“After the Blip!” Examines Mental Health Through a Marvelous Lens

The lineup for Fandom Forward’s Marvelous Mental Health Fest

The virtual panel “After the Blip!” was one of the many highlights of Fandom Forward’s Marvelous Mental Health Fest.

In preparation for Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness, fan activist organization Fandom Forward hosted Marvelous Mental Health Fest, a weeklong virtual event devoted to mental health in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The event featured a week of panels that took a critical look into how mental health is portrayed in the MCU, and how it mirrors mental health struggles in the real world. While many of the panels offered interesting insight, “After the Blip” best encapsulated the spirit of the event.

After the Blip!” focused primarily on mental health in the face of global upheaval in both the MCU and the real world. The panel drew parallels between the in-universe event of the Blip, the aftermath of Thanos’ snap, to the real-world strife happening all over the world. The five panelists were a diverse group of mental health professionals who incorporate fandom into their work.

The panel opened with each panelist discussing the depiction of mental health in the MCU. The panelists liked that the MCU has allowed the characters to focus more on their trauma in the aftermath of the Blip, particularly in the various recent TV series. The biggest criticisms were aimed at Bucky Barnes’ therapist in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the fact that Thor’s weight gain because of his grief in Avengers: Endgame was played mostly as a joke. While they appreciated the MCU’s effort to depict mental health, the MCU has a lot of potential to show more positive depictions in the future.

In terms of the titular Blip, parallels were drawn between the bleak atmosphere in the five years following Thanos’ snap and the constant barrage of real-world events that continue to be devastating. The panelists drew comparisons between the multitude of emotions that the Avengers displayed in the aftermath and the attempts to get back to normal despite the massive upheaval that mirrors the real-world reactions to the ongoing pandemic.

Pertaining to the MCU, there was a discussion about how the nation of Wakanda was hit the hardest in the aftermath and that the upcoming Black Panther sequel will have to address both that and the tragic real-life loss of Chadwick Boseman. As difficult as that will be, the loss of both Wakanda and Chadwick has been particularly devastating to Black MCU fans.

When asked what fan activists can take from the MCU in terms of mental health, the panelists had many helpful tips. Ignoring the numerous problems is not going to make them go away, and you can’t deny your own mental health struggles. While activism is essential, it’s best to utilize teamwork, play to your strengths, and take the time for much needed rest.

While every panel in Fandom Forward’s Marvelous Mental Health Fest was interesting and informative, “After the Blip!” effectively connected the events of the MCU to the global upheaval in the real world. Though the MCU has a lot to improve in how they portray mental health, fan activists can take a lot from the depictions to help themselves deal with world events and fight for a better world.

Author: Jessica Wolff

Jessica Wolff is a graduate of Drexel University with a BS in Film/Video. She has a passion for entertainment and representation in entertainment. She currently resides outside of Washington, DC.

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