We went to go see Big Hero 6, and it was a lot of fun. They definitely did a good job of making it accessible to children, and entertaining still for adults. We enjoyed it, and you probably will too. It’s a superhero origin movie, like they always seem to do with comic adaptations [links].
Having read the comic series, I was trying to think of how to approach it. The comics exist in the Marvel universe, with references to the Avengers, Reed Richards, and the X-Men. And sure, Disney could have gone with that since they now own Marvel, but they didn’t. Nor did they go with our world. Instead, they created a fictional world, and set the events in San Fransokyo – a mix between San Francisco and Tokyo.
This let them keep the Japanese main characters, and then also work in some diversity as well. It’s interesting, though, with a fictional, fantastical world, that they proceeded to ground all of the characters and their power in science. So that’s what I decided to talk about for this movie, the characters. The changed the setting, and the plot, but the characters survived in a fascinating way. So spoilers and explanation ahead for Big Hero 6 by one of my favorites, Chris Claremont!
So Hiro remains some of the most unchanged. He is the main character in the movie, and is the narrator in the comics. He is a genius. He doesn’t end up with powers, nor combat skill. He has Baymax, the robot he’s built… or not. But I’ll get to Baymax.
In the comics, he goes to great lengths agonizing over his lack of powers, his need to be responsible and help the team. The fact that he’s scared, but overcomes it to help out. The fact that he pretty much constantly wishes Baymax was there to help, to fight, to bodyguard. So Hiro ends up as the human we can relate to… and the super genius we can’t. He’s Tony Stark: we can get him, without feeling like we could be him.
And actually, I think that comparison is made in the comics…
Baymax goes through a much larger transformation in the movie. Because he is no longer made by Hiro, but by Hiro’s brother. In building him, he was going for a medic robot, one that could heal and empathize and help. Hiro, much like in the movie, would be looking to build a fighting robot.
And, when he gets the chance, he upgrades Baymax into a fighting robot, uploading him with Karate even like he’s in the Matrix. However, the circumstances that lead to Baymax being Hiro’s to work on anyway are sad, but make for a good storyline to pursue.
I think this was a pretty good change, and Baymax was great for feels, laughs, and I’m sure made all the kids love him. While also getting to kick some butt. You know, while naming the kick that he used.
Go Go Tomago
One of the two kick-ass girls on the team, Go Go Tomago undergoes some of the least transformation. She’s still gruff and no-nonsense. Still Asian. And still has a serious need for speed.
She no longer has a full power suit like in the comics, which also gave her protection and super strength. But really, she doesn’t need it. They get her moving ridiculously quickly in the film, and it’s fun to watch.
Her catch phrase is new, though. “Woman Up.” Which was more fun when delivered casually like it was just something she said in conversation normally, rather than when she used it in battle.
Of the two girls, Honey Lemon went through much more of a transformation. In the comics, she and Go Go are rivals and best friends: competitive and fairly similar. Not so here. Instead, she is a more shy and kind scientist gal, as opposed to the gruff and confident Go Go.
However, in changing her to a science-based origin, she is if anything even more awesome than in the comics. Because she has a bag of tricks, like Hermione: always pulling out exactly what she needs. In the comic, it’s magic: she just pulls out what she needs, and it vaguely has rules (like a limited number of things can be pulled out and used at once).
In the movie, it’s her chemistry stuff she can pull out, combinations of materials to make ice or sticky stuff or whatever she needs. She has to program in what she needs on the bag, and it mixes and produces it for her. Which is really more awesome than magic, because it means she has to be coming up with the stuff herself!
Yes. His name is Wasabi No-Ginger. In the comic, he was a sushi chef. Yep.
However, I really liked his character, with his Qi throwing blades and his preference for cooking. A fun, if painfully stereotypical character. He also looked way older than the high school student he was apparently supposed to be.
In the movie, he’s undergone quite a change: race, profession, and powers. Instead of a chef, he’s an OCD scientist, working on lasers. So instead of channeling Qi for blades he throws, he channels lasers into Halo-style blades he wields. This leads to him functioning very differently in combat… except it doesn’t. He still blocks most any attack coming at him, and stands there, untouched, asking for more.
You never quite get a full explanation of Fred in the comics. He seems to have the spirit of a dinosaur, or Godzilla, inside him. He lets it out, and unleashes uncanny strength. So he’s the most unassuming with the biggest punch.
In the movie, they turned him into the comic book fan. He keeps harping on the tropes they are moving through, the origin story, the setbacks. It helps that he is crazy rich with an Alfred-esque butler.
And it’s good that there’s some explanation of where some of the money comes from for all of this, because seriously, they build a lot of things.
He gets an actual dinosaur-esque suit, and fights in that and breathes fire. So, pretty different as well – and bothering to suit him up in something like that is almost a painful stretch to match the comics, which I found interesting in its own way!
I thought it was fascinating how, with these six characters, they both hit the drawing board with them, and kept so many elements from the comics. The idea of all of their powers they kept there, even while radically changing them, and grounding them in science. So while other aspects from the comics really just went away, the characters remained a relatively stable connection.
Which is okay. There are some very problematic aspects to the comic, as well as mind control villain which would be much harder to show in a movie and to pull off in a kid-friendly way. Heck, it was hard to do it in an anybody-friendly way… they sure change into some skimpy outfits when mind controlled…
Anyway, I imagine some of you have seen the movie, and perhaps even read this 5-comic run… what do you think? Let me know in the comments below!