Ironman and other Marvel superheroes say it’s okay to wear hearing aids

Ironman comes to Ethan's aid.
Ironman comes to Ethan’s aid.


NEW YORK–If anyone can make hearing aids cool for little boys, it’s got to be a Marvel superhero. That’s why Phonak, a major hearing aid manufacturer, has teamed up with Marvel to create the poster shown above.

Written by Marvel’s Christos Gage and drawn by Paco Medina, the poster shown above depicts Iron Man, one of the world’s most famous superheroes, intervening in a bullying incident involving Ethan, a hearing-impaired boy. When the other boys refuse to play soccer with Ethan, Iron Man explains to them that a hearing aid is a piece of technology that betters a person’s life, just like his armor.

As fans of Ironman can tell you, the character created for Marvel Comics by Stan Lee in 1963 also has a disability. Originally known as Tony Stark, a billionaire playboy and engineer, he is kidnapped and suffers a life-threatening chest injury during a kidnapping. Wong-Chu and his gang of captors want him to create a weapon of mass destruction. Instead, with help from his fellow captive Ho Yinsen, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, he invents a magnetic chest plate that protects his heart from the shrapnel in his body and a suit of armor that gives him all manner of other powers. As Ironman, he escapes and embarks on a long and distinguished career in superheroism.

Most recently, Ironman’s exploits have been brought to the big screen, where he bas been portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. in a series of blockbuster hits. The latest of these, Ironman 3, will be coming in May to a theater near you.

As someone who uses science both to sustain his heart and battle evil, Iron Man well understands how beneficial technology can be. However, he’s not the only superhero from Marvel who’s a champion for hearing aids. As reported on this blog last May, Marvel artists created Blue Ear, a superhero with hearing loss, after learning about Anthony Smith, a 4-year-old in New Hampshire who refused to wear his hearing aids because, as he told his mother, “Superheroes don’t wear hearing aids.” Since then, Blue Ear and his super-sidekick Hawkeye, who also has hearing loss, have been encouraging Anthony and other kids to feel good about their hearing aids.

Ironman comes to Manhattan.
Ironman comes to Manhattan.

More recently, said Marvel editor Bill Rosemann, “When our friends at Phonak heard about how the Marvel heroes helped [Anthony], they realized how together we could help spread the message even further.” Hence, Iron Man got into the action, including making a real-life guest appearance at an event last week at the Center for Hearing and Communication in New York honoring Smith and Marvel’s collaboration on the new comic poster.

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