The Origins Of Heroes (And Villains) In Raising Dion

Dion uses his powers to levitate a bowl of cereal.

The backstory of a superhero can be somewhat complicated. Depending on the hero, there can be many factors in their life that lead them down the path of a hero. One topic that is often taken into account is parenting. In Raising Dion, the mother Nicole tries to tackle leading Dion on the right path. Do parents’ actions directly affect the outcome of their child? Nature vs. Nurture, but on a much larger scale. An argument used to understand the motives of murderers can also be applied to heroes and villains.

Bruce Wayne would never have become Batman if his parents hadn’t died, and Harleen Quinzel would never have become Harley Quinn if she hadn’t taken up psychology because of her own broken family. Where does that leave Dion in the new popular show Raising Dion, written by Carol Barbee and based on the comic of the same name by Dennis Liu? Raising Dion is a new Netflix original series that premiered on October 4th, 2019.

Raising Dion, cover of issue #1 by Dennis Liu and Jason Piperberg.
Credit: Dennis Liu and Jason Piperberg

It features a boy named Dion and his struggling mother Nicole. After the passing of Dion’s father, and Nicole’s husband. The two have a hard time adjusting. Nicole can barely hold a job and Dion is in a new city, with no friends at school. And then bam, out of nowhere, he can make cereal float and toys fly around the room. Of course, this takes Nicole by surprise and she is left to deal with it all on her own. With her close friend Pat and his superhero knowledge, she does the best she possibly can to parent the growing super Dion.

Actually Raising Dion

When Dion’s powers begin to get out of control, she teaches him yoga to focus. In general, she tries to do not only what’s best for him, but whatever will keep him as safe as possible. She keeps him out of school, so he won’t hurt anyone, and helps him practice control. Of course, there are a few speed bumps. At some point, she puts too much pressure on him and snaps at him when he’s not trying hard enough.

Dion uses his powers to levitate cereal and milk out of a bowl.
Credit: Raising Dion; Netflix 2019

When Dion finds out about the monster of a storm that killed his father, his first instinct isn’t to get even. He doesn’t want revenge or to hurt anyone. His first instinct is a thirst for information. Dion wants to know more about the storm and how they can take it down. He even goes as far as using science to try and create a “storm killer.” Though overall, his main priority is keeping his mother safe. He often puts himself in harm’s way to save her from injury, and she does the same for him.

Hero Or Villain?

In the first season, that is nine-episodes, it is very clear that Dion is the hero of the show. He’s still learning how to use his powers, but his first instinct is always protection. There are moments when he gets mad, or accidentally hurts people, but it’s obvious that that’s not the path he wants to go down. If anyone is hurt by him, he immediately feels guilty and apologizes, not a quality held by most villains. This can definitely be attributed to his mom, Nicole.

Dion is a good kid. We don’t see anything that showcases otherwise. Nicole does nothing but supports that, and him. She never hurts him, and she’s even supportive of him having powers. Her number one priority is his safety. Maybe if she was different, if she beat him down or hurt him, he would be evil, but that’s simply not the case.

What Makes A Villain?

We’ve seen it over and over again. Bad childhood equals a villain. Traumatizing events often lead to characters following a dark path. Harley Quinn, for example. She grew up in a broken family, and because of this, she wanted to pursue psychology. She became an incredible psychiatrist. A good path from a bad situation, one would think. After Harleen was placed in Arkham Asylum, she then met the Joker. He took advantage of the situation and immediately manipulated her.

Harleen Quinzel and the Joker sit across from each other at a table.
Credit: Suicide Squad; Warner Brothers 2016

Coming from a broken family, it’s possible that she was eager to get the attention of the Joker and this allowed her to be easily manipulated. We can’t say that she never would have become bad without this influence. She could have met some other crazy person in the Asylum, but it took the Joker to turn her evil. It’s possible that she never would have done it on her own. In this case, it wasn’t her bad childhood alone that turned her to the dark side, but another villain themselves.

Dion And Company

Raising Dion does a great job of showcasing different people at different stages of life. One character, Charlotte Tuck, was also affected by the storm that gave Dion’s father, Mark, his powers, is completely alone. We learn nothing of her backstory other than the fact that she’s divorced. She’s a neutral character. Neither bad nor good. There’s no influence on either side, but it’s clear that she’s willing to help people when she’s coerced by Nicole. Though maybe if the man in the storm (the same one who killed Mark) had coerced her, she’d be on their side.

We also meet another boy who is a child of someone else affected by the storm. There’s a scene where someone trespasses on their property and his father pulls out a gun to scare them off. When they leave, the boy makes a comment about how his father “should have shot them.” The father immediately shuts this down, but it gives us a quick glimpse at a child being influenced so easily by his parental figure just holding a gun.

Raising Dion: A Hero

And then, of course, there’s Dion. Sweet and angelic Dion and his mother who wants nothing more than his safety. On the spectrum of heroes and villains, Dion is one hundred percent a hero. But who knows, maybe if he had ended up with a different parent, or if both his parents had died in the storm, things would have been different.

Dion presses his hands against glass. His hands are orange.
Credit: Raising Dion; Netflix 2019

It’s impossible to predict whether or not Dion would have been different if his situation was. But Dion is loved, supported, and safe. He lost his father and he’s dealt with trauma. But he dealt with it in a healthy way, with people who care about him. That’s the difference between him and most villains. Love and support. If Harley Quinn had fallen in with a different crowd, nice, sweet, supportive people, maybe she could have been good too.  

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