Not everyone will realize that Disney’s Big Hero 6 is based on a lesser known Marvel Comics property from 1998. The print edition was originally created by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau, and they crafted a product that does not seem like it’s inspired from anime. The names are familiar, like Gogo to Golgo 13 and Honey Lemon to Cream Lemon. Thankfully there is no relationship to the latter comparison when considering it is an erotic product. If the executives of this company have known, they might not have approved this film’s go-ahead, or the roster of heroes that Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) managed to put together.
When considering that this CGI film premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival on October 23, 2014, there were probably more than a few snickers within the audience.
The story essentially focuses in on Hamada’s relationship with a robot, Baymax (Scott Adsit), that his older brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney), built. But when he dies rescuing the respected professor Robert Callaghan (James Cromwell) during a science fair that Hiro has won for his microbots, the fallout becomes that of grief and learning that no one ever truly dies as long as the heart is in the right place. This narrative is nothing like the treatment Marvel Comics gave, and technically the Disney producers were given free rein to redesign the world from the ground up and make it more accessible for youths. The universe they have created looks like it’s inspired by Blade Runner, but only more colourful. San Fransokyo shows how two cultures have merged.
In what gets designed is a wonderful trip through the city streets from the districts of Shinjuku and Akihabara merged with the hills and valleys of San Francisco. The visuals are striking and to wander around in it in Disney’s Infinity game will no doubt get many instant fans wanting to explore this world.
When Hiro discovers his tiny robots are still operating, he has to learn what being a superhero is all about much like Peter Parker aka Spider-Man. The familiarity to similar products like Iron Giant and How to Train Your Dragon where a boy forges a relationship with an unlikely giant makes this movie an easy watch. The complexity of the narrative is to be commended. Much like last year’s Frozen, the spectacular is in how familial bonds get strengthened through the power of love. The idea is hokey, but this movie is a Disney product after all.
Thankfully, the film does not forget that it is a comic book product, and the villainy one expects is not necessarily restricted to just a few suspicious people. One nemesis looks like he can take on H.P. Lovecraft’s Nyarlathotep because he can shape objects out of microbots with his mind!
In order to deal with the threat, Hiro has to form a superhero group. None of them have the experience of effectively working as a team and they have to quickly learn if this 105 minute film is to run its course. In how the team develops, it does become more reminiscent of what a Marvel Comics product is all about. With Joe Quesada involved as consultant and Man of Action writing this film, this movie will no doubt make its way to Disney XD sometime late next year or early 2016 to keep interest alive.
Another movie is inevitable. The writing is literally painted right on the wall for those who have seen the film, and a manga adaptation is currently available (soon to be translated into English). The question of whether or not the TV version will remain CG is questionable, but if recent episodes of Ultimate Spider-Man turning CG is any indication, this Marvel Animated Universe will soon get larger, and fans of this newest property can thrill to more manga inspired escapades.
4 Stars out of 5