Disney and Marvel threw everyone a curveball, when the studios announced that their first 3D animated project is an adaptation of the Big Hero 6 comic book series. The property was created by Duncan Rouleau and Steven T. Seagle, back in 1998, and it revolves around a team of superheroes/superhuman operatives that is assembled (and sanctioned) by the Japanese government; it’s now slated to hit the big screen in November of 2014.

Previous members of the Big Hero 6 organization, in comic book form that is, have included the (ex-)bodyguard to X-Men/Avengers foe Madame Hydra/Viper, the Silver Samurai (both of those characters will appear in The Wolverine), former X-Men team member Sunfire, and the nano-tech inventor Honey Lemon. No surprise, though, the movie version will be told from the perspective of the team’s youngest member, the 13-year old Hiro, and his robotic creation, Baymax.

Have a look at the official synopsis for Disney/Marvel’s Big Hero 6 movie:

From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Big Hero 6,” an action comedy adventure about brilliant robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada, who finds himself in the grips of a criminal plot that threatens to destroy the fast-paced, high-tech city of San Fransokyo. With the help of his closest companion—a robot named Baymax—Hiro joins forces with a reluctant team of first-time crime fighters on a mission to save their city.

In addition to the video above, we have concept art that depicts San Fransokyo:


The San Fransokyo setting was created specifically for the film (the comic book primarily takes place in Tokyo), and it blends together the elements of Tokyo and San Francisco. Rouleau and Seagle’s original comics were meant to be an homage to Japanese culture and manga tradition, so the intent with the movie adaptation – according to director Don Hall (who co-directed the theatrically-released Winnie the Pooh feature in 2011) – is to honor the comic’s original spirit, but also bring something new and innovative to the 3D animation interpretation.

Hall pitched the Big Hero 6 animated feature to Disney Animation’s chief creative officer John Lasseter – who is an outspoken fan of Japanese animation, especially the work of filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) – and explained why he was even interested in the relatively unknown comic book to begin with, in an interview with Hero Complex:

“I was looking for something on the obscure side, something that would mesh well with what we do. The idea of a kid and a robot story with a strong brother element, it’s very Disney. [On the San Fransokyo setting:] Marvel properties take place in the real world. We were looking for something to do where we could make our own world — bring in the Japanese influences, have recognizable landmarks mashed up with a Japanese aesthetic.”

Big Hero 6 will be one of the rare occasions where Disney animators venture into full-blown science-fiction genre territory on a 3D movie (outside of Meet the Robinsons which, appropriately, Hall co-wrote). The kid and robot plot elements are familiar, but the world design and overall intriguing aesthetic is unusual for Western animated fare. Likewise, Hall’s past work suggests this could make for a special (and quite memorable) addition to the Disney animation pantheon.

Of course, once Big Hero 6 releases in Fall 2014 – after Guardians of the Galaxy opens in theaters next summer – we’ll know for certain whether or not these niche, sci-fi comic book properties are something that mainstream audiences are willing to go for (or if they’re too far out there, which prevents them from bringing in Iron Man, Captain America and Thor-sized box office returns).

Similarly, the financial success – or lack thereof – on both of these films could have an impact, where it concerns progress on potential Marvel Phase 3 releases – such as the Doctor Strange live-action movie that Marvel President Kevin Feige keeps mentioning – so that’s another reason to keep an eye out and see what the final result is with the animated Big Hero 6 adaptation.


Big Hero 6 opens in 2D/3D (U.S.) theaters on November 7th, 2014.

Source: LA Times