So far, I'm really looking forward to [Big Hero 6](movie:425271), the upcoming Disney movie based on the Marvel comic of the same name. It looks fun and adorable, and I think I may even spot a deeper message that I can get on board with. However, the more I see of Honey Lemon, the less impressed I am.
In the original series, Honey Lemon is pretty much the definition of a kick-ass smart girl. She's most definitely a science-nerd, and is both a research scientist and a secret agent (as in, a field agent, not just in the lab). She's trained in combat (as most agents are) but also has her power purse - her own invention, a collection of wormholes inside a bag that allow her to store basically anything she could want or need.
As a female character to look up to, she's pretty amazing. She's gorgeous (and knows it, often using it to her advantage on missions), she's ridiculously smart, she can hold her own in a fight, and she is still one of the most caring and compassionate team members. Talk about having it all!
However, the concept art that we have seen from the Disney version doesn't seem to grasp, well, any of this. I invite you to take a good hard look at the images above, and see if you would recognize the one below as the same character.
Me neither. I get that she is supposed to be younger, as the film appeals to younger audiences, but what is going on? Her hair is still blonde (although it seems to have become a little more reddish in certain shots), and she's still a girl, but this goofy girl bears little resemblance to the confident and sexy woman we know and love. It's not just one shot, either. It seems that (except when in her superhero costume, and I'll get to that) she is the epitome of doofus.
C'mon, what is going on with that body language? Why does she look all gangly and awkward? And what on earth is she wearing? I'm not sure if the artists were going for the traditional nerd look (because she's smart, and Disney isn't exactly known for going against stereotypes), or trying to "get down with the kids" and turn her into a hipster. Either way, it doesn't work. Giant pink glasses are not appropriate for Honey Lemon, and neither is being covered from wrist to toe. Again, I can understand the desire to create something a little more family-friendly, but this is just far too far in the opposite direction.
This original costume is incredible, and although there is a little stomach showing, it's hardly a glorified bikini. What's wrong with this outfit? If it needs to be toned down a little, just give her a black tank top instead of a short one. Black pants and boots are pretty standard fare for female spies for a reason, and that jacket is nothing short of incredible. It's distinctive, it's got a kind of military feel; honestly, I kind of want one. I also love that she has a little tattoo - as a heavily tattooed person, I would really love to see more tv and movie characters with tattoos (when they aren't being presented as a punk, convict, or "alternative" type).
Of course, our new Honey Lemon has her street clothes, and her superhero clothes, so maybe her ass-kicking attire is a little more appropriate to the character? Nope. Even in fighting gear, Honey Lemon fails to impress.
First and foremost, what is going on with the pink? Update the outfit, sure, but superhero colors are iconic to readers - don't change those. Most of the character colors have changed across the board, which is frustrating, but changing the only stereotypically "pretty" female character's color palette to pink is just asking for trouble.
Not to mention that purse. That most badass piece of equipment, that was a plain, innocuous purse, has been transformed into this laughable child's toy. It has a heart on it. It has a toy bear's head on the front. I don't know if this is a bad attempt to appeal to children, or a bad attempt at outrageous Asian fashion (it's SanFranSokyo after all), but I'm not ok with it.
Why does it seem like Disney is taking a character who would be an incredible role model, and watering her down into a dorky girl in pink? Why does the nerdy girl have to be wearing glasses? So far, it looks like the cliche machine has been hard at work here, and I am incredibly unimpressed.
Of course, I could be wrong. This could be some marketing images and concept art that just do not do the character justice, and she'll turn out to be all the things that she is in the books. I truly hope so, but we will just have to wait and see.
Big Hero 6 hits theaters on November 7th.