Three Reasons Why ‘Big Hero 6’ Is The Most Important Disney Film Of The Past Decade
Disney and Marvel have finally hit it out of the park.
Big Hero 6 was one of the most anticipated movies of 2014 for a lot of reasons. It’s the first bonafide collaboration between Disney and Marvel since The Mighty Mouse bought the comic book giant in 2009. Based on a little known graphic novel series, the film cost a whopping $200 million to make – potentially more. It stars Baymax, the most adorable character from the animation house since that kid from Up. And it’s the most important Disney film of the past decade. Here’s why:
Diversity with a capital D’UH!
In Disney’s 91-year history it has often been criticised for having a Caucasian-centric worldview. After all, there is only one black Disney princess and that took some odd 85 years to create. Big Hero 6 changes that, dramatically. The film is set in a fictional city called San Fransokyo which – in the not-too-distant future – is a perfect mish-mash between Tokyo and San Francisco. It’s East meets West, literally, with the artists combining the kawaii ideologies of Tokyo with the architecture and essence of San Francisco.
It looks incredible on the big screen, sure, but the most important thing is it erases race from the equation. EVERYTHING is multicultural. Do you get how vital that is? Every single character in the movie has a visibly diverse ethnic background. And that, for once, reflects the modern world we live in.
Now, Disney’s murky history with racial diversity is only matched by Marvel’s improving but still very present ingrained sexism in the comic book world. Just look at The Hawkeye Initiative for further proof. But in the same way Disney overcomes whitewashing by creating an inclusive city in San Fransokyo, Marvel conquers the gender issue in Big Hero 6. How? By having two vastly different yet undeniably awesome female heroes.
Both women are geniuses: they are scientists at the top of their fields. They’re not anyone’s girlfriends and they aren’t used as a romantic plot device. They aren’t ‘women in the fridged’ at any point, with unnecessary deaths used to accelerate the man’s story arc. Honey Lemon and Go Go are just straight up bad-asses.
Physically, they’re also just as diverse as the setting. Honey Lemon is a tall, thin Hispanic woman who loves selfies and all things cute. She dresses in stilettos and adorable outfits in soft, pastel tones. She keeps her weapon – an engineered chemical reaction she invented – in a love-heart shaped purse that you’ll want to own.
In contrast, Go Go is a short, curvy, Asian woman with purple streaks in her hair and favours the colour black. Only black. She’s no-nonsense and creates a unique form of disc technology that allows her to move at lightening speed and throw discs at her enemies a la Tron. The best part? She regularly uses the catchphrase “Women up!” flipping the everyday sexist term “man up” on its head.
These two amazing women don’t fight with each other, they’re best friends and vastly intelligent. They work together to triumphant over evil in a way that will make you tear up at the very thought the impact a portrayal of characters like this could have on the next generation of wee Leslie Knopes.
To further sweeten the pot, there is the character of Wasabi, voiced by everyone’s favourite Wayans brother, Damon Jr. Wasabi is a thick, strong, muscular man with cool dreadlocks and a warm heart. He’s African American and like Honey Lemon and Go Go, a certifiable scientific genius. He’s a crucial member of the Big Hero 6 superhero team and now inevitably goes on to the small but growing list of black superheroes along with Black Panther, John Stewart as Green Lantern, Shock Wave, Bishop and Miles Morales’ Spiderman.
Perhaps the most important thing about all these, er, important things is the sheer number of people that will be impacted by it. Big Hero 6 is a hit. In the first few weeks of its release it has already doubled its budget, grossing nearly $400 million at the international box-office. It had the highest single day opening since Guardians Of The Galaxy, with audiences and critics clearly hooked on that feeling. A bigger audience than ever before will be able to slowly digest its multicultural, feminist and inclusive message — most likely without even realising it.
The thought of a whole generation of children having role models that they can dress up as, buy the dolls and obsess over that *aren’t* Aryan poster kids generates warm fuzzies indeed. Oh, and that’s not to mention the league of tough and intelligent girls who will be idolising Honey Lemon and Go Go as scientists. Well done Disney and Marvel, well done.