When the Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel in 2009, many people wondered how this acquisition would influence the Disney brand. Would Disney Animation ever consider doing an animated feature based off a Marvel property, and if so, how would that work out with the Marvel Cinematic Universe? The answer was 2014’s Big Hero 6.
Big Hero 6 is loosely based off a relatively unknown Marvel comic that goes by the same name. Similarly to how Frozen was loosely based off Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, Big Hero 6 has very little in common with the original comic. The creatives at Marvel and Disney Animation decided to not have Big Hero 6 be part of the MCU and gave the creative team at Disney, led by directors Don Hall and Chris Williams, full creative freedom of the project.
At this point, I’ve seen so many superhero origins stories that I’m kinda starting to get bored with them. Most of them are very similar, and in some cases, they’ve already retold the same origins story in two or three different movies. So Big Hero 6 was a nice change for once as it told a new original superhero story that is very unique from anything else in the genre. Big Hero 6 is also a nice change for Disney Animation as it’s the studio’s first real superhero movie, and I gotta say they did a splendid job.
The unique and fun relationship between Hiro and Baymax is what makes this movie so great. It’s the heart as well as the humor in the film. It’s different from most recent Disney films where it’s usually a male and female lead who dislike each other at first and through the events of the movie become closer and closer. Instead it’s two characters who already have a very deep connection in a way, as Baymax was created by Hiro’s late brother Tadashi and who what takes his place and helps Hiro to heal after this tragedy.
While a big part of the movie resolves around Hiro and Baymax and their relationship, the other main plot is of course the superhero team (Big Hero 6) that Hiro creates with Tadashi’s college friends: Honey Lemon, Wasabi, Gogo Tomago, and Fred. After Tadashi’s death, they try to find the identity of the mysterious kabuki-masked villain who terrorizes their city, San Fransokyo, and who uses Hiro’s stolen invention to cause mayhem in the city. While a masked villain is exciting, this one just didn’t do it for me; he didn’t feel scary nor dangerous enough. The big reveal of his identity was kinda lame and predictable. Also, bringing Baymax back at the end of the movie (which makes sense for a Disney movie) was, in my opinion, a big mistake. Baymax helped Hiro process his grief and in a way move on. Baymax’s sacrifice would’ve been a perfect way for Hiro to let go of all his pain, move on with his life, and accept loss. I get they had to bring him back because, come on, it’s freaking Baymax! But it still doesn’t feel right to me and feels like a huge missed opportunity.
Even though the film is very flawed, it’s just a fun and enjoyable animated superhero flick. The movie has a bunch of great, diverse characters who could’ve been better developed but nonetheless are unique, fun, intelligent, and great role models for young children (and adults). I would have liked to have seen more of them in the film, but this movie really was Hiro and Baymax’s story. While that’s disappointing, I can accept that. The film has some great action pieces that definitely match up to some of the stuff that’s being done in live-action. They were compelling, yet also a lot of fun and just everything you’d want a Disney Animation superhero action scene to be.
Just as you’d expect from a Disney film, the world building is stellar. San Fransokyo (San Francisco with influences of Japanese culture) is simply one of those places you want to visit. The designs to the actual digital execution is spectacular, original, and so gorgeous. The way the city is utilized in the story makes it a character of its own which is always something I really enjoy. The animators managed to create a place that felt real which is really unique for animation.
The characters and their designs are another highlight. Diversity is a huge problem in Hollywood these days, so to see such a wonderful and positive diverse cast of characters is fantastic and very positive for the future of diversity in films. Each of the characters is well designed, and they’re brought to life so wonderfully by both the voice actors and animators. The film creates an incredibly unique and gorgeous group of characters that feels real, from the main characters to background characters.
Big Hero 6 was a very solid hit for the studio as it grossed over $600 million worldwide. While it’s nothing compared to what Frozen grossed, it’s very solid for a relatively unknown property and in a way, experimental film for the studio. Also, the film had a very wonky international release which could have led to less success in the global market. The film went on to be nominated and won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 2015 Academy Awards. I’m glad it won because it is a great film and definitely deserves the recognition. Big Hero 6 was not my favorite nominee that year, but it won fairly, and I’m happy it wasn’t snubbed.
So what does the future hold for this franchise? Compared to recent releases from the Walt Disney Animation Studios, Big Hero 6 seems kind off forgotten. It’s very hard to find merchandise for it and even though, in my personal experiences, many people seem to love the film, it’s not getting the recognition like Wreck-it Ralph or Frozen.
It was revealed if the creative team behind the film was interested in continuing the franchise, they would be given the opportunity, but no concrete plans for a sequel have been announced ever since those comments were made back in 2014. If there is a recent Disney film that should get a sequel, it’s Big Hero 6. This world and these characters have so much more to explore and as much as I love Wreck-it Ralph and Frozen, they don’t need continuations as this one does. We will be getting a 2D-animated television series on Disney XD, however, which will start airing its first episodes in 2017. To me, this seems like most natural and best way to continue this franchise if a sequel isn’t happening since the characters, world, and story lend themselves perfectly for this kind of episodic nature, and it gives us the opportunity to really dive into each character and the vibrant world of San Fransokyo.
While Big Hero 6 is by no means a perfect movie, it’s a very solid, fun superhero movie. It has great characters, a fun world, humor, emotion, and a solid plot. Whenever I rewatch this movie, I just love returning to this world; it always leaves me wanting more (which we’ll be getting in the upcoming television series). While the film was very well received at first, it seems kind off overshadowed by films like Wreck-it Ralph, Frozen, and Zootopia, but I feel this film could potentially become a real pop culture classic as it’s already showing signs of that. People love this film, I love this film, and it definitely is a great film.
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Edited by Kelly Conley