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Marvel and Disney Go Big with Big Hero 6

If you haven’t seen it yet, Disney and Marvel just released the first trailer to this winter’s upcoming Big Hero 6.

I first was introduced to Big Hero 6 while interviewing artist David Nakayama in July 2008 at San Diego Comic Con. I had asked Nakayama what he was working on for his next project, and he told me about the Big Hero 6 mini-series he was working on for Marvel in a story written by one of his all-time heroes, Chris Claremont. Set in Japan featuring a group of Japanese superheroes, Nakayama provided details about how they really wanted to emphasize a lot of Japanese style into the art of the five-issue mini-series. I was excited to hear about Big Hero 6, and picked up issue #1 a few months later when it was released.

The Big Hero 6 mini-series took place in a Japan that decided to not protect itself with nuclear weapons because of its historical experience with the events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Instead, Japan put together a secret group of superheroes, known as Big Hero 6, to be homeland security. Former members of Big Hero 6, Sunfire and Silver Samuari, are gone so the start of this mini-series begins with a teenager named Hiro Takachiho as the leader. Hiro has created a beefy robot protector Baymax who has the ability to change forms. Rounding out the team: Honey Lemon, a young woman who has the ability to pull out magical items from her purse that provide superpowers; Go Go Tamago, a hot-headed young woman who can turn herself into a ball of engery; Wasabi No Ginger, a trained sushi chef/swordsman/martial artist that can generate energy throwing knives from his hands; and Fred, a young man who can turn himself into a giant lizard-like creature.

Fast-forward to May 2013 when Disney Animation released a surprise teaser trailer for Big Hero 6 featuring the setting of San Fransokyo, a combination of San Francisco and Tokyo. Up to that point, the project had been kept under wraps. What little we heard about Big Hero 6 since then has been limited to scant information released at D23 and rumors.

The main characters from the 2008 mini-series will be included in the film. Hiro will have his last name changed from Takachiho to Hamada. The team characters will be in the same college together. The film’s style is supposed to keep to a primarily Japanese style and setting but with some Western world intermixed to make up the world of San Fransokyo.

The storyline will revolve around Hiro, who is a 14-year old genius going to college with his older brother Tadashi. Hiro loves building fighting robots and could care less about anything or anybody else. Tadashi tries to mentor Hiro and put him on a path to be more caring and considerate to others but then Tadashi meets with an unfortunate fate and is killed. Hiro converts Baymax from a soft-and-squishy healthcare robot into an armored fighting machine to avenge his brothers death. Hiro forms the team named Big Hero 6 to try to find his brother’s killer while establishing an unexpected relationship and bond with Baymax.

The villain, Yokai, is a mysterious character who wears a mask to hide his true identity. Yokai recruits other criminals to steal parts throughout San Fransokyo so that he can build an inter-dimensional travel machine. Some of those parts include robots that Hiro has built called “swarm bots.” Hiro needs to become a team player with all of the members of Big Hero 6 stop Yokai’s plans.

The casting of the voice actors has been under wraps but with the release of the full first trailer, we get our first listen to some of the character voices. Cast as voice actors are Jamie Chung as Go Go Tamago and T.J. Miller as Fred as well as Maya Rudolph in an unnamed role. Other voices rumored to have been cast include Freddie Highmore, Samuel L. Jackson, and Josh Hutcherson.
[Ed. Note (7.14.14): Disney/Marvel just revealed the official voice cast for the movie!]

For Disney, this film breaks some new ground as it is the first computer animated film from Disney Animation Studios for a Marvel property, but even more noteworthy is that Hiro Hamada could be the first central character of Asian descent for a computer animated film for Disney. Yes, Pixar — which is owned by Disney — had Russell, but he was more of a sidekick to Carl Fredricksen in the film Up.

Secondly, Big Hero 6 is going to draw heavily from its Japanese influences and style keeping with many of the Japanese-based world features and characters. There are apparently going to be some changes to some characters ethnicities, for instance, Wasabi No Ginger is going to be an African American character now, but I think those changes have been made to make the team a little more diverse given the setting in San Fransokyo.

I am excited about the first full trailer for Big Hero 6 — now available exclusively at Yahoo Movies — giving us the first glimpse of what we can expect from the film. While certainly not following in the Big Hero 6 universe as established in the 2008 mini-series, I can understand the changes made for the film, and I appreciate Disney keeping to the Japanese theme. Until the full trailer is available on YouTube, here is the teaser to the trailer to keep you tide over.

Big Hero 6 is slated for US release on November 7, 2014. It will be the first Disney Animation Studios/Marvel project released since the Disney purchase of Marvel in 2009.

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8 thoughts on “Marvel and Disney Go Big with Big Hero 6

  1. FYI, the Big Hero 6 universe was established in the original 1998 mini-series “Sunfire & Big Hero 6.” I’d seriously recommend tracking that one down. It’s tons better than the 2008 series.

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