By: Carlton N Brock III
If you follow newly released movies, there is a good chance that you have seen the hype around the Lionsgate film, Power Rangers. Many fans were ecstatic to see Jason, Zack, Kimberly, Billy and Trini going up against the likes of Rita Repulsa in epic kaiju big battles. Beyond the action, there was another note the movie hit. Billy, played by R.J. Cuyler, the new Blue Ranger is on the Autism Spectrum.
While it is unclear exactly where on the spectrum he fell, it is something he makes other characters aware of. Rather than being viewed as a liability or a lesser member of the team; Billy is portrayed as smart, powerful, and vital. Billy is not the only recent character in pop culture that displays the characteristics of being autistic. Drax the Destroyer, played by Dave Bautista, from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is unable to process sarcasm and speaks every line with literal meaning.
Having super heroes display these traits may seem like a minute detail, but they are doing more than fighting the villain. They are facing the stigma society often places on the people who deal with these issues every day. Beyond making people on spectrum feel important, it also normalizes the conditions for the rest of society. If people become used to seeing others that fall into specific groups cast in a positive way, they will be more likely to accept others and themselves. The US has seen this effect work with various other social and minority groups. Normalizing, could lead society away from being wary of Autism or any other condition and more towards acceptance and treatment by eliminating the social stigmas. Which ultimately benefits everyone connected. Heroes like Billy and Drax are the ones we deserve and need.