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Now that all the famous superheroes have their own movie - Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man and more - Disney is introducing a brand new team of superheroes. Big Hero 6 is also based on a Marvel comic book, but the filmmakers had to dig really deep into the archives to find it. The six heroes of Big Hero 6 are teenage science nerds who build their own super powered costumes.

Hiro (voice of Ryan Potter) leads the gang, and the film’s emotions. See, Hiro lost his older brother Tadashi in an accident. Tadashi’s robot Baymax (voice of Scott Adsit) helps him, and Hiro recruits Tadashi’s team of inventors to find the mysterious villain responsible for the tragedy. 

“This film is very emotional and they’re all most things that people have experienced before,” Potter said. “They’re all very real emotions. I don’t think anything is really overplayed in this. There’s loss, there’s happiness, there’s laughter. There’s all these different emotions and these things that you feel. I think for me, the most important thing to bring to Hiro was just a sense of realness. It sounds hokey but I don’t put on an act. This is me. This is what you get. I’m a very genuine person. I wanted Hiro to be very real because I wanted anybody to be able to relate to Hiro. I didn’t want him to put on an act. I wanted certain things to affect him and what came from it.”

Hiro and his robotThe scene stealer of the movie is Baymax, a puffy white robot who speaks in a friendly monotone. “I was really interested in seeing if I could have a relationship without displaying any emotions you could point to, and still have some kind of character arc and emotional life in spite of the evidence,” Adsit said. “That was my challenge and that was the great joy of this. I think before I went in I was thinking he would be a bit harder and more robotic, but then I saw that design and said, ‘Oh, I got this.’ This is just helpful, benign caregiver.”

Jamie Chung provides the voice of Go Go, a speed demon who invents skates and scooters powered by magnetics. She’s also able to turn those magnetic wheels into weapons when she’s in trouble.

Heroes“When I came in for my first recording session, they decorate the room to inspire you,” Chung said. “It’s all the sketches of your character. In terms of characteristics like a need for speed, I feel like I am an adrenaline junkie. I’m always trying different things. I’m a very safe driver so I’m not like Go Go. I can be sassy. You can ask my fiance. I’m sure he’ll say that I’m very sassy, but I’m a bit more warm and I feel like she only expresses that occasionally, or once in the movie.”

Genesis Rodriguez voices Honey Lemon, the chemist. Rodriguez could relate to Honey Lemon, but even more so to the robotics, since she was robotics engineer herself. “In high school, it was an all girls robotics team and I was a welder,” Rodriguez said. “I had to do a little bit with the pneumatics of the robot, so basically what makes everything turn or move or crunch, punch, that sort of thing, spin. Yeah, I did it for fun so I’m glad they hired me for Honey Lemon because I’m not a doofus.”

Based on her credentials, Rodriguez said the movie got robots right. “Absolutely, totally,” she said. “Totally doable battle bots. Ours was one of these spinning robots that would just go really, really fast and then just slice the competition. Then our second robot was the crock. We basically came in at an angle, knocked your robot on its side and then chomped it.”

ArmorHot off his role in the HBO hit Silicon Valley, TJ Miller plays a character dear to my heart, Fred. Fred is the most enthusiastic of Big Hero 6, and builds a fire breathing dragon suit for himself. Miller is also excited to promote science to kids.

“This movie is going to make science cool again,” Miller said. “ou gotta learn math if you want to know the specs, and you gotta learn coding if you want to make applications. That’s good.”

Fred’s catch phrase is “It’s Fred time,” so I asked Miller if I could say that about myself. “Yes, you can say it’s Fred Time,” Miller approved.

Damon Wayans, Jr. of Happy Endings and New Girl fame, also related to the animated geniuses. He plays Wasabi, the most reluctant hero. “I’m left handed so I was always weirdly good at science and math,” Wayans said. “I was kind of terrible at English and voicing my own opinions on essays. But, I was really good at chemistry for no reason. There was a little nerd girl who was always with me in all my classes, and any time I got a better grade than her, she would cry. I was like, ‘You can copy off my test if you want.’ She’s like, ‘I don’t copy off tests.’ I used to let everybody copy off my test. I was like, ‘Go ahead.’”

