When it was first announced that Disney had purchased Marvel Comics, the holy grail endgame of such an acquisition that instantly popped into every film fan’s head was that now the group of acclaimed artists working over at Disney’s Pixar wing could get their hands on a Marvel property and make an animated superhero movie that would blow everyone’s minds. With Pixar’s already full slate of projects and the murky details of who owns the film rights to which Marvel characters in what context, the idea was something of a long-shot, but when you get a couple companies under the same corporate umbrella like this and give executives the chance to start throwing around words like “synergy,” eventually anything becomes possible.
The news that broke today isn’t quite that holy grail of Pixar making a Marvel movie, but it’s a team-up that brings us one step closer to that reality. For the first time ever, Disney is going to be making an animated Marvel movie. But, instead of Pixar, the artists handling this one are coming from that other wing of animators who work under the Disney corporate banner, Walt Disney Animation Studios. This is the studio that’s most recently brought us Tangled and Winnie the Pooh, and have Wreck-It Ralph set up for a release this fall.
So, what’s their first big super hero project going to be? A Hulk movie to capitalize on the character’s success in The Avengers? A Fantastic Four cartoon to try and rehabilitate that franchise’s reputation after its awful live action adaptations? No, instead they’re going with something way more obscure. Inside Movies reports that Disney’s first animated Marvel movie is going to be Big Hero 6, a story about a Japan-based superhero team who have only appeared in the Marvel Comics Universe through spotty guest appearances and one mini-series.
It would seem that, before Disney comes up with any animated Marvel movie strategy that might confuse consumers or take some of the luster off of their hugely successful live-action Marvel franchise, they’re first going to dip their toe in the animated water by trying out obscure characters who aren’t connected to icons like Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers, and see how that works out.
The original roster of Big Hero 6 is made up of former X-Man Sunfire, a mutant who can create intense bursts of flame; the Silver Samurai, a sword-wielding former villain of Wolverine’s; Hiro, a boy genius; Baymax, a robot created by said genius who can shape-change into a dragon; Honey Lemon, a girl who can pull any object she requires out of her magic purse; and Go-Go Tomago, a woman who can surround her body with an energy sphere and project it at high speeds. If you’re keeping track, that makes two B-Level X-Men characters and four that sound like they’ve been ripped from the pages of a generic anime.
Is Big Hero 6 a project that’s doomed to failure due to lack of ambition, or is there potential here to make a fun movie and prove that Marvel’s wealth of material runs even deeper than most people thought? And, if they’re going to start making movies about obscure superhero teams from other countries, didn’t Alpha Flight have seniority? I want to see a movie about that one guy who’s a human hockey puck and that lady who captures criminals in sticky maple syrup!