Big Hero 6 was a super obscure 90’s Marvel comic featuring Japanese characters (including Silver Samurai) that ultimately only lasted a few issues. With Marvel under the Disney umbrella, the team at Disney Animation Studios have revived the team and re-imagined them as a group of scientific wiz kids who must use their inventiveness to save the city from a dangerous threat.
The story focuses around Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), a brilliant young robotics expert who is convinced to follow his brother Tadashi’s example and enroll in the technology department of San Fransokyo University but tragedy strikes and Tadashi (Daniel Henney) is killed in an explosion. Hiro soon learns the explosion may not have been an accident and recruits Tamada’s friends and Tamada’s robot creation, Baymax (Scott Adsit) to find the person responsible (and why he’s stolen Hiro’s microbot design). If the movie has one weakness, it’s that it doesn’t really do much new or original with the typical superhero origin story. The same beats you get from movies like the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man or X-Men: First Class are present in Big Hero 6, with the one notable twist being who the villain ultimately turns out to be.
Outside the plot structure, everything else is top tier Disney. The characters are all incredibly fun to be around and the relationship between Hiro and Baymax is especially hilarious and touching. Baymax, as expected, absolutely steals the show with his simultaneous warm but logical expressions (“Things can often be confusing for a young man blossoming into adulthood”) and he reminded me a lot of how Data on Star Trek TNG was always slightly confused by human expressions and emotions. His awkward way of moving also never stops being hilarious. Hiro is a fine protagonist and it’s great that he and the rest of the team are all scientists first, superheroes second. It’s like a team of young Tony Starks and they all have unique abilities that are fun to watch, like Go-Go Tomogo (Jamie Chung) and her mag lev system or Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) and her purse that can combine chemicals into various pods that creates ice, smoke, bounce pads, etc. There’s also Fred (TJ Miller), who isn’t quite the genius the others are but makes up for it with his knowledge of comic books and giant monsters. The one thing I would have liked to see more of is the team complimenting each other, Avengers style, but they all kind of get separated into their own areas, which kind of makes sense based on the nature of the villain, but I would have liked to have seen a little more teaming up. Ultimately, the fights scenes feel like they are secondary to the team developing their powers (which gets a montage bizarrely set to Fall Out Boy of all bands) and Hiro and Baymax becoming friends. The setting is also incredibly vibrant with the most iconic things about Tokyo and San Fransisco smashed together in incredibly creative ways and there are tons of Easter eggs for anime and Marvel fans (be sure to stay for the credits for a special cameo) and it’s very reminiscent of Wreck It Ralph’s world and will probably reward pausing and rewinding on Blu Ray.
Although it probably won’t become the juggernaut that Frozen was, Big Hero 6 is another fantastic entry in Disney Animation’s new Renaissance era with something for pretty much everyone. If you are a connoisseur of comic book movies, the plot beats will probably feel a little familiar but the characters and world are so unique and fun that it doesn’t really become an issue. Definitely book a ticket to San Fransokyo as soon as possible.