This image released by Disney shows animated characters Hiro Hamada,...

This image released by Disney shows animated characters Hiro Hamada, voiced by Ryan Potter, right, and Baymax, voiced by Scott Adsit, in a scene from "Big Hero 6." Credit: AP

A trailer for the animated film "Big Hero 6" features a 14-year-old boy, Hiro, excitedly telling a cop about a sinister figure whose Kabuki mask can control an army of microbots. The cop is one of those droll, seen-it-all types who says things like, "Let me get this straight, kid." The crazier the story, the funnier his straight-faced reaction becomes.

If you're an adult, you might feel a little like that cop while watching "Big Hero 6." If you're Hiro's age or younger, however, superhero myths and origin stories are probably in your DNA -- along with a meta-awareness that allows you to deftly juggle cultural tropes -- and "Big Hero 6" was made for you.

A splashy, colorful jumble directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, "Big Hero 6" is what happens when superpowers converge -- by which I mean Marvel and Disney's John Lasseter, the executive producer. Based on a little-known comic series, "Big Hero 6" tells the story of Hiro (the voice of Ryan Potter), a robotics whiz who comes into possession of Baymax, an inflatable home health care aide. Baymax is clearly not built for action (Scott Adsit provides his endearing voice), but when that Kabuki guy enters the picture, Hiro decides it's time for some upgrades. Like jet engines! And a rocket-powered fist!

That covers perhaps a fraction of the story. The title of "Big Hero 6" refers to Hiro's assembled team, which includes science nerds with colorful names like Go Go (Jamie Chung), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) and Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.). Along with their sidekick, plain old Fred (T.J. Miller), they'll battle those microbots, track down the wealthy tech guru Alistair Krei (Alan Tudyk), discover a teleportation device and -- well, you get the picture.

The real star of "Big Hero 6" may be its backdrop, a fanciful city named San Fransokyo, rendered in rich, vivid colors and filled with clever details (the masts of the Golden Gate Bridge now resemble Japanese torii gates). It's a delightful grab bag of notions, much like the movie itself.

Robot backstory

Walt Disney Co. animators spent more than three years transforming Baymax, a dragon-like robot bodyguard from an obscure Marvel Comics series, into a sidekick as lovable as Jiminy Cricket.

John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Disney Animation, had the "Big Hero 6" team put up images of movie robots from C-3PO to lesser-known Japanese designs. Animation artist Lisa Keene came up with the idea to make the robot huggable.

Director Don Hall toured robotics labs from Tokyo to Cambridge, Massachusetts, searching for inspiration. At Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Hall found engineers working on inflatable robots -- in particular, nurses who could comb hair and feed patients.

In the movie, Baymax is a "personal health care companion." He becomes much more after being adopted by Hiro, a teenage robotics prodigy who sets out to battle a villain who has stolen his big invention. Baymax becomes a surrogate for Hiro's lost family member.

Grief experts were brought in to learn how kids deal with loss, Hall said. Baymax's soft, round eyes came to Hall on a trip to Japan, after seeing bells in a Tokyo temple.

"There's something so peaceful and calming about that," Hall said. "I pushed it just about as far as I could."

-- Bloomberg News

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