Ellen Lewis

Big Hero 6 could be Disney’s most impactful movie yet

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Disney’s annual let’s-give-you-somewhere-to-take-nieces-and-nephews-over-Thanksgiving-weekend animated feature Big Hero 6 comes out this weekend. This is the first 100% Disney-helmed adaptation of a Marvel property after it was bought out in late 2009.

The story revolves around 14-year-old genius Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), a robotics expert who is more interested in making a quick buck in underground robot fighting than living up to his potential, until his older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) introduces him to Baymax, a minimalist Stay Puft Marshmallow-esque personal healthcare companion built by Tadashi himself, getting Hiro excited about inventing and learning once again. However, after one of Hiro’s inventions is ripped off and used under treacherous circumstances, it’s up to Hiro and Baymax to team up with speed demon GoGo Tomago (Jamie Chung), master chemist Honey Lemon (Génesis Rodríguez), neurotic laser expert Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.), and genre-savvy slacker dude Fred (T.J. Miller) to create super hero personas based on their areas of strength and save the citizens of San Fransokyo.

I really enjoyed the family and friend relationship dynamics throughout the movie and how the characters were written. I especially liked how the writers characterized Hiro, deciding to humanize him and remind us that he’s still just a 14-year-old boy trying to figure things out instead of making him a bland fact-spitting poindexter like most kid geniuses we see in popular culture. Hiro looks up to his brother and cares about his friends. When things don’t go his way he can get temperamental and obsessive, or just shut himself down to the outside world completely. Early on in the movie, Hiro experiences a serious loss, and his period of grieving is sure to strike a cord with anyone who has been in the same place that Hiro has.

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Aside from the wonderful character development throughout, the movie is just a ton of fun. The animation is colorful and eye-catching, and the humor is fantastic throughout. At some points during the movie I think I was laughing harder than some of the kids around me. Baymax (voiced by Scott Adsit) definitely stole every scene he was featured in, because apparently John Lasseter has a knack for producing movies that make us get really weirdly emotionally attached to cute robots. Top that off with a ton of cool Marvel-worthy action sequences and you have a crowd-pleaser that will keep both old and young entertained or some other cliche “somehow I feel the need to clarify that adults can enjoy animated things besides what airs on Adult Swim” buzz phrase.

However, what gets me really excited about Big Hero 6 is the amazing amount of cultural representation in the movie. As previously mentioned, almost every major character in this movie is an incredibly talented scientist, each using different scientific mediums to create something that will make the world a better place to live. Out of the five humans of the titular Big Hero 6, four of them are POC (Hiro is Japanese, GoGo is Korean, Honey is Hispanic, and Wasabi is black), and there are two women on the team. Gogo and Honey are both shown to be valuable members of the group who can invent and fight with the best of them. Not only is this a big deal for a mainstream Hollywood release, especially for a company whose last non-white protagonist spent 80% of her movie as a frog, but representation truly matters to audiences worldwide. In real life, pretty much anyone who isn’t a white male struggles breaking out into the scientific field, often being told from a very young age that they just can’t be good at or enjoy stem fields like math and science because of who they are and how they look.

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*Spice Girls voice* GIRL POWER

Big Hero 6 is definitely here to change that. Hiro and his friends create some truly awe-inspiring inventions. This movie is going to blow children’s minds and get them thinking about all that they can create and what they can do to change the world. And when other kids taunt them and say things like “You can’t be a scientist! You’re a girl!” they’ll know that they’re lying, because look at GoGo Tomago and Honey Lemon! I’ve heard countless stories of archeologists who were raised on the Indiana Jones films and astronomers who are life-long sci-fi geeks. How do we not know that a future Nobel prize winner isn’t going to be the kid in the light-up Sketcher sneakers a few seats down from you? And if the the movie gets as big as Frozen, Disney’s last major animated project, just think of how many young kids’ lives this movie is going to impact.

Not only is Big Hero 6 the most fun you’ll probably have a the theatre right now, but it has the possibility to change children’s lives. We don’t get movies like that very often. Please, please, please take the kids to go see Big Hero 6.

PS As this is a Disney/Marvel collaboration, don’t leave before the end credits!

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