Huey isn’t the only Duck Tales character that’s been rebooted as autistic. In a way, so has Webby.
When Duck Tales originally aired in 1987, Webby was, in the nicest way to say it, pretty bland. I was never offended by her, but I can see why the original version of her wouldn’t work today. She would always get in trouble trying to stop Huey, Dewey, and Louie from going on an adventure. Then she’d get caught up in the adventure and she’d need saving. Not exactly a character the girls or the boys would like.
So when Webby is introduced, she’s different. She has heard stories of Scrooge McDuck’s exploits for years, and she idolizes his family. When she meets the nephews, she insists on tagging along, and she helps. However, her social cues for sneaking around need work. Louie cringes when she fails to concoct a believable story to stay out of trouble and keep her grandmother from finding out. (Turns out Mrs. Beakley actually approves of the adventure because at least Scrooge will try to keep Webby safe)
Webby gets anxious easily when she’s in unfamiliar situations. She tends to rock in place. Like Huey, she has immense knowledge that helps her in various situations. For example, when the family goes to Brazil, she reveals that she actually knows some Portuguese, and is able to carry on a conversation with some of the locals and read street signs. (She does admit that her knowledge is a bit rusty)
Another example concerns how she meets Lena, the niece of Magica DeSpell, a sorceress who is an old enemy of Scrooge. Lena easily manipulates her because she’s too naïve to read people and see them for who they are. But throughout their friendship, Webby refuses to judge Lena for only being a shadow brought to life. To her, Lena is a new friend who needs help. Her kindness rubs off on Lena, and she eventually breaks free of Magica’s abusive attempts to control her. But at the end of season 1, Magica is defeated with a cost. The spell has trapped her in the shadow realm.
Webby is undaunted. In true neurodivergent fashion, she begins to focus on the paranormal. She constantly studies every book the Duckburg library has on the topic. She will do anything to break the spell. That’s when we meet Violet, who’s just as interested because she saw all the shadows that DeSpell had created in her war against Scrooge. Together they break the spell, and Lena is free.
Rebooting characters as autistic doesn’t make them “ruined”. In this case, the writers have taken a character who was bland and made her a better character. I like that we have characters from both genders coded as autistic. What better way to combat the myth that Autism $peaks wants us to focus on? Just because it’s more common in boys doesn’t mean we ignore the girls!
This is coding done right. Keep it up, Disney!
One thought on “The Fictional Spectrum: Webbigail Vanderquack”
I believe Gosalyn (in the original Darkwing) qualifies as on the spectrum.