Why Marvel’s Moon Knight and Spider-Man Are Refreshingly Vulnerable Heroes
With Spider-Man and Moon Knight, Marvel has focused on relationships with therapy, and it’s been surprisingly refreshing.
Warning: The following contains spoilers for Moon Knight (2021) and The Amazing Spider-Man (2018)
Even superheroes need someone to talk to sometimes. Ben Reilly and Marc Spector, The Amazing Spider-Man and Moon Knight, battled clones, villains and gods. In their most recent issues, however, they endured one of the most chilling acts anyone can undertake: an honest conversation with a therapist.
Despite a long history of betrayal and conditions that indicate trust and addiction are just liabilities, these two heroes have come to trust their therapists to help them. Of course, with that confidence comes consequences.
Superheroes often keep their identities a secret not for their own safety, but to keep those around them safe. In the most recent issues of both moon knight and The Amazing Spider-Man, the main characters’ therapists have been attacked in one way or another. These attacks encroach on the heroes and feel more like a betrayal, not only because of the message their safety sends to readers, but also the way their presence seems to bring the Marvel heroes to a better place.
In The Amazing Spider-Man #86, by Zeb Wells and Michael Dowling, Ben Reilly’s therapist assured him of his ability to speak to him confidentially, and Beyond Corporation’s betrayal came as a shock and inflamed his rage. She really wants to help him. This is also remarkable in moon knight #6-7, by Jed Mackay, Alessandro Cappuccio, and Federico Sabbatini, as Marc Spector’s therapist is someone he trusts to share his life story, as well as his regrets about his loss of faith. As she breaks through his layers of defense, she helps him learn more about himself and process his trauma.
Spector’s previous experience with therapists, as in moon knight #1-6 from 2016, by Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood, was less positive. Here, a therapist was not just an antagonist, but one of the main threats. As such, these earlier texts suggested that therapists were deceitful and deceitful, but more recent portrayals as trustworthy – at least ostensibly – shake up these relationships in an interesting way.
Indeed, Spider-Man and Moon Knight show readers that therapists can be forces for good, and strong enough for even an iconic superhero and literal god enforcer. They trust these people with their secrets and their feelings, and the message readers can get is that they shouldn’t think they’re “too strong” for therapy; after all, even Spider-Man needs help sometimes.
These super-therapists also serve a role beyond allowing the reader to realize the characters’ vulnerability and explore their sanity. Yes, Marc Spector has dissociative identity disorder and maims or kills the occasional person, but his crisis of faith elevates him from a godlike avatar that broke the Avengers. Rather, it places him before the reader as a man in all his imperfect mortality. Ben Reilly is suspicious and feels manipulated by those around him, which damages his relationships – something else that concerns anyone with anxiety.
These could have been analyzed eventually, but speaking with a therapist allows the characters to begin to process the developments with the reader, allowing the heroes to make real progress and the reader to feel invested in the journey. Reader buy-in and change in representation and perception combine to make these two stories groundbreaking for therapists in comics…unless, of course, a drastic deviation occurs and undermines the story. . As always, anything is possible in superhero comics, but so far this journey has been a refreshing take for two of the MCU’s superhero mainstays.
KEEP READING: The Best Marvel Moon Knight Comics to Read Ahead of the MCU Series on Disney+
Marvel, DC Artist Shares Silver Surfer Art Inspired by Planet Hulk
About the Author