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'Big Hero 6' brings humor and heart to New York Comic Con

Walt Disney Animation Studios and Marvel Comics brought Big Hero 6, the upcoming CG-animated film based on the Marvel superhero team of the same name, to New York Comic Con yesterday. According to the filmmakers behind the movie, it combines the best of Disney and Marvel — and indeed, Big Hero 6 is the first Disney movie based on a Marvel series since the House of Mouse acquired Marvel Entertainment in 2009.

Big Hero 6 is directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, who both worked on Frozen. Hall said during the panel that he grew up loving both Disney animation and Marvel Comics, so this film is a dream project for him. The movie brings together Disney and Marvel, and according to Hall, the concept of the story was a "high-tech mashup" of Eastern and Western culture. In fact, Big Hero 6 takes place in a fictional metropolis called San Fransokyo — a portmanteau of San Francisco and Tokyo — and this comes through in its combination of massive, busy, Shibuya-esque intersections and the steep hills of the Bay Area.

The film centers on a teenage genius named Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter), who puts his brilliant mind to the task of building complex robots — and pitting them against other battle bots in underground fights. His older brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney), is a robotics whiz in his own right. Tadashi decides to take on the role of Hiro's mentor, and encourages him to apply to college. There, Tadashi introduces Hiro to his team of fellow scientists, as well as the inflatable robot he's created, Baymax (Scott Adsit).

Tadashi designed Baymax to help humans with healthcare; it's a very caring robot, and it wants to keep Hiro safe. And Adsit, who appeared on the panel, brings a wonderful humanity to the character. Asked about his experience at NYCC by host Chris Hardwick, Adsit said he felt tremendously lucky to be on the panel, since he's the kind of person who loves attending the show but never has the "stamina" to wait in line for hours in order to get into a panel in the main theater. Adsit was joined by three other voice actors from Big Hero 6: T.J. Miller, Genesis Rodriguez and Jamie Chung, all of whom play members of Tadashi's team.

Hall, Williams and producer Roy Conli were also on hand to present a few Big Hero 6 clips to the audience. In the first one, we see Hiro meeting Tadashi's squad for the first time, a fun sequence in which the unique qualities and scientific specialties of each character quickly become apparent. Miller voices Fred, who isn't actually a scientist; he's the guy in the school's mascot suit, and he brings plenty of comic relief to the role.

That's not to say he's the only funny part of Big Hero 6. The panel audience laughed a lot during the clips that they saw, like the one in which Baymax's battery is low and Hiro has to bring him home for a charge. It turns out that a power-drained robot ends up looking a lot like a drunk one, and Baymax drew what was easily the biggest laugh of the panel when he was petting Hiro's cat (image above) and referred to it as a "hairy baby."

We also saw a training montage in which Hiro rewrites Baymax's AI and outfits him with armor to turn him into a fighting robot. But the filmmakers saved the best for last, a dazzling action sequence in which Hiro and the scientists fled from Big Hero 6's villain, a powerful man clad in a black cloak and a kabuki mask. Chung's character, the laconic GoGo Tomago — the "Clint Eastwood" of the group, according to Chung — took the wheel midway through the scene and raced through the streets of San Fransokyo in the team's small car.

Big Hero 6 looks to have plenty of heart to go along with its comedic core. It may seem to be geared toward kids, but it appears that its clever charm could win over audiences of all ages. The movie hits theaters Nov. 7. For more, check out the trailer that the filmmakers showed at the end of the panel above.

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