After “Big Hero 6”, the biggest animated film of 2014, Disney is bringing the universe back to life in Disney XD’s “Big Hero 6 The Series,” based on Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Academy Award®-winning feature film, inspired by the Marvel comic created by Man of Action.
In an email response, Bob Schooley, Mark McCorkle and Nick Filippi, the creative team behind Disney Channel’s Emmy Award-winning global hit series “Kim Possible,” discuss “Big Hero 6 The Series,” and its one-hour special, which airs Nov. 20.
(JH: Jeremy Hsiao, BS: Bob Schooley, MM: Mark McCorkle, NF: Nick Filippi)
JH: What makes Hiro different from the typical male protagonist you see in movies?
BS: Hiro is different from the typical action hero because he’s still learning how to do it. He’s not cocky. He’s a little tentative sometimes and then he’ll get carried away. You’re on the journey with him becoming a hero. He’s more Luke Skywalker in “A New Hope,” the beginning of the journey.
MM: The other difference between Hiro and the action heroes is that there’s a point in our series where he looks around and says, “I invented these amazing things that gave everybody else on the team a power, but I didn’t give myself one.” And the villain tries to undermine his confidence by needling on that. He goes down the path of giving himself a power, and comes around to the realization that his power is his brain. His intelligence, his creativity, his cleverness, those are his gifts. He doesn’t need to be super strong and punch a hole in a wall. He has something far more powerful.
JH: After the first film, how do you deal with the pressure of upholding fans’ expectations? How did you try to make this series feel fresh and new?
BS: We’ve done it before with other properties, so I think we are not as intimidated by it as we used to be. I think it’s respecting what was special about the movie. This movie was special because it was a combination of heart and action and comedy. We definitely want to keep that heart in there or it just becomes something else from what it was originally intended.
MM: That movie was made by a huge team of creative people, all contributing in different ways. And we have to look at it and say it’s not just on us. We need to assemble our own super team, which I think we were fortunate to do, in terms of writers, artists, actors, directors, editors, production staff. The only way to make the responsibility even possible is to have this great crew ready to go and we are lucky that we have them.
JH: As the creators of “Kim Possible,” which is also an animated action comedy TV series, what aspects of that show did you carry across to “Big Hero 6” and what have you changed?
BS: Our attitude on “Kim Possible” was to treat those characters like real people and you grow to love them as if they are real people. And we wanted that same feeling for the “Big Hero 6” characters – that you really care about their lives even if it is in this goofy world.
MM: I think the other difference is this property is a little more grounded in reality, even though when you’re talking superheroes and super villains. I think it’s a little less comedic and silly in comparison to “Kim Possible.”
BS: Drakken was such a goofy villain. We have some silly villains on “Big Hero 6,” but we also have a very serious main villain in Obake. That gives it a more grounded feel than “Kim Possible.”
JH: The first episode explores more into Hiro’s character and what direction he wants to take his life towards. Has his goal or his values changed from the first film to the TV series? If so, how?
BS: In the beginning of the movie, he’s a little irresponsible, he took his Aunt for granted, he took his brother for granted and through the events of the movie, we see him discover a new family with the team. In the series, we acknowledge that as he is not perfect yet, but he’s trying to be better and honor his brother’s legacy and continue the work he started. He is trying to fulfill Tadashi’s mission.
JH: You also introduce a new character, Professor Granville. What role will she play in this series in relation to Hiro?
MM: Professor Granville is the new dean of San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. She is strict and particularly tough on Hiro.
JH: Where do you draw inspiration for creating the conflict that the heroes must face in each episode of this series?
MM: The character conflicts and the actual emotional issues tend to come from things we all go through.
JH: What are some of the challenges in creating vivid action with the animation of the characters to bring the adventure to life?
NF: You want to create really fresh, new action scenes that are impactful and feel authentic to the character, based on their individual tools. We want the action to be really specific to each character because that makes those scenes a lot more fun, impactful and entertaining.