headfirst into trouble, and eventually ending up face-to-face with his father's murderer, Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan).

Prognosis: Murdock finds some peace in defeating the Kingpin, but he's never going to really shake being responsible for his father's death. One of the side effects to his accident is increased senses, and you get the feeling that includes enhanced angst as well. Basically, DD isn't the type to lighten the mood.

Wolverine
What’s The Issue? “I don’t know, bub. I have amnesia.”

How Does He Cope? Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has lived multiple lives over a couple hundred years, and his history is so convoluted that if the next 'X-Men' film revealed that he traveled back in time to become his own father, it wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. In truth, Wolverine was a sickly boy that resulted from a farmhouse affair, one that left him with the feral Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber) as a brother once they ran away from home as children. As Thor can tell you, it’s just no fun having a homicidal brother, and when Sabretooth offs too many friendlies over the course of a few world wars, Wolverine isolates himself. These issues come back to roost when Sabretooth “murders” (oh boy, is THIS a long story) Wolverine’s girlfriend, forcing him to declare all-out war on his sibling. Naturally, they end up teaming against a common enemy, father figure General Stryker (Danny Huston), who convinces them to be guinea pigs for his own gain, working under questionable orders from the government. Wolverine’s rejection of this surrogate (who is no doubt considerably younger than him) is immediately followed by memory loss, which renders these issues moot.

Prognosis: Though General Stryker was successful in basically shooting Wolverine in the memories (don’t try it at home, kids), they’re still basically repressed, occasionally creeping up in the later 'X-Men' films. They’ll eventually return en masse, perhaps kicked back into place by the time travel in next year’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” and when that happens, the flood of experiences involving rejection and betrayal are likely intense enough to drive the increasingly-domesticated Wolverine into an untamed state once again. If Sabretooth is still around, perhaps now is a good time for him to change his number.

Blade
What’s The Issue? “My mother got some strange to give birth to me, bitten by a vampire while pregnant. I was born a Daywalker, a vampire who can walk in the daylight, ‘passing’ as a human, while also existing in an underworld where almost every other bloodsucker is white Eurotrash. One might say I’m a motherfucker who iceskates uphill.”

How Does He Cope? Blade (Wesley Snipes) doesn’t cope, Blade just slices through fools. The first film certainly tested his identity issues, however. Believing he’s alone, and completely separate from the vampire world, he later learns that his mother was actually bitten by his nemesis Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff), making that thug the closest thing to a father. Further complicating matters is the fact that Frost has kept Blade’s mother alive all these years, and when she comes face-to-face with her son, she wants him to end her life as Frost’s slave. After a few minutes of anguish, Blade honors her request and then kills the shit out of Frost, which, judging by later films, proves to be the most therapeutic way to deal with that issue.

Prognosis: It’s likely the revelation that his mother was still sleeping with Frost that bred distrust within Blade, as he eventually rejected the partnerships established in the following two movies. Blade did develop a close relationship with Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), but any moment the old geezer offered questionable advice, Blade was quick to scoff. Family isn’t a word destined to be used by Blade anytime in the near, or distant, future.

Silk Spectre
What’s The Issue? “I never knew my father. I followed in my mother’s footsteps, but her sexuality always seemed a little more, I don’t know … ‘liberated.’ Now that I’m older and retired, I’m pissed off that she still hangs around with this skeezeball she used to work with. Say, you don’t think he’s … ?”

How Does She Cope? It’s the original Spectre’s (Carla Gugino) dalliances with the reckless jerk the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) that likely lead Spectre II (Malin Akerman) into the arms of impotent nice guy Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson). Sure he’s sweet on her, but that seems like more of a formal act of rebellion than anything else, particularly after leaving the increasingly dispassionate, fatherly Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup). If earlier she sought acceptance, now she desires happiness, and she finds that by breaking her retirement and getting back into the costume with her new lover. Unfortunately, this fragile new mindset is ultimately shattered by the revelation about her true parentage. There’s also that global act of terrorism perpetrated by an old associate cramping her style.

Prognosis: The end of “Watchmen” finds her still socializing with mom, suggesting that she’s made peace with her calamitous origins. Perhaps a bit of pity has crept into their interactions, forgiveness about why mom hasn’t been very forthcoming about the past. Among the characters in “Watchmen,” it seems like hers is a slightly sunnier future. No, Warner Bros., that was not an invitation, so please don’t.

This is just the first ten of a list that could easily add another ten. Steve Rogers/Captain America, Bruce Banner/Hulk, every X-Men...it seems a prerequisite to put on some spandex or wield some power must come with some kind of character flaw, haunted background or easily exploited emotional barrier. What are some of your fave superheroes who battle personal issues in addition to super villains? Let us know below.


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2 Comments

  • Mustang55 | November 10, 2013 4:45 PMReply

    "Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has lived multiple lives over a couple hundred years, and his history is so convoluted that if the next 'X-Men' film revealed that he traveled back in time to become his own father, it wouldn’t raise an eyebrow." Ha! On the whole Supes communicating with his parents in the original, they did die, and Krypton went bye bye, so those crystals contain their spirit if you will, but are still specters.

  • ck | November 8, 2013 9:09 AMReply

    It's a requirement for the protagonist of every would-be fall blockbuster - Ender's creepy-close with his sister and nearly strangled by his brother, and then there's Carrie's psycho mom...

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