When Disney scooped up Marvel they picked up a ton of comic book history and properties. You had to guess they wouldn’t use them all in the same way (i.e. massive blockbusters), and Big Hero 6 is the first Marvel film to break out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact Big Hero 6, a Disney Animation production, doesn’t even have the Marvel logo before it. This is not a Marvel film, it is a Disney one.
For that we can be quite thankful. Disney has finally gotten its footing in the animated world once again and following Frozen expectations couldn’t be higher for the studio’s next animated film. While I seriously doubt that Big Hero 6 will inspire the crazed fervor that Frozen did, Disney’s recaptured magic his still here, elevating a kid’s superhero movie to something more.
Never heard of Big Hero 6? That’s OK. As far as comic book teams go they’re pretty damn obscure. It’s even more OK, because while the film is based on the comic it really has very little in common with it. The characters have been re-worked to play into an animated feature and the entire setting has been changed to San Fransokyo, a fantastic, futuristic melding of San Francisco and Tokyo that only reaffirms this film’s surprising commitment to diversity.
We meet Hiro (Ryan Potter), a young slacker genius, and his older brother Tadashi. Hiro is a bit aimless, but after his brother takes him to his college lab and introduces him to his friends — Fred (T.J. Miller), Go Go (Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) — he decides that school would be pretty awesome. More importantly he meets his brother’s robotics project, Baymax (Scott Adsit), a puffy, friendly, adorable medical robot, who becomes Hiro’s best friend after a few tragic accidents that bring an evil villain into the picture. That, of course, leads to Hiro forming a team of superheroes that include all his new friends and their amazing scientific discoveries.
What’s really impressive about Big Hero 6, aside from the truly stunning animation, is that it feels more like a Pixar film than a Marvel one. By that I mean it is far more concerned with the emotional notes for most of its running time than the action pieces. Hiro and Baymax’s connection is both touch and heart wrenching at times. While the film does dove tail into your standard hero conclusion with a massive fight that teaches us all about teamwork, it stays strong throughout by emphasizing this underlying relationship between Hiro and his robot.
And what a robot. Baymax might be the best new character to come out of animation since Stitch of Lilo and Stitch fame. He’s funny, adorable, gorgeously animated and, most importantly, a full fledged character in his own right. Too often the comic relief is just that, but with Baymax there is more leading to a truly touching conclusion for the film. Of course there’s plenty of standard comic relief shoved in here, but it finds its place just fine and never overwhelms the story.T
Two words of caution for this one. If you have young kids you should know that the film deals with death and loss. It does this incredibly well and in tasteful ways, but could easily be upsetting for smaller children or could bring about conversations you don’t want to have yet. While this makes Big Hero 6 an infinitely better film it is something that should be noted. The second is that the 3D is entirely unnecessary. Save a couple bucks if you can and ditch the glasses.
Big Hero 6 is a triumph for Disney Animation. A fantastic children’s film that’s great for adults and comic book fans alike. By infusing a diverse cast around a fantastic concept they’ve definitely nailed down a film that should spawn plenty of sequels and kids begging for Baymax toys. And by kids I mean myself. More Baymax, please.