As we are currently in the “superhero phase” of modern cinema, there seems to be an endless plethora of film that are showing our favorite heroes of our childhood on the big screen. We have our Superman, Spiderman, Iron Man, and many others. We even have unknown properties that became the biggest movie of the year (Guardians of the Galaxy). These superhero movies are primarily set in the “real world.” There have been some DC and Marvel animated movies, but these are primarily direct to video films that have not had a wide screen presence. With Disney’s Purchase of Marvel comics, the House of Mouse now has a large plethora of properties it can adapt for the masses to consume.
The first entry into the superhero animated movie genre is Big Hero 6. This film is loosely based on the comic book superheroes (very, very loosely) from Marvel Comics where our hero (uniquely names) Hiro Hamada goes through his own origin story in assembling a team of “nerds” to become a full-fledged superhero team. Unlike stories like Captain America or The Hulk, these superheroes are not created via genetic improvements: they are created the Iron Man style via technological advancements by the heroes. They are all wiz-kids who proudly call themselves “Nerds” that use their creative genius to develop weapons/armor that makes them formidable as they tackle on a super villain of equal technological prowess.
Set in the city of “San Fransokyo” (a combination of San Francisco and Tokyo in a Firefly-style of culture combining), Hiro is a boy genius who graduated high school at the age of 13, but does not have any real life ambitions and spends his time participating in “bot fights” (a combination of Real Steel and Fight Club) to earn money. His older brother Tadashi encourages him to join him at the local college where he can apply himself in a challenging way, introducing him to Go Go Tomago, Wasabi, Honey Lemon, and Fred/”Fredzilla” (who’s not even a student): students at San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. There Hiro gets a chance to see everything that this school has to offer and how he can be challenged. Hiro is able to see his brother’s robotic invention “Baymax,” a healthcare robot with the body of the stay Puff Marshmallow Man. Hiro decided to apply via a technology demonstration, where he displays an advanced form of robotics he created that can revolutionize the world. Upon impressing the college professor, he seems like a shoo-in for this program.
Not everything goes according to plan and a fire tragedy at the university kills Hiro’s brother Tadashi sending Hiro into a deep depression. This gives a strong and accurate display of depression in a kid’s film. Hiro is now a shut in and doesn’t want to do anything with the outside world. Only when he stubs his toe does he activate Baymax and then our adventure begins.
And Baymax is the heart and soul of the film. Baymax provides most of the comic relief (and boy is he funny) with his Spock-like innocence, but because he is basically a robot within an inflatable tire, there are plenty of gags that work as well. There is a scene where Baymax is low on power and begins to be “inoperable” where he has a great rendition of being “drunk” that sent the audience laughing hysterically during the scene. As a healthcare robot, all Baymax wants to do is help heal Hiro through proper medical diagnoses. He ends up becoming Hiro’s best friend afterwards.
Upon discovering that the fire (and therefore his brother’s death) was no accident, but a part of a large nefarious plot, Hiro decided he wants to catch who is responsible. The culprit responsible is revealed to also steal the technology Hiro displayed at the Institute as well, hidden by a mask. Not before upgrading Baymax to learn kung-fu in a Matrix-like upgrade, and retrofitting him with armor capable of flight. Hiro teams up with his fellows from the Institute helping develop suits and tehnology for each of them as they go and investigate who the culprit is and stop them. Go Go Tomago gets electromagnetic wheel axles and throwing discs. Wasabi gets laser cutters. Honey Lemon uses a purse that has all sorts of chemistry weapons for entrapment. Fred/Fredzilla gets his own Fredzilla costume capable of jumping distances and breathing fire.
As they discover who the villain is (with a fairly predictable third act twist), Hiro has to face a moral dilemma. Does he want revenge, or justice? There is a sequence that plays out rather dramatically that shows how hell-bend Hiro is on revenge, before coming to the correct conclusion. Within the third act, the heroes all work together to not only stop the villain, but to save him from his own revenge fueled self-destruction.
This is a 3D film. Some films get padded with 3D just to increase ticket sales prices, but like Avatar or How to Train Your Dragon, this is a film that the effect of using 3D technology helps enhance the film. The animation/effects are spectacular. There is a flight sequence where the audience sees all of San Fransokyo and it’s quite spectacular. The cinematography is is great, especially showing the villain’s technology and how he uses it. The third act has a great visual motif of a world within a teleportation device that is also great special effects.
This film has great writing and comedy. Baymax steals the show, but the other characters have their moment to shine as well. Wasabi as a “by the book” neat freak has great moments, GoGo just screams “girl power” when she’s on the screen, Fred/Fredzilla provides comedy relief as well. This is a great movie for children and adults. Disney manages to once again squeeze adult jokes in a kids movie that makes parents chuckle and kids wonder why. The only downside is the predictable twist at the end. Half of the audience in the screening predicted the outcome before it happened.
Film Vs Comic:
This is drastically difference from the comic book. Some comic characters are not in the film at all. In the comic book, Big Hero 6 was the Japanese government’s answer to The Avengers and they have their own state-sanctioned superhero team. Of course in the comics, all the characters were Japanese, while in the film we have a more multicultural cast of superheroes. In the comics the heroes actually have powers instead of using technology to enhance themselves. Some characters from the X-Men universe (Sunfire was seen in X-Men Days of Future Past, and a version of Silver Samurai was in The Wolverine) and therefore were not able to be in the film due to character rights issues between Marvel and 20th Century Fox. Fredzilla does not have a suit in the comics, but can actually transform into a giant Godzilla-like creature.
Overall, this is a must see in theaters, especially if you have children. Don’t be afraid to go without. Most of the people at the screening were adults who were laughing out loud and enjoying themselves.
Ryan Potter as Hiro Hamada
Scott Adsit as Baymax
Jamie Chung as Go Go Tomago
Damon Wayans, Jr. as Wasabi
Génesis Rodríguez as Honey Lemon
T. J. Miller as Fred / Fredzilla
Daniel Henney as Tadashi Hamada
Maya Rudolph as Aunt Cass
James Cromwell as Professor Robert Callaghan
Alan Tudyk as Alistair Krei
Images courtesy of: Screenrant.com, Comicbook film.com