When we sat down with Conli it was to chat about Big Hero 6, the latest endeavour from Disney and the first Disney/Marvel crossover. Here, the producer talks about why he decided to work on the project, what the chances are of a Marvel animated universe, and more. Have a read below.
When something like this comes across your desk is it a no brainer to say “Yeah, I’ll produce”? Especially with this one, as it’s more obscure…did you have to think about it?
Generally it comes down to whether I want to work with the director or not. That’s the key issue. I absolutely adored Tangled. In most of the films that I had worked on, I always had what I call cringe moments and I would think “hmm, that could have been better”…I came out of Tangled with no cringe moments, and I felt very satisfied. So I was a little concerned going into this, thinking that I would not be able to relive the joy and sense of satisfaction at the end. The great thing is that that did not come true at all and I fell in love with this like any other film that I’ve ever done and I’m walking away with no cringe moments which is a great feeling.
It’s the best of both worlds, because you’re operating under a Marvel banner of sorts but the title is so obscure that you get to have a lot of freedom with it. Was that always the aim to find something like that or were there projects you wanted to do but weren’t allowed to do?
The aim was always to find something that could become a Disney animated film. Obviously we could not take Spider-Man or X-Men. First of all those properties are taken, but also because they are in the live action world and they belong there now – that’s part of that universe. We decided that what we would do is create our own universe and create it through animation and so Big Hero 6 was the perfect situation.
The voices fit the characters very well. How extensive was the casting process?
Pretty extensive. We did not paper cast this at all. We went through auditions on all these characters and as soon as TJ Miller came in, and Genesis Rodriguez came in, and Damon Wayans Jr…as soon as they came in we knew we had our character. Hiro Hamada was probably the toughest character to cast, but when Ryan [Potter] came in it was pretty evident.
The effects for animated films have come a long way. Thinking of all the other Disney films that have come and gone in your tenure, if you could see any film remade with the technology you now have, which film would you pick?
That’s pretty weird because all of those films live in a history. Fortunately being there 21 years, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was the first film that actually used digital editing throughout, and that’s not even true when I think about it…the first couple of months we were actually still cutting film with razor blades. When it came to Tangled I was so excited because I really do love the digital medium, but I wouldn’t rebuild anything and I think everything stands on its own.
How did you go about picking the skills that Hiro’s friends have in the film?
That was part of the story process. Each of their characteristics and traits change through the story process. At one point Wasabi was a germ freak which was kinda fun. But then we realised that it didn’t quite work with what we’re trying to do. The technology that they brought to the table was going to determine who they were and what happened. In a certain sense we worked backwards from the skills; we knew we needed a chemist, we knew we needed someone who knew lasers, we knew we needed someone who was the speed freak. So we assigned those to characters and then worked backwards into what characteristics would those people have.
We’ve got the Marvel cinematic universe. Is there any chance of a Marvel animated universe?
I get that question all the time. We are just so happy to get this one out and have found a story that we love. It’s a director driven studio in terms of story. If Don [Hall] or Chris [Williams] or both decide that they want to tell a story using these characters, there will be a sequel. If they decide that there isn’t, they won’t. That’s just how we approach it.
Big Hero 6 is out in UK cinemas now.