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Superheroes and robots in Disney/Marvel's animated movie Big Hero 6

Updated on October 30, 2014
Disney's latest animated heroes, Big Hero 6
Disney's latest animated heroes, Big Hero 6

In the beginning there was... a bunch of unknown heroes

When Disney bought Marvel Studios, you knew it was only a matter of time before the studio's would announce the first animated movie based on one of the Marvel heroes. The announcement came almost immediately, but it wasn't exactly one of the heroes Marvel is most known for. No, no Thor, Iron Man, Avengers or any other of Marvel's big guns, instead Disney decided to bring Big Hero 6 to the big screen. Big who? Right, this was the reaction of most people when they heard the announcement. However, as Disney and Marvel have shown with their hugely successful Guardians of the Galaxy movie, you don't need a well known property to be able to make a great movie. As a matter of fact, the people at Disney deliberately decided to pick something obscure, so they could do with it what they wanted. And hey, unknown does not mean unloveable. In fact, the story behind Big Hero Six is a perfect example of an underdog overcomes giant obstacles story that people seem to flock to in theaters.

Watch the trailer for Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6, the comic the new Disney-movie is based on

Big Hero 6, first a relatively obscure Marvel comic, now a big budget Disney movie.
Big Hero 6, first a relatively obscure Marvel comic, now a big budget Disney movie.

Big Hero 6: the comic

The background story of the Big Hero 6 comic is a lot less family friendly than what we are going to see in the movie. The team made their debut in an issue of Alpha Flight, back in 1998. Big Hero 6 was a Japanese, state sanctioned superhero team with heroes brought together to protect Japan. It's a ragtag bunch of heroes, with one member even an inmate who is only freed from prison when she agrees to join the team. Most of the characters from the movie are there, although some of the heroes from the comic are not going to make it to the movie. The rights to these two characters, Sunfire and Silver Samurai, are owned by Fox, who has the rights to all X-Men movies. Then again, it does not really matter, because even though the names of the characters are the same in both comic and movie, most of their identity and backstory has changed dramatically. Almost to the point where you wonder why the people making the animated movie didn't just come up with their own characters altogether.

Big Hero 6: The Movie

Don't be surprised if these characters become as popular as the heroes of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Don't be surprised if these characters become as popular as the heroes of Guardians of the Galaxy.

So, what is Big Hero 6 really about?

Disney has grounded the story behind Big Hero 6, making it smaller and more personal. Gone are the government operatives, this movie is all about a bunch of first time superheroes out to save the world. The main character of the movie is Hiro, who uncovers a criminal plot that threatens to destroy his hometown, the mash-up city of San Fransokyo. Together with his robot Baymax, he rectruits a group of wannabe, first time superheroes and together they set out to save the city.

If you have taken a look at the trailer, you will have seen that the tone of the movie is light and very funny. It's basically Guardians of the Galaxy all over again, this time however set on earth, somwehere in the future, in a huge, colourful city. Simple and plain, it's all out action adventure that people of all ages can relate to. The movie is directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, who have worked on movies like Wreck It Ralph, Frozen and Bolt.

For the movie, the people at Walt Disney Animation decided to not anchor their movie in Marvel history. They just took the characters, and then left the Marvel universe alone. This freed them from any boundaries they would have had imposed on them, since every Marvel character has their own set of rules, do's and dont's. And while the Marvel executives involved with the movie had a little bit of say about what would happen to their characters, they mostly just stayed out of it and let the animators do their magic.

Big Hero 6: who are these heroes?

Obviously, Big Hero 6 features just that, six heroes ready (or at least hoping to be ready), out to save the world from a fate worse than death.

Hiro Himata is a 14 year old boy who is a robotics wizard. He builds robots that win underground robot fights, but his older brother Tadashi (also a dab hand at building an exceptional robot) inspires him to use his talent for something better.

Beymax is the robot that got the most laughs during the trailer. He's a robot, but completely unlike any robot you have seen before. For starters, he's inflatable, and his outer shell isn't made of impenetrable steel like you usually see. On a research trip to a robotics institute, the directors met up with a group of researchers who were working on something called soft robotics. The idea behind this stuck and this way, they could turn Beymax into the most huggable robot you have ever seen. As you can see in the trailer, Beymax, who is really designed to take care of people, gets a few add ons that turn him into a heroic robot anyway, but one that never forgets the softness underneath his new shell.

GoGo Tomago, like the other three heroes that round out the team, are friends of Tadashi at college. She's a real adrenaline junkie who takes to becoming a hero eagerly.

Wasabi is more or less the opposite of GoGo Tomago. He reluctantly agrees to join the team, but througout the movie, he stays the most cautious one.

Honey Lemon is a girl who is more than she seems. A real chemistry wiz who will surprise audiences with her actions.

Fredzilla was used to walking around in costume, as he is the mascotte of San Fransokyo Institute of Technology.

The city of San Fransokyo

For the movie, the animators created a new city named San Fransokyo.
For the movie, the animators created a new city named San Fransokyo.

Creating the city of San Fransokyo for Big Hero 6

The cool thing about making an animated movie is the freedom you have while making your movie. Especially when your movie is set in the future, you have a more or less do whatever you want-card waiting for you. For Big Hero 6, San Francisco and Tokyo were merged, with a retro twist added to the flavor. It adds up to a city that has the hills of San Francisco, as well as the many futuristic skyscrapers of Tokyo. It's a striking image, as you can see in the image above. You can just take the best bits of both cities, exaggerate them a little bit and there you have a new city just waiting to be explored.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, production designer Paul Felix said: "The topography is exaggerated because what we do is caricature, I think the hills are 11/2 times exaggerated. I don’t think you could really walk up them. When you get to the downtown area, that’s when you get the most Tokyo-fied, that pure, layered, dense kind of feeling of the commercial district there. When you get out of there, it becomes more San Francisco with the Japanese aesthetic."

Disney/Marvel poll

So, which Marvel hero would you most like to see make a cameo in Big Hero 6?

See results
Production designs for the main characters of Big Hero 6.
Production designs for the main characters of Big Hero 6.

What's next for Walt Disney animation?

Big Hero 6 is the 54th movie in Disney's line of animated classics that started with Snow White. What does Walt Disney Animation have in store for us the coming years? (This list excludes the movies made by Pixar, Disney's other animation studio)

Zootopia

A movie about a city where animals live, and a fox who lives there and is framed for a crime he didn't commit.

Moana

A movie set 2000 years in the past, about an epic journey, with Polynesian influences. Oh yeah, it's a musical too.

Giants

This movie is loosely based on Jack and the Beanstalk, and that's about all we know about it.

Frozen 2?

Honestly, do you really think this is not going to get made?

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