Hopefully, you already read the first portion of our coverage of Walt Disney Pictures’ panel at New York Comic Con on Thursday, and you may have noticed that we didn’t say much about Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Big Hero 6.
We’re making up for that now with what we left out yesterday, which was the first part of the panel that began with Big Hero 6 directors Don Hall and Chris Williams and producer Roy Conli coming out to talk about their film, Hall explaining how much he loved Marvel Comics and Disney animation and was thrilled to do something that combined the two. Apparently, Duncan Roleau, one of the co-creators of Big Hero 6 (along with Steven T. Seagle), was also in the audience.
Taking place in the fictional city of San Fransokyo, the movie follows the journey of young Hiro, a brilliant young robotics inventor, whose older brother Tadashi is trying to recruit him to attend his college where he works as part of a group of young scientists and inventors. After showing character designs and stills from the film, Wiliams explained the general plot and characters before showing the first clip, which was Hiro’s introduction to Baymax.
It began with Tadashi walking Hiro around the labs introducing him to various scientists, the first one being Go Go, a spunky girl with colored hair wearing a helmet, voiced by Jamie Chung, who is working on building the world’s fastest bicycle. Hiro is impressed by the techniques she’s using for the wheel but she’s not happy with it, so she takes it off and throws it onto a pile of previous failures. Next up is Wasabi, voiced by Damon Wayans Jr. He introduces himself by throwing an apple at Hiro which is neatly sliced up by a wall of laser beams, and as he shows Hiro his impeccably-organized toolkit, Go Go runs over and steals one of his tools, making Wasabi very upset. (He also doesn’t like his nickname which he got after he spilled wasabi on his shirt one time.) Hiro then meets Honey Lemon (voiced by Genesis Rodriguez), who has long orange hair tied back with a yellow band and glasses. She’s very excited to meet Hiro having heard so much about him from his brother. She shows Hiro her latest experiment, which seems to be a super dense balloon that she spray paints into a bright pink before popping it sending pink dust everywhere.
Hiro next meets a very strange character named Fred (voiced by T.J. Miller), who is dressed in a dragon suit saying he’s a “School mascot by day… and also a school mascot by night.” But Fred’s a “science enthusiast” and he is always hanging around the lab throwing out different ideas like wanting Honey Lemon to turn him into a giant fire-breathing lizard.
Tadashi then takes Hiro into his own lab to show what he’s working and he pulls out a roll of duct tape. He puts a strip on Hiro’s arm and rips it off and out of a box comes a large white robot, our first introduction to Baymax, a nursing robot created to help those who are sick and injured. Baymax says that he was alerted to Hiro needing attention when he said “Ouch!”
They then brought out the voices of three of the characters introduced in the clip, Jamie Chung (Go Go Tomago), Genesis Rodriguez (Honey Lemon) and T.J. Miller (Fred) who talked about their characters, Genesis saying she felt that her character was a lot like her because she used to be on an inventors’ team. (That was a joke.) They talked a little about the process of recording the dialogue and how much improvisation was involved.
Next, they showed a second clip involving Hiro trying to get Baymax back to his charging station without his mother (or maybe it’s his aunt) seeing him. At this point, Baymax looks like a deflated balloon and is obviously not in top form as Hiro brings him into the house and he yells out “We jumped out of a window!” and when Hiro tells him to be quiet, Baymax repeats it in a whisper. (This scene was shown in one of the recent trailers.) Hiro somehow manages to get Baymax up the stairs past his mother and when she hears a noise upstairs, Hiro claims it to be Moshi “that darned cat” although Moshi is rubbing against his legs so he throws him up the stairs. He then goes up and finds Baymax slumped into a corner caressing Moshi calling him a “Furry baby” (also from the trailer) and then Hiro tries to get Baymax into his charging station.
This clip was used to shift the focus to Hiro and Baymax as an introduction to bring out Ryan Potter and Scott Adsit, who provide their voices. Adsit is best known for his recurring role as Hornberger on “30 Rock,” but he’s also someone who has been involved with creating comics as well. He joked that every year he had tried to get into the Main Hall at New York Comic Con with no luck so he was happy to finally get in there. Potter talked about playing Hiro and his journey in the film.
Later in the movie, Hiro has discovered something is amiss and a plot that could destroy the city, so the third clip shows Hiro getting Baymax ready to fight the Kabuki-masked bad guy. First, he uses a scanner to scan Baymax’s body into the computer and Baymax wonders, “Will apprehending the man in the mask improve your emotional state?” Realizing that Baymax has no fighting skills, Hiro watches a few martial arts videos on his computer with the idea to implant them into Baymax’s programming. He pokes Baymax’s bulbous stomach and says they need to do something about that, so he goes over to another computer and starts working on designing armor which he prints out using a 3D printer. Hiro starts placing the individual pieces onto Baymax, but it looks kind of odd, especially the large round piece covering his stomach. Baymax comments that the armor might “undermine his non-threatening design” and when Hiro says he looks “Sick,” Baymax responds, “I cannot be sick, I’m a robot.” “It’s just an expression,” Hiro answers.
Hiro then goes over to the first computer on which he was working and ejects the SIM chip with the martial arts training from earlier and pushes a button on Baymax to eject the tray for his chips where we see the “nursing SIM” that Tadashi had placed in the robot. This makes Hiro feel bad but he puts his own SIM next to it.
Baymax asks, “How does this help me be a better health care companion?” and then Hiro puts him through his paces with the martial arts that have been uploaded into his programming. After he’s done they bow to each other and Hiro says “Fist bump!” but Baymax says that’s not in his fighting database. Hiro then tries to show him a cool handshake including the fist bump into an explosion, but Baymax does it in such a funny way that it got a big laugh. They then head out of Hiro’s garage lab and sneak down the alleyways with Baymax waddling along in a very amusing way as a car pulls up behind them.
The fourth and last clip was a straight out chase scene as Hiro and the inventors of Big Hero 6 are being chased by the Kabuki-masked villain through the streets. It opens with Hiro, Go Go and the other inventors we met earlier running through what looked like a pier lined with containers towards their van. “Baymax can handle that guy,” Hiro says, but then we see Baymax come flying from over the top of the containers crashing on the top of the van, and just lying there prone.
They all scramble into the car as we see our first look at the bad guy, Yokai, who is riding a wave of millions of microbots that lift him into the air above them, also using them to create a giant fist that smashes after them. Wasabi at the wheel, they drive off with Yokai in pursuit, and Fred is in the back of the van saying how cool it is to have a “death throw with a super villain.” One of them wonders why Yokai is trying to kill them but apparently they’ve seen too much and Wasabi is not exactly the best get away driver as he stops at a traffic light and keeps using his directional signal. Frustrated, Go Go pushes her way into the driver’s seat and starts driving through the streets like a maniac trying to get away from Yokai, who keeps showing up in front of them. At one point, the van flips over a ridge and Hiro almost falls out of the van but Baymax reaches down from the top of the van to grab him and pull him back in. “Seatbelts saves lives,” Baymax states as he fastens Hiro’s seatbelt.
The chase continues as the van barrels through the closing gates of a train track just missing being hit by the train, but Yokai is on top of the train and he keeps apace of the van, staring menacingly at the group. The van then ends up enclosed in a tunnel of the villain’s microbots shooting upwards before the clip ends, so you don’t know what happens next.
As they were about to wrap things up, panel moderator Chris Hardwick shook hands with one of the filmmakers and for some reason, said “Ow!” and at the monitors appeared Baymax, introducing himself as his “personal health care companion.” That lead to a brief bit between the two of them with Hardwick asking Baymax to scan the audience for health concerns. He pinpointed a rather large guy in the front row with an axe in his head, saying that he seems to have injured his back standing in line and also pointing out the hatchet in his head, which Hardwick had to explain was a costume. (Note: This was a set up since the guy in the costume was guided in by Disney to be a part of the presentation.)
Baymax then asked, “Are you satisfied with your care?” and the audience had to respond “I am satisfied with my care” before the panel could come to a conclusion with the premiere of the new sizzle reel trailer that shows Big Hero 6 in action in their new upgraded costumes to the tune of Fall Out Boy’s “Immortals” which you can already view online here.
It looks like a fun movie that can probably do at least as well as Wreck-It Ralph and maybe as well as Pixar Animation’s The Incredibles, which would be ironic since Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland made up the second half of the panel, which you can read about here.
Either way, Baymax’s sullen “Oh no” could very well become a much-repeated catchphrase once Big Hero 6 opens on November 7.