SuitsIt’s not cool to copy test answers, kids. Wayans could also relate to Wasabi’s timid nature. “He was always timid,” Wayans said. “That was kind of their thing with him. He was the neurotic guy who was obsessed with precision and order. ‘A place for everything, everything in it’s place’ is kind of his motto. They played around with the idea of him being OCD, a germaphobe. I loved it. I loved how he looks because when he doesn’t talk, you just go, ‘Oh, this guy’s badass.’ Then he’s like, ‘I don’t know if we should do this?’ It’s like why is that voice coming out of that big man? It’s ridiculous but it was definitely a fun character to play because it shows you that image is not everything. Don’t judge a book by its cover because this guy is a very fearful nerd. He’s also the voice of reason. He’s the audience going, ‘You guys are idiots. You don’t know how to fight crime. Don’t do that. Be safe.’ I liked being the anchor a little bit.”

Fans of Wayans’ work may also recognize the screech he emits as Wasabi. Wayans admitted he does that in real life. “I can wake up after eight hours sleep doing that,” Wayans said. “Especially, there was an earthquake that happened not too long ago. Literally, it was the same scream. I’m not lying. I look over after I woke up screening, my lady is dying laughing. It was ridiculous. She was like, ‘Why did you just scream like that?’ I thought we were going to die. I truly did.” 

As exciting as Big Hero 6 is, it still comes back to the loss of Hiro’s brother. This fits it well into the Disney tradition from Bambi to The Lion King where characters are dealing with tragedy.

Main Characters“Disney always has those heartbreaking stories but this one I feel could help a lot of kids on how to deal with grief for sure,” Rodriguez said. “And hopefully, somebody comes up with a Baymax so life can be a bit easier.”

And it’s not just loss for Hiro. Baymax has lost someone important too. “You have to realize that, yeah, Hiro lost his older brother but Baymax lost his creator,” Potter said. “That’s something that you don’t really think about, but if Baymax were to have a full range of emotions, I’m sure it hit hard for him too.”

The film got so emotional that sometimes Adsit got choked up during the recording sessions. That made it impossible to do the robot voice. “I had to stop several times because I started to cry,” Adsit said. “That wasn’t allowed, so I would say, ‘Give me a second, give me a second.’ I had to reel it in and get Baymax without a warble.”

Potter too had to power through all of his lines, because if he paused for just a moment, he would succumb to emotion too. “If I stopped, I wouldn’t be able to get back to that place or just to continue because of how emotional it was,” Potter said. “There were certain lines, I asked them, ‘Don’t stop me. I have to keep going or else I won’t be able to get to that place. I won’t be able to put myself there again because of how draining it is.’” 

BaymaxBig Hero 6 never stays sad for too long though. It’s just enough to make its point. “There’s something really spectacular about Disney being willing to pioneer into a world where Hiro understands death because his parents are gone,” Miller said. “He understands loss and Baymax doesn’t, so Hiro teaches him about it but Baymax also teaches Hiro and thus teaches this generation of kids that there are ways to deal with grief. This is what grief is. There’s some sad stuff in it and even now talking about it, I kind of go back to that place. It’s really well balanced with the comedy and with the action, so you don’t have to sit in anything for too long because you’ll be thinking about it for the next week or two and you can go back to those emotions or those funny moments.”

Another important moral of Big Hero 6 is that heroism might not mean avenging Tadashi’s death. “They talk about what it means to be a hero,” Miller continued. “Does a hero involve pursuing vengeance when there’s a death or does it involve trying to carry on the spirit of the person that died? What makes somebody heroic? What are those choices? So there’s a lot of themes that are being dealt with that are a little different for a Disney movie. Could this be more different than Frozen? And Frozen is so great. What a way to follow it up. What a bold way to follow it up.”


The Big Hero 6 team is also a group of supportive friends. That meant a lot to Wayans. “I feel like the camaraderie aspect, I’m a good friend,” Wayans said. “I feel like I’m really supportive, so even if I don’t necessarily want to do something, if my buddies need me I will show up. I identified with him in that aspect but I also identified with him in the fact that I am kind of OCD myself. I always have to have gum. I always have to have my breath smelling fresh. I have to smell good. My books have to be either [straight] or slanted this way. They can never be to the right. It’s a weird thing. I’m a left handed person.”

With the ladies Go Go and Honey Lemon, Rodriguez hopes girls in the audience will take a cue from them and feel encouraged to be smart too. “We want to inspire girls to use their minds to achieve anything they want to do,” Rodriguez said. “I think that’s the beauty of this movie. It has a really cool message. If you educate yourself, you can do anything. You can be a superhero even. These are normal kids with extraordinary powers because of their minds. For me, I hope that if any kid sees this movie, I hope that in the near future we’re going to have a Baymax because they got inspired by this. We need Baymaxes in the world.”

Get Ready! Set! Go! Big Hero 6 opens everywhere on Friday, November 7
 / Issue 164 - September 2018
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