MCU has an affinity with childhood trauma that continues even today. Here we will talk about some of the superheroes and their traumas as a child.
Since Phase 1 of the MCU, we, the audience, have seen how childhood trauma played a part in building multiple character arcs. And it is something that is continuing in the present Phase 4 of the MCU. Let us find out which MCU superheroes have undergone childhood trauma and how.
Relationships have always been a stronghold aspect of the MCU. Be it Steve’s “eternal” love for Peggy, or Thanos’ love for her adopted daughter Gamora, Tony’s love-hate relationship with his father, or the complex relationship between Natasha and Bruce, the MCU is filled with it. However, one of the common aspects that many relationships have as their base is childhood trauma. Many superheroes have had to deal with it and many still do. Here are the most well-known childhood trauma cases that we have come across.
Tony Stark- MCU’s First Childhood Trauma
Of all the superheroes, Tony Stark’s childhood trauma stands tall. This is more so because it had the greatest cathartic moment. The fact that lost both of his parents at a young age and that he never really got to know his father adds to the trauma even more.
Since Iron-Man (2008), fans have understood that Tony didn’t get to know his father well. Also according to Tony, his father never told him that he “loved me” or “liked me.”The very mention of Howard Stark by Justin Hammer at the court hearing in Iron-Man 2 (2010) apparently made him feel ill-at-ease. At the beginning of Captain America: Civil War (2016) too, we see a young Tony bid a hesitant “I Love you, dad” goodbye to Howard (thanks to BARF technology). Yet, we see the rage in his eyes when he comes to know that Bucky killed his parents. This shows just how much pain there was inside him all along. Other than this, that people will always compare him to his father while he struggles with his father’s legacy adds more brick to the trauma.
However, the cathartic moment arrived eventually in Avengers: Endgame (2019). This is when Tony met his father in the past. He hugged him to finally clear his conscience with the beautiful words, “Howard, everything’s gonna be alright…Thank you…for everything…(you’ve done for this country).” We all know that the last few words were a cloak to hide his inner feelings. Tony was never the nostalgic kind. Remember when he told Pepper in Iron-Man, “Pepper, I’ve been called many things. Nostalgic is not one of them”? Yup, that’s our Tony. Ultimately, one can say that he didn’t hesitate to give up his life for the sake of his family, especially for his daughter Morgan, his “second chance”. He would never do to his daughter what his father did to him. And we all love him 3000 for this.
Natasha Romanoff- A Trauma To Rememeber
The first time we got a glimpse of Nat’s childhood trauma was in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) where she told Banner about how she was brought up where she received her training. Today, we know what she was talking about i.e. The Red Room.
She never knew her father Ivan Romanoff, they killed her mom for attempting to expose the Red Room and took her in as an orphan. Consent was never an option for her. She would be trained to follow orders and assassinate targets. Her trauma would continue to haunt her as it also took a toll on her as a woman. This is because she was sterilized which means that she would never be able to have a baby and be a mother. This she mentioned to Banner as well. Love and family were never to be and she sacrificed herself with all this pain inside her. Natasha Romanoff has more to her than meets the eye. But it’s all too late.
Wanda Maximoff- The Pain-Rage Relationship
Turned into an orphan along with her brother at a very young age and experimented upon by Strucker, Wanda perhaps never had anything else to think of other than her childhood trauma. The sheer horror of having to watch her parents die in a blast would continue to affect her. It would also add to her rage which would later turn out to be her ultimate weapon.
Loss was something that never left her side. She never had someone who would love her the way she wanted to and the death of Vision was the nail on the coffin of her tragedy. In all her rage and pain, she created a Vision that would be her mind’s construct in WandaVision. Eventually, she would become the Scarlet Witch and will seemingly play a significant role in the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. There are rumors that she might even be the villain there!
Shang-Chi- The Daddy Issue
The latest addition to our list of superheroes with childhood trauma is Shang-Chi. This time, it is intimate betrayal. Shang-Chi’s relationship with his father Wenwu, who is the antagonist rather than the main villain, is much different than Peter Quill not knowing his father ever or Gamora having an adoptive abusive father. Wenwu raised Shang-Chi all by himself after his mother was killed. Shang-Chi was trained to be an assassin to take revenge on those responsible for his mother’s death. However, he lost the love and respect of his children, Shang-Chi and his sister Xialing, when he turned again to the Ten Rings to avenge his wife’s death.
Furthermore, that he owes so much to his mother, for his growth into the person and fighter he is, while carrying the blame that his father put on him for not doing anything but watching his mother die makes the trauma’s roots go deeper. However, for Shang-Chi, the motivations (Her mother Ying Li’s past and her home in Ta Lo) grow from the trauma. And this is what he uses to go beyond his father’s revenge motif and stop him.