When Disney bought Marvel, fans hoped that Pixar would get into the Marvel business. They haven’t yet, but Big Hero 6 fulfills the hope for Marvel fans via Disney Animation. Big Hero 6 is epic, colorful fun for the whole family. The action-packed thrill ride utilizes all the potential for superheroes in animation, but sticks to some of the tried and true formula.
Hiro (Ryan Potter) is a tech genius who graduated high school at 13. He dreams of joining his brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney)’s nerd school with all his inventor friends, so Hiro invents a nanotechnology to impress the school’s principal at a tech fair. Tragedy strikes the tech fair though, Tadashi dies and Hiro’s invention is presumed destroyed. While Hiro mourns, Tadashi’s health care robot Baymax (Scott Adsit) come to life and takes care of him, leading Hiro on an adventure to recover his invention and find the man responsible for his brother’s death.
I skipped a part, didn’t I? When Hiro takes Baymax out, they follow the lone surviving microbot he invented to a masked man who it seems recovered all of the microbots from the explosion. And if the microbots survived the explosion, then that means someone caused the explosion and is responsible for Tadashi dying in it. At least the exposition is adorable as we meet each tech nerd and learn their specialties which will become useful later.
Ultimately, Hiro assembles a team of the nerd school (that’s seriously what they call it in the movie) friends. The story hits all the familiar origin beats: vengeance as a motivator, training, discovering one’s powers, and some stuff at the end you’ll recognize. It will be some kids’ first time ever seeing this though, so it’s nice they got a respectable version of it. Yet Big Hero 6 still manages to do every single thing that every Marvel movie always does. Sorry, spoiler for the Marvel formula.
The twist here is that the super powered character is based on healing, not hurting. Baymax is only programmed to cure illnesses, so is useful insofar as he is productive. Since he’s trying to make Hiro feel better, Baymax is willing to do a few unorthodox things in service of Hiro, but he wasn’t designed to hunt bad guys or defend against terrorists.
Big Hero 6 has a sophisticated understanding of human motivations, what makes heroes and villains a little deeper than just the archetype. It’s also pure and simple enough to reach a broad audience with its positive messages. Baymax of course is the scene stealer. His robotic interpretation of blowing up a fist bump is hilarious.
In success, Big Hero 6 could become a franchise like Darkman or The Fly, in which what I really want to see is the microbots. How can Hiro make this technology work right? I don’t really care what adventure he goes on next. I want to see him perfect the microbots, just like I wanted to see Darkman perfect his fake skin and the Brundles perfect their telepods. Oh well.