We all want to be heroes when we grow up. Well, there are those few like myself who would rather be villains, but the majority of people want to have some sort of superpower and do good with it. At one point or another, most of us have had the misfortune of figuring out that we are more likely to die from a radioactive spider bite than to get some arachnid superpowers. So what is the alternative? Make your own powers. Like Disney, Big Hero 6 shows us that you can make use of things you already possess (like Marvel) to create something greater. Or at the very least create something that looks different than what you’ve previously done.
In the technological mecca known as San Fransokyo, an evil presence has emerged with the ability to control microbots and create (and destroy) anything with them. Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) originally invented these microbots, but originally thought they were lost in the fire that claimed the life of his brother and Professor Callaghan (James Cromwell) from the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. Before his brother’s death, he was working on a personal health robot named Baymax (Scott Adsit). Hiro is going to need all the help he can get to fight this mystery enemy and stop his sinister plan, and that includes his Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph). Like any successful superhero team, he needs to assemble a group of people with diverse talents. He finds such a team in his Institute friends: Honey Lemon (Génesis Rodríguez), Go-Go (Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Damon Wayans, Jr.) and Fred (T.J. Miller). Could Alistair Krei (Alan Tudyk), cut-throat entrepreneur, be the masked person planning a hostile take-over of the world, or is it someone we least expect? It’s a kid’s movie, so I’m sure you’ve already figured it out.
This is a Marvel property, but with that being said, Disney’s drastic changes to the source material have basically made Marvel take a step back from the film. This is a pure Disney creation now, and that is where you find the few flaws in this film. The story is your archetypal superhero film full of predictable plot twists and character crises. There is even a cuddly companion with human characteristics who serves as the emotional core of the film. Despite the calculated and formulaic approach, Disney is able to still bring something remarkable to life. The animation is colorful, crisp, and fun, especially in the truly epic action sequences. Aside from the visual quality, there is also the great voice acting that has some voice-over veterans like Maya Rudolph and Alan Tudyk bringing to life entertaining supporting characters.
All of the above is impressive enough, but what truly makes this animated film inspired is the approach. I’m not talking about the story, but the message and attempt behind it. The manga (Japanese style comic book) that Big Hero 6 is based on was originally suppose to take place in the real world (Japan to be more specific), but instead takes place in the fictional San Fransokyo. Sure, Disney may have done that to make it more American with only Japanese accents, but it makes up for that in introducing a plethora of diversity. A fatal flaw in the Marvel/Disney comic book films is their utter lack of diversity, leaving basically every race unrepresented. Big Hero 6 (along with the recent announcement of upcoming Marvel films) show a great step in the right direction.
Racial and ethnic diversity aren’t the only welcome additions, but also the superhero form of a usually under-represented sex: females. Not just females, but intellectual females who aren’t oversexualized. Marvel really only has one female superhero in the Avengers at the moment (Black Widow), and boy is her sex appeal overemphasized. The female empowerment in this film is refreshing, and considering that it is made for a younger, more impressionable audience, it is also a welcome addition. More films, especially children’s films, need to “Woman up!” as GoGo would say. Because of it, Big Hero 6 is able to transcend its small flaws with a great cast, exciting visuals, tender sentimentality, and most of all, with its more socially conscious decision-making and equal representation.
RATING: ★★★★★★★★(8/10 stars)
IN THEATERS NOW