Since Marvel Entertainment merged with Disney back in 2009, the production of films based on Marvel characters has shifted into overdrive. Given Disney’s history, it was only a matter of time before an animated one came out, but the first one to make the big screen doesn’t deal with Iron Man, Captain America or other now-familiar characters.
Instead, the comic getting the animated treatment is the relatively obscure Big Hero 6.
In truth, the film adaptation of Big Hero 6 has very little in common with its comic origins, which is probably for the best. In this version, Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) is a 13-year-old genius who knows a thing or two about making robots.
One of the biggest reasons Big Hero 6 works is that, while its main characters are certifiably brilliant, there’s nothing innately heroic about them.
After a personal tragedy, Hiro inadvertently teams up with Baymax (Scott Adsit), a puffy white robot designed to diagnose health problems. When he finds out the tragedy may have actually been a crime, Hiro, along with a group of similar-minded students from the local university, tries to get to the bottom of things using both his sense of invention and adventure.
One of the biggest reasons Big Hero 6 works is that, while its main characters are certifiably brilliant, there’s nothing innately heroic about them. Instead, they use their intelligence to create things no one else can, which in turn gives them the ability to be heroes. It’s a familiar superhero theme, but also one that doesn’t get used often enough.
The other big selling point of the film is the character of Baymax. While he (it?) definitely fulfills of the role of the requisite cute sidekick, what with his roly-poly physique and innocent demeanor, he brings more to the table than that. He’s the comic relief, yes, but he also kicks plenty of butt and is the true heart and soul of the movie.
The film is set in the fictional San Fransokyo, a blending of San Francisco and Tokyo that proves to be a constant visual delight as the group zooms throughout the city. Like many of the best animated films, Big Hero 6 has no limits thanks to directors Don Hall and Chris Williams (Bolt) and their team of animators. It is truly a thrill to watch the action unfold as seemingly impossible ideas come to life before your eyes.
While the PG-rated film has its share of intense and scary moments, it blends in the more kid-friendly segments seamlessly, making it one that can be enjoyed by most viewers. Some purists may decry the “kid-ification” of the more mature comic, but the film really does deliver the best of both worlds.
Big Hero 6, which beat Interstellar to become the top-grossing movie in the nation over the weekend, will no doubt spawn sequels that will focus more on the heroic adventures of the team, but they’ll have to do well to beat this origin story, which combines sweetness and strength to make for a powerful debut.