A Super Hero with Autism... Inconceivable!

in life •  last year

Wouldn't it be cool if a kid with Autism Spectrum Disorder had a superhero to look up to?

You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.

I think they already do... and I don't mean Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory (although I'm pretty sure it's safe to say he is also on the spectrum).

No. I mean something more like this...

Drax the Destroyer

Although the movie version of Drax the Destroyer is a bit different from the one in the comic books, he is still a force to be reckoned with. This superhero (or "anti-hero" depending on the story line) is the galaxy's fiercest warrior. He possesses super human strength and durability. His body is also nearly invincible. Although his only purpose in life is to destroy the cosmic super villain Thanos (who is ultimately responsible for the death of Drax's wife and daughter), he backs up his teammates on whatever crazy adventure they happen to be on at the time.

Guardians of the Galaxy is my favorite movie based on comic book of all time.*

Not only does this film have action and humor, it also has a huge heart.

In my opinion, it also has a hero with ASD.

I work with kids on the Autism spectrum every day. When I first saw Guardians of the Galaxy, I immediately thought to myself, "Oh my gosh! Drax reminds me of Spencer... and Dillon... and Grace... and Bill... and..."

All of these students have one thing in common, they all have Autism Spectrum Disorder and are all "highly functioning". In the past, these students would have been labeled with "Asperger's Syndrome". Although the designation is no longer used in the medical field, it still has meaning for those of us who work with kids every day.

PsychCentral provides the following description of Asperger's Syndrome:

Asperger’s Disorder is a syndrome that typically appears first in childhood, and is primarily characterized by a person’s difficulty in everyday social interactions with others. For instance, a person with Asperger’s may engage in long-winded, one-sided conversations without noticing or caring about the listener’s interest. They also often lack usual nonverbal communication skills, such as engaging in eye contact with others they’re talking to, or failing to react and empathize with other people’s stories and conversation. This may make them seem insensitive, although that is rarely the case. They may have a hard time “reading” other people or understanding humor.

After checking a few other sites (please see the list at the end of this post) I compiled the following list of symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome:

  • Limited or inappropriate social interactions
  • "Robotic" or repetitive speech
  • Challenges with nonverbal communication (gestures, facial expression, etc.) coupled with average to above average verbal skills
  • Social awkwardness
  • Tendency to discuss self rather than others
  • Literal interpretations
  • Obsession with specific, often unusual, topics
  • Can be obsessed with numbers
  • One-sided conversations
  • Difficulty seeing others' perspectives
  • Difficulty empathizing
  • Difficulty developing friendships
  • Difficulty expressing appropriate and corresponding social or emotional reactions
  • Difficulty understanding social/emotional issues
  • Lack of eye contact or reciprocal conversation

I am no psychologist, but if Drax were my student, I would say, "Although I cannot diagnose Drax with ASD, he exhibits behaviors that are very similar to other students who I have taught who have been diagnosed with ASD."

Take a look at the following examples from The Guardians of the Galaxy. Do you notice any of the traits from the list above? I know I did.

Exhibit A:

This scene is a perfect example of Drax's inappropriate social interactions, "robotic" speech, social awkwardness, above average verbal skills and tendency to take everything literally. It is also freaking hilarious! I never felt the writers were making fun of Drax. Often times humor is born from the unexpected. It is definitely unexpected that someone so physically imposing would communicate the way Drax does.

People with ASD can become obsessed with specific topics. Drax is absolutely obsessed with finding Ronan (one of Thanos' henchmen). I would argue that although his desire to punish Ronan for killing his family is not "unusual", the lengths he will go to to reach this goal is. At one point, Drax, tells his enemy (and his entire army) where the Guardians are hiding just so he can finally face him. Drax does not take into account the fact that he has just risked the lives of his team.

This obsession is used against Drax in the following scene.

Exhibit B:

This scene again shows Drax's inability to understand metaphors, his reliance on logic, awkward verbal exchanges and lack of consideration of others... and their favorite knives.

Exhibit C:

In this scene, we see Drax's interest in numbers, lack of interest in what others are saying, and tendency to only focus on himself .

Exhibit D:

One of the funniest parts of the most recent Guardians of the Galaxy trailer is this...

Drax shows no empathy at all. He is unable to put himself in the shoes of the crushed creature or his friends who just saw this gruesome scene.

There are several other examples of Drax's awkward social interactions including a delightful scene where Drax asks John C Riley "What if someone does something irksome and I decide to remove his spine?" Riley explains that this would be the worst crime ever... Drax does not get it.

