Marvel Studios is partnering with Disney to produce the CGI animated movie Big Hero 6. Created by Marvel’s Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau, the Big Hero 6 comic book series is set in Tokyo, although in the film version events will take place in an imaginary hybrid city called San Fransokyo. The city employs it’s own team of superheroes (the Big Hero 6) selected by a secret committee of powerful elites. Drawing heavily on Japanese culture, history, and aesthetics, the story has 13-year-old whiz kid Hiro Takachiho (renamed Hiro Hamada for the Disneyfied adaptation) and his robot BayMax at its centre.
Winnie the Pooh director Don Hall, who brought his Big Hero 6 pitch to Disney back in 2011, calls the opportunity to make the film his “geek wish fulfillment.” The animator is a longtime fan of comic books and had been searching for a story that would work for the studio. “I was looking for something on the obscure side, something that would mesh well with what we do,” Hall told the Los Angeles Times. “The idea of a kid and a robot story with a strong brother element, it’s very Disney.”
While Hall has chosen to take the tale out of Japan, setting it instead in a Japanified version of a US city (you can see concept art for Disney’s Asian-influenced Golden Gate Bridge here) the aesthetic of the 30-second clip of the San Fransokyo cityscape feels very Studio Ghibli-esque (I’m betting that Disney will *ahem* borrow heavily from Ghibli for Big Hero 6 while skipping the labour-intensive tradition of beautiful hand-drawn animation that Ghibli is known for). Explaining his decision to set the movie in the hybrid (Japalifornian?) city, Hall told the Times “We were looking for something to do where we could make our own world–bring in the Japanese influences, have recognizable landmarks mashed up with a Japanese aesthetic.”
Big Hero 6 will be in theatres next year.