All About Big Hero 6, Disney’s First Marvel Superhero Movie

The first full trailer for Disney’s upcoming superhero movie, Big Hero 6, came out today. If you’re like me, it raised all sorts of questions. Questions like “What is this?” Here’s a rundown of the basics so you can be a Big Hero 6-pert when it comes out in theatres on December 26.

Didn’t Disney already do a superhero movie with The Incredibles?

Yeah, they did, but Big Hero 6 is distinct for a few reasons. It’s not a Pixar production, and it’s the first thing Disney is doing with Marvel characters since it purchased Marvel Entertainment in 2009.

Which Marvel characters? I don’t see Spider-Man or Wolverine.

The title “Big Hero 6” refers to a team of Marvel superheroes who aren’t quite as well known as the X-Men. Unless you’re familiar with the comic book series the movie is based on, you won’t recognise the characters. You won’t see any cameos from the greater Marvel universe, since Disney decided to set the film version in a standalone universe… So don’t hold your breath for an Iron Man appearance.

What’s the comic book series?

The Big Hero 6 team made its debut in 1998, in Sunfire and Big Hero 6 #1. Duncan Roleau and Steven T. Seagle created the characters for their Alpha Flight.

The premise: The Japanese government decides to establish a state-approved roster of superheroes. Aside from sharing the whole “rag tag team of misfits with powers” thing, there’s some explicit crossover with the X-Men universe. Sunfire, a Japanese superhero who briefly joined the X-Men, ends up joining forces with the Big Hero 6 team during the 1998 miniseries. There’s no evidence that Sunfire makes an appearance in the movie, though. Maybe they’re saving him for the inevitable sequel.

Will the movie follow the plot of the books?

No. It’s inspired by the comics, but it’s going to be very different. The movie version of Big Hero 6 has made some major changes to the source material. The setting is shifted from Japan to a fictional hybrid of Tokyo and San Francisco called San Fransokyo, which will have a major effect on the series, since so much relied on Japanese history and culture.

Young protagonist Hiro has a different last name in the movie, and we’ll probably be able to pick apart more major differences after it comes out. His backstory will almost certainly be different, too. In the comic series, Hiro’s mother gets kidnapped by something called the Everwraith, which is a monster with a very dark origin story: It is an astral embodiment of all the people killed during the nuclear bombings in Japan during World War II. My guess is that Disney won’t even go near that backstory.

Will I recognise any of the voice actors?

Former Nickelodeon star Ryan Potter voices Hiro Hamada, the teenage protagonist and robotics expert. You probably don’t know him if you’re over 20 and childless. A potentially more familiar voice: 30 Rock‘s Scott Adsit is Baymax, Hiro’s puffy robot.

A talented cast of rising actors voice the rest of the Big Hero 6 team. Jamie Chung, who plays GoGo Tomago, started out on reality TV and has a recurring role as Mulan on Once Upon A Time.

Damon Wayans Jr., aka the Best Wayans Of All, voices a character named Wasabi, while comedian T.J. Miller plays a character simply called Fred. Génesis Rodríguez plays the kindly Honey Lemon. Maya Rudolph and James Cromwell also have supporting voice rolls.

Here are some images of all the main characters:

Is it a musical, like Frozen?

No, thank you baby Jesus.

Will I like it?

Probably. It looks zippy and clever. Then again, one trailer doesn’t exactly guarantee a winner, so we’ll have to wait and see whether Disney’s 54th animated joint can capitalise on its Marvel buy and follow up its Frozen success.