Understanding My Fave (and Least Fave) Characters

Being as huge an animation fan as I am, I’m starting to realize that the more I like the characters, the more I’m likely to love their respective media. Consequently, if I absolutely despise the main character or too many characters, I’m not going to like their series one bit.

I love Teen Titans and Avatar: The Last Airbender because of how fleshed-out and likable all the main characters are. I like The Legend of Korra because even though I have some problems with the show, I do really love Asami and Korra. I don’t have the most comprehensive knowledge of Overwatch but I really love the character of Symmetra because she’s a beautiful and powerful autistic woman (and really all the women of Overwatch are beautiful and powerful how can I not love it). Cybersix is an okay show itself but Cybersix herself is amazing. And I have a lot of fave Disney heroines either from nostalgia or from personal empowerment (Belle, Mulan, Pocahontas, Vanellope, Honey and Gogo, and even Aurora). But I hate Steven Universe now because I really dislike most of the main characters (ESPECIALLY Steven, who’s become a mouthpiece for the writers) and the characters I DID love have been regressing into tropes (Garnet is mostly just Ruby and Sapphire in a trench coat and Peridot is nothing but comic relief).

So when it comes to my absolute faves, Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph, it’s probably not a coincidence that Hiro Hamada and Ralph are actually my fave characters of all time.

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Why is that?

Because, as someone who is autistic, has struggled with mental illness, has a limited social network, and is only NOW really starting to figure out my place in the world, I relate to these characters so, so much. Not to mention they’re brilliantly well written too.

Not only is Hiro absolutely adorable, but he’s also a brilliantly well written teen boy character. It would have been very easy to just make him another whiny teenager, but he’s not. At the start of the movie he becomes enthusiastic at the idea of bettering his life, even if he needs some encouragement. When his brother dies he doesn’t become all brooding and angsty, he becomes seriously and realistically depressed. He has trouble letting people in at first, but his world brightens up when he makes close friends and becomes a superhero. He hits a road bump when confronting the villain, but he’s able to let out his grief in a peaceful manner, is comforted, and gets back on the right path. Eventually he’s able to rebuild his closest friend and start his road to a promising future. For me, that kind of parallels my own life: how I was in a horrible mental stage for almost two years before this movie came out, and how I started my path to recovery. Now, for the first time in 22 years, I no longer feel like killing myself, I have a wonderful friend, and I’m determined to get a job as a social service worker. (Have you figured out why this movie is my absolute fave yet?)

And Ralph, man, he’s just such a good hero. He goes through a LOT of character development (going from a lonely but still kind of selfish ‘bad guy’ to a true hero who’s willing to sacrifice himself for the only person who was ever nice to him) and is someone I wouldn’t mind actually being with. Like I know a lot of people find Tadashi Hamada attractive, and while he is, I don’t really know Tadashi well enough. But Ralph? Not only is he big and burly and very cuddly, but you know he’d never leave you behind and would do anything for you, and you’d have a lot of fun with him.

But I think there’s another major reason. Both characters have their flaws. Ralph, being a bad guy, doesn’t always do the right thing or have the best sense of morality (he takes obvious enjoyment out of interrogating Sour Bill for information). Hiro initially wanted to partake in dubious bot fighting and was at one point enraged enough to actually kill a man. But despite their mistakes, they’re fundamentally good people and actively make an effort to change. They TRY to be better people.

The same cannot be said for some of my absolute least fave characters, Anna from Frozen and Joy from Inside Out, movies that I cannot stand.

Joy is just…a bully. I’m sorry, but she is. She is obsessively controlling over Riley’s brain and making sure she only feels HER emotion, nothing else. But she always pushes the blame on Sadness. On their road trip Joy is consistently rude and condescending to her, and even at one point is willing to let Sadness DIE just because “Riley needs to be happy”. It’s only when Joy realizes that Sadness is useful that she goes back to get her, but even then, she never actually apologizes to her or acknowledges that she was wrong. That just constantly made me uncomfortable and made me feel the wrong way.

