Big Hero 6 is an incredibly impressive film from Disney. It’s a film that, I’d argue, tells a better superhero story than The Incredibles, with a very interestingly beautiful world, with gorgeous animation and interesting characters.
The film follows Hiro Hamada, a young genius prodigy, who is steered into the path of dedicating his scientific talents to the betterment of mankind right before his brother is killed in a tragic explosion at the college that Hiro has just presented his new invention at, for a science fair project. The invention – a bunch of mentally controlled swarm robots that can form various structural shapes – is lost in the explosion as well.
As Hiro attempts to cope with the death of his brother, he is helped by his brother’s own research project – Baymax – a nursing and medical assistant robot. When Hiro discovers that the explosion may not have been an accident after all – and the person responsible has stolen Hiro’s invention – Hiro, along with Baymax and four of Hiro’s brother’s friends set out to stop the person responsible, becoming superheroes in the process.
What makes this film work better than The Incredibles for me, is that The Incredibles was a film about people who were born with powers (or obtained them through accident – we get none of the heroes origin stories) – and coming to the decision that they can’t not help people with those abilities, combined with a family dramedy.
On the other hand, Big Hero 6 is a film about coming to terms with grief and loss, combined with a superhero story where the heroes are effectively all just ordinary people, whose abilities come their wit, cleverness, and literal inventiveness, manifested through the STEM fields. It’s a film about a person becoming a hero as a way to come to terms with grief, and in the process coming to terms with what being a hero means on one side of things. On the other hand, it’s a film based around the concept you don’t have to be born with great gifts to do great things – if you utilize your own talents – you can accomplish something, no matter what you talents are.
It helps that it’s a film that, well, promotes STEM fields and scientific rigor fairly well, and has a diverse cast in a STEM field – which is a big deal considering the under-representation of African Americans and women in STEM.
Additionally, this is a film that is beautifully animated with tremendous attention to detail. The world of San Fransokyo is a world that feels like a living and breathing place, which stylistically melds San Francisco and Tokyo very well. The designs of the costumes are also very well done, with a whole bunch of little stylistic touches that give the film that little (fist) bump (ba-la-la-la-la). There’s stuff like the battle damage and cuts on Hiro’s outfit in the last scene, the texture on the inside of the glove of Baymax’s rocket fist, and so on. It’s a film that looks wonderful and tells a wonderful story, making it an excellent addition to the Disney canon.