Disney had to walk a fine line promoting its new film, Big Hero 6: Even as the Mouse House touted their latest blockbuster as the first Disney animated movie inspired by a Marvel Comics property, it had to simultaneously work hard to give it the film its own identity as well.
The studio put some distance between the film and the comic-book series that inspired it: Not only was the movie version very different from the print versions; but very few had even heard about the comic books in the first place.
If you’re one of the many that saw Big Hero 6 over the weekend —the film finished first at the box office, with $56.2 million — you may be curious about the source material. Unfortunately, it’ll be tough to find much of it. The original, three issue mini-series in which the characters debuted, Sun Fire and the Big Hero 6 (below), was never collected in any anthology after its publication in 1998, and is unavailable online. The second series, published in 2008, can be found on the Marvel Universe mobile app, but that requires a subscription.
Both comics — and the few appearances the team made in other series — present a very different version of the Big Hero 6. Here are a handful of the most prominent (warning: spoilers ahead!):
• Disney’s Big Hero 6 is set in a hybrid-style city called San Fransokyo. The comics, which represented an attempt by Marvel to get into manga, were set in Tokyo (though the team traveled to Long Island!).
• The film’s protagonist is a young genius inventor named Hiro Hamada. The same goes for the comics, but his family situation is very different. In the comics, he lived with his mother; in the film, he’s an orphan living with his aunt and older brother Tadashi, an engineering student who builds a personal-health companion robot named Baymax.
• Just about everything about Baymax is different in the film and comics, though in both cases, he’s Hiro’s best friend. Baymax is a cuddly marshmallow-like nurse in the movie (below, at right, wearing his armor suit), with a sweet disposition and a loose grip on human interaction. His original iteration, in the comics, is as a “robotic synthformer” that can quickly transform into a devastating weapon.
• The movie’s cast of characters differs in some major ways from the comics. Wasabi, for example, is Asian in the comics, while he’s black in the movie (and voiced by Damon Wayans).
• Fred, meanwhile, is a mysterious new team member who can conjure the spirit of a dinosaur in the comics; in the movie, he’s a rich stoner who is given armor that makes him look like a dinosaur.
• Which brings up a very important difference: The team in Disney’s version of events is a scrappy group of students who come together out of necessity. In the comics, it’s a team of real heroes brought together by the Japanese government. Hiro is a member — he joins, hesitantly — but he’s certainly not the leader.
• As the little leader of the film, Hiro builds all of their weapons and uniforms, based on their personalities and talents. They use his robotics skills in the comics, for sure, but they certainly don’t need him for their powers.
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