Empathy is one of the greatest traits to have. It’s how we connect to each other, understanding different viewpoints or the emotions of others. In some sense, empathy could be considered a superpower because it helps people transform the world around them by altering the experience of someone else for better or worse.
A good example of using empathy is to understand the emotions of a friend and being able to console them. On the other hand, it’s possible to become overwhelmed by the emotion of another person, taking on those same feelings, damaging your own wellbeing.
Empathy control is a skill that can be learned and a character that comes to mind for this process is Luna Maximoff. Born with the power to read and alter emotions, Luna has faced a lot of challenges in her life.
Growing up in a dysfunctional family
Luna is the daughter of Quicksilver and Crystal of the Inhumans, meaning she was born into an extremely complicated family. At the time, she was believed to be the first child of a mutant and inhuman, the genes of her parents cancelling out any powers and making her human.
When Quicksilver found out she was human, he wanted to expose her to the Terrigen Mists which grant the Inhumans their powers, only to be talked out of it at the last second by Gorgon and Karnak.
Quicksilver finally followed through with his plan when Luna was six. He lost his own powers and exposed himself and his daughter to the Mists. This incident granted Luna her empathic powers, which manifested in an ability to see different colours/auras. The auras would become so bright that Luna struggled to see, so she was forced to wear sunglasses while learning to control her powers.
Learning how to be an empath
Eventually, Luna’s powers evolved to the point where she could sense the emotional state of others, determine their motivations, identify whether they were being honest and detect mental illness. She could also change emotion and remove trauma, particularly trauma linked to a loss of control or helplessness.
An example of this is when she tried to remove the despair Magneto carried with him and scolded her not too. Magneto believed his trauma made him stronger and that it was linked to him regaining his power. He lectured her that it was wrong to alter emotion, even if it came from a place of good intentions because it needed to be a person’s choice to want to make the change.
Her new found powers also changed her relationship with Quicksilver, as Luna sensed the rage and hatred Pietro felt towards the man he thought to be his father. Realising that his anger could endanger her, Quicksilver left Luna with Crystal and the Inhumans in Attilan.
Luna and Quicksilver’s relationship deteriorated further when she found out Pietro had stolen the Terrigen Crystals and lied about it to the Inhumans. Although she agreed to keep his secret, Luna told her father that she couldn’t forgive him and it would be a long time until they’d be able to reconcile.
Mastering her powers
Luna spent the next few years in Attilan, learning to control her abilities. One day, while watching TV, she saw a broadcast of the new X-Factor team that featured Quicksilver on the line up. She watched her father make a full confession of his crimes against the Inhumans, humbling himself before the world. Touched by his bravery, Luna travelled to Earth to visit Pietro and they mended their relationship.
By this time, Luna was shown without sunglasses, suggesting that she’d developed better control of her powers. This was a demonstration of great empathy on Luna’s part. She could understand the emotional pain that Quicksilver was in for revealing his secret and she was willing to reach out, helping him work through it without using her powers.
Despite being so young, Luna has demonstrated a tremendous amount of emotional maturity, echoing the fact that empathy control can be learned at any age. It’s about finding the right balance between understanding and boundaries.