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As described in this answer, the Drax we see in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie is quite different than the original Earth-616 version from the comics.

That original version was a human spirit attached to a magically-created one-of-a-kind body. The new Drax is an alien who has no concept of metaphor, and interprets all statements literally. This is particularly pronounced when he hears an idiom. Here's the most famous example from the movie:

Rocket Raccoon: [about Drax] His people are completely literal. Metaphors go over his head.
Drax the Destroyer: Nothing goes over my head...! My reflexes are too fast, I would catch it.

And here's an example from the game Avengers Alliance 2, with characters based on the movie:

Hawkeye : Drax! Did Star-Lord send you? It'd be swell if you could lend us a hand right about now.
Drax : I will not loan you either of my hands! I like the way they are attached to me with muscle and bone. Why do you not use your own hands?
Hawkeye : Oh, right. Good idea. So... completely unrelated question: would you like to use your hands to fight alongside us for the purpose of beating up a large alien cat?
Drax : I would enjoy this very much.

Other aspects of the character seem similar: both characters have a vendetta against a major villain (Thanos, Ronan), both characters had their families attacked, both characters use knives and have red body markings (later version of comics Drax).

Where did this problem with metaphors and idioms come from? Did the original Drax ever display this behavior?

  • This post makes me wonder if I understand metaphors, as neither answer seems to contain one. – Dave Johnson Jun 16 '16 at 15:35
  • @DaveJohnson Well now I have to confirm my understanding and get back to you. – DCShannon Jun 16 '16 at 18:16
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    @DaveJohnson Like anything else in English, there are different definitions of idiom and metaphor with varying degrees of strictness. Broadly, a metaphor is where you say something is something else which it is clearly not, in order to illustrate a comparison or abstract point. An idiom is a set phrase that has become commonly understood to mean something other than what it would mean if taken literally. You can see the similarity. I usually consider idioms to be a type of metaphor, although not everyone does. See this English SE answer: english.stackexchange.com/a/46913/70061 – DCShannon Jun 16 '16 at 18:21
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Having read a lot of comics with Drax in them over the course of my life, there's no one occurrence that I can recall where Drax had issues with metaphors. In fact, on his very first panel in Iron Man #55, he already uses metaphors:

Metaphor "Half a Continent" - Splash page from Iron Man #55

So this sets the stage for Drax. Even 43 years later, he seems to have no issue interpreting and reacting to people's emotions and abstract concepts. This is from Drax #1:

enter image description here

So the behaviour of Drax not understanding emotions and concepts is apparently exclusive to the MCU.

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    I'm not really seeing any metaphors or idioms being used in either of those examples. – DCShannon May 19 '16 at 14:50
  • @dcshannon "half a continent". If Drax would have taken that literally, he would have measured. And in the second one, he has a clear concept of and reaction to emotional values. – Zeke May 19 '16 at 15:49
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    Approximation is not the same as metaphor. He has trouble with stuff like "give me a hand" or "over my head". He understands emotions just fine, he calls that "green whore" his friend, after all. – DCShannon May 19 '16 at 17:13
  • I think you've got the right strategy for an answer, though. Finding an instance of him having no difficulty with a metaphor would be good evidence. – DCShannon May 19 '16 at 17:14
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    @DCShannon The second one may count for "Feast your eyes." I agree the first doesn't count. While I think finding examples of him not getting hung up on metaphors and its relatives are the closest way of answering the question, I also want to point out it's not definitive. If it's just an example or two, it may just be the writers being careless. It also doesn't rule out the possibility that there may have been a run where this trait did/didn't exist. – Turambar Jun 1 '17 at 18:12
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+50

No

Here we see Drax having no trouble with metaphors whatsoever:

enter image description here

Drax says that he has relived his memories "as many times as there are stars in the cosmos." This seems like an obvious metaphor (well, a simile really, but who's keeping track): "as numerous as the stars in the sky," "as many as the sands of the sea."

He certainly cannot be speaking literally, since conservative estimates of how many stars there are in the cosmos are around 100 octillion. If we assume that Drax has lived for the entire lifetime of the universe (which he certainly has not, being in his original storyline an altered human from Earth), and that he was thwarted by Thanos at the beginning of the universe (which he also was not), he would have to relive the memories of being thwarted by Thanos over 221 billion times a second in order to have relived the memories of his defeat "as many times as there are stars in the cosmos." Of course, it is possible that Drax severely underestimates the number of stars in the cosmos, but given that he is a spacefaring super-being, I doubt it.

This seems like a clear example of Drax understanding (and employing) a metaphor, and in an early form no less.

  • Alright, I guess that's good enough. It's still not really an idiom with a radically different literal interpretation, but I'll blame myself for poorly phrasing my question. – DCShannon Jun 20 '16 at 19:11

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