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And so, like putting on an old comfortable pair of shoes, I return again to the Disney canon. Good to be back everyone, feels like I never left. Unshaved Mouse doing what he was always meant to do, reviewing Disney movies! Put the Disney dance party album on repeat because the whole gang’s here! Including my collection of traitorous good for nothing maps who betrayed and abandoned me the very second things got rough and have now come crawling back like the worms they are.
And of course, since I’ll be reviewing a Disney movie that means the return of our old pal Walt Disney!
After the marriage of Disney and Marvel, the two companies did what many couples do in this situation; put their children from previous marriages in a room together and try to force them to like each other. In this case, Disney CEO Bob Iger told the Disney animators to look through Marvel’s back catalogue to see if they could find properties that would make good animated movies. Now, people who’ve followed my blog from the beginning know that when Disney adapts other properties, fidelity to the source material is not usually high on their list of priorities. Marvel fans, conversely, have a list of priorities that reads
Marvel fans tend to get a little…um….Rain Man-esque…about movies changing even small details about their favourite characters, and films that don’t respect the source material tend to get eaten alive like a cow being dipped in a vat of piranhas.
So it’s not really surprising that the comic that Don Hall (director of Winnie the Pooh and writer on most of the Lost Era movies) chose the comic Big Hero 6 to adapt instead of a better known property because…well, no one gives a piping hot shit about Big Hero 6 and this way they could mess around with it as much as they needed to. In the comics Big Hero 6 is a Japanese superhero team that operates as a parody of Japanese pop culture tropes. I haven’t read the comic myself but reading up on it raised a few red flags for me, number one being that the mini-series they first appeared in was written by Scott Lobdell, a writer whose work is (if I may be horribly blunt) not my cup of tea.
Secondly…Okay, there are those who would consider this kind of broad cultural parody to be racist in and of itself. I’m not one of them. Irish people come in for a good bit of this kind of thing and I think as a nation our general attitude is…
But…some of the details about this book, like the fact that one of their enemies is the embodiment of all the people who were killed in the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki…
Yeah, I think we can all agree that “loose adaptation” was probably the way to go on this one.
So much for the book. What about the movie? Oh, and while I’m not in the habit of putting up spoiler warnings I’m aware this movie only came out in 2014 so yeah, I will be discussing all major plot points just like I always do. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, get on that. The rest of you? Let’s roll.
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So after a long period of radio silence Disney have finally released the first teaser trailer for the next installment in the canon, Big Hero Six. We’ll take a look at the teaser in a second but first, let’s go over what we know about this one.
What is Big Hero Six?
Big Hero Six is a movie.
See? This is why I come here. Searing insight like that.
Well I aim to please.
What is the movie about, smart guy?
Big Hero Six came about with Disney’s acquisition of Marvel Comics. The Disney animators were told to go through Marvel’s back catalogue to look for concepts that would work as animated features.
So, when presented with the opportunity to play with Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, Daredevil, The Fantastic Four, Nextwave…
They chose Big Hero Six, an obscure team of Japanese superheroes. Correct.
So who are Big Hero Six?
The original team included X-Men characters Sunfire and Silver Samurai, GoGo Tomago who can transform into a ball of energy, Honey Lemon who can pull any object out of her magic purse, boy genius Hiro Takachito and his robot buddy Baymax. They’ve made the odd appearance in other books, and were introduced in Starfire & Big Hero Six #1.
Was it any good?
Wait a minute. You? Unshaved Mouse? Don’t know something about a comic book?
Really, really, really obscure property guys. I’m a nerd, I’m not a “I’ve read Big Hero Six” nerd. However, it was written by Scott Lobdell who wrote this little treasure.
So I’m guessing it’s not the second coming of Watchmen.
So why would Disney choose to adapt a property that was both so obscure and so tainted with Lobdell stink?
Probably precisely because it was so obscure. One thing that holds true with Disney adaptations across the eras is that they tend to be, very, very loose, often deviating wildly from the source material.
If you are a Big Hero Six fan hoping for a faithful adaptation of the comic then this is not the movie you’re looking for. We can go about our business. Move along. If Disney had decided to do, say, an animated Captain America movie, they’d have legions of fanboys breathing down their next over the slightest change to the story. With Big Hero Six, they have more freedom to truly make it their own (and if the movie is a success, you can damn well bet that Marvel will change the in-comic team to more closely resemble the movie). Disney seem to have been attracted to the story by the relationship between Hiro and Baymax and will apparently be focussing on that. Also, Sunfire and Silver Samurai will almost certainly not be appearing in the film as Sunfire is an X-Man and Silver Samurai is a Wolverine villain, the movie rights to which are both owned by Fox.
I want Robert Downey Junior in my lady parts. Since this is a Marvel movie, is there a chance that Iron Man might cameo. Is this connected to the greater Marvel cinematic universe?
Almost certainly no. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say DEFINITELY no. Disney seems to have created an entirely new fictional world for this movie. It takes place in “San Fransokyo”, a mashup of Tokyo and San Francisco. It would be pretty much impossible to reconcile that with the more realistic world depicted in the Avengers whose nations and cities are shown to pretty much line up exactly with our own. The only possible hint of a crossover with other Marvel properties is that Samuel L. Jackson has been cast in an unconfirmed role. Will he appear as Nick Fury? Possibly. But I still wouldn’t hold out much hope of this movie crossing over with the other Marvel movies.
Alright, let’s take a look at the trailer.
Hmmm…I can’t quite put my finger on it but there’s something quite familiar about this.
Okay, not the most original trailer Disney have ever done. So what we have here is a sequence of Hiro putting Baymax together. Rather than showing a sizzle reel of scenes from the movie this feels more like the Olaf/Sven shorts that Disney released before Frozen, more about showing off the characters designs and animation that going into plot. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if none of this actually ends up being in the movie. A big difference is that I absolutely hated the Olaf/Sven shorts which seemed to be aping DreamWorks whereas this feels more Pixar by way of Miyazaki to me.
“Stay Puft Marshmallow Man” Baymax is pretty adorable and the animation is of course excellent. I can’t say I’m now absolutely raring to go and see Big Hero Six but I don’t see anything here that worries me (which makes it a big step up from the Frozen teaser). We’ll see where they go from here.
What do you guys think? Let me know in comments.