VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Jonathan Alexander
With Baymax set to get his own Disney+ series, it's time to look back at his origins in comics and "Big Hero 6!" For this essay, we'll be diving into how this underrated robot became popular enough to star in his own show. We'll take you from the comic book origins of the Big Hero 6 team to the beloved film adaptation and beyond.
With Baymax set to get his own Disney+ series, it's time to look back at his origins in comics and "Big Hero 6!" For this essay, we’ll be diving into how this underrated robot became popular enough to star in his own show. We'll take you from the comic book origins of the Big Hero 6 team to the beloved film adaptation and beyond. Are there any other lesser-known hero teams you want to see get their break on the big screen? Let us know in the comments!
Superhero Origins: Baymax
Ready to follow the exploits of a found-family team of brainy, colorful superheroes? Us too! Wait, you meant “Big Hero 6”? Well…we’re not quite there yet. Before debuting in their own series, this group of superpowered misfits was created for the Canadian hero team “Alpha Flight”. The original roster had some notable absences from the iconic “Big Hero 6” lineup, but it did have a few recognizable faces like Honey Lemon, GoGo Tomago, Hiro, and, of course, Baymax. Marvel was reportedly so happy with their cast-chemistry in “Alpha Flight” that they commissioned a self-titled, three-issue miniseries for the team. However, scheduling conflicts with “Alpha Flight” led to the “Big Hero 6” spinoff hitting shelves before the main series introduced them.
Thankfully, Baymax’s in-universe origins are a bit more straightforward. In the original comic, protagonist Hiro designs him under the name “Monster Baymax” for a science project. The hydro-powered synthformer was meant to be a simple butler/bodyguard, but before he could be completed, Hiro’s father suddenly passed away. In his grief, the young prodigy programmed his father’s brain engrams into Monster Baymax. Now with the thoughts, feelings, and personality of Hiro’s late father, the robot quickly became an invaluable friend and moral compass for the dejected teen. Alongside his official completion, the word “monster” was dropped from his name and he instead just went by “Baymax.”
Name change aside, the original design for Hiro’s companion certainly had some animalistic influences. Let’s just say there’s a good reason Baymax walks around in a trench coat in the earlier comics. The scaly, green look is a far cry from his adorably squishy appearance in later iterations, but even if it’s not quite as cute, his love for Hiro was present from page one.
It’s pretty difficuly to hide a green monster, and the two quickly caught the attention of the Japanese government, who were looking to craft their own superpowered team. The Dad side of Baymax’s programming emerged when he initially refused the offer because he didn’t want to put Hiro in harm's way. However, when Hiro decided to join the team with or without his robot companion, Baymax had no choice but to follow suit. Still, he was more intent on protecting his maker than saving others. When the going got tough against the villain Everwraith, Baymax pleaded with Hiro to flee to safety with him. Thankfully, the robot was moved by Hiro’s convictions, and helped the rest of the team beat the stuffing out of Everwraith.
After the team’s rocky formation, Baymax and the others became the protectors of Japan from superpowered threats. Despite being created before their origin story, the team’s appearance in “Alpha Flight” worked as a decent continuation. The rapport that mission built would soon be put to the test when a villain took advantage of Baymax’s cybernetic anatomy. A mind-control device implanted into his software turned all of Big Hero 6 against the Canadian heroes. Though, thankfully, the malware short-circuited before any real damage was done. The same can’t be said for Sasquatch’s pride, which was surely dented after such a thorough beating from Baymax. Big Hero 6 returned to Japan to investigate the culprit, but they didn’t get very far before the Marvel Universe imploded with the “Civil War” storyline.
This iconic arc had long-lasting consequences even as far as “Big Hero 6’s” corner of the world. Now in a partnership directly with the government instead of their lap dogs, Baymax and the others formed a new Big Hero 6. With the addition of two members, Wasabi No-Ginger and Fredzilla, also came a big visual overhaul, especially for Baymax. Now sporting a look reminiscent of mecha anime, his robotic additions were a big asset, especially in conflicts against some classic Marvel characters like Brute, Gunsmith, and Whiplash.
Outside of their home turf, the team popped up to help Spider-Man in the “Ends of the Earth” storyline. There, they clashed with their iconic adversary Everwraith again to save Earth from accelerated global warming. Baymax proved invaluable, since his android body helped Hiro connect to Doctor Octopus’ system and shut down the Japan factory. We didn’t see much from the Big Hero 6 after that, likely because they weren’t popular enough for their own series. At least, that was the case until a certain animated film skyrocketed Baymax to absolute stardom.
The 2014 animated smash-hit adaptation of the comics drew heavy inspiration from the new era lineup, but it also took several artistic liberties, especially in regard to Baymax’s origins. In the film, Baymax is made by the new character, Tadashi. He’s introduced as Hiro’s older brother, and fills in the paternal role to a tee–everything from his worry about Hiro to his tragic death in the opening act. However, there’s no brain engrams this time; the bumbling and comedic elements of Baymax’s character were all his own. Voiced to perfection by Scott Adsit, this lovable portrayal proved incredibly popular, and soon, Baymax was a full on marketing juggernaut. He’s represented the group in video games, amusement parks, toys, and has even had cameos in other Disney films.
After the runaway success of the movie, Baymax soared to the small screen, and with great results. The extra time allotted to explore his character meant Baymax was given more personal conflicts, such as having to dismantle evil copies of himself. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though. He also got some fun upgrades like his adorable new sidekick, Mini-Max. The series let Baymax grow as a character in a believable way and develop more emotional maturity, without losing the hilarious quirks and loveable charm that made his reimagining in the film so beloved.
It doesn’t seem like Baymax’s jets will be cooling down anytime soon, either. After becoming something of the team’s mascot, he’s now shouldering his very own TV show. The upcoming Disney+ series will be a full-on showcase of how Baymax functions on his own, which is something we’ve never gotten to see onscreen or on the page! Whether he’s fumbling through Hiro’s teen angst or kicking villain booty, we’re more than happy to take Baymax on another ride around San Fransokyo.