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Marvel Reveals Superhero 'The Unstoppable Wasp' Has Bipolar Disorder

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A new Marvel character has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

In the fifth edition of the “Unstoppable Wasp” comic, protagonist Nadia Van Dyne (known as the Unstoppable Wasp in superhero form) comes to terms with her mental illness.

Jeremy Whitley, writer of “Unstoppable Wasp,” said it was important to him and his editor to represent mental illness in a superhero’s life — particularly because in the past, comics have often associated mental illness with villains.

“We felt it was an opportunity to present a representation of mental illness that we don’t frequently see in comics,” he said. “What we wanted to show was a character who is overwhelmingly associated with positivity and optimism who is forced to face her own limitations.”

Some of the limitations Nadia faces include symptoms of bipolar disorder like mania, depression and “bipolar rage,” which may cause someone to lash out at their loved ones.

Though Whitley does not live with bipolar disorder himself, he’s had friends who have struggled with it in their lives. When writing the comic, he wanted to represent bipolar disorder as accurately as possible, so he consulted medical resources as well as folks who live with the condition to inform his writing.

“I wanted to make sure I had a good lock on it… I wanted to have an understanding of what it was clinically and how it functioned,” he said. “Probably more important to me though, was talking to and reading stories from people who have dealt with the condition themselves.”

In addition to portraying bipolar symptoms accurately, Whitley wanted to portray the reality of life with mental illness accurately — namely, that mental illness is only one part of a person. He said:

We wanted to make sure that Nadia was defined by more than just her illness. Making sure Nadia’s story wasn’t simply the story of her disorder was important. As with real people, bipolar disorder is just one facet of a complex and interesting person, so it was important to [my editor] and I that we really establish who and how Nadia was before we go deeply into this one particular piece of her.

You can purchase and read the fifth installment of the “Unstoppable Wasp” digital comic book here. To read more about fictional characters with mental illness, check out the below articles.

If you live with a mental illness, what fictional characters do you relate to? Let us know in the comments.

Header image via Marvel

Originally published: February 20, 2019
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