It’s become evidently clear that the purchase of Marvel by Disney has turned out to be a huge win for the company, especially when it comes to the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One of the tasks set by Bob Iger upon purchase was to search through the Marvel catalog to find out what else might be available for adaptation. Don Hall discovered Big Hero 6 and ended up pitching it to John Lasseter. Some of the characters had to be dropped due to their movie rights being owned by Fox, and many aspects of the characters were adjusted, but the focus remained on the relationship between Hiro and Baymax.
Due to some contention about live action vs. animation it was decided that Big Hero 6 would be set in its own universe rather than be part of the MCU and thus was born the amalgam city of San Fransokyo. It’s nice to see creativity on this level and a step toward taking ownership of characters that, while interesting, never really integrated well into the Marvel Universe in the first place. Each of the characters was reborn as something rooted in their original version, yet they were all now joined together with a common origin instead of having the diverse backgrounds they have in comics. And they’re all better for it.
The movie itself is a really interesting and enjoyable take on the superhero origin story. It has a flair to it, much the same way that Wreck-It Ralph did 2 years ago. Disney is showing a very gratifying trend that takes them away from their “safe zone” of animated movies and starts to etch out new and exciting concepts and creations. And that’s a good thing – diversity of design shows an ability to grow and adapt that once once thought lost to the company. One thing to look for is that at least 2 of the characters, Aunt Cass and Honey Lemon, look like modified models of prior characters Helen Parr and Lucille Krunklehorn.
I will say that while really great and enjoyable mind candy to a huge superhero fan like myself that Big Hero 6 does not have quite the “Wow!” Factor that Wreck-It Ralph did. But it does make up for that with a very solid and well engineered story. So instead of the wild ride that was Wreck-It Ralph at times, what you get is something a bit more grounded. And that serves the story well, and makes the movie better for it.
The characters in the movie are really strong. Hiro is a stereotypical teenager – sassy, smart mouthed, quippy, mopey, angsty, etc. It’s all in there. He suffers a lot of classic “superhero origin story loss” both on and off screen. And when he loses his footing in the world he lashes out, and his super friends (see what I did there?) have re-ground him. The story itself is very procedural, much like any TV crime drama where, and thus it has an endgame that very easy to piece together. But that doesn’t make it bad, because the intricacies of getting to that point aren’t as obvious as the point itself. So the fun is the journey in between.
So when you head out to see Big Hero 6, prepare yourself for a little slice of awesome. Your entire family is very likely to find something to make them both laugh and cry in this movie. The same can be said for it’s opening short Feast which every dog lover on the planet will “totally get”. Vinyl is in again. Fah-la-la-la-la.