Some of you might have noticed something kind of funny about people.
Almost none of them like Treasure Planet.
And, considering I joined this fandom well over three years ago by now, this comes as absolutely no surprise to me – and chances are, if you’ve known about this film for longer than, say, a day, it fails to surprise you, too. I mean, we’ve all heard the reasons, haven’t we – valid though they are, it’s depressing to hear them, the millions upon millions upon millions of them.
- “Sorry, the sci-fi
just wasn’t my thing.”
- “I liked it okay, but
I can’t see myself ever watching it again.”
- “The animation was
good, but I didn’t really like the rest of it.”
- “It was…sort of weird
- “It doesn’t measure up
to Treasure Island.”
- “It just wasn’t my cup
Or - and here’s the one that gets to me:
- “I just really didn’t like the main kid.”
The words come across as pretty innocent - it’s just a matter of preference, it’s just their opinion, live and let live, nothing wrong with disagreeing…and there’s not. There’s really, really not. You can hate Jim Hawkins as much as you want. But you can look me in the eye and can you tell me why you hate him? Can you tell me why, exactly, that’s the argument I’ve heard the most out of any of them? Can you tell me why, in my 3+ years in this wonderful fandom, in the thousands of days I’ve now spent promoting the shit out of this film every chance I get, can you tell me why that argument is the one I find myself dealing with the most? Can you look at me and can you tell me why you hate Jim Hawkins? Can you do that?
Because here’s the thing - I can tell you why I love him. And I got shit to back up me up.
Let’s get down to business. Let me tell you why I love Jim Hawkins - every habit, every quirk, every mannerism, every virtue, and every flaw. Let’s plunge right in.
- He’s kind.
Sure, you can roll your eyes if you want to, but honestly? Being really, truly, simply, genuinely nice is such a rare quality in the world, and Jim has - and displays - this quality in abundance. I mean, for one thing, bringing Billy Bones to the Benbow when he seems ninety percent sure the guy’s just crazy? Yet he takes a chance anyway, because the sailor’s sick, the sailor’s injured, it’s raining really hard, he shouldn’t be out in this in his state, here, give me your arm, let me help you, you can come in out of the rain and stay in my house for a bit.
And what about the time he met that half-mad robot on Treasure Planet and, despite the fact that BEN blatantly oversteps his boundaries a good ten times (”Will you let go of me?/Stop touching me!”/Will you quit hugging me?”) or so within the first five minutes of their introduction, despite the fact that he is very obviously unhinged from all that time alone, despite the fact that BEN is loud and attention-drawing and the word stealthy isn’t in his vocabulary, despite the fact that he’s putting the captain and the doctor and himself in peril by doing so, Jim allows BEN to come with him - all he needs is to hear about the robot’s century of solitude, his loneliness, his desolation, and he just drops everything and says, “If you’re gonna come along…”
And don’t even get me started on the deleted scenes - such as the one where he offers to fix this child’s scooter, even though he and this kid have never met before, never even spoken to one another, and yet he offers to fix this scooter because aww the kid’s sad let me fix it for you.
Because, beneath that black jacket and that dark scowl of his, Jim has a huge, huge heart and it’s there and it’s evident for anyone willing to look. Because Jim just legitimately cares about other people, and there’s no ulterior motive, he doesn’t ask for compensation, he doesn’t expect anything in return, he just genuinely likes helping others.
(And as I don’t happen to have an image on hand for the child’s scooter bit mentioned above, have a few bonus pictures of times when Jim was nice)
Comforting a frightened Morph despite the fact that his life is in the most immediate and intense danger
And how about the time he lets a pirate - the leader of a mutiny in which he was supposed to be killed - walk the fuck away from him because he believes there’s good in Silver?
Don’t get me started on this kid and his kindness. Don’t. Get me started.
- And he’s smart.
I don’t mean passing-his-finals-with-flying-colors oh-haha-that-was-a-total-seat-of-my-pants-test can’t-believe-I-pulled-through-with-a-B I-was-pulling-answers-out-of-my-ass kind of smart.
I mean completely, incredibly, off-the-charts, blow-your-mind brilliant. He might be failing his high school classes, but it’s certainly not due to the challenge; he doesn’t put any effort into his work because he just doesn’t care. I mean, we even hear Sarah state that he built his first solar surfer when he was eight. So let’s let that sink in for a second.
was no older than that when he built one of these
Just let that sit a minute. He built one of those gizmos
when he was eight fucking years old. Hell, I’m not one hundred percent sure I understand them now, and he was eight and he understood them so well he could make them. (Sure, he ultimately uses it to cause trouble and ride straight into restricted areas, but it still makes him pretty brainy.)
