If you had told me five years ago a movie called ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ would be one of the top three biggest box office hits for Marvel Studios, I’d laugh right in your face. But then if you followed up by saying that ‘Big Hero 6’ would be an amazing Disney movie, I’d be straight up confused on so many levels. Surely neither of the statements could be true, right? Well, guess what. They are. And since we’ve all talked about Star-Lord and the his gang of “losers” quite a bit already, it’s time to gush about Hiro, Baymax, and the whole San Fransokyo crew.
Big Hero 6’ is the first animated collaboration between Walt Disney Animation Studios and Marvel Comics. Based on an incredibly obscure comic series of the same name, the film follows young rebellious tech prodigy Hiro Hamada as he teams with his closest friends and a huggable healthcare robot named Baymax to take down an evil villain that has utilized Hiro’s greatest invention to carry out a sinister plot.
First of all, this film was a great break from all the fairly depressing and artsy films that I had seen before it at this year’s Philadelphia Film Festival. Sometimes you just need you palate cleansed after seeing multiple movies with surrealist themes and subtitles, so ‘Big Hero 6’ was a very welcome slot in my film festival schedule. Secondly, it didn’t exactly cover anything new. From Disney’s most recent releases alone, we’ve seen stories that explored sibling relationships (‘Frozen’), being outsiders (‘Wreck-It Ralph’), and adventures into unfamiliar yet exciting worlds (‘Tangled’). And it’s hard to look around a movie theater and not see a superhero movie like ‘The Avengers’ or ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ these days. But what sets this latest project apart is simply how excellently it was put together.
When I first stepped into the theater, I wasn’t really expecting an animated superhero movie about dealing with grief. But as it went along, it became abundantly clear that the story contained such a strong message for its younger audience. I don’t want to give away what was causing this emotional rollercoaster, but I will say that the film presented it in a way that it shows kids how to properly deal with this sort of thing and what to do when you feel like doing the opposite. This is certainly a valuable lesson for kids to learn, and even though it’s a topic that Disney has tackled before to varying degrees, they did a particularly good job of doing it here too. I would put it on par with the episode of ‘Sesame Street’ when they had to explain to Big Bird that Mr. Hooper died, which speaks volumes if you’ve seen that landmark episode of television.
But without even going that many levels deep into it, the script was just so fun and funny. Everything was paced so nicely that I don’t think there was a single lull the entire time. And amidst all the great jokes and epic action, each character was clearly defined as their own person. Their own DIVERSE person, I might add. Not only in terms of personalities, but in terms of culture and gender as well. This is a huge stride forward in representing all different types of people in media because each member of the team not only came from a different scientific background, but ethnic background as well. Even the city where they lived managed to combine eastern and western cultures in an incredibly harmonious way without being stereotypical or cheesy. I hope more movies take a cue from Disney and ‘Big Hero 6’ in this department in the future because it’s definitely a great way to go.
And on top of these excellently formed characters, the cast that brought them to life hit a home run as well. While I love the whole cast that included Ryan Potter, T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Genesis Rodriguez, Damon Wayans Jr., Alan Tudyk, and Maya Rudolph, I have to single out one person in particular who stood out just as much as his character. Scott Adsit of ’30 Rock’ fame voices Baymax, but he has always been extremely funny. Now after showing it to a wider audience by playing a robot that doesn’t really have a way of being emotive, he’s reached a whole new level of stardom thanks to this role and it honestly couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy.
Basically, this was the perfect marriage of Marvel and Disney. The House of Mouse delivered yet another film for the whole family to enjoy (and potentially tear up over), while the House of Ideas brought their signature flawed superheroes balanced with the right amount of light and dark. ‘Big Hero 6’ was a charming introduction of the Marvel Universe to the Disney Kingdom and it might land on my best of the year list. Honestly, if anyone complains about this movie, they’re just being nitpicky party poopers because there’s really something for everybody here. I mean, if you don’t fall in love with Baymax after seeing this film, then you clearly woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. But at the end of the day, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Mine just happens to be a resounding “I am satisfied with my care.” Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have to track down a Baymax toy to put under my Christmas tree before they’re all gone.
Oh, and by the way, it is a Marvel movie, so I hope you remembered to stay until after the credits.