As Big Hero 6 opens to big box office around the country, the media debates: is it Big Hero 6 versus Interstellar? Is the real conversation about whether or not Big Hero 6 is as big as Frozen?
Really, neither of those conversations are the most interesting one. But to see why so many parents are psyched about Big Hero 6, you need to understand where the movie comes from.
Although Marvel was purchased by Disney in 2009, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies that have dominated the box office for the past few years (Iron Man, Captain America, Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy) have all been created by Marvel Studios. This makes Big Hero 6 the first Disney movie created from a Marvel property. Although, just like Hans Christian Anderson might be wondering who that red headed mermaid was, not all that much has carried forward from the comic into the film outside of the character names.
The original Big Hero 6 was set in Japan, according to the Verge, and was the story of a team of superheroes who would fight for the Emperor. Hiro, Baymax, and Honey Lemon are all names that film-goers will recognize, though it’s worth noting that the original team also included characters familiar to X-men fans, Silver Samurai and Sunfire. The movie rights to the X-Men are currently owned by Fox, not Marvel Studios, which may be why these other characters did not get any screen time.
Big Hero 6 didn’t do much in 1998, and faded into obscurity; the team was given a refresh in 2008 but still did not get the traction it needed to become a big seller. And yet this was the inspiration for the first really Disney-style superhero movie.
The reviews leading in to opening weekend have consistently ranked Big Hero 6 as a solid B to B+ film; what it does, it does very well, and it doesn’t particularly try to be something it’s not. You have a solid Disney story, lots of humor (with several reviewers noting that the script doesn’t resort to innuendo and gags to make the grown-ups laugh, but instead uses visual gags and actual entertainment), but you also have the gamut of emotions that the greatest of Disney movies like to run the viewer through, which many parents love to use as jumping off points for conversations with their kids.
Nerd culture is big right now, maybe in part because nerds are having kids, and showing those kids how amazing it can be to be a geek in the world. You can absolutely show a kid Iron Man, Avengers, or Captain America, but it’s going to involve a lot of conversation about what’s going on, why the characters are making the choices they are, and what the implications are of what the characters are doing. Those conversations can be great for both parents and kids—but they’re not something every parent wants to sit through every day.
The most beautiful part of Big Hero 6 is that it walks kids through the intricacies of a comic book movie, opening them up to a visually told story that challenges them to think and engage, but in a way that is friendlier to both kids, and their tired parents.
Whether Interstellar or Big Hero 6 come out on top this weekend, it’s clear that Big Hero 6 is a winner, and not just because it was put out by the company that sang Let It Go.