And not to mention, when Silver tries to teach him how to steer a skiff, he doesn’t even let the guy finish his sentence before he starts powering it up. Despite the other’s best attempts to stop him, Jim ignites the engine and sends them whirling straight into a comet. He fucking steers a boat - with limited knowledge, considering Silver didn’t get a chance to teach him everything - he steers a boat into a comet, and rides that comet to its end and does it without ever missing a beat, without ever throwing himself or his companion out of the boat, without ever messing up or getting hurt or hurting Silver or anything, just gets the hang of it right off the bat.
And at the end of it, all Silver says is, “If I could maneuver a skiff like that when I was your age, they’d be bowing in the streets when I walked by today!”
Oh, and did I mention he powers up a century-old crashed boat in sixty seconds? No? Well, he did that, too.
Oh, and he also made another solar surfer, this time at fifteen, out of the useless parts of their failing ship while the planet explodes around them.
And, when said surfer begins failing, threatening to send him plummeting to his death in a raging river of lava bubbling and frothing beneath him, he keeps it going - literally rams it into the wall, striking it against the metal surface until enough friction occurs to power the thrusters again, and he does this all in the space of thirty seconds.
Oh, and he figured out where Flint’s trove was hidden before anyone else, just based on the fragmented bits and pieces he’d picked up from other people
And did I mention yet that he was the only one who could open the map leading to the planet?
There were people thirty and forty years his senior trying to figure it out
and he figures it out in seconds
- And he’s brave
Remember when he casually faced down a whole crew of pirates three and four times over, all in the space of twenty-four hours?
And how about the fact that he refuses, at great risk to himself, to open the map for the pirates - until Silver threatens the captain and the doctor?
Or when he’s fixing that hundred-year-old boat we discussed earlier, and tells BEN to leave without him if he can’t get away in the next five minutes?
Oh, and when the star Pellucid goes supernova on their voyage and the hands are sent to secure the solar sails, not only does Jim immediately ascend, no hesitation
he also spots Silver, who followed him there, fall from his perch, and literally fucking throws himself down onto the wood and hauls the cook - who, to be honest, has a good hundred pounds on Jim and probably almost took the kid down with him, and definitely dragged the kid closer to the edge than would be advised - back up to safety.
And later in the film, he receives an order from the captain to scout ahead and find them a better place to hide - and even though the pirates were spotted seconds earlier, circling the skies in a longboat, Jim expresses no hesitation, simply obeys.
And, oh, uh, you remember that solar surfer we talked about earlier, the one he constructed as the planet bursts into flames and burns down around him?
Yeah, here he is riding it through the fires and eruptions and random debris, here he is casually risking his life to save everyone else, most of them being pirates who would have loved to see him dead.
Yep, don’t mind him, he’s just saving everyone else. He might die doing it, but damn, he’s doing it anyway.
But wait. I did promise to discuss his flaws as well, and, so far, I haven’t been making good on that promise, have I?
Fear not, for Jim Hawkins is far from perfect and it’s time for us to explore the reasons why.
- He’s impulsive
While most readily refer to this as a “Mary Sue trait” and “not really a flaw” , I can’t help but disagree; if we consider it an undesirable trait in a real person, why on earth would we think it little more than a cute quirk in a fictional character? Believe me when I say, Jim’s consistent failure to think before he acts is not a charming little thing - it’s a flaw, plain and simple.
For all Jim’s kindness, for all his bravery and unfailing ability to think fast on his feet, he is impulsive as all hell.
Like when he, in his first meeting with Silver, throws out several thinly-veiled accusations - showing his cards, playing his whole hand right off the bat on the off chance that his opponent might show his, too.
Unsurprisingly, of course, Silver does not rise to the bait - meaning Jim revealed everything to the man who will later become his enemy, in a sense losing the only advantage he really held, whereas Silver lost nothing and now has additional information to help him on his way. And all this could have been avoided had Jim just kept his mouth shut.
And that time when he attempted to eavesdrop on a couple of the other hands cause he thought they were acting suspicious
But it’s not long before they notice him and immediately shut up - meaning Jim has now given his suspicions away to four different people, four people whom he suspects. (Five, if you count Oxy and Moron as two.)
Or how about when they find that map we talked about earlier, and when he opens it up and realizes it leads to Treasure Planet, his first thought is to follow it? Like, this could be anything. A trap, a red herring, a fool’s errand, and Jim just throws himself headlong into it because look there’s a slim chance it could be treasure let’s go right now!
