This post was inspired by a picture I posted to my Snapchat story a couple of months ago on a long (and late) drive home from Southern California.
If you didn’t know already, I’m a huge fan of superheroes. I’m also a huge fan of Disney. So naturally, when Marvel and Disney partnered to release Big Hero 6 in 2014, I was ecstatic. The movie not only had a great message but was also funny and well-made with the best merchandise. (Yes, I do have a stuffed Baymax.) However, I didn’t realize the great message the movie had until a few years later.
If you haven’t seen Big Hero 6, I highly recommend you stop now and watch the movie. Not only are there some spoilers to follow, it’s also an amazing movie. (You can check it out on ABC this Saturday, August 5 at 8 pm.)
As you might already know, Hiro Hamada’s older brother Tadashi (RIP) attends San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. There, he has created Baymax, a lovable robot who aims to provide healthcare to anyone who needs it. After Tadashi dies in a fire, Baymax stays in the corner of Hiro’s bedroom, not activated. However, one day, when Hiro drops his nanobot robot on his foot and exclaims “Ow!” (one of Baymax’s activation words), Baymax activates to help Hiro. When Baymax completes his scan of Hiro, he discovers nothing wrong physically, but something wrong mentally. You can watch a clip of this scene here.
That scene is a catalyst for the rest of the movie. Baymax goes through all the crazy adventures and fighting with Hiro as he believes that it will help Hiro heal. He addresses Hiro’s mental health with equal importance as he does Hiro’s physical health, something that I believe to be extremely important for children (and everyone else) to understand. Your brain is still a part of your body, just like your bones and muscles, so why should it be treated any differently?
Hiro is not the only character dealing with their mental health. The villain (Professor Callaghan) is also dealing with grief (like Hiro), as well as stress and anger. Chase Ricks, who published an article about the movie's representation of mental and physical disabilities, believes that the shy characters in the movie all might have Autism (which he himself has and recognizes the symptoms). The character Wasabi might even be dealing with OCD. While the latter two may not be as recognizable, Baymax helps all these characters confront their issues and shows children that there is someone who will understand what they’re going through and that it’s okay to get help.
While I can’t speak for the many people living with mental health issues and what their experiences are, I do believe that this movie was a great representation of the topic and sent a positive message to all viewers about the importance of mental health. That is why this is my favorite Disney movie of all time. The merchandise is just an added bonus.
For more information about what the importance of this movie, check out these articles by Comics Alliance and Nerds of Color.