A Few Thoughts on “Big Hero 6”

  by Andrew Wolgemuth

As noted in our dadcrafting Movies anchor post, we’re aiming to do three things when we write about a movie:

  1. what we loved about the movie (and perhaps some dadcraft happening within the film)
  2. note what can be learned from the movie // how do the main characters grow (or not)?
  3. what can be talked about from the movie // questions to ask about the movie

That’s what I now intend to do for Walt Disney’s Big Hero 6. As usual, the comments below contain some spoilers – you may want to wait before reading them until after you’ve watched the movie with your kids.

We loved Tadashi. As the older of the two orphaned brothers who are the center of the flick, Tadashi displays a fair bit of subtle dadcraft in his (too) few minutes on the screen.

Most significantly, he challenges Hiro to deploy his smarts toward something more significant than underground gambling on robot battles. What a beautiful bit of dadcraft that is: I see your talent and your skill even more clearly than you do … let me help you imagine a helpful, constructive outlet for it.

Then he resists an urge that I’m all too familiar with: The Urge to Badger Rather Than Inspire. That is, while he knows that Hiro ought to do more than design and build little robots that bash other bots to tiny pieces (something that’s entertaining but not really contributing to the common good) and he has a good idea of what a better talent-investment option would be for his brother, he doesn’t sit his sibling down for a lecture on Talent: Using It Wisely or The Seedy World of Underground Gambling & You: A Story Destined for a Sad Ending. No, he lets his actions do the communicating. He lives well and with others in mind, and he gives Hiro a glimpse of how rich and rewarding that can be. That’s strong dadcraft from a dude who isn’t even a dad.

Finally, he encourages. At the result of his challenges, Hiro changes course and begins to invest time and energy into something more significant … and it’s tough. And intimidating. And Tadashi provides encouragement and additional motivation.

And then – maybe 15 or 20 minutes into the story – Tadashi dies. That took us by surprise, and it robs the movie of a key character. While he continues to influence Hiro after his demise, it’s not as significant or as interesting as it was while he was living … though Baymax (the helper robot) has a (programmed) personality based on Tadashi’s. This means that he does things that Tadashi would have done, evidenced most powerfully when he sacrifices himself so that Hiro and Abigail are saved. It’s a choice that (hopefully) few dadcraftsmen will be forced to make, though smaller choices of self-sacrifice are a regular part of this way of life.

As for what can be learned from the movie … see: Tadashi, dadcraft (above). As a result, Hiro does grow: he invests in something meaningful; he takes worthwhile risks (inventing something new and presenting his results to strangers); and (eventually and predictably) learns to be a friend, learns to lead, and learns to work with others.

So, a few things to talk about / questions to ask you kids about the movie:

  • Who was your favorite character? Why?
  • Who did you think the masked bad guy was at first? Why was he seeking revenge / so angry?
  • What happened the first time that the Big Hero 6 crew tried to fight the bad guy?
  • What did Hiro need to learn before he could lead Big Hero 6 well?


Here’s a list (that will continue to grow) of movies that we’ve written about.