Did you know 6 corporations control 90% of the media in America?
In 1983, there were 50. Now, they’ve been “consolidated,” i.e., bigger companies keep buying and growing into the dystopian cyberpunk future which is already here.
Disney is one of those six. They own ABC, ESPN, Pixar, Miramax, and, on December 31, 2009, the Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion.
The main way this changed American media was the shaping of the thunderously lucrative “Marvel Cinematic Universe,” or the Mega Franchise of Marvel Superhero Movies. And “Big Hero 6” is probably the most creative use of Disney’s ownership of Everything Marvel.
“Big Hero 6” was originally a 90’s comic series failure. I’m a huge comic book nerd and even I hadn’t heard of it before—essentially the artistic dregs of the Marvel’s comic history. But since Disney just owns basically all creative properties ever now, it provides an opportunity to deconstruct and reinvent.
And the movie is just fun. And not “fun” in an “action-movie-turn-off-your-brain-and-enjoy-yourself” kind of way. It’s bright and creative and colorful and even dotted with some powerful emotional moments.
Immediately the most striking part of the movie is the setting itself: the city in which the action is set is “San Fransokyo,” a sort of alternate reality mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo. Everything from the Golden Gate Bridge being composed of pagodas to clearly San Francisco streets being lined with kanji signs and blooming cherry blossoms, the sense of place is a huge delight.
Largely, the story takes a lot of cues from a classical “boy and his dog” set-up. Immediate easy comparisons can be made with “Terminator 2”, i.e., The Last Good Movie James Cameron Ever Made.
Hero protagonist Hiro Hamada is a 14-year-old robotics genius who befriends Baymax, a big, puffy, deadpan, inflatable healthcare robot. His robot friend is just good, happy fun. He is an excellent clown, providing nigh constant comic relief with impeccable comic timing, and even when he becomes totally badass and battle-ready, he is still remarkably hilarious.
Hiro eventually makes friends with other young students—approximately six in total– all passionate about robotics and science.
Mostly, the writing is exceptional—not just “for a kid’s movie”, but across all cinema. Dialogue is sharp and amusing, and even sometimes poignant and deep. Lines and themes are seeded early and referenced in subtle ways with different emotional contexts. It is just plain clever.
“Big Hero 6” is easily my favorite film I’ve seen since “Snowpiercer.”
It is not perfect, however. Without delving too dangerously into spoiler territory, the development of the villain plot and backstory is sloppy at best. Considered how clean and intelligent most of the film’s other central themes are, it’s wholly disappointing and a bit shocking the ball was dropped so hard on a few of the most important questions to be answered.
Additionally, the six big heroes are remarkably progressive in regards to gender and race, such as the high representation of Asians and with only one white hero who is not even the standard alpha male (he’s more a goofy stoner who gets a dinosaur suit that breaths fire). Still, one of the women still gets to be far too standardly “girly”, with her super abilities involving throwing pink balls that literally come out of a purse.
They almost got it right.
Still, my complaints are overall quite minor. I was riveted and involved and laughed honestly many times. And even if Disney itself is a member of the “Big Conglomerate 6”, they are still apparently capable of making something creative and new.
Stay cynical, my friends.