Willamson Co. teen with autism brings alter ego to life

Local News

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Williamson County teen with autism is bringing his alter ego “Wonderboy” to the big screen. 

Elijah Haney stars in the short film “Adventures of Wonderboy,” which will make its premiere Saturday night. 

Wonderboy is the guardian of Music City and a defender of evil, a character Haney created at a young age to help him with his personal journey. 

“It’s about a superhero who defends the city of Nashville and proves to kids with autism they can do anything and make a difference,” Haney told News 2. 

The Fairview teen, who falls on the autism spectrum started drawing comics featuring Wonderboy at the age of 12. 

“My autism is like zooming around. It’s kind of like a movie in my mind that I see in real life,” Haney explained.   

The superhero that wears a long blue cape and a mask has helped Haney navigate life.   

“When he came up with Wonderboy it was helping him understand that bad things happen and that you should always strive to do better and strive to do good. If Wonderboy gets knocked down Wonderboy will stand back up always and fight for what’s right and that’s just helped him navigate,” explained Elija’s mom Marti King Young.  

Young, who just happens to be a filmmaker, helped Haney bring his story to life in hopes of inspiring others.  

“I think the film shows that people with special needs have amazing abilities and that they are not throw-aways and that they can do anything really if they are told they can do it,” said Young who added that they have always celebrated Elijah’s differences.   

While her son hopes the film speaks to others with autism, he says there is more than one message in this short film as Wonderboy zooms through Music City sharing inclusiveness and kindness. 

“He teaches people to be kind and respect others and tell them to help others to make a difference,” said Haney.  

Young says “Adventures of Wonderboy” is not your ordinary short film, as top of the line talent helped make the comic book inspired tale a reality  

“It became this labor of love, like the whole film community in Nashville basically just gave everything. It is The Incredibles meets James Bond meets Mission Impossible and it’s awesome.”   

The film is traveling the festival circuit and Young says it has already been accepted in London, England; Palermo, Italy; Athens, Greece, and the Franklin International Indie Film Festival.  

The red carpet premiere of Adventure of Wonderboy is at 7 p.m. Saturday night at Watkins Art College.   

Haney will be receiving the Tennessee Ambassador of Goodwill Award at the premiere. 

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