Department of Rhetoric and Writing

The University of Texas at Austin


Big Hero 6 and the Consolations of Violence

Hiro and his armored robot stare out at the sunset.Image screen-captured from Disney Movies Anywhere

Last week, I discussed the ways Guardians of the Galaxy mixes a more-or-less serious story of grief and community formation with a gleefully irresponsible sense of violence and adventure. While I emphasized the way these two themes contrast with each other, in reality they work together in the cause of big-screen popcorn entertainment. The story of Quill’s quest to acknowledge and accept the death of his mother provides a certain emotional grounding to the story’s rather silly violence, while the gleeful immaturity of the overall narrative lessens the sting of its brush with seriousness. This week, I want to turn to the kids’ movie version of Guardians of the Galaxy: Big Hero 6. Both share not only their Marvel-produced heritage, but also an odd interest in fatherlessness, the psychological roots of violence, and the process of grief. The most surprising element of Big Hero 6, however, is how much more seriously it takes these issues than Guardians of the Galaxy; its handling of grief, mourning, and violence indeed open up more general critiques both of the superhero genre and of the desires that make it popular. (Obviously, spoilers follow.)

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