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.

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Drax the Destroyer: The Autistic Alien Done RIGHT

Let’s close out Autism Acceptance Month (and start getting hyped for the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie) and take a look at a good example of an autistic-coded character: Drax the Destroyer.

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Like Peridot from Steven Universe, Drax is an alien that is very strongly coded to be autistic. He does not understand sarcasm or metaphors (very common with autistic people), may have some sensitivity issues (he never wears a shirt), is pretty blunt, and has some trouble with social skills. He also has other quirks that aren’t associated with common people.

With this, it would be very easy for the writers to botch up this character. (Look up ‘gremlin Peridot’ and you should get a good idea of how.) But while Drax can be a little rough around the edges, he ultimately proves to be a competent and even compassionate hero. He’s also an interesting character: he’s a man of honour grieving the loss of his family and will do anything to avenge them but ultimately can’t do it on his own, so he closes the gap between himself and the other Guardians in order to save the day. He grows to respect Gamora and even becomes good friends with Rocket. Best of all, he’s not a STEREOTYPE. He’s not a skinny, nerdy white man with obsessions and is a genius in math and science and has little to no empathy or even feelings. He’s not overly childlike or hard to understand or a burden to the people around him. He’s a SUPERHERO.

But the reason why I state that Drax is an autistic coded character done right is that real autistic children relate to him, as explained HERE. Autistic people can be superheroes, and don’t you forget it.

Let’s hope the sequel continues to inspire and help other autistic kids as well. As it is, Drax is a great character and an example of how you should code a non-human character as autistic without relying on harmful tropes.

 

Your Fave Is Autistic Part 8: Laura/X-23

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Logan is a great movie. It is the prime example of the gritty superhero movie done RIGHT. It’s absorbing, it’s touching, it’s intense, it has a lot of heavy themes and graphic violence, but still has funny moments and an optimistic ending. I really do believe Hugh Jackman should get an Oscar nomination for his performance, even if he won’t win.

Another reason why I like this movie a lot is the character of Laura. From the moment she first showed up I immediately saw her as autistic. (Mild spoilers from this point on.)

For starters, she’s described as ‘mysterious’ and ‘strange’, and has some of Logan’s ‘volatility, instability, mood swings, and shadows’ (only manifested in a different way). Those sound like pretty common descriptions for someone who’s autistic.

For most of the film, she doesn’t talk, and when she does speak, it’s very quiet and brief; she doesn’t talk the same way the other characters do, and tends to scream or communicate through other sounds. Some autistic people have trouble communicating verbally/have problems with language skills/are known to have selective mutism, and that is almost certainly the case for her character.

She behaves a bit younger than her actual age, and tends to get easily frustrated or angry/scared, such as when someone tries to move her things, when a ride stops working, or when someone points out she has to pay for sunglasses (which she wears almost all the time) and chips.

She also gets really absorbed in movies and music and is fluent in both English and Spanish. These are all common strengths and fascinations.

And most of all is her special connection with Xavier. They’re able to empathize with and understand each other, since they both have mental problems and they’re on the run. They get really close to each other. It’s pretty common for a lot of autistic kids to bond easier with older people than their peers. When Logan is able to warm up to Laura and gets closer to her, she grows to love him as her own father.

For a moment, I was a little concerned that maybe most of this behaviour was just because of her horrible upbringing, but when we’re introduced to the other children who were experimented on, she doesn’t quite behave like them. They all have perfect speech and can interact with others like common kids. Laura is noticeably different from the rest of them. So I think Laura is purposefully meant to stand out, and I see it as her being autistic.

I heard the director of Logan wants to make an X-23 movie, and I hope he does. This character is really great and the idea of an autistic/neurodivergent-coded character becoming the hero of her own movie could do a world of wonders. At any rate, I look forward to seeing more of this character and the future of this franchise.

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The Short Lived Spectacular Spider Man

If there’s one superhero that will seemingly never die and will be reincarnated again and again, it’s definitely Spider-Man. Spidey has gone through a lot of shows and movies in his life, all of them with varying quality. One of the better efforts was 2008’s The Spectacular Spider-Man.

I decided to check this show out (this was made before Marvel’s disastrous attempt to turn Captain America into a Nazi), and I have to say, it was very addictive. The animation style was cute, the action was great, it’s pretty diverse (and doesn’t shy away from showing interracial relationships) and the villains were magnificent. If you’re sick of the MCU’s villains, I recommend this show just to see supervillains done RIGHT. All of them are compelling and threatening in their own way, and make Spider-Man get pretty creative in order to beat them. Spider-Man himself is a also a really compelling character (though I could’ve done without having to choose between two girls), and the show offers one of the most nuanced portrayals of J Jonah Jameson, who can be aggressive but also caring, especially towards his son. I also liked the character development of Flash Thompson, who gradually becomes less of a jerk as the series goes on. And the voice acting in the show is simply superb.

The first season is one of the finest collection of episodes I’ve seen for any show. It does a good job of gradually building up the roster of villains and the list of Peter’s problems to deliver an explosive finale. This is also one of the best portrayals of the “Spider-Man possessed by the Symbiote” arc as well (and it does a good job of portraying his origin without shoving it down your throat in the first few episodes). It’s well-written, exciting, and, well, spectacular.

