Over the weekend I was afforded an early look at some of the new original content soon to be available on the Disney+ streaming service, and while much of it was remarkable—there’s literally a show where Jeff Goldblum goes around learning about tattoos and playing basketball with sneakerheads—none was more touching, life-affirming, or just plain enjoyable than Marvel’s Hero Project.
Premiering on launch day, Tuesday, November 12, this unscripted reality series serves but a single purpose: to celebrate the heroes living among us. Across its first three episodes, I was introduced to a trio of young people actively making the world a better place simply by being themselves.
There’s the Sensational Jordan, a young woman born with only one hand whose Project Unicorn—a design program that first produced a fabulous glitter-shooting arm cannon—teaches other kids to leverage disability into creativity and advocates for diversity in R&D. Then there’s the Incredible Elijah, who employs superhuman empathy and the charismatic speaking style of a southern minister to fight against child abuse. They’re joined by the Unstoppable Adonis, a visually impaired high school football champ who inspires his friends, family, and even NFL pros.
In classic Marvel style, each has their own unique origin story; some, like the X-Men, were simply born different, while others were shaped by adversity like Spider-Man. But it’s the unique and continuing human experiences of our heroes and those around them that truly make the stories engaging and, at times, tear-jerking.
Each episode profiles one such spectacular young person, exploring their struggles and successes. And as we come to understand their missions and motivations, we see a behind-the-scenes crew at Marvel—including Editor Sana Amanat, Manager of New Media Shane Rahmani, and Creative Director Joe Quesada—hard at work turning their inspirational adventures into genuine Marvel comics.
At the end of each show, the subject is presented with a copy of their comic, a special superhero costume (in the form of a gorgeous jacket), and offered, à la Nick Fury, a spot in the Marvel Hero Project, a different sort of super team for a brand new era.
While the young protagonists are obviously the focus of the Hero Project, their families and circles of friends also play a part. Hearing Adonis’ teammates tout his skills or Jordan’s mother describe her daughter’s birth adds even more poignancy and dimension to the stories of these exceptional young people.
Suffice it to say that parents, in particular, will be moved by these tales of tragedy and triumph. And I cannot wait to share the show with my own family when Marvel’s Hero Project arrives on Disney+ later this month.