Big Hero 6 (2014) is an animated superhero film from Disney and Marvel, based on the Marvel superhero characters of the same name; the score was composed by Henry Jackman. It takes place in a fictional city called San Fransokyo, a conglomerate of American and Japanese architecture and culture. A prime example of the cultural blend is seen with the Golden Gate bridge, which harbors most of its present day design, with added pagoda tiers at the tops of the towers. The film blends the strengths of both companies: the heartfelt charisma of Disney and the exciting action of Marvel.
One of my biggest takes from the film is how great it is as a role model for kids. The cast is racially diverse (still a novel idea, unfortunately), and it shows kids how focusing on school and science is directly linked to success and badassery. Hiro (Ryan Potter) is a genius high school graduate at the age of 14. His older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) is a university student in an innovative robotics program and finds himself worried about Hiro’s lack of intellectual pursuits. He takes him to his lab and introduces him to his colleagues: Go Go (Jamie Chung) who is designing a electromagnetic bike; Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.) who is working with lasers; Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), a chemistry expert; and Fred (T. J. Miller), who is less scientist and more science enthusiast. Finally, Tadashi shows his brother the project he’s working on, a healthcare personal assistant called Baymax (Scott Adsit), a friendly robot with a huggable nature. After seeing all of these projects, Hiro is immediately enthusiastic about continuing his studies at San Fransokyo’s Institute of Technology — upon seeing that higher education can be seriously cool.
Not only are the students’ projects really cool, but the students themselves are incredibly diverse. Hiro is a biracial leading man, half-Japanese and half-Caucasian. Go Go, an unyielding and independent Asian woman, at one point, shouts for someone to “Woman up”. Wasabi is a caring and goodhearted African-American man who becomes the foundation of the group and the voice for the audience. The eclectic group that comes together gives the myriad of children watching this film to identify with and connect with one or more of the characters in a more meaningful way than the majority of other animated films. Throw in their incredible intelligence and problem solving, and you’ve got a recipe for inspired kids.
While the film is a bit predictable at times, the story has a huge heart that more than makes up for that. Baymax dares anyone not to fall for his charisma. He’s another classic example of a robot who interacts with an emotional human being. Baymax is programmed to care for his patient, Hiro, and goes to great lengths to provide him with the utmost care. The relationship between the two is palpable, as Baymax becomes more and more of an older brother figure for Hiro. He’s always there for him, whether he’s slumming through a phase of low-battery (which remarkably resembles a human’s drunken state) or learning a fist bump to revel in Hiro’s successes (balalala). He becomes such a great counselor for Hiro that we just want to jump through the screen and give him a big, marshmallowy hug.
And who didn’t think of Interstellar when Hiro and Baymax fly through into the portal? That animation was absolutely gorgeous, creating a fantastically thrilling universe with bright colors swirling around together.
Big Hero 6 honestly wasn’t on my radar when it came out. Better late than never! This film is a delightful adventure, working through grief and reimagining family. The film creates great role models for kids and provides plenty of laughs for everyone. San Fransokyo sounds like an incredible city, so please let there be a sequel so we can steal away to that place once again.