In Daredevil: Wake Up Tim Urich is introduced as Timmy Lange, the traumatized, mostly silent son of a super villain. In Daredevil: End of Days, set 10 years later following Dareveil’s death, Tim’s loving family and strong friendship with his mentor help him adjust to society. This reflects the ongoing change in the way society views autism, from inferior outsider to an equal player.
Timmy Lange’s Early Life
In the early 2000s, Tim Urich, then known as Timmy Lange, was a traumatized, mostly nonverbal child. The story deals heavily with abuse from irresponsible parents and the way society ignores those suffering from abuse.
While Timmy is recovering from this trauma, Daily Bugle reporter, Ben Urich, spends time with the child to piece together his mystery. Ben Urich misses what might be the story of the century – the trial of the Kingpin, Wilson Fisk – to report on Tim’s case.
Ben discovers that Tim had witnessed a battle between his father, the two-bit villain, Leapfrog, and Daredevil and the child saved Daredevil’s life by knocking out his father. At the end of the story, Daredevil reveals his identity to Timmy, and Ben Urich adopts Timmy, helping him on the road to recovery.
Tim Urich’s Second Appearance
Taking place 10 years in the future of the current Marvel Comics universe, End of Days is the second story arc with Tim Urich.
End of Days depicts a bleak view of the future, much darker than things are today. The world has become over-commercialized and governed by an obsession with the here and now, rather than valuing one’s culture.
The story begins with the death of the original Daredevil, Matt Murdock. Ben Urich is sent to report on the event for the last ever issue of the Daily Bugle. When he died, Matt Murdock uttered one word, “Mapone”. As Ben Urich tries to find the meaning of this word, he is drawn deeper into a dark world of crime and insanity. Daredevil’s old foes hinder Ben’s way, complicating matters, and a mysterious new Daredevil is following him.
Autism Depicted in the Adult Tim Urich
In the meantime, we meet Ben’s talkative adoptive son, Tim. Tim lives on his own at the old Fogwell’s Gym, where Matt Murdock used to train. He is a loner and doesn’t seem to have many friends his own age. Many autistic people have trouble making friends, and creating social connections is achieved with great effort. Also, many people with autism do live on their own, although they may be messy or lacking in order or structure. These are all traits that Tim exhibits.
At the end of End of Days, the new Daredevil tries to save Ben Urich but fails. Sadly, Ben dies just as the new Daredevil reveals himself to be Ben’s adopted son, Tim. Tim also makes friends with a girl named Mapone at a bar. She admits that she is Matt Murdock’s daughter, and the reincarnation of Murdock’s sensei, Stick. They leave together as friends, and she promises to train him.
One of the First Autistic Superheroes
The depiction of Tim Urich mirrors society’s view of the autistic population. He begins as an uncommunicative and abused child, needing help to express himself. Eventually, he becomes a fully-fledged member of society, as well as one of the first autistic superheroes.
Society initially viewed autistic people as pitiable and helpless, as Tim was portrayed with the Langes. But with the new self-advocacy movement, people with autism are as free and empowered as Tim Urich. One of the hardest things for the autistic population to do is to form solid friendships. The ability for Tim to do this at the end of his story is a great success for him, just as it is for people with autism.
Characters do not mention Tim Urich’s autism nor is it referenced in the comics. Tim’s autism is not depicted as an obstacle or a gift, but is just one of many facets of his personality. This is a truly ideal picture of autism. It is part of someone, but it should not define them.