And Anna…ugh. Anna literally makes everything all about HER. She constantly disrespects her sister’s boundaries, even when she’s trying to ‘help’ her. But does Anna actually love Elsa? Of course not. When Elsa kicks her out of the ice palace Anna doesn’t even acknowledge her sister until she’s literally about to die. I know I’m supposed to feel sorry for Anna and find her sacrifice meaningful but, like, it’s your sister, of course you’re going to want to save her. That doesn’t mean you actually LOVE her. I understand I have a HEAVY bias against Anna because I identified with Elsa and was upset that she wasn’t the main hero, but…yeah I don’t like Anna.

But you can see why I hate their specific type of character (cheerful quirky girl protagonist): they feel like the universe revolves around THEM. Hiro and Ralph have to realize that other people matter, too. They have actual character development and give a damn about others. Anna and Joy are ‘perfect’ and only care at the very last minute.

Anyway, this was slightly more personal than my other posts, but I felt like it was important to share.

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Understanding Marvel’s Relationship with Big Hero 6

Recently it was announced that IDW Comics would be publishing new Big Hero 6 comics to tie in with the TV show (x). My first thought was “finally, after three years of nothing, we get spoiled with new BH6 content!”.

But for some people, their first thought was “Wait, wasn’t Big Hero 6 originally a MARVEL comic? Why isn’t MARVEL making new BH6 stuff?”

And that is true. Big Hero 6 first appeared as an obscure comic book series in 1998 created by the team of Man of Action (who you may recognize as the creators of Ben 10). They resurfaced again in a miniseries in 2008 (which the movie takes most of its inspiration from) and once more in a Spider Man crossover comic in 2012. And…that’s about it. They were not very popular or successful.

Why is that?

Well, probably because the comics were fucking terrible.

To help you get an idea of what we’re into, just take a look at the cover page of the 2008 run:

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Let’s see, we got the Rising Sun (the symbol of Japanese Imperialism that devastated countless other Asians) emblazoned in the back to show “LOOK HOW JAPANESE WE ARE”, we got not one but TWO hypersexualized female characters, a Godzilla expy, a scary robot (yes that is supposed to be Baymax), and a guy who’s just…Asian. We’re off to a great start!

You know how in the movie Honey Lemon was a sweet, intelligent young woman who had a passion for chemistry, photography, and making friends? Well too bad because in the comic THIS Honey Lemon is nothing but fanservice, constantly contorted into ‘sexy’ poses and obsessed with making herself look white.

But it’s not just sexism, oh no, there’s plenty of RACISM to go along too! Not only is the Rising Sun flag used flippantly and trivially, but Wasabi’s counterpart is a complete Asian stereotype, dressing up as a samurai in modern times, making sushi, and speaking in a heavy accent, and whose full name is fucking Wasabi-no-Ginger. But that’s all fine and dandy compared to a charming villain called Everwraith, who is literally the embodiment of all the Japanese people who died during the bombing of Hiroshima. No, I am not making that up.

On top of all that, the artwork is shit (the only character that doesn’t look half bad is the original Fred) and the story just makes absolutely no sense. I could not get past the first three pages of the first 2008 issue, I literally had no idea what was going on. But for all the people who HAVE read the comic (and don’t have nostalgia filters on), it’s pretty obviously not about Japanese people, but about Japanese caricatures written by people who watched a lot of anime without researching the damn country.

When Don Hall was looking through Marvel material to make into an animated Disney movie, he chose Big Hero 6 because of the characters of Hiro and Baymax, and the bond they shared. Movies naturally change a lot from the source material, but Marvel let him and his team have complete creative control. They kept the spirit of the comic and the most basic elements of the characters: Hiro is a genius boy who experienced loss, Honey Lemon is cheerful and friendly and has a purse for a weapon, Gogo is a no-nonsense speedster, Fred has monster powers, and Wasabi uses green knives. You can read more about the changes HERE. As a result, Big Hero 6 has become MUCH more accessible and appealing to a wider audience, becoming a huge critical and box office success and a huge following.

So with all that, is it any real surprise that Marvel probably wants nothing to do with the original comics anymore?

I can understand some of the confusion, but it’s safe to say that Marvel has moved on from a weird and rather offensive comic that no one liked and would rather focus on their more bankable properties. Any new BH6 comics made by Marvel (based on the film or not) would just be confusing and probably not very successful. Honestly, I think it worked for the best.

The new Big Hero 6 IDW comics is set to be released sometime in 2018. The series will first debut with a pilot movie, Baymax Returns, sometime in November.

