When most people think of Disney movies they often think of kid friendly fairy tale adaptations with a princess involved coupled with memorable musical numbers. So when Disney decided to instead adapt a relatively obscure Marvel comic series as their next big entry it was certainly a shock to the system, especially since the House of Mouse's last attempts at unorthodox adventure stories weren't all that popular (i.e. Black Cauldron, Atlantis, Treasure Planet). However, given that Disney has been on a roll with new modern classics like Tangled, Wreck-it-Ralph, and Frozen, there was a sense that this time they'd be able to do it right. And as far as I'm concerned, they definitely brought in a solid entry not only in their Disney canon, but to the new popularity of superheroes as a whole.
Hardcore comic fans will recognize Big Hero 6 as the name of a Tokyo-based Marvel team that debut in the 1998 but weren't fully fleshed out until a short run in 2008 solidified the team into the incarnations based on the big screen. Not that it would matter anyways, since the Disney version is deliberately a stand alone team that has nothing to do with the comics aside from their names. While there are the comic fans that decry the idea of a complete revamp that ditches the source material, I believe this is a case where the movie is better for it.
The story takes place in San Fransokyo, a amalgam of San Francisco and Tokyo, where new age technology is commonplace and where our genius hero, Hiro Hamada resides with his older brother Tadashi and his aunt Cass. Initially using his genius to win bot-fights, Hiro is inspired by Tadashi to apply for the city's top school in robotics. When tragedy occurs and Hiro finds a mysterious masked man behind the scenes, he must gather his friends to put a stop to this new villain's ramage across the city. At the surface it's a standard team origin story and you get to see Hiro's friends use their tech for cool, combat applications, but what really makes this film stand out is the emotional core that glues the team together and their motivation in defeating the movie's major villain. The symbol for this emotional core that holds the movie together? Baymax.
Originally designed as a huggable, non threatening robot nurse, Baymax is the heart of the team even when he's armored up and ready to fight. A lot of the humor comes from his awkward adaptation to human contact and his tubby build getting in the way of high-flying action. But given his role as a surrogate brother to Hiro, he also represents Tadashi's desire to help everyone around him, which in turn guides Hiro to become the de-facto leader of San Fransokyo's resident superhero team. The other team members, as underdeveloped as they could have been, all have their own chances to shine and firmly establish themselves as a likable cast that are much more than their super suits.
Disney is really trying to push their comfort zone with this film, and it shows. Not only does it dive into relatively mature topics of personal loss, but the action sequences involving our team and the overall frightening design of the main villain shows that Disney can create content that can satisfy more than just young children. In a way, this is a film that's willing to go beyond just a standard kids' movie and openly entertain a family as a whole.
If there's one big critique I have, it's the fact that we didn't get to learn more about the team aside from Hiro and Baymax. It's clear from the get-go that the central story would be Hiro and Baymax's bonding, but the others are likable enough to warrant a little more exposition than what we got. By comparison, Guardians of the Galaxy did a much better job establishing their team and balancing enough so that we got to know each individual member on their own terms. However I'm willing to wager that Disney has bigger plans for Big Hero 6, so odds are we'll probably see more of them in anything ranging from a sequel to a tv show or even the manga adaptation that Yen Press is going to be publishing in the near future. From a Marvel comic to a Disney movie to a manga: not bad for a relatively obscure Marvel team of anime-style heroes.
Overall I highly recommend that you see Big Hero 6, no matter if you love superheroes or if you want to bring the family for a great film. I'm hoping that Disney continues on with this series, as it's got massive potential to influence a whole new generation. If a girl walks out of this movie wishing to be a superhero, then you know you've got something special.