I’m inspired to create a Christmas list this year, because I most definitely want a Baymax. If you don’t know what a Baymax is, go see Disney’s latest feature film Big Hero 6. Immediately.
Big Hero 6, a Marvel Comics property that’s been Disney-fied, is the story of 14 year old ‘bot fighter and boy prodigy Hiro Hamada. Knowing that Hiro is headed toward a teen-hood of genius delinquency in the hyper-urban and progressive landscape of San Fransokyo, his older brother, Tadashi, takes Hiro to his “nerd lab,” a science geek’s ultimate dream on the campus of his college. In the nerd lab, we meet Baymax, a marshmallow of a robotic health care provider that Tadashi has been developing. (And that is when my love story with Baymax began, because he is immediately adorable!)
Hiro geeks out on all the amazing scientific advancements in the lab. He decides to apply to college and put his abilities to good use. However, the night Hiro presents a new invention—microbots, tiny robots controlled by a brain-powered neurotransmitter that can assemble any which way—a fire breaks out and Tadashi is killed in the blaze. (I’m sorry, but that’s a necessary spoiler.)
In the weeks following Tadashi’s death, Hiro is devastated and forfeits his chance at college. Then, one afternoon, Baymax, who has been moved into the bedroom Hiro used to share with Tadashi, is reactivated. The reactivation of Baymax signals the beginning of a friendship between the robot and the boy.
Soon, Hiro begins to suspect that his brother’s death wasn’t an accident and worse yet, someone may have stolen his invention. Someone who wants to use it for evil instead of good. Hiro will need to push his intelligence to the test to learn the truth—and maybe even save the world.
What follows is a beautiful origin story of the Big Hero 6 (Hiro, Baymax, GoGo, Honey Lemon, Wasabi, and Fred) chock-full of ridiculously cool science, lessons in loss and grieving, social commentary on what can happen if technology gets into the wrong hands, and my favorite part, a low-battery (see: drunk) Baymax.
Though it deviates from the origin story seen in Marvel comics, Disney did a nice job balancing old Marvel and new Disney content. And yes, there’s a cameo by Stan Lee!
And I have to say, in an age where we need more and more of the younger generation to go gaga over science, this movie is the perfect advertisement. I wanted to go home and build something. And I don’t do engineering or science or robots.
But make no mistake about it, Big Hero 6 isn’t just for kids (Baymax’s “drunk” scene proves that tenfold—low batteries, mm hmm). This film handles some very adult themes while remaining fun and vibrant for younger viewers, another balancing act Disney seems to have perfected in the last decade or so.
Like most Disney movies (and some comic books, too), succeeding in the face of adversity (ahem, the death of family members) and the healing power of friendship are central to this story, so you leave the theater feeling uplifted and full of hope…And desperately wanting a Baymax for Christmas. There were so many times I wanted to reach out and give that robot a big hug!
Big Hero 6 is one of my favorite movies of the year. And it’s not just the comedic bits of the film or the mind-blowing animation (the flight sequences and travel into another dimension are superb!). There’s a lot we can learn from Big Hero 6—and specifically Baymax, because he holds the story together, he provides a much-needed link for Hiro between the living and the dead, he heals those that may not know they’re hurt, and he makes us feel good—just like he was programmed to do.
Santa, you know what to do.