So Big Hero 6 is out. Critics love it. Audiences love it. People on the site love it. I enjoyed it as well (it’s not Best Animated Feature material, but it’s definitely a must-see film). So why not have some fun and see where it all began!
As most of you guys know, Big Hero 6 is loosely inspired by the Marvel comic book of the same name. As most people know, the movie was put into production with the conceit that Disney would take the property and build an entirely new universe out of it. As such, there were no new announcements of Big Hero 6 comics from Marvel. Instead, that job will be left to Joe Books, a relatively new publisher who will create a line of comic books and novels set in the universe of the film.
But going back to the original Marvel comics: Big Hero 6 began life as the creation of Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau. Originally slated to appear in issue #17 of Alpha Flight, they made their debut instead in a three-issue miniseries written by Scott Lobdell and drawn by Gus Vasquez. Back then, the team lineup included several X-Men characters such as Silver Samurai and twins Sunfire and Sunpyre. The team then resurfaced in 2008 in a six-issue miniseries written by Chris Claremont with art by David Nakayama (and from which the movie got its lineup of characters).
Why am I telling you this? Because Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau are now a part of Man of Action Studios, a creative think tank and production house best known for creating Cartoon Network’s Ben 10 franchise. And in celebration of the theatrical release of Big Hero 6, they have posted the original character designs for the team on their blog (originally drawn for what would have been their appearance in Alpha Flight). So let’s see what they all used to look like, shall we!
Our first piece shows the original concept design for Hiro Hamada (or known in the comics as Hiro Takachiho). Here, he is clad in his original power suit and what looks to be one of his robotic creations. According to Steve and Duncan, he was named Hiro in order to indicate the fact that he was team’s definite leader, despite being the youngest. His smarts were also reflected in his appearance: “I wanted to make sure his battle suit reflected how smart he was despite his young age.” Duncan explains.
Next, we have the original Baymax in armor mode. Pretty different from the synthetic creature design of the 1998 miniseries and the inflatable care robot design of the film. Probably the closest we got to this design was the look of Baymax in the 2008 miniseries. “This design played on Baymax’s enormous size, which made it even funnier to imagine him in street clothes when he wasn’t showing his armor off!” Says Duncan. Steve also chimes in, saying this interesting tidbit: “We wanted to show that Baymax, though a caretaker and butler to Hiro, was also a powerful asset in the field – hence – an armor mode.”
Hiro and Baymax
It’s worth noting that in the 1998 miniseries, Baymax was built to be his caretaker and bodyguard after the death of his father. Steve and Duncan’s original version of Baymax followed that same characteristic, but in this version he is also more or less Hiro’s butler (think Alfred Pennyworth or Jarvis). Hiro was also a little different in this version too, as Duncan explains: “In their debut story in the comics, we imagined Hiro had already been a hero and an agent for a while, so it made sense to give him a sleek “junior James Bond” look.”
Next up, we have Honey Lemon’s original design. As consistent with the comics and even the film, she is the most fashionable person on the team. But of course, being that this was the comics, her powers are contained in a super-powered purse. This prompted them to design a cutting-edge costume that reflected her power. “Honey Lemon, in our original conception, had a purse from which she could pull any object on the planet – even stuff way bigger than the purse!” Steve says of her powers.
Next on the list is Gogo Tomago. As with the comics, her suit allows her to turn into an explosive ball of energy and hurl herself towards other objects. She’s the most powerful person on the team, as well as the most anti-social. “Gogo was the least open member of our team, and since she was closed off and grumpy as a person, it made sense to give her a look and powers that closed her off from the world as well.” While she isn’t closed off in the film per say, she is easily irritable and a bit of a hothead (a trait she shares with her comics counterpart).
Finally, we have a version of Baymax in his dragon mode (a bit similar to his 1998 incarnation). Steve says of this version: “When we were designing the original Baymax robot, we both lived right by JPL and transformation was being discussed in relation to the Mars rover, so we thought Baymax should have the ability to grow/transform into other forms.”
Duncan also elaborated on the importance of Baymax’s character back then, saying: “No Japan homage super-team should be without its own giant monster. While Fred came from a later version of the team courtesy of Claremont and Nakayama, originally that role was played by Baymax who could transform himself into a dragon-like mode.”
And that does it for our throwback look at the original team as dreamt up by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau!
Big Hero 6 is now in theaters. Check out our review here!
What do you think? Are you fascinated by these original designs?