Now That’s How You Write Scientist Characters for Girls!
Big Hero 6 premiered this weekend after months of build up and merchandising. I was excited about this film every since I saw the first previews for it, and I predict Baymax will soon be a household name on par with Groot.
The film was enjoyable, if a bit slow in the beginning. The children sitting nearby us were noticeably antsy and fidgeting throughout the first half hour, which focused more on introducing characters and setting the foundation of Hiro’s character motivation than entertaining the audience. I’m excited to be reviewing this film today because I will be utilizing Her Story Arc’s new “Scale of Inclusivity”, which we’ve just debuted. Using the Scale I have decided to award Big Hero 6 the maximum point potential: 15/15
Not offensive to women = 1 pt
At no point in the film did I find myself physically or emotionally uncomfortable by how the women characters were speaking, acting, or portrayed. My enjoyment of the film was not marred by any moments of dismay or thoughts of “how did this make it into the film?”. I was engaged by, and impressed by, the women characters.
Features a woman as the main protagonist and/or supporting character = 2 pts
The film features two supporting female characters: Honey Lemon the chemist (top) and Go Go the physics engineer (bottom).
The film also stars Aunt Cass, Hiro’s guardian (top), and Abigail, a pilot (bottom) as less important characters to the story.
Passes the Bechdel test = 3 pts
There are two moments I can remember the movie passing the test, but there could be others. We see Honey Lemon comforting Aunt Cass with a cup of tea, though we can’t hear what she is saying. In a later scene, Honey Lemon informs Go Go of her next plan of attack in the middle of a fast action scene.
There are multiple times that Honey Lemon or Go Go addresses the entire group, but typically that has not “counted” when using the Bechdel test.
Artistic and/or Entertaining = 4 pts
The movie starts off slow, and I found myself engaged more with the characters than the story itself, which is fairly predictable. Seeing the six friends become heroes and solve problems was the best part of the movie. Baymax, the huggable, lovable, inflatable robot is both the comic relief and the heart in this movie. I may have snorted once or twice in the middle of laughing due to Baymax’s fumbling nature.
This gif highlights one of my favorite scenes: Baymax petting Mochi the cat, or as he calls her “furry baby”.
(Sidenote: checkout this ultra cute twitter feed featuring recipes related to Baymax and Big Hero 6)
Above and Beyond General Media = 5 pts
Big Hero 6 earned the 5 points in this category with how it wrote Honey Lemon and Go Go. Honey Lemon is an exemplary example that being a scientist and being feminine can go hand in hand. There is nothing wrong with the color pink, wanting a cute bag, and dressing fashionably while using chemistry to fight the good fight. I LOVED Honey Lemon’s purse, which has a touch screen displaying the periodic table. She selects a group of elements and the purse produces an orb containing the combination she selected.
Go Go is a tough woman who is physically very talented and has a more gruff personality. In one scene she says Hiro needs to “Woman Up” when he is nervous before a speech. In another she has fallen down while testing some equipment. Hiro offers her a helping hand, which she refuses. She gets up on her own and then wows us with her physical talents. Go Go clearly has a lot of confidence and engineering skill.
The only problematic element of Big Hero 6 is how it recast the original manga’s characters with different races. Unsurprisingly, the movie got whitewashed. I found a good Tumblr post discussing how the movie differs from the manga it’s based on. (EDIT 11/10/2014: The Nerds of Color also have a post that includes discussion about the race change decisions made by Disney, as well as about the handling of Wasabi’s character)
So overall, this was a solid movie and something you can safely go spend your money on watching. The kids in the theater laughed quite a bit at Baymax, as did I!