Big Hero 6 and Fred’s Private Pain

In Big Hero 6, the titular team is united over Tadashi (and his subsequent death). We know that they all mourned his loss, and that Hiro took it the hardest. But I have a suspicion that one of the characters who also took it very hard but didn’t show it was Fred.

Out of the adult teammates (Fred, Gogo, Wasabi, and Honey Lemon), Fred is the one who has the most backstory. We know that he is filthy stinking rich (but not spoiled and is actually very discreet about his wealth), that his father is Stan Lee (who also happens to be a superhero), has a loyal butler, is a huge comic book enthusiast and very genre savvy, and is the main benefactor of the team.

Recently, people have developed a theory that Fred had an unhappy childhood. His parents were always away and he was often alone, with only Healthcliff for company. That could be true (even if I hope it isn’t, I hate the idea of Stan Lee being a neglectful parent), but I think Fred does have his own personal grief: he is also reeling over the death of Tadashi.

While the gang all loves each other, Fred has been seen by the others as sometimes weird and gross. But not Tadashi, who complemented Fred’s laundry habit as being “both disgusting AND awesome”. They also seem to be the most physically close:

For the first act he is very expressive and frenetic and happy, but extremely subdued at the funeral:

For the rest of the movie, Fred is cheerful and positive, but there are definite moments when he looks really upset, more so than the others.

Note how this is when Honey Lemon says “no, don’t push us away Hiro, we’re here for you”.

Fred perks up considerably when Baymax suggests that they talk about their feelings. Fred is the first to volunteer, saying that is has been thirty days since his last…something before the villain appears. That line is funny, but when you think about how Tadashi was probably dead for that amount of time (in the Cinemastory comic, apparently Tadashi had been dead for three months) suddenly that line might suggest he had a serious drinking or drug binge to deal with his grief (it is implied that Fred is a stoner).

Later, this is his face when Tadashi’s killer is revealed to be none other than their trusted professor:

Fred’s reaction is not quite the same shock as the others.

And then there’s this face Fred makes in the aftermath of Callaghan’s escape and Hiro’s rage:

That is a face of pure and utter distress.

When the team reunites with Hiro, he has a sort of calm but sad look, like he just calmed down from crying:

And then there’s the part where Baymax is lost in the portal. We get shots of Wasabi’s, Gogo’s, and Honey Lemon’s reactions, but interestingly, not Fred’s. Perhaps because he was absolutely devastated to hear that the last thing his friend made is gone.

Given how much detail went into this movie, I’m pretty sure this is intentional and is telling a secret story within the main one. You can tell that Fred does have a hidden pain that only reveals himself at the mention of Tadashi. Considering how he leapt at the opportunity to talk about his feelings, it’s very likely that, given how he comes from a rich and upper-class environment, he had been encouraged to be discreet and private in his affairs. That would explain why, even though he looks visibly distraught at several points, he doesn’t get to cry like Hiro does.

Seeing as how he likely closest to Tadashi and has the biggest role after Hiro and Baymax, I think this is setting up his own major character arc that will be shown in either a sequel or the series. I think we’re going to find out how he real feels about Tadashi and how badly his death affected him. And how Hiro and Baymax will help him recover from it. I certainly hope so.

 

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Author: Laura Alexander

Hello! Laura here. I am autistic and I love animation. My fave movies are "Big Hero 6" and "Wreck-It Ralph". This is where I'll talk about my thoughts and feelings on animated shows and movies, among other things.

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