Gifted Kids are the Heroes in Big Hero 6

 

Big Hero 6 offers diverse heroes that are more brains than brawn
Big Hero 6 offers diverse heroes that are more brains than brawn

As an Asian-American geeky mom raising a gifted child, words can’t express how much I adore this movie.

But I’ll try anyway.

Just in case you haven’t gotten out to see it yet — and you should!! — Big Hero 6 is a Marvel comic that’s been reworked to work more within the Disney brand. It stars a dream team of diverse, STEM nerd college kids — headed up by a 13 year old robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada — taking on a super villain.

Big Hero 6 was a showcase for diversity. Aside from the obvious ethnic diversity — which is a post I’m working on because OMG it deserves its own post like whoa — but among gifted folks.

When it comes to superheroes, chances are you think brawn more than brain. As Wasabi exclaimed at one point: “We can’t go against that guy! We’re nerds!!”  

Brains have always regularly been part of the superhero equation. Two of Marvel’s biggest characters, Tony Stark/Iron Man and Peter Parker/Spider-Man are examples of characters whose superhero physicality trumps their profound giftedness. Meanwhile in the DC Universe, Clark Kent/Superman is an investigative reporter (though perhaps not super genius) while Bruce Wayne/Batman has an IQ that would categorize him as profoundly gifted. Yet we all know Superman for his brawn and while Batman is still “just human” in the DC universe, we’re far more likely to remember him for his butt kicking.

In Big Hero 6, much like in the Iron Man movies, braininess was instrumental in creating the brawn the characters used. But more than just showcasing superhero braininess, Big Hero 6 showed that not all big brains are the same and certainly don’t have to fit within the mainstream stereotype.

By far, Hiro Hamada, the protagonist of Big Hero 6 shatters what most people would think of as a prodigy. Hiro is far removed from the obedient, head down, studious, high achiever that tends to get associated with gifted children. In contrast, he is quite rebellious and looks like he could quite possibly be headed down a bad path if not for his brother Tadashi showing him what he could be doing instead and encouraging him to “use his brain” for good.

Tadashi’s friends at “nerd school” as Hiro disparagingly calls it at first, are an eclectic hodgepodge of intelligence and their own brands of zaniness. Go Go Tomago, the tough as nails mechanical engineer; Honey Lemon, the sensitive and bubbly mad chemist; Wasabi, the by the book laser engineer; and Fred, the supportive ultra fanboy. With the exception of Fred — who wasn’t a student but as he put it, someone with a deep appreciation for science — all of these characters were incredible inventors with personality quirks that made them unique and to me, recognizable. For each character in Big Hero 6, I could name a gifted friend or kid I know with similar quirks.

One of the biggest rewards for me as a parent was watching TLE really connect with this movie in ways that she’s never connected with movies before. She has wanted to watch this movie since we saw the first trailer. She loves robots and everything to do with them and constantly asked when it was coming out. And when we finally did watch it, she was enthralled. Not only did it feature a cuddly robot but she saw a world where it was okay to be smart, where using your brain helped defeat the bad guys and the importance of friendship and working together. She was inspired by Hiro and the rest to keep inventing and exploring what she loves.

For that alone, I couldn’t ask for a better movie. Neither could TLE.

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Did you and your family watch Big Hero 6? What did you think?

 

 

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