People with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder often have issues with short-term memory, impulsiveness, and focus, but these also come with advantages. Awareness of neurodivergent thinkers is spreading, but few realize what kind of benefits that come with ADHD can actually give an edge, like resilience, creativity, being quick and calm under pressure, the ability to see danger before most others, etc. For many Marvel movie characters, this is their only superpower.
1. Iron Man/Tony Stark
He thinks out loud to focus. His decision to announce to the world that he was Iron Man was completely based on impulse. His inability to control his anger led to an emotion-filled fight with his friend, Cap. He needs a souped-up “Alexa” to function, and he still needs his personal assistant, Pepper Potts to keep him grounded because he can’t even remember his own social security number. He makes up nicknames for everyone because people with ADHD often have issues with remembering names.
However, his abilities to hyperfocus for hours on projects, take risks and be ultra-creative in the moment allow him to be the genius/billionaire/playboy/philanthropist that proves it’s not just his suit that makes him Iron Man.
2. Venom/Eddie Brock
He’s never organized, always late, even when comes to paying his bills, and his impulsivity has affected his relationships to the point of leaving him alone, that is until an alien took up residence in not only his apartment but his body.
When he manages to be in the right place at the right time, his ability to shoot from the hip has led him to some major successes. Unfortunately, this can also lead to major failures, but despite failures, those with ADHD bounce back and even rise to the top again. The symbiote can even be a metaphor for self-deprecating one’s own neurodivergence and envisioning it as an inky black substance to be rid of, until finally making friends and working together with it to achieve success.
3. (Fox) Quicksilver/Peter Maximov
Speedsters are often portrayed with some symptoms of ADHD, but Evan Peters’s portrayal definitely ticks a lot more boxes than most. He is impulsive, fidgety, and prone to some less than reputable life choices, and he’s constantly talking, impatiently waiting for responses.
You musta done something pretty serious. What’dya do? What’dya do? What’dya doooo? Why’d they have you in there?
Despite being known as a “pain in the ass” and a “klepto,” he is able to navigate his abilities on a whim to pull his team out of harm’s way. Speed may indeed be one of the traits. Many athletes, like Justin Gatlin who has been diagnosed with ADHD tend to excel in athletics. He even beat Usain Bolt in the 100-meter final.
4. The Human Torch/Johhny Storm
He is easily excited, witty, sarcastic, impulsive, and charming at times, much like most adults with ADHD.
Don’t even think about it!
-Sue and Johnny Storm
His impulsiveness can lead to some mistakes like when he destroyed lab equipment and nearly reached supernova igniting the Earth’s atmosphere, and his pranks on Ben who is a giant orange rock monster might not be in anyone’s best interest, but when he reigns that in at the behest of Dr. Reed Richards and Sue Storm, he is able to use his creativity, passion, and courage to ignite his enemies in a fire hotter than the sun.
5. White Widow/Yelena
This fan-favorite in Black Widow was ripped from her parents, forced to train as an assassin, and was mind-controlled for a time. While trauma can also produce symptoms of ADHD, Yelena seemed to show a contagious free-wheeling energy before this trauma happened, and later on, didn’t view her “family” as a bad thing.
This high energy makes her a good fighter, as well as a good teammate to have around to keep spirits up with quirky humor. She seems to even make friends while fighting Kate Bishop. It wouldn’t even seem out of place for her to be having drinks with Kate and Clint over some mac and cheese while they regail stories of her sister, the poser.
6. Star-Lord/Peter Quill
Peter lost his mother to cancer at a young age just before being abducted by alien space pirates, but there are clear differences between symptoms of PTSD and ADHD. Both would cause people to be easily distracted, but those reacting to trauma generally do so with fight or flight responses such as irritability, crying, etc. When Quill was on his way to get a score, he spontaneously danced. This is not something someone does out of anger or fear.
Actions like this may tend to waste time and can get him and his teammates into trouble, but his ability to work on the fly with eleven percent of a plan is just the bonus he needs to help his friends save a galaxy. An argument might even be made for Groot, Rocket, and Drax.
7. Spider-man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland)
Although most Spider-men have suffered the traumatic murder of Uncle Ben, this Spider-man has been losing several backpacks, talking to himself, and constantly fidgeting without such trauma.
His ADHD helps him work for hours creating gear, much like Tony Stark, and he can come up with plans inspired by “really old movies” in the middle of a battle. His sense of humor is part of what creates the charm of the wise-cracking web-slinger that audiences love in any incarnation of the friendly neighborhood character.
8. Dr. Lewis/Darcy Lewis
In the first introduction of Darcy, she is waiting on a precedented event of a portal to another world to open up, and out of boredom is already asking if she can turn the radio on. Sitting still and doing nothing is torture for those with ADHD.
She may have fleeting relationships with people like her own intern, but she is always there to do the right thing and help out her friends, and her wandering attention catches incoming danger faster than most, even if she says “Mew mew!” because she can’t remember that it’s called Mjolnir. Her resilience eventually led her to get her Ph.D. in astrophysics and make enough waves in the field to be called upon by S.W.O.R.D.
9. Deadpool/Wade Wilson
He was a highly trained killing machine, before being turned into human scar tissue that can regenerate, but he suffers from anxiety, feeling like he isn’t good for his loved ones, and he can’t remember to bring his duffle bag of guns to go save his girlfriend.
It doesn’t matter. He has the ability to use what he does have with enough flair to spell out the name of his enemies in dead bodies, and with enough reassurance, he can still cultivate a healthy relationship, despite his being distracted by Colossus.
10. Human Jukebox/Luis
Even people who know very little about ADHD would categorize Luis as such, with the way his stories always end up going off track. To some, he is the poster child for ADHD in the MCU. It is, however, part of his charisma.
It also allows him to have “mad thieving skills” and the ability to improvise by knocking guards out when the need arises, yet he’s sensitive enough to save those same guards when the building is about to explode.
11. Miss Marvel/Kamala Khan
The audience gets to see her ADHD up close and personal through her eyes, from her daydreams, to her zoning out, to her over excitability, to her oversensitive nature to slink into instant depressions, but as much as her impulsivity caused damage and endangered lives, her quick thinking and acting also saved them.
This trait is actually quite common in main and supporting characters because they add spark to the lives around them. They are interesting people that tend to make good stories that they’d be happy to take several hours telling.