(Yes, all of them. Even the robot. Buckle up!)
I’ve made it no secret that I love this movie to my very core. In addition to being a fantastic movie in it’s own right, the characters STRONGLY resonate with me. I mentioned before how this movie makes me feel validated as a person with mental health issues, but I have to say, as a person with autism, I can TOTALLY see myself in each of these characters. The way I see it, the movie is about a group of people with ASD finding each other and becoming close friends and being superheroes together. You can see why this movie is my fave now. And here’s my proof. As a preface, apparently scientists are starting to find a link between prodigies and autism (which all the characters are), and they are all hyperfixated on a special skill which they integrate into their superheroics. That’s the first major clue. I’ll break down each character.
A lot of people see Hiro as autistic, and for good reason. For starters, his looks. His hair is disheveled, he has crooked and gapped teeth and he doesn’t have a wide range of clothes, staying with loose, comfy clothes. This is common for a lot of autistic people; certain clothes and textures can be seriously uncomfortable, and putting time and effort into their appearance and hygenie can be difficult (brushing my hair is an absolute nightmare, and when I had to have braces, it wasn’t pleasant). There’s also the fact that while he is very smart and talented, he LOVES robots. He fixates on them. He has a passion for them. There’s also the fact that he has no friends (the lack of social skills, plus the fact that he’s a genius probably didn’t help) but he’s VERY close to his brother and his aunt. When he does have friends, his closest and best friend is a robot (for some autistic people it’s easier to bond with nonhuman companions) and his other best friends are all older than him (for me, I find it way easier to connect with older people than my peers; I wouldn’t be surprised if other autistic people feel the same way). He also runs his hand throw his hair and uses his hands a lot (a way of stimming). He has trouble getting used to new ideas and routines (he doesn’t feel like he wants to go to college because what’s the point) but once he finds the new thing he likes he gets very attached to it, almost hyperactively. He is also shown as being obsessive (very common for autistic people), which, in addition to his grieving and his depression (a common comorbidity), explains a lot of his actions. I also like to see it as being related to him being hypersensitive/hyper-empathetic. It’s entirely possible that autism could run in his family, as both Aunt Cass and Tadashi are very expressive with their hands and jump around when they’re excited (I’m not going to focus on them in this post since Cass doesn’t have a lot of screen time and Tadashi dies, so yeah). In short, there’s a lot of room to support Hiro being autistic, and because he’s the main character and portrayed as multifaceted, complex, and sympathetic, it’s really wonderful.
Out of all the teammates, she is the one who talks the least. And when she does talk, she sounds different, like it’s difficult for her. It’s entirely possible she started as a nonverbal autistic person and only learned to speak later in life (and it’s possible that English wasn’t her first language either), and she’s short, slightly disjointed, to the point, and very blunt and honest. While she definitely emotes she’s not as expressive as the rest of the teammates; some autistic people have trouble copying, using, or identifying expressions. She is also heavily fixated on the need for speed and chews gum a lot (rarely throwing it out). This can be her way of stimming, like flapping and pacing around. I think Gogo might be a bit more lower-functioning that the rest, but she is seen visibly caring for Hiro and is definitely not incapable.
A lot of people (both jokingly and seriously) have said that Wasabi has OCD, and to be fair that could be true, as OCD is a common comorbidity with autism (I should know, it’s one for me). Wasabi is shown liking routines and rules to help him function, makes sure everything is neatly organized and gets extremely agitated when those things are disrupted. He needs a plan for everything that makes sense and gives him something to do and keep him calm. It can also be argued that he wears special armour that he’s more comfortable with. He also gets irritated easily with certain sounds (mainly Fred’s singing). He is very precise, is intelligent with physics, and is shown to be adept at wielding lazer blades (which can be seen as a way for him to stim).
This woman is so fascinated with chemistry that she can input chemical equations to create chem-balls on the fly. That says a lot. She loves to bounce (again, there’s a stim/special form of excitement) and she always wears heels (probably another way for her to stim by constantly being on her toes, and/or it could be the best way for her to be comfortable). She’s very affectionate and loves encouraging and being supportive of people, is very sociable and takes a lot of selfies, which almost certainly points to her having hyper-empathy.
Now this might be cheating a little bit because Fred is sort of implied to be a stoner, but the evidence of him being autistic is still there. He has the special interest/knowledge and hyperfixation of things again, only this time it’s with comics and media. He LOVES media and applies his knowledge of it in real life, just like me (and probably lots of other autistics)!He also comes across as weird and says some silly things when he gets really happy and excited, but I’m pretty sure he’s not alone in that regard. His fave thing ever is kaiju monsters, to the point where he’s totally comfortable wearing a kaiju suit for extended periods of time. He’s also shown loving to jump real high, is very good with waving signs, and points a lot, which are all clues of him stimming and having special habits. He also dresses in loose clothing and rarely wears different clothes (he’s so attached to one shirt that it has holes in it) and doesn’t like changing his underwear every day. But I think he is also hyper-empathetic and hypersensitive; when bad or sad things happen, he always looks like he’s on the verge of tears (when it looks like Baymax is gone forever, we don’t get to see his face; I think he was actually crying).
Okay this is definitely cheating because he’s a robot, but honestly, I couldn’t help but see a lot of mannerisms common in autistic people in him. He has a limited range in voice and expressions and gestures, has a specific way of greeting people (always wave and say “Hello I am Baymax your personal healthcare companion”), is very knowledgeable in safety and medical treatments and relays textbook information, and has trouble understanding certain things (why he has to do certain things, what’s the fist bump for) but once he knows them he integrates it into his life. I know this part was probably not intentionally, but I couldn’t help catch similarities between him and some autism mannerisms. Which, for me, is what makes the bond between him and Hiro even more special.
In conclusion, the entire BH6 team is autistic or at least coded to be neurodivergent and it is awesome and glorious. It also shows how you can have positive portrayals of autistic/neurodivergent people without resorting to stereotypes.
And this is why I love this movie so much.