Figuring out who you are is a struggle that everyone relates to. Whether you come from a big or small family, it can be hard to step out of someone else’s shadow. The struggle to define yourself may take an emotional toll, which is the kind of situation that Polaris has found herself in before. Lorna Dane is a character that has needed to overcome a lot of obstacles in her life. As the daughter of Magneto she’s had to step out of the shadow of his infamy while battling her own mental health issues. Based on her experiences Polaris is a relatable character for a lot of millennials and I’m investigating her history to see how much she’s overcome.
Polaris was created by writer Arnold Drake and artist Jim Steranko in 1968. She was born out of an affair between a human woman called Suzanna and Magneto. This was significant in itself, considering Magneto’s stance on humanity. After Suzanna’s husband Arnold found out about the affair the two of them argued on a plane. A young Lorna found the argument upsetting and she displayed her mutant powers for the first time. She unleashed a massive magnetic pulse that destroyed the plane and killed her parents. The trauma caused her hair to turn green.
Magneto found his daughter among the wreckage. Believing that she wasn’t ready to accept her abilities, Magneto had his associate Mastermind wipe Lorna’s memories. She came to believe that her parents had died in a plane crash. Lorna was raised by Arnold’s sister and her husband, with her leading a normal life until she was twenty.
Polaris first met the X-Men during a time when she was mind controlled by Mesmero. Iceman helped free her and she attended Professor X’s school. While she was there, Polaris developed feelings for Havok, the brother of Cyclops. This was the beginning of a complicated relationship that placed further stress on Lorna’s mental state.
Like father, like daughter
Eventually, Polaris and Havok joined X-Factor, which gave Lorna an opportunity to assert her independence. She grew in confidence, becoming less reliant on Havok. When she wanted to learn more about her powers, Lorna decided to connect with Magneto. She joined her father on Genosha, helping him to create a safe haven for mutants. Polaris was present for the Genosha massacre, which involved Sentinels slaughtering the population.
Witnessing this genocide caused a large amount of mental trauma. Like Magneto, Lorna was subjected to seeing her people decimated, hardening her outlook on the world. The relationship between Magneto and Polaris is complex because of their similar powers and experiences. Polaris has the ability to control magnetism, which she’s used to fly, generate metal constructs and create force fields.
Polaris is aware of what her father has done and sympathised with his cause in the past. She loves him and wants to make him proud. On the other hand, she feels that his actions have stopped them from ever having a normal relationship.
Overcoming mental health issues
Polaris has suffered several mental breakdowns, with one of the most severe happening when Havok left her at the altar. This caused her to lash out at her loved ones, to the point that she almost killed her fiancé. Lorna split up with Havok, though the two have been on and off for years.
Lorna’s depression got to a stage where she tried to commit suicide by cop. After drinking heavily, she provoked law enforcement into fighting her. Lorna was able to take control over her life again when she became the sole leader of X-Factor. She was provided with agency and an opportunity to be responsible. Being a leader allowed Polaris to stand on her own two feet, to regain her sense of self-worth.
The amount of trauma that Polaris has been able to overcome is truly incredible. All her life she’s been caught between two worlds as a human and mutant. She’s tried to live up to the standards of her father and carve a life for herself at the same time. She’s been through more breakdowns than anyone in their 20s should ever have to suffer from.
Her age makes her mental health issues all the more poignant. So many millennials are battling with anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. But if someone like Polaris can continue to fight to reclaim her life then there is hope for our generation.
The character has recently been introduced into mainstream pop culture through a TV show called The Gifted. Lorna is played by Emma Dumont and the show runners have confirmed the character suffers from bipolar disorder.
“She’s unmedicated, she’s not being treated for it, I don’t even know if in our show she knows she has it but she definitely does. She has major bouts of mania and very, very low times of depression…I think it’s really rad to see someone mentally ill also a woman be a hero.”
This is a step in the right direction for people who have bipolar disorder, especially millennials. Talking about mental health in person isn’t always easy, which is why online psychiatry could be a helpful communication method for people who struggle with bipolar disorder.
Polaris has been through the emotional wringer, yet she’s not let herself be defined by her mental health. That’s half the battle right there and anyone who can do that should be proud of themselves.