Masculinity and the Disney Revival Era

The older I get, the less I feel attached to/need to defend the Disney Princesses. The only time I’ll get defensive is when a critic gets their characters completely wrong (Belle is not a victim of Stockholm Syndrome or pretentious), or claim they’re sexist by…making sexist statements (the original three Disney princesses are not ‘weak’ for being ultrafeminine and passive, it’s because they don’t get enough character development and screen time). They princesses I grew up with will forever hold a place in my heart, but I don’t worship them now like I did when I was a kid, basically.

So I guess that partially explains why I’m hyper critical of the new Disney Princess movies (The Princess and the Frog and onwards). I’ve talked in length on my issues with the new princesses themselves (Tiana should not have been a frog for most of the movie, Moana needed more character flaws, and Anna is literally just a quirky ‘relatable’ character that isn’t interesting at all), but for now let’s talk about the male roles in the Princess films compared to those of the non-Princess films.

Quick quiz: what do Naveen, Flynn Rider, Kristoff, and Maui all have in common, besides being the male leads of the recent Disney Princess films?

And at the beginning of their movies they are all extraordinarily rude and condescending to the female leads. While it is true that they all get better, the only one who’s character development feels the most believable is Flynn’s because he stops being rude to Rapunzel very quickly (after they escape from the Snuggly Duckling) and naturally grows more caring and concerned for her (and thus they grow an attraction to one another). By contrast, Naveen, Kristoff, and Maui are assholes to their respective female counterparts for almost the entire movie, and only stop when the girls either prove themselves to him or after a contrived moment. Kristoff falls in love with Anna right the hell out of nowhere, and Maui is suddenly all better right in time for the climax.

By contrast, look at Wreck-It Ralph. He has his flaws, but it is established at the very beginning that he had a hard life and wants to be loved and appreciated for who he is. When he meets Vanellope and Calhoun, he does NOT act like a jerk to them for no reason or behave like a sexist prick, even when they yank his chain. While he doesn’t think Vanellope is capable of being a racer at first, she doesn’t need to prove himself to him in order to make him sympathize with her; once he sees how bad her situation is he is willing to help out no matter what.

Why the huge difference?

Because, again, the Disney Princess movies have to have a contrived “Look how Feminist TM we are!” message hammered into the audiences heads after all the criticisms their predecessors got. The male characters feel less like characters and more like audience/critic surrogates. Oh, you think our Princesses are ‘weak’? Well fuck you, here’s our Princess doing something reckless to show how brave and strong she is!

This sucks because it makes it harder for me to get invested in their respective relationships. I love Belle and the Beast together because despite a rough start they find comfort and joy in one another. I love Aladdin and Jasmine together because they mutually respect and like each other and he’s willing to expand her horizon. I love Mulan and Shang together because they work efficiently as a team. And, ultimately, I do love Rapunzel and Flynn (or perhaps more appropriately, Eugene) together because they organically grow closer and will do anything for each other. By contrast…I’m supposed to like Kristoff and Anna together despite Kristoff being an absolute prick to her because they survived escaping Elsa’s palace and suddenly like each other? I’m supposed to like Maui and Moana as a friendship even though he demonstratively does not see her as an equal?

But what bothers me is that this is only happening with the Princess movies. Look at Calhoun and Felix, Ralph and Vanellope, or even Nick and Judy. Felix adores Calhoun from the moment he meets her, respects her boundaries, and helps her move on from her traumatic past. Ralph and Vanellope bond over being outcasts in their own games, enrich each other, and would die for one another.

And oh my god, Nick and Judy have some of the greatest chemistry between a male and female lead. They just work so well together, even when they don’t get along at first. Keep in mind, when Nick acts like a jerk to Judy at the beginning, she is always able to get her own back at him. We also understand WHY Nick acts like a jerk at first, and he is able to get better. And it’s not JUST him being a jerk to her; Judy also does something pretty shitty to him, and they BOTH have to make up to each other. In between that they make an excellent and engaging pair.

And of course I have to mention Big Hero 6. What makes that movie even more remarkable is that NO ONE is a jerk to anyone, AT ALL. Hiro, Aunt Cass, Gogo, Honey, Wasabi and Fred (and Baymax) all love and respect each other. No one needs to prove themselves to another. No one acts like a jerk to a woman because they perceive her as weaker. Everybody is equal.

