Considering its hyper-real nature in live action, it’s a wonder why Marvel has taken as long as it has to get into the animated feature film game. Regardless of the answer, in a few weeks, the company will see its first property brought to the animated silver screen (we’re not counting the plentiful direct-to-video animated features in this case) in the form of Disney’s Big Hero 6. During New York Comic-Con, in addition to showing off some amazing new footage, the team behind the film – directors Don Hall & Chris Williams and producer Roy Conli – took a moment to speak to the film’s sensibility, the importance of Baymax and what it was like to work with Marvel.
“It was always gonna be a mash-up,” said Hall, regarding the film’s combined sensibility of Marvel Cinematic Universe filmmaking and Disney animated filmmaking. “It was always gonna be a mash-up of taking the heart and humor from Disney films and mashing it up with the action and humor from Marvel films, and I think everyone from Bob Iger to John Lasseter on down was very intrigued by what this was.” “We knew this was going to be a movie inspired by Marvel, it was going to be a Disney movie, it was going to have a blend of east and west,” added Williams, “and it was gonna be, genre wise, a super-hero origin story, but also a boy and his robot story, which are two distinct genres.”
Of course, one of the biggest things Big Hero 6 has going for it is its lovable mascot, Baymax. However, while the character plays an integral part in the new film, it doesn’t mean the spotlight shines brightest on the lovable robot. Said Hall, “It’s all important at the end of the day. We have to put our energy into everything, and I think we were pleased by everyone’s response to Baymax. You know, we loved Baymax, and he had a function in the story for sure… we knew the emotional spine of the story would be [Baymax and Hiro’s connection], [but] I don’t know if we could have predicted he would take of as a character like he seems to have taken off, but we’re pretty pleased because we love him so much.” “We’re not confusing marketing with storytelling,” added Williams, “we knew Baymax had an important role in the story, and we knew Baymax and Hiro’s relationship was going to be the most important relationship in the film, so that really guided all of our decisions regarding his place in the movie.”
During the panel, the team made it clear that while Big Hero 6 isn’t a part of the infamous Marvel Cinematic Universe, Mavel did play a small role in its production, with executives Jeph Loeb (head of Marvel Television) and Joe Quesada (Chief Creative Officer for Marvel Entertainment) offering input when they could. Said Hall, “[Jeph and Joe] were there from the first pitch to the last screening, and so they kind of came to screenings, and gave notes, and basically blended in with our story-trust, which is, once we screen a movie, all the directors there sort of give notes.” “It was great to have them in the screenings,” added Williams. “They’re so smart, and they’re making great movies.” “It’s amazing how similar I think these two worlds are, Disney and Marvel,” elaborated Conli, “I mean, they really are similar in terms of the passion for excellence. And working with Joe, and being able to pick up the phone and call Jeph or Joe at any time, it was like having a master storyteller off to the side at any time, ready to coach.”
Big Hero 6 hits theaters November 7, 2014.