Iron Man 3 (2013) is based on the events of Tony Stark after The Avengers Assemble (2012). The synopsis describes how Tony Stark has developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) since he and the other Avengers fought against Loki and the army who were set to destroy Earth. He can’t sleep at night, has night terrors when he can sleep, and has anxiety attacks caused by trigger phrases.
In the past many films and television programs have portrayed mental and emotional illness in a way that makes them seem somewhat trivial and small or gives the impression that the character is a freak and not normal. It is refreshing to see that a blockbuster film, created by such a huge company as Marvel Entertainment, has taken a sensitive and still a somewhat taboo subject in our society and has made it understandable to the general public. It’s clear that the debilitating condition has greatly affected the hero. The script writers and Robert Downey Jr. have done a fantastic job in portraying mental illness in a way that people will understand and sympathise.
This is a positive step forward in our campaign against stigma. Films like Iron Man are watched by millions globally and are a great platform for this campaign. At the beginning of the year Channel 4 aired real life story My Mad Fat Diary (2013) which showed the life of sixteen-year-old Rae who was recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital. This was a positive step forward as it depicted mental illness, in this case depression and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), as it really is, how it affects the sufferer, their friends and family.
I believe that if more films and television programs continue to depicted mental illness in this way, as a real illness, then stigma could be greatly reduced in the near future.