In short, the insistence of making the male and female leads in Princess movies act antagonistically towards each other is just unnecessary and exhausting, and a half-assed attempt of making themselves look ‘progressive’ and ‘feminist’. So I’ll say this:

Women having to prove themselves to antagonistic men is NOT progressive.

Women and men having mutual respect for each other, seeing each other as equals, and working as a team? THAT is progressive.

And why Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6 are my fave movies of all time.

Light and Color Symbolism in “Big Hero 6”

Disney is well known for its use of color symbolism in their animated movies. In Aladdin, the color blue represents good, red represents evil, and yellow represents neutrality. In Beauty and the Beast, Belle wears blue to show that she stands out from her village and that she is good and pure, whereas Gaston wears bright red to show he is evil; the Beast at first wears red but eventually switches to blue costumes to show him getting closer to his humanity.

I think a recent Disney film that stands out in its color symbolism (as well as light symbolism) is their 2014 hit Big Hero 6.

Let’s take a look at the main characters in their costumed form:

Everyone is bright and colorful; their colors really pop. And they all have some meaning behind them.

Baymax is white, a color associated with purity, simplicity, cleanliness, peace, innocence, and humility. In other words, extremely appropriate for Baymax’s character. In his superhero form, he wears bright red, which is associated with power and strength and is sometimes used as a heroic color. However, red can also be associated with rage and evil, which is illustrated clearly when Baymax loses his healthcare chip and attacks the villain. His suit also has a little purple, which corresponds to Hiro’s suit (which also has a little bit of red).

Hiro’s predominant colors are purple and red. Purple has traditionally been used to denote royalty and high status, which shows his position as the team leader. Purple is also associated with mourning (his grief over Tadashi), transformation (his character development), and arrogance (his more cocky and impulsive side as seen at the beginning of the movie). Red can show both his status as a hero as well as his anger towards those who wronged him.

Gogo also wears a little bit of purple (both in her hair and in her civilian form). In her case, the purple can mean temperance and wisdom. Her yellow costume was chosen because it is associated with eggs (in the comics, her last name was tomago, a corruption of tamago, the Japanese word for egg) but can also represent energy and friendship.

Honey Lemon’s color coding is more blatant. In her civilian form she wears bright yellow, representing friendship, happiness, optimism, and other positive emotions. Her hero costume is pink, a very feminine color.

Wasabi wears green mostly because of his name, but green can also be associated with youth and growth, health, service, and generosity.

Fred wears blue and orange. Blue is a more masculine color (and a color common in a lot of amphibians and reptiles), and orange represents energy and enthusiasm.

All their colors allow them to stand out and denote that they are heroic, positive characters, in contrast to the villain, Yokai:

File:Yokai Full Body.png

He wears all black, a color traditionally associated with death, darkness, despair, evil, detachment, anger, mourning, and other negative emotions. His mask has the colors white (coldness, and can also represent death in Eastern cultures), red (anger), and yellow (dishonesty, betrayal).

All the super characters wear bright, bold colors while the civilian characters (including Aunt Cass and Tadashi) wear more muted colors. Tadashi is usually seen wearing more down to earth neutral colors of brown, white, and black (notice how he wears a black shirt on the night he dies), but when he successfully builds Baymax, he is seen wearing a bright red shirt, similar to the reds Hiro and Baymax wear.

There are also some instances of light symbolism. A great example would be whenever Hiro is mourning over Tadashi. When we first see him after Tadashi’s death, his room is darkened:

Aunt Cass comes in to try to shine a little light, but Hiro immediately pulls the blinds. But then, as soon as Baymax wakes up, the room instantly brightens up:

Later, when Hiro and Baymax are alone after the confrontation with Yokai, the scene is very dark:

But gets brighter when Baymax comforts Hiro with how Tadashi is always with them.

In the more intense moments (Hiro and Baymax escaping the warehouse, the car chase scene, and the villain’s reveal), the scenes are all low lit to show the gravity of the situation. For the final fight, once the heroes have a better grip on their powers and teamwork and are able to successfully defeat Yokai, the scene is brighter lit.

And of course, when Hiro and Baymax are reunited and share a loving hug, the scene is very bright, light, and warm:

There’s probably more, so if you know any other examples, let me know. But all this symbolism shows some of the amazing detail that went into this movie to make a stunningly beautiful and meaningful film.

