Now, here’s the thing: a superhero can galvanize and empower a still woefully untapped sector of American society, at least by Hollywood. (Black Panther, for example.) That is the same with autistic people, especially concerning the superhero genre.
Or is it?
I think we have an autistic superhero – or three. Stay with me and I’ll explain.
The first case for an autistic superhero is Drax the Destroyer from Guardians of the Galaxy. This stems from a story that a young boy with autism identified with Drax when it was revealed he does not understand metaphors. (Look up “Nothing goes over my head” for a reference.) Now, since Drax is of an alien race, a diagnosis of autism may not apply as well. Maybe this trouble with metaphors is typical of Drax’s species. After all, in the Cinematic Universe he is from a race called “primitive.” (Or so the other species think.) Anyway, some autistic people identify with him, so he counts.
The second case is Groot, also from Guardians of the Galaxy. He is often identified with nonverbal autistic people, due to his lack of verbiage. (Everything is “I am Groot.”) Anyway, since he is not canonically diagnosed as autistic, his case spreads a little thin, I must admit, yet his nonverbal tendencies helps some autistic people identify with him.
The third, and only canonical, case for examination, is Billy Cranston, portrayed by RJ Cyler in the movie Power Rangers of 2017. Let me make it clear that it is not the TV Billy portrayed by David Yost. It is strictly given to the movie version. Now, this is an excellent, canonical representation of autism in the superhero genre. The first reason is obvious: Billy’s autism is canonical. The second reason? It is one of the few portrayals of autism by an African-American. Normally, the autistic person is portrayed by somebody white, and more often male. Trouble is, autism does not know or care what race or gender you are. I’ve met many different types of autistic people. Finally, the autism Billy has seems to be accurate to a certain extent, but not representative of “ALL” autistic people. Nor does it have to be.
I’m glad that autistic people can find themselves a superhero. It’s a great vehicle of empowerment.