In fact, Drax does not "get" a lot of things. But by the end of the movie, he gets what friends are... even if he struggles with expressing it.

Exhibit E:

And just maybe, Drax can learn empathy.

In my opinion, Drax appears to be on the Autism Spectrum. He also appears to be strong, funny, caring, a good friend, loyal, intelligent, a valuable team member... and a super bad ass.

You could give him a label, but he would prove he is so much more than that... just like my students, my nephew and my friends who have ASD do everyday.

They are all so much more than just a label.

April is Autism awareness month so its a perfect time to remember...

Original artwork by the sensational @rigaronib

*I think the Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight series are better films, but those transcend comic book movies.





Image Links 1, 2, 3, 4

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This is a moving post, actually. Since seeing it I've been noticing cases of autism in other characters, and quite clearly identified Jermaine from Flight of the Conchords:



I have been meaning to watch that show for a while. I need to move that up on my list.

Hey, @hanshotfirst, the story I was telling you about is entitled A Day in the Clouds. Here's the latest chapter. All of the proceeds go toward my nephew's treatments and other charities for mental health. I hope you enjoy reading :D @dreemit can vouch for it :D

Dave Bautista does a real fine job of playing Drax. Loved the funny scenes where he is unable to understand a metaphor. I loved the photo which says, "Different. Not less." :)


Yeah I think he nailed the role perfectly. I love that image. It was done by a fellow steemian @rigaronib


Yeah I thought that image looked familiar. Now I know why :)


It is awesome and yes, he does.

What a great job you have done here!
Thanks for sharing such an informative and entertaining article with us all, it was brilliant!!! Namaste :)


Thanks! I have been wanting to write about this for a while. I truly believe that here is so much more to people with ASD. I thought this would be a fun way to make that point.


By creating a label, we usually "successfully" also create the belief of separation and, more often than otherwise, consequently create a philosophy of exclusion instead of a philosophy of inclusion... Though the findings surrounding such condition can help one be more proactive about how-to relate to it, personally or communally with the person afflicted, usually, its sadly creates more negative discrimination toward that person.

Your write-up was definitely lighthearted and greatly appreciated on this end. Namaste :)


I agree with you. People need to be VERY careful not to allow a label to become more important than the person. I fight for my students to be included on a daily basis. Thank you so much for understanding how important that is and for stating it in such a powerful way.


Thanks a bunch, I do the same on a daily basis as well. Thanks for your words of appreciation too. All for one and one for all! Namaste :)

"televisions best physicist"

I think you forgot about someone


Lol. I think he transcends tv. But an excellent call!

Thanks for a great article!

I have often suspected that I am somewhere on the ASD spectrum, since I exhibit a lot of the symptoms.

We have just started the process of getting our daughter tested for ASD, so this article actually came at a perfect time for me.


I think many of us would have had labels back in our school days if the schools did things then they way they do now. That is the thing with ASD, because it is a "spectrum" it encompasses so many behaviors that we didn't even think about as kids. I hope things go well with your daughter!

This post is another classic well put together post by you man, on some very important things.... but using your unique twist to edutain people.

You are awesome man, really.


Thanks man! That is exactly what I was going for: edutainment! I have been wanting to do this one for a while. This one was actually kind of special to me. Thank you for the kind words about it.


I have watched your edutainment goodness reach so many people on here.....it is one of my most favourite things about you.


Thanks man!

There are more super villains with Asperger's than super heroes. Lex Luthor, Doctor Doom, Syndrome, Ozymandias, and just about every Bond villain are a good start. There are almost no hyperintelligent heroes, except Batman, and he's crazy, that are not aliens. I think this is because people, in general, are fearful of intelligence. Physical strength is usually seen as heroic.

When I was a kid, with strong Asperger's tendencies, I wanted to be a super villain. They are the smart ones. If they could only stop monologuing.



Good point about the super villain angle. So many of the villains rely on intelligence to give them an edge. The Watchmen may have been way ahead of the curve in this area.

This could actually explain the monologuing they may need to show other how smart they are.


The monologuing is a plot mechanism used to allow the good guys to win, in fiction. In reality, if someone is actually that intelligent, unless they are very broken as well, they don't need to show off to people who wouldn't comprehend how they lost anyway, but don't tell anyone.


The secret is safe with me.

Oh, wow! It's awesome that you pointed it out. I didn't even notice it before, now I can't get it out of my head. This theory is so awesome, I've resteemed this and I hope it gains traction. It would really be a boon in furthering awareness, and encouraging people who have the condition as well.