The second season doesn’t hold up quite as much. The pacing is more uneven (it introduces a lot of important threads and villains at the last minute), it really shoves romance down the audiences’s throats, and it’s really, really, REALLY sexist. I mean the show had its problems with sexism in the first season (with Gwen being a damsel and having one female character latch on to a boy waaaaay out of her league, Harry and Peter shuddering at a Mary Jane for believing she’s ugly just because “she has a great personality” and Sally Avril is just a shrill character that should never have been in the show), but here it REALLY sticks out. Literally all the female characters only exist in their relationship with men, be it boyfriends/husbands or family members. There is no female character that has no connection to any man, and most of the girls obsess over boys (and most of their dialogue is about men). Whereas Peter and a lot of male antagonists get a lot of character development, almost none of the girls do, except maybe for Liz Allen (who becomes sweeter, but gets screwed over). Seriously, do we really need the main plot point of the second season to be about which girl Peter picks (one of whom, Liz, sort of has a life of her own, whereas Gwen mostly exists just to express her love to Peter)? No we don’t. So that bothered me.

I would complain about unresolved plot threads, but I can’t because, unfortunately, the show was abruptly cancelled. The show was originally supposed to last for at least five seasons, but got cancelled when Disney purchased Marvel (and the TV rights to Spider-Man, returning it from Sony to Marvel). So instead of continuing the show (like when Disney took over Doug, though Sony still owned the rights to Spectacular), they made a new, much-maligned show in the form of Ultimate Spider-Man. Thus a show with a huge fanbase and so much potential got squandered. According to Greg Weisman (who developed the show), if Spectacular had continued, Mary Jane would’ve become Peter’s love interest and new villains would’ve been introduced (and the cliffhanger ending would’ve been resolved) but it looks like this isn’t meant to be.

But then again, now Sony and Marvel are partnering up for their new Spider-Man efforts, so who knows? I’d be much more willing to see this show continue over ANOTHER movie reboot at any rate.

Why I Love Deadpool

In an age of (live action) superhero movies taking themselves too seriously, along comes the very refreshing Deadpool. It was highly profane, extremely violent, very sexual, and totally awesome. It was a movie that totally didn’t give a crap, and I admire it for that. Here are some other reasons why I love this movie (and by extension, the titular character).

It’s The Perfect Length

For some ungodly reason, a lot of superhero movies feel the need to be over two hours long! This movie is only just over an hour and a half. Just enough time to tell a story with some action and comedy without padding it out with pointless scenes.

It Perfectly Balances Comedy and Drama

It knows exactly when to be serious and gritty and when to be funny and totally not serious. The movie gives you enough drama without being totally overwhelming. We don’t need the entire movie to be all about Deadpool’s pain and suffering and angst. We just need one major scene to explain why he is and that’s it. For the most part it doesn’t take itself serious (which is pretty refreshing), but when it does have to be serious, it knows for how long.

There’s No Political Bullshit

I’m starting to hate it when superheroes bring in politics because a lot of the time it doesn’t work. It either gets brushed aside and/or takes up all the fun. With this movie we aren’t bogged down with Deadpool having to be held accountable or having to obey the law or any of that shit. He does what he wants and takes us along for the ride. (And I know you’re probably thinking ‘but he’s not a superhero!’ well we’re meant to root for him in the movie that was marketed as a superhero movie so yeah, I’m counting this as a superhero movie.)

The Women Are Awesome

I am utterly in love with Vanessa. She’s sexual without being demonized for it, she doesn’t take anyone’s crap, and even manages to save herself. But she also manages to be kind and caring, too. I like how even though she’s brought up as this tough woman you see her honestly concerned for Wade’s health and would do anything for him. Negasonic Teenage Warhead was a very believable teenage girl, not made into being overly childish/infantilized or overly mature (and is just overall really cool) and I like how Angel Dust is given super strength (a power you don’t often associate with women) and was allowed to go toe-to-toe with a man. In short, the women were all genuinely INTERESTING. I need to see more of that.

And, this is the most important reason why I love Deadpool (both the movie and character)…

It’s One of the Better Portrayals of Mental Illness

What I absolutely love about Deadpool is that he’s gone through so much and is no longer mentally well or sane but is ALLOWED to be a funny, likable, and even sympathetic and compelling character. While the movie doesn’t go into detail about all his mental disorders due to budget and time constrictions, it’s still really clear that Deadpool doesn’t exactly have a sound mind, and is, well, insane. In any other movie, Deadpool would either be the oh so ‘scary psychopath/sociopath’ with no feelings or nothing but tragic. Deadpool is a unique and even uplifting portrayal of someone with mental health problems. While I do think Deadpool (both the movie and comic book versions) should get help (which is probably not going to happen, unfortunately), I like how Deadpool is such an enjoyable character who’s difficulties and disabilities don’t completely define him.

There are other reasons, but those are my top five. I love Deadpool so much now I want him to appear in all superhero properties (which WON’T happen, but it would be such a riot if it did). In short, Deadpool is one of the better and more enjoyable superhero movies to come out recently, and I hope the sequel maintains that.