Box Office Democracy: “Big Hero 6”
I never dreamed that when Disney bought Marvel it would lead to something as precious as Big Hero 6. Disney took a nothing Marvel property, one I had never heard of despite reading comic books voraciously for the first 28 years of my life, and turned it in to something quite fantastic. Big Hero 6 is a great movie and is a great example of something Disney can do for Marvel that isn’t just moving all of the Spider-Man cartoons over to Disney Channel.
The plots in Disney animated films tend to be a bit thin and while I mean that as no insult Big Hero 6 is no exception. There’s a precocious kid and a tragic incident. There’s a crew of friends that must rally around the grieving kid and help him get revenge/closure. There’s a secret to be revealed that will surprise a child but no one who’s ever watched a real mystery anymore but why am I still talking about all of this nonsense when I haven’t mentioned Baymax even once yet?
Baymax is the best thing about this movie and it’s not even close. He has a perfect look, one that I understand they went and studied actual cutting edge robots to get a handle on the design, it conveys this perfect non-threatening nature and it’s so fun to watch Hiro try and turn him in to a weapon. Baymax also has this wonderful interface of being a helpful medical droid who just wants Hiro to get past his emotional turmoil and while the classic robot-doesn’t-understand-human-ways bit isn’t breaking any new ground having a comedy pro like Scott Adsit to do the material brings it to life in such a fun new way. Baymax could be a huge character for Disney providing they give him the proper spot. I’d be anxious to see him in new original shorts, or in a sequel to this, anything really. I’ve heard there was resistance from Marvel Comics about all the changes made to their characters for this film but they would be powerfully stupid not to embrace this film. The worst thing that happens is they lose out on a character with a magic purse and I can’t imagine that ever didn’t feel like the worst idea.
Every time a top animation house puts out a computer animated movie I walk out thinking “Wow, that’s about as good as these will ever look, huh?” and I’m always wrong by the time the next one comes out but this is an exceptionally pretty movie and I can’t imagine them looking much better than this. The environment work going on in this movie is exceptional and there’s a scene where Hiro and Baymax fly through San Fransokyo that ends with a sunset so stunning I forgot I was looking at an animated film. I forgot I was looking at an animated film even though there was a fluffy robot on screen. They also did a commendable job making me believe San Fransokyo was a plausible place for people to be living in. Maybe it’s just my love of cyberpunk conditioning me to believe that all cities will eventually combine but it looked passably like both San Francisco and Tokyo and I appreciated that it didn’t look super racist. This is not to say that no one can or should find it super racist I was just too tired to Google that this morning.
The problem with Disney movies is they eventually don’t stand by themselves but fade in to the immortality of their canon. No matter how much I enjoyed Big Hero 6 I could still be looking back in 10 years and thinking “yeah, but it was no Wreck-It Ralph and might never think about it again. While I hope that doesn’t happen it’s impossible to know now. There are some nagging negatives, both the plot and the supporting cast feels like it came out of a mid-tier Saturday morning cartoon, but it’s a movie with a great heart and a fantastic character and I sincerely hope it endures forever.