The Colors of Our Childhood
A Mythological Archetypal Approach to the characters of the movie Big Hero 6
by Jahzeel Dionne V. Ybasco
To Russ, my sun and stars, who is not a critic but knows a good movie when he sees one.
Watching Big Hero 6 has made me remember what it feels like to be a child. I was one of those who would participate in small role plays of five superheroes with extraordinary powers. The said superheroes were represented by different colors usually red, blue, green, black, yellow, pink, and white. Being a girl, I was always assigned the colors I personally did not like, e.g. Pink or Yellow since the others were already taken by the boys. It felt really good at that time, thinking children like us could save the world from deadly monsters, usually played by innocent tree barks, or unsuspecting vandalized walls. My brothers and I used to play these games until our parents would call us and remind us that we needed nourishment and we had homework to finish. Those were the good old times when televisions were only used as a tool to empower children’s creativity and not the be-all and end-all of the younger generation’s universe like the internet is now.
The sad truth is, I am no longer a child and I have seen the same principles governing a movie such as Big Hero 6. An unmotivated youngster will suddenly find an inspiration for him to fight for the goodness of humanity. It does not matter how many heroes are there, how ugly and humongous the monsters are. The most important thing is to be able to impart, particularly to the children, that goodness will always triumph over evil.
It is a stereotypical movie with a kick though– its uncanny characters. Baymax, for a huge robot, is too cute to resist. Although it defies the expected appearance of a ‘robot’- those metallic, hardwired, unfeeling things– it follows a Jungian principle of goodness, its color. White, according to Carl Jung means pure, untainted and Baymax acts accordingly. Since Baymax has been made to help others in need by being the first robot nurse, he has to appear approachable so Tadashi Yamada makes him soft like an inflated balloon. However, since Hiro modifies Baymax to be a fighting robot, he suits it up with a red gears. The chip he puts into the robot is even red. Along with Tadashi’s green chip, the red one balances Baymax capability to fight and help others. Without the green chip, the robot may turn deadly as shown in latter half of the movie.
Tadashi and Hiro have peppered the movie with bromance, if I may say. Tadashi serves as Hiro’s inspiration, his guide, his light. Without him, the audience will only see a sulking Hiro. The trailer of the movie has worked against it. It has been quite easy for me to predict that Hiro’s brother will die some time in the movie. How could Baymax possibly have transferred to Hiro if its original maker were alive? Probably, the brother could have just gone to a different place or gotten tired of the robot, but I will not buy that. The reason is too shallow. There must be a better reason. I kept reminding myself halfway through the movie that it has been made targeting children’s attention and knowledge and not know-it-all critics like me.
Gogo, Wasabi, Honey Lemon, and Fred are funny side characters with their distinct personality and colors. Still they distinctly remind me of Power Rangers, a five-helmeted-hero television series I saw in childhood. They, except Tadashi that is, are also helmeted and coincidentally, their costumes are in different colors. Hiro sports violet, the royal color, and blue, a color of peace. Gogo wears yellow, and coincidentally, she exhibits attributes of the Yellow ranger in Power Rangers, boyish, Asian, and tough. Part of me wants to understand why girls in pink are expected to act like weaklings, or weak girls have to wear pink, or that they have to be smart and wear glasses, etc. but part of me does not understand this concept. I am still waiting for a movie that will feature smart women without having to wear overly large glasses. Honey Lemon is as sweet and tangy as her name—she sports pink but still wears her nerdy glasses. I am still amazed how other bespectacled superheroes suddenly have great eyes once they put their suits on. At least, Honey’s character has been consistent in that weakness and her femininity. Wasabi, needless to say, wears wasabi-green which clashes horribly against his dark skin tone. With his afro-haircut, he looks like a walking tree with its colors inverted. Why the animators have decided to make him look like one is until now a mystery to me. Still, he provides comic relief to the movie aside from his looks. Talking about comic relief, Fred is the perfect example of breaking the cliché “Do not judge a book by its cover.” In the beginning of the movie, I thought he would just be another nuisance or probably a villain considering that a number or weak-looking in fantasy movies turn out to be antagonists in the end. Fred is one of the exceptions. He is Bruce Wayne’s counterpart, less the machismo and mysteriousness.
On to the antagonist, Professor Robert Callaghan reminds me of Saruman from Lord of the Rings. In the beginning, he appears to be a good and inspiring professor but turns out to be the perpetrator of accident that caused Tadashi’s death, Yokai.
The whole concept of the characterization of Big Hero 6 defies the Jungian philosophy of odd-numbered heroes. It is not like the trio in Harry Potter, nor the quintet in Voltes V. I am assuming, the number of protagonists in the film represents the reinforced power of ‘three,’ so though they make up an even number, there is a balance and harmony in their relationship.
All in all, a movie critic may not have a good time watching the movie but those who are young at heart, those who are looking for fun and hope, may find pieces of their childhood in it. Sometimes I think it takes a child to appreciate great movies because he will not care about graphics nor repetition of themes in today’s movies. I only have to say, Baymax, I’m satisfied with my care.
“Children, don’t stop dancing. Believe you can fly away.”- Creed