Big Hero 6: The Secret Pixar Film?

Sometimes when I’m watching or reading something Big Hero 6 related, the movie will be erroneously called a Pixar film. Even diehard Disney fans and people who extensively research and review animated films make this mistake from time to time. I know back in 2012 people made comments on how Wreck-It Ralph felt more like a Pixar film than Brave did, but this is the first time I’ve seen a Disney film actually mistaken for one.

Does this mean Big Hero 6 is good enough to BE Pixar?

Pixar’s early movies (up to Toy Story 3) are best known for the following: beautiful animation, creativity, heart and humour, intelligence and originality. Big Hero 6 has amazing and detailed animation that is able to create a whole new world, it looks at hypothetical uses of technology and takes them to incredible heights, and it has amazing heart and humour (when I went to see it in theatres there were lots of parts where the audience laughed out loud). It’s not QUITE as smart as some of Pixar’s offerings (some people noted it is a bit predictable), and it isn’t wholly original (it is based on an obscure comic and does fall into some superhero conventions) but it certainly not safe and boring and dumbed down.

So, yeah, it definitely could be seen as Pixar quality (I know my Mom thinks so, and she’s pretty picky about what movies she likes)!

But I think the major reason why Big Hero 6 is sometimes seen as Pixar film is that it’s rather unique from Disney’s fare. Disney is best known for making Princess films (like Frozen) and talking animal films (like Zootopia). The movies that are different (like Wreck-It Ralph) tend to fall under the radar after awhile. To put it into perspective, both Zootopia and Frozen raked in over a billion dollars and have huge fanbases; Wreck-It Ralph made only about $470 million and does not have a big following anymore (we’ll see if a sequel revives it).

Big Hero 6 is different. It’s a superhero film (a new genre for Disney) that was able to be both a critical and commercial success (not as successful as Zootopia but much more so than Wreck-It Ralph) and is still quite popular. People know it’s connected to Disney, but since it’s a huge hit that’s not a Princess film, a lot of people assume it must be Pixar (which dipped their toes into the superhero genre with The Incredibles).

I also think a major reason for people making this assumption is because a lot of ACTUAL Pixar films coming out right now haven’t really been as well received. The sequel/prequel films have gotten a mixed reception and within this decade, there have been only three (yes, three) original Pixar films: Brave (dismissed as a generic Princess film), Inside Out (that actually was successful) and The Good Dinosaur (the less said about that film the better). You can tell that people might look at an original animated film that’s so well made and think “that HAS to be Pixar. They HAVE to be making movies like the ones of my childhood. They HAVE to still be good”.

I just find this very interesting. A little frustrating (I don’t like it when people get animation companies mixed up, it can be seen as a lack of respect for the genre), but still, interesting. And ultimately, as someone who loves this movie with all my heart, I’m glad it’s considered by some to be on the same quality as movies like Up and the Toy Story films. 🙂

To end this off, let’s look at some important and excellent lessons Big Hero 6 teaches us:

My Love/Hate Relationship With the Disney Revival Films

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When John Lasseter and Ed Catmull took the reigns of Walt Disney Animation Studios in the late 2000’s after almost a decade of bombs, they ushered in a new age, known as the Disney Revival. Not only are these films huge critical and commercial hits, they are also beloved by many. The films that are officially considered part of the Disney Revival are The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Winnie the Pooh, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and Moana, with sequels to Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph on the way. (There’s another film called Gigantic which is constantly being pushed back, so who knows if it will actually see the light of day.) I have seen all these films in theatres and am probably not going to break the habit for the foreseeable future.

I have a weird relationship with this new era. Whereas I love pretty much every film from the Disney Renaissance era, I have mixed feelings for the Revival. If I could put them into tiers of fave, I’d make high tier (Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph, my faves), mid tier (Zootopia and Winnie the Pooh, the films I’m mostly neutral towards) and low tier (Frozen, The Princess and the Frog, and Moana, the films that I seriously dislike). (Tangled would fit somewhere between high and mid tier.) I think it’s because they are all extremely relevant to my life right now in terms of character and theme, and how they are handled can either make or break the movie for me.