I mean, there’s just no room for doubt: Jim is super impulsive, and that’s not a good quality to have. Sure, it gets shit done, but cautious people get shit done too, and they probably get it done better because they’re not making snap decisions every 2.5 seconds.
- And Jim is selfish.
Sure, we all love him. Well, some of you hate him, and some of you love to hate him, but the sentiment stands; we all love Jim, but you can’t love somebody for too long without noticing his flaws. And Jim has his flaws.
And it’s especially obvious in scenes like this
where we see that Jim was just out on a joyride while his mother visibly struggles to run the inn by herself.
It’s obvious he uses that solar surfing hobby to escape, to distract him from his problems after a tough day, but this, in turn, suggests that he feels his problems at the moment are more important than Sarah’s, and so puts himself before his mother.
And he makes things harder on her than probably anyone else in her life, going out and getting in trouble all the time and bringing the police to her door
Not only is this probably really bad for business, it’s also likely embarrassing and obviously upsetting for poor Sarah - yet Jim offers no apology, offers almost nothing beyond the words, “Mom, it’s no big deal!”
And when they open the map and realize where it leads, Jim jumps on the chance to leave Sarah
Not just their lonely little planet, but Sarah, he wants to leave her. And though his intentions here are honorable (”We could rebuild the Benbow a hundred times over!” / “I’ll make you proud!”) it still fails to completely sugarcoat the fact that he left her there, lured away by the promise of adventure.
Because Jim is selfish.
- He’s touchy, and defiant as all hell.
Sure, this is a flaw. Sure, it’s not a great quality to have. Sure, it holds him back more than anything, and it probably gets him in more trouble than it’s worth - but I still tip my hat to Disney for introducing this flaw at all. It has been proven in the past that children with absentee parents - particularly boys with neglectful fathers - tend to become obstinate teens with no regard for authority, and I’m just so proud of them for doing their research on that one.
Admittedly, however, this quality does cause him more trouble than it’s worth. I mean, he makes himself an enemy out of the scariest alien aboard in the first five minutes, all because he has to have the last word.
As a matter of fact, when I think about it, Jim has single-handedly gotten on the bad side of every one of these pirates on board this ship, with the obvious exception of Silver, and he does it all because he is just that feisty.
On the other hand, however, his pluck is the first thing Silver notices - and likes - about him. It’s obvious that while the pirate captain plans to work the spunk out of him, he can’t help but respect it, too.
Like, for instance, on Treasure Planet, when Jim refuses to allow Silver to leave without him
there’s an instant where Silver looks like he’s about to argue
and he could, he could just hold the captain, the doctor, or even BEN at gunpoint, and chances are, Jim would likely obey just to spare those he cares for. Despite the fact that Silver is clearly the one in power here, he gives into Jim’s demands - because, even if he doesn’t like it, Jim’s defiance is something he can respect. They may be enemies now, but Silver recognizes and respects that Jim makes a worthy enemy.
- And let’s not forget that he’s stubborn.
Seriously, once he’s found something to fight for, he’ll fight for that, and he’ll get it, no matter what it takes, and there’s nobody in the world that can change his mind. If he gets it in his head that he wants to do something, if he gets it in his head that he should do something, he’ll do it, no matter what.
And in some cases, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It means he has a strong sense of right and wrong and knows the difference between the two, and will do what he believes to be right, regardless of what other people say. He has a moral code, and a strong one, at that, and he rarely deviates from it. And this is actually a good thing when, say, there’s a treasure-hunting pirate captain attempting to bribe him into betraying the captain and the doctor and handing over the map.
And, when this fails and Silver resorts to trying to frighten him into submission, the kid doesn’t even blink. He can’t be bought, and he sure as hell can’t be intimidated.
Of course, this isn’t always a good quality to have; while it does make him more resistant to tactics such as temptation, it also makes him inflexible and, in some cases, extremely resistant to change, even when that change would be for the better.
But that iron will has another advantage.
- It makes him hardworking.
Whether it’s as trivial as swabbing the deck, or as enormous as seeking out a legendary treasure trove, if Jim sees the point in a task - if he sees, for himself, why it’s worthy of his time - he will put his all into it, no questions asked. So though most would call him a delinquent, and while the robo-cops on Montressor outright tell him that he is a loser
Jim is actually extremely industrious and capable - he just doesn’t always show it. But it’s there, if you know how to look.
Like when Silver leaves him with this huge pile of dishes in the galley
and he just picks up his brush and keeps right on going
and in fact, is so determined to finish up that damn stack that he ends up falling asleep in the galley, head resting on the pot in his hand
but the dishes around him are gleaming.
