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    Five Thoughts on Big Hero 6: The Series‘ “Fred’s Bro-Tillion”

    By | June 14th, 2018
    Posted in Television | % Comments

    In the third of last weekend’s Big Hero 6 episodes, Fred’s dad’s superhero past came back to bite the new generation. (And Fred thought learning to dance would be his biggest challenge today.)

    1. My Fair Laddy

    What is a Bro-Tillion you ask? As Fred explains, it’s a coming-of-age rite where wealthy young men are presented to the rest of the elite for the first time, to prove if they’ll fit into respectable society or not. (In particular, Fred has to earn the approval of Binky, a friend of his mother that’s been scowling at him since birth.)

    That’s all well and good, but what’s up with that name? Well according to Wikipedia, a cotillion “is a social dance, popular in 18th-century Europe and America. Originally for four couples in square formation, it was a courtly version of an English country dance, the forerunner of the quadrille and, in the United States, the square dance.” However, the “bro” also indicates it’s a play on French phrase débutante (“female beginner”), when “a girl or young woman of an aristocratic or upper-class family who has reached maturity and, as a new adult, comes out into society at a formal ‘debut’.” The more you know.

    As that heading implied, I thought this episode would be the show’s spin on Pygmalion /My Fair Lady, and I’m glad it wasn’t completely that as it’s been years since I’ve studied that play, and therefore wouldn’t be able to eloquently relate its themes of class and respectability to the show’s usual theme of ignoring peer pressure. Or maybe I did…

    2. Post-credit pay-off

    The episode builds on the post-credits scene from the film, where Fred discovered his dad (voiced by and resembling Stan Lee) was a superhero. We learn a bit more in this episode, that he was active in the ’70s under the name Boss Awesome, and that he’s still a superhumanly strong – if retired – hero, away on helping survivors of an avalanche in this episode (punching a Yeti in the process no less).

    Fred's dad then filed a restraining order against the Yeti.

    Lee reprises the role in a videoconference scene, and it was startling to hear the charismatic Generalissimo we all recognizable again, rather than the frail and exhausted figure of the troubling past few months. I can’t help but ponder what impact Lee’s health issues will have for the character’s future.

    3. The Abominable Snowman

    Did I mention Fred’s dad backhands a Yeti? Big Hero 6 is a fantasy show but thus far it’s been very technology-based, so a Yeti rampaging in the background of the