I didn't know that you work with kids on the spectrum. That is super cool, man! I've been publishing a fictional story inspired by my nephew who has Global Developmental Delay (currently suspected as Autism because of the age) for a while now here. It would be very awesome if you get a chance to check it out. I would very much like to hear your thoughts about it.

It's entitled A Day in the Clouds, and I didn't want to link it here without your permission.

It's great that you listed the symptoms here. I checked it against the main character, and I seem to have ticked off everything. Well, except for the love for numbers.

In any case, whether you check it out or not, I just wanted to say that this post was so spectacularly written. Keep on doing great work here and in the real world :D


Thanks for the kind words. Yes please link it here! And vote the comment where you link it. I will vote it to see if we can push it to be a top comment. I am headed to a geeky convention today and tomorrow but will check it out asap.


Geeky conventions are my jam!! And, it's fortunate since I was out the whole day today and yesterday as well. Thanks for the opportunity! I'll create a separate comment for it now. More importantly though, I hope you (and hopefully, parents of special needs kids) enjoy it :D

It's not something I would have thought about, but now that I have, I absolutely think you're right!
I love The Princess Bride. Ironically, I have a friend with asperger's who can recite that entire movie. He entertains us with doing scenes from it :)


That's awesome! I have a student who loves to quote entire scenes form movies. Its fun fro the whole class. I like when he gets to shine like that.

Damn I have all those symptoms you mentioned :pleasegod:


Maybe you are a superhero!

Even if you are not, be proud!

Great message han
'It almost hit me' LOL

I think The Accountant had very close to super hero powers, he looks a lot like batman too


Thanks! I haven't seen that yet but heard the same thing. But one very important question... is his morher's name Martha?!!!

Ha ha.
Upvote and resteem.!!

I was told once that I might have 'Asperger's', and I took it as a compliment. I also took as an excuse why I never had to grow up! I don't know if their dime-store diagnosis was correct, or if it was a polite way to say that I was 'different'. I was cool either way. I enjoyed this video compilation, thanks.


I would take it as a compliment as well. When I was a kid, people with Asperger's would simply be thought of quirky and smart. That's cool with me!

Glad you liked it!

Have you ever seen the series Doc Martin? I have always suspected his character of having a from of Asperger's Syndrome.


I have not but really dig the name. Doc Martin means something to a 45 year old fringe punk like me. I'll have to check it out. Thanks!

I'm writing a book you might be interested in. #Advent9


I am super interested but clicked on that link and could not get to it.


It's not a link. Just a hashtag that I hope will mean something someday.

Needless to say, but I've got something in the works. That said, there are already some quasi-examples of superheroes with autism. The most prevalent of these is probably Legion, who, in some incarnations, is described as autistic (though that gets drowned out by his schizophrenia and other disorders).

My approach is going to be something a bit purer. I can't really say anything about it yet, but I will be looking for beta readers down the pipe, if you're interested.


Just for the record, I hate Big Bang Theory.


Noted. I have not watched religiously. It is one of those that I catch here and there and am normally amused.


That first point is a huge one. If you see the show as having fun with geeks that is one thing... if it making fun of geeks that is a completely different story. In the episodes I have seen, it seems to be the former. But I have not seen every episode so I could be missing the bigger picture.


The show kind of drifts from the first one to the second... I have stopped watching it about a year or two ago, though

Beautiful article my brother @hanshotfirst

"Differently-abled" and some are very able in their own ways. Great idea you've shared here!


Indeed! Different... not less!

Very funny........i would have preferred Deadpool!!!!!


You've got me thinking now. Getting into Deadpool's mind could be very interesting.

4chan is full of autistic superheros :)

Good post! Fun to read.




Good real life analysis of a fictional character :) His behavior can also be explained like he is just one of the weird aliens out there that is slightly autistic.


Lol. Dang it I think you nailed it in 11 words! What would I have done with the other 1000? Lol.


In this order...
Gamora daddy issues,
Star Lord gambling disorder,
Rocket Raccoon small person disorder,
Groot less talkative, must be depression :D

Guardians of the Galaxy are a bunch of clinically insane people/aliens, which makes them so much fun.


Lol. They sure are! I actually really like that they all have their flaws but when it comes down to it they get the job done. Nice analysis! Can't wait for vol 2!!!!

I missed this post man, I am sorry.

I came here today to actually find you and tell you something similar and put in this post.