Or how about when he was failing at school at the beginning of the film, and by the end, he has graduated from the prestigious Interstellar Academy?
Can you imagine how much work it must have taken to get himself into that Academy? I mean, how long did it take for him to pull those grades up, to convince others he was really serious about this, and can you imagine how much work it took to get through the Academy once he got there? But Jim got there anyway, and he did graduate, and he did do all that amazing stuff, and he did it because he works hard.
Oh and remember
- He was lost
Though by the end of the film Jim is high-spirited and confident, we know from the beginning that it wasn’t always so. His father’s absence left a hole in him, a hole he felt it was too big to fill - a hole that left him feeling worthless and rejected, it left him feeling angry and defeated, and it left him thinking he wasn’t good enough. It left him with a strong, deep-seated fear of abandonment, and more than that, it left him searching - searching and searching and never quite finding the missing piece he so desperately needed.
Jim felt he had no future; Jim felt he wasn’t worth a future; Jim didn’t really know where he was going, and that’s the kind of relatability I’ve come to expect from Dreamworks. I don’t go into a Disney film expecting to find real characters, so this came as a pleasant surprise.
And something else I’ll probably never get over
- Jim is sensitive
So, this one actually sounds funny. I mean, I just said earlier how selfish Jim is, right? How he’s always putting himself before Sarah? Yeah. That whole argument still stands. It’s just that Jim isn’t all selfish, all the time. Can he be selfish? Yes. Extremely. Is he selfish? Sometimes. But he’s also, as mentioned before, a genuinely nice person. A person with honest empathy. His instances of self-absorption don’t cancel that out.
Now, while most define a sensitive person as “one who understands and feels for others” - and while Jim certainly does that, too - we’ve already tackled that. We’ve talked about Jim as a compassionate and thoughtful individual, and I’m not here to talk about it again, though I could.
No, there are drawbacks to feeling for others, and I’m here to talk about them.
I mean, Jim cares about other people - Jim feels deeply for people, deeply enough to welcome complete strangers into his house and offer lonely individuals a place at his side, Jim just feels for people even if he’s never experienced their hardships for himself. And if he can feel so strongly for strangers, if he can look upon a person he hardly knows and want to help ease their pain, if his heart squeezes upon seeing others’ suffering, how much do you think it hurts when he experiences his own?
His father, for example. An indifferent, neglectful parent, the heartache they cause, it would sting even the most impervious - but for somebody as thin-skinned and tender-hearted as Jim, it absolutely devastates him. And when the man finally gives up on his family, leaving behind his wife and their eight-year-old, it just tears the kid apart.
As a matter of fact, it hurts Jim so deeply that it takes him seven years just to realize that it wasn’t his fault, or anyone’s; his father’s rejection caused him so much pain that he is well into his adolescence before he can even begin to accept that he’s gone.
But this isn’t just one instance; it’s not merely a festering childhood wound, no. Jim takes the slightest slip-up straight to heart - and upon believing he caused Mr. Arrow’s death, he spends what appears to be hours beating himself up for this perceived failure.
And ultimately, he might have continued indefinitely had Silver not intervened and comforted him.
And of course, less than twenty-four hours later, Silver tells his bloodthirsty crew - and, unwittingly, an eavesdropping Jim - that his attentions were all for show, that he had to be nice to the kid to keep him from suspecting the crew of anything shady, he had to win the lad’s trust or risk his suspicion…and Jim really believes it, and, in fact, is so hurt, that he appears to take a moment to swallow back tears.
Jim is just so easy to hurt.
And to be honest, it’s great; it makes his empathy for others more believable - after all, if his own wounds have left such obvious marks, who’s to say another’s tribulations won’t win over his sensitive heart?
And, hey, hey, don’t forget
- He’s just a kid
I mean, he’s doing all this awesome shit, he’s building solar surfers
and saving lives
and working his ass off and being super kind and impulsive and defiant and selfish and everything, he’s doing all this, and he’s only fifteen years old. Like. He’s fifteen. He’s not even an adult yet. He’s not even of legal age. He’s just casually amazing at fifteen, but what do you think he’ll be like in five years, ten years, twenty?
As Silver says, he really is going to rattle the stars.
Now let’s review before we go:
- Jim is kind.
- Jim is smart.
- Jim is brave.
- Jim is impulsive.
- Jim is selfish.
- Jim is touchy and defiant as all hell.
- Jim is stubborn.
- Jim is hardworking.
- Jim was lost.
- Jim is sensitive.
- Jim is just a kid.
Just please, for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t ever forget Jim Hawkins.