Big Hero 6, Frozen, and Wreck-It Ralph all came out at very crucial points in my life, when I was deeply depressed. (I’m going to skip over The Princess and the Frog because I think I’ve already said everything I wanted to about it before, and I don’t have much to say for Tangled or Winnie the Pooh at the moment.) Wreck-It Ralph helped me a lot because, in addition to being a damn good movie, the characters of Ralph and Vanellope resonated with me very strongly. They were both shunned by the people around them, and I could definitely see it as because they were coded to have a disability or disorder (in my view, autism). I cheered for Vanellope when she became a champion racer, and I cried for Ralph when he became accepted for who he was.

A similar situation happened with Big Hero 6. At that point I was neck deep in my depression and the movie’s message that people will love you and you can get better when you are in a bad mental state meant a lot. The film never fails to make me happy due to the frenetic action, amazing directing, beautiful animation, and lovable characters.

By contrast, when Frozen came out (I was in the midst of my depression) I was…really offended by it to be honest. Okay, you have Elsa, a character who is severely mentally ill and clearly the much more interesting character than Anna, and you don’t even focus on her? You don’t let her be the hero? You constantly show her fucking up and sinking deeper into her misery? And then suddenly she’s better with one act of love (but not really, as the shorts reveal she’s constantly blaming herself and trying to make Anna happy)? And she only gets to use her powers for the most mundane things? Yeah, that wasn’t the kind of message I wanted at that point in my life. That, and the film was the definition of overhyped.

When Zootopia came out, I had mixed feelings for it. I thought it told a fun mystery story with great chemistry between the two leads, but it wasn’t really that great at portraying the message of prejudice and tolerance. I think for me it was because predators and prey are too broad to neatly symbolize as white people and people of colour; there are legit reasons for prey to not want to always trust predators, and you can be both a predator AND a prey in nature. When it first came out I was still a bit of a social justice warrior, so I was hypercritical of it at first, but now that I’ve moved on from that movement my feelings towards the film have calmed down a lot. I think the film got a little overrated, but it’s still enjoyable enough, even if I don’t go out of my way to see it.

Moana on the other hand, is not enjoyable for me. Full disclosure: I was SO hyped for this film, I thought it was going to be a masterpiece and an ultimate fave, that it would be the greatest Disney movie ever, and when I finally got to see it, I was left with a feeling of great disappointment. And I think I finally know why: it’s the only Disney Revival movie to come out (aside from Frozen) that feels like it was aimed SQUARELY at little girls. Everything just feels really dumbed down. There’s a lot of TELLING rather than showing, the story and conflict is really simplistic and stupid (Moana thinks something’s wrong with her because she wants to go sailing?), there’s a lot of comic relief and some cliches (of COURSE Moana and Maui are going to fight at a crucial point in the movie but he’ll come back at the climax), and Moana is so devoid of flaws or interesting development that she’s clearly meant to be a shallow Girl Power TM mascot than an actual character. The whole film just feels more juvenile than the others. I guess most of this praise the movie gets is from nostalgia value, which I can definitely appreciate, plus it’s a movie that takes a look at non-white/non Western culture with some truly gorgeous visuals (although, I think some people ONLY like this film and Princess and the Frog because the main characters aren’t white). But for me, that is not enough.

I guess overall I can say that whereas the non-Princess films are trying to take risks and be more interesting, the Princess films are just there to make a lot of money from little girls and nostalgic millennials. This bothers me because previous Disney films were meant to enjoyed by the WHOLE family. Beauty and the Beast isn’t just a film for little girls, it’s a work of art that people of all ages and genders can enjoy. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a movie that got EVERYONE into animation. But now it seems that Disney feels that the princesses are just meant to be safe, marketable, and deliver shallow girl power messages. As an adult Disney fan who wants to see these films as actual films and not just cartoons for kids, that’s disappointing–but also why I latch onto Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph so easily.

So you’ll understand why I’m so excited for Wreck-It Ralph 2 and not excited for Frozen 2, and won’t be excited for any more princess films either. I don’t know what kind of film Gigantic will be like so we’ll see.

And with that, these are my final thoughts/explanations on why I like some of the new Disney films better than others. You don’t have to agree, but I’m not going to change my mind. This is my current stance on the matter.

Beyond that, I am definitely going to be excited and curious for other movies in store for us in this era and how they’ll have an impact on my life.

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.