Big Hero 6: Why Do You Make Me So Happy?

Disney’s Big Hero 6 is a real treat for those who like to go out to an animated movie. The environments are lush, the designs are vivid, the animation is stunning, the characters are well-defined, the plot has pathos, there are laughs, there are cries, there are thrills aplenty, high-concept throw-aways, “aw, cute” moments…

Big Hero 6 Hiro in Costume

The movie also exhibits so much by way of video game dynamics, anime-and-manga tropes, nerd culture, S.T.E.M. proselytization, violence disavowal, female empowerment, minority representation, and toy-selling potential…

No one on Earth can be unhappy with this movie.

And neither am I.


Yes, I may feel cheated by this movie, which seems to have sold out on every level, but I am definitely going to see it again. And own it. And put the disk right between The Transformers: The Movie: The Special Edition and The Incredibles. With a big smile on my face.

But, no, I am not going to research it. I have read Ted Hughes’ The Iron Giant and Christopher Priest’s The Prestige, but a cursory investigation of the comic does little to recommend the property to me. Disney is cashing in on its investment, when it bought Marvel, and we receive the benefits.

Big Hero 6 Baymax

Also, Disney does.

But the important thing is that in this coming-of-age story about a boy and his dog (for “dog,” read “giant robotic health care companion), there is a real coping-with-loss and a silent villain in a kabuki mask.

And we’ve never seen that before.

Big Hero 6 Yokai

I realize that my writing is a bit uneven in this post, but I don’t mind at this point.

Here is another still from the movie. Why don’t you go see it already?




Argonauts: Valorous Ruffians

Note: In order to understand why I assign the Argonauts the epithet that I do, the reader may follow the links below.  Let me remark preliminarily that it is very fitting for the linked article to have been penned by someone with such a nom de plume.

Greek mythical heroes are compared to superheroes in an interesting three-part article by someone with the screen name, plato [sic]:

Imagine a group of superheroes, each with their own special power, traveling around on wild, improbable adventures. There is the guy who can fly, another with super strength and yet another fellow with a secret, unbeatable weapon. And of course there is also the captain of the team, usually an “all around good guy” who’s almost an everyman… if it wasn’t for his quick-witted thinking and problem solving.

This is the Argonauts, a fantastic ancient Greek gang, complete with a cool name and trusty boat to speed them on their way…

and then contrasted:

Some superhero stories feature perfect wonder men or women, conquering the world and beating the bad guys. Other legends include characters with tragic flaws, which lead to their ultimate demise. While another category portrays bigger than life stars with pathetically human traits. Jason and the Argonauts fulfill this last description…

Mythical heroes do resemble superheroes.  The comparison bears many points of similarity, in fact, and I submit that any educated person could enumerate them without too much effort, if he or she had to review them both, say, for a timed essay on a standardized test.  For this reason, I will omit a list for the time being.  The contrasts might require some measure of additional effort, since the essayist must make a more incisive use of his or her intellect, and I can be prevailed upon to provide such a list, too, on some later date.

For now, my purposes limit me to observing three facts: first, that a blogger on Classical Wisdom Weekly has made the comparison (the site’s by-line is “Ancient Wisdom for Modern Minds”); second, that the blogger uses the name plato (the name is uncapitalized); and third, that plato, in another part of the same article and in a parallel introduction, strikes a contrast between Jason and the Argonauts and superheroes.

What study may be made of these facts remains unconcluded.

Trending: Superheroes

Trending: Superheroes

America is in a superhero movie trend.  Some pundits take X-Men (2000) to be the trendsetter.  Some point to Blade (1998) as the movie that put the trend in motion.  Others say that Spider-Man (2002) got it going in earnest.  There can be no doubt, though, that superhero movies have been trending.  For example, 2011 alone saw the release of Thor, Green Lantern, X-Men: First Class, and Captain America.  In 2008, The Dark Knight and Iron Man came to the screen, along with The Incredible Hulk, Punisher: War Zone, and The Spirit.  There have been some every year in between.  The latter two may not be superhero movies proper, Punisher the antihero and The Spirit the pulp hero, but they deserve to be noted.  Toward the beginning of the trend, in 2003, came Daredevil, X2: X-Men United, and Hulk.  The list continues.  While three may not seem terribly many for one year, the point of comparison may be the whole decade of the 1970’s, which produced only one, Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie (1978), albeit it is a classic.

The point of comparison could even be the 1960’s, 1980’s, or 1990’s.  In the 1960’s, the single superhero movie produced was 1966’s Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward from the television series, which is fondly remembered but was already a parody of the genre.  The 1980’s saw many more releases.  Perhaps the only superhero movie from the decade that will endure in cultural memory by its own rights is Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), although there is also the sometimes above-average Superman II, which likely gains from being associated with Superman: The Movie.  The 1990’s produced maybe two or three as many superhero movies as the previous decade and yet only two or three that deserve note in a short overview of the genre.  The most notable two are Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (1992) and Blade (1998).  The possible third in the 1990’s depends on how to rate Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever (1995) and how to rate and classify The Rocketeer (1991), The Shadow (1994), and The Mask (1994).

Rating leads to the discussion of how to rate a movie, that is, what criticism is, for another time.  In this post, I have rated the movies with a blend of the two main ways, critical and financial success.  Classification leads to the matter of defining a superhero, and I will return to that in my next post.

Also Trending: Superheroes

(1) in animated series, such as Justice League (2001-2006), Teen Titans (2003-2006), The Batman (2004-2008), The Spectacular Spider-Man (2008-2009), Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008-2011), Young Justice (2010-2012), Iron Man: Armored Adventures (2008), The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (2010-2012), Ultimate Spider-Man (2011-2012), and many more, many of which are excellent;

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