Written By: Felicia
So! As some of my readers know, and as some of you don’t, I am a psychology major. I had the great opportunity in one of my classes to pick a movie and give some characters a diagnosis. How awesome is that? Most people would go with an obvious choice of a movie, but I chose a little something more off the wall. The Avengers! I love this movie, and I love the characters, so I thought that picking a few characters and analyzing them would be fun! We start with The Hulk and his identity disorder. =)
This is actually a very rare condition, but has been reported since centuries ago. In the Marvel movie The Avengers, Bruce Banner is a scientist, more of a chemist really. During a horrible accident in his early years, he was exposed to an amount of gama radiation that should have killed this man. This is when his symptoms of DID started to show. These gama radiations created an alternate personality for Dr. Banner which actually in turn saved his life.
In The Avengers, you don’t actually see Bruce Banner’s other personality completely change until the first climax of the movie. You do however see a bit of the anger side of the personality when Black Widow finds him after he has been hiding for years. His calm personality turns in to three seconds of pure rage yelling and Black Widow to not yell at him. You can even begin to see his face turn a little green during this. The first time that you see his alternate or sub-personality isn’t until the first climax of the movie when Hawk Eye decides he wants to blow up the place. Bruce Banner and Black Widow end up getting blown down below deck, and this is when Bruce starts to lose it. Bruce is aware that he has a sub-personality and is trying to control it. Bruce gets to a point where he can’t control it anymore, and turns into an “angry green rage monster.” So, this meets the DSM’s criteria for DID on the first two accounts. He stays in the personality for a long while after. Not able to control it. The third criterion is a little bit trickier since he was never directly asked while in the movie to recall things while he is in his HULK form.
\There is a scene after the first battle that occurs when he wakes up in an abandoned warehouse and can’t recall anything that had just happened, and asked the old man that was there if he knew if he had hurt anyone. For the sake of Hollywood, by the end of this movie, Bruce Banner is able to change back and forth between his two personalities and control what the hulk does with thought. With someone that isn’t in a movie, they would not be able to do this within the course of a few days. But, within the movie, Bruce Banner/ The HULK do meet the DSM criteria for Dissociative identity disorder.
Another character in the movie The Avengers is Captain America, also known as Steve Rogers. He was a super soldier in WWII, and then was frozen in ice until they found him almost 70 years later. After he wakes up, Steve Rogers starts experiencing symptoms of PTSD. As in one scene he is boxing and having flashbacks of war and fighting. Another symptom is that he is avoiding people when he first comes back and is much detached from everyone around him. Rogers also feels a certain amount of guilt for still being alive, in an almost cheating fashion. He tried to do the right thing for his country but he was somehow kept alive. Rogers doesn’t have all the symptoms for PTSD, but he does have a few.
Tony Stark happens to be a billionaire, a womanizer, and also just happens to be Iron Man himself. He is also narcissistic. Narcissistic personality disorder is a personality disorder marked by a broad pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy. People with this disorder often appear to be arrogant. As Rogers points out multiple times in the movie, Tony is nothing without his Iron Man suit but a rich guy. People with narcissistic personality disorder over exaggerate their accomplishments. Sadly, Tony Stark does have a reason to boast about all that he has done. He created a self sustaining energy building, created a new element so he can survive, and has one of the most successful businesses in the world. Tony Stark feels that he should have special privilege to everything just because of his name, and exploits others just for fun. This is one his most common traits with always trying to provoke Bruce Banner to turning into The HULK. He also likes to poke fun at Rogers every chance he gets. “You might have missed a lot doing time a Capsicle.” “Which one of us in this room is A) wearing a spangly outfit, and B) Not?” There are plenty of one liners that he has trying to bring himself up while bringing others down.
This movie gives one almost close to perfect example of DID and PTSD in the forming. The Avengers also shows that within every group you always need that person that feels they are so much better than everyone else. Bruce Banner/The HULK shows all the signs of DID with him showing two clear signs of different personalities, forgetting what he does while in the other, and The HULK clearly taking control over Bruce Banner. Rogers shows some signs of PTSD but doesn’t fully make all the requirements. Tony Stark may not be able to be diagnosed by DSM standards as narcissist, but we all know differently. Who would think that comics could teach you something about psychology?