Tag Archives: Japanese superhero team

Big Hero 6 – A Brother Story

Big Hero 6 is an animated Disney movie that came out in 2014, I believe. Loosely based on Marvel Comics’ Japanese super hero team, Big Hero 6, Disney changed a few things when they made the film. I will not go into those changes, but there are links at the bottom of this post to articles about the comic book Big Hero 6. If you would like to look at those, readers, feel free to do so.

I saw Big Hero 6 earlier this year. For awhile there, I did not think it was worth talking about. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I had thought I would.

Not too long ago, though, I saw the movie again. And again. And again. Maybe it was not that impressive in theaters (for me, at least), but I find now that I really do not mind having it on.

As I was watching it one of these last two or three times, I remembered something a friend mentioned to me. This friend was discussing a movie called Warrior, which I had only seen the end of. My friend mentioned a scene where one of the brothers in the movie hugs his drunk father as he (the father) collapses, overcome with liquor. This friend said, “I don’t know, but I think there aren’t enough brother or father stories out there. You know what I mean? We have lots of movies about mothers and daughters, and sisters, but very few about brothers, and fathers and sons.”

Thinking about what my friend said, I realized the rightness of this statement. I cannot even begin to guess how few films there are about fathers and sons. Sure, stories about one father and one son exist – The Road, Real Steel, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and (to a lesser extent) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull are all evidence of this.

But what about two sons and their father? Or brothers, however many there may be in the family? Those are harder to find. The Sons of Katie Elder is one film; Warrior is certainly another. But there are more movies about sisters, daughters and mothers, a father and a son, than there are about brothers, or sons and father.

Watching Big Hero 6 yet again, it hit me that this film has a fair bit of what my friend was talking about. In the movie, Hiro Hamada has an older brother, Tadashi. Both of them are science whizz kids, though Hiro apparently has the higher IQ. But, instead of using his gift productively, Hiro spends his time betting on and winning robot fights. This is where the film starts out; when Hiro’s latest ‘bot fight lands him in trouble with the owner of the last ‘bot he trashed.

Luckily for him, Tadashi arrives before the ‘bot fighter’s lackeys start throwing punches. Tadashi picks Hiro up on his scooter and asks if he is hurt. When Hiro says no, Tadashi hits him a couple of times to emphasize his point as he shouts, “Then what were you thinking, knucklehead?!”

Tadashi and Hiro both end up in the hoosegow when the police arrive to arrest all the battle ‘bot fighters. Their Aunt Cass picks them up and reprimands them both, apparently unaware that Tadashi’s only crime was trying to keep Hiro out of trouble.

Tadashi finally comes up with a plan to keep Hiro off the streets and get him to use his “big brain” for something more than illegal robot brawls. He takes Hiro to the San Fransokyo institute of Technology, saying he “has to pick something up.”

Hiro is not happy with this; since he sees no point in his going to college (he graduated high school at thirteen and is now fourteen). What is he supposed to do in college, listen to professors tell him stuff he already knows? He derogatorily refers to Tadashi’s school as “the nerd school,” and Tadashi’s work place as a “nerd lab.”

But once Hiro gets a look at the robotics and chemistry projects Tadashi’s friends are working on, he starts thinking better of the school. He is also impressed by Tadashi’s robotics project, an inflatable robotic nurse called Baymax. And, once Hiro meets Tadashi’s mentor, Professor Callaghan, the man who invented Callaghan’s Laws of Robotics, the deal is sealed. Hiro now wants to go to “nerd school.”

Unfortunately, Tadashi dies early on in the film. We do not get to see much more of him, but what we do see is enough. This is a brother movie. Tadashi and Hiro’s interactions are what start off the film and Tadashi’s influence on Hiro – even after his death – is what drives the movie. From beginning to end, Big Hero 6 is inherently the story of the relationship between two brothers who are also the best of friends.

In fact, I am not the only one who noticed this. In a bonus feature on the DVD, the Disney animators who brought Big Hero 6 to life all said that it was the brotherly relationship between Tadashi and Hiro that attracted them to the film. When the head animator asked if any of the other animators present had brothers, a good number of hands went up.

Big Hero 6 is probably not much more than a ripple in Hollywood writers’ circles, sadly. I cannot say whether it is the beginning of a trend or not. It would be very nice if it was.

But all the same, it is a hopeful sign. If Disney can do one movie about brothers, why can they not make another? And then another one? There are many possibilities for brother stories out there. The writers at Disney – and in Hollywood – do not have to look too hard to find them. If the animators for Big Hero 6 were attracted to the story because it reminded them of their brothers, then writers need only look to their own brother relationships for story ideas.

That is my two cents on the subject, anyway.


The Mithril Guardian