Thursday, December 4, 2014

Six Big, and Properly Done Heroes

No spoilers today.

I usually don’t bother with direct reviews of Disney animated films.  This is because my genetic disposition to the awesomeness of all things Disney could possibly strain the credibility of anything I had to say.

However, I realize when it comes to adaptations of comic book superhero properties; there are at least a hand full of readers basing their decision of what to see based on  my input.

Pardon me while I bask in the illusion of power.



Big Hero Six marks the first time the acquired Marvel Comics library of characters is used in an official Disney Animated movie.

The team previously appeared in comic book form in two miniseries (1998 and 2009) plus a stray issue of Alpha Flight.

As is disturbingly familiar, almost all elements from the comic books, including the main characters, got tossed in the bin for the film adaptation.

Unlike every other time this has happened, I will not be descending into a giant incomprehensible pile of nerd rage over this fact.

There are several reasons for this:

1)  The comic starred mutants with strong connections to the X-Men line.  Fox still owns those rights, preventing Disney from using the property as is.

2)  The guys running Marvel told the Disney powers that be to use the name but make their own original story out of it. Marvel isn’t even repackaging the old comic appearances to coincide with the film.

3) It was a WONDERFUL fusion of the best parts of Disney and Superheroes!

Also, Fred. 
(Can’t say much more without spoiling, but… Fred.)

To avoid the mutant connections, all super powers were changed to technology based. In the comics,  the team was based in Japan, where the previously established, but not able to be used two main characters were based.  Sunfire and Silver Samurai both were related to Wolverine’s one time, Japanese fiancée. (That is, she was briefly engaged to Wolverine, not she was briefly Japanese. I think I blew the flow there…)
Instead, it is set in the fictional, future, blended city of San Fransokyo.

These changes allowed a diverse cast of likeable, competent, and relatable Engineering School students to be in the foreground.  It’s sorta like Real Genius with super powers. The Big Bang Theory may have put geek culture on the map. However, it still has a heavy focus on making fun of many aspects of nerd behavior. Big Hero Six presents interests in science and technology, and intelligence in general, in a much more positive and desirable light.

The emotional content can lean towards the devastating side at times because not only is this a Disney Cartoon it is also Superhero Origin story.  It goes without saying that the family loss levels are spectacularly high.  These cryworthy points serve to illustrate the common theme of quality Batman stories, “It isn’t tragedy that defines us, but how we respond to it.”
(Or maybe that was Rocky Balboa.)
However, as per usual for Disney, the positive emotional scenes, and the hysterically funny parts, counterbalance the tears nicely.

While it is based on a Marvel Comic, and does contain the same levels of action and fun as those films, it definitely does not live in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

(Although it does have what may be the most awesome post credits scene in all of Heroic Filmdom.)

Big Hero Six does something that most Superhero films either ignore (leading to more ranty posts on my part) or in the case of the Avengers franchise, specifically design out of their universe.

Even Disney’s previous superhero cartoon (Pixar’s The Incredibles ) dodged this issue by being more of a James Bond film with powers than a true Superhero tale.

As one of the main themes of this origin tale, Big Hero Six went out of its way to point out that Superheroes don’t kill, why they don’t kill, how crossing that line is what separates them from the villains, and the terrifying consequences if that line is crossed.

What began as a Marvel Comics property does not resemble the world that their live action versions of the comics have projected on screen.

It does not match Disney/Pixar’s previous CGI superhero world either.

The world it most resembles is that of Meet the Robinsons:
A positive outlook on the future, where intelligence and scientific advancement are viewed as beneficial goals to be aspired to… and the only limitation is the infinite imagination of a child.

And that is EXACTLY where the superhero world belongs.

No comments: