When Disney purchased Marvel back in 2009, speculation soon followed regarding which Marvel property would be the first to get the animated treatment. After all, the Mouse House did release Pixar's superhero epic The Incredibles just a few years earlier, and the spectacle of Marvel's vast stable of heroes seemed like a natural fit for the format.
However, despite the inevitability of such a project, some fans were surprised that – of the decades-worth of characters Marvel has created – the studio announced that its first collaboration with Walt Disney Animation Studios would be Big Hero 6, a 3D computer-animated feature based on the Marvel comic about a team of superheroes recruited by the Japanese government. We've already had our first glimpse at the film's visual style, but now we have an even clearer idea of the creative team behind it all.
According to THR, Chris Williams has joined Big Hero 6 as a co-director, alongside existing director Don Hall (Winnie the Pooh). Producer Roy Conli – whose credits include previous Disney releases Tangled, Treasure Planet and The Hunchback of Notre Dame – has also joined the project. Williams, meanwhile, co-directed the studio's Oscar-nominated 2008 hit Bolt.
The fact that Disney is expanding its creative team for Big Hero 6 could be viewed as a sign of trouble behind the scenes. However, it could, in fact, be an indicator of just how serious the studio is taking its first big-screen Marvel production. Big Hero 6 only marks Hall's second directorial effort, and given the film's responsibility in educating the movie-going masses of the property (not to mention the complexity of creating its mythology), it makes sense for Disney to pull in Williams to help ensure that the project stays on course.
In a way, Big Hero 6 will face a similar challenge to another 2014 Marvel release, namely James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy. Both films aim to introduce viewers to entirely new superhero teams – neither of which happens to include anyone from The Avengers – and bring a more obscure, ambitious title to life.
Just as Gunn has proven his skill for quirky storytelling with films like Slither and Super, Williams and Hall have years of experience contributing to Disney animated films dating back to late 1990s hits like Mulan and Tarzan. The two together could prove a winning team and help Big Hero 6 become yet another monster Marvel hit.
Do you think that addition of Williams as co-director is a good sign for Big Hero 6? Are you looking forward to Marvel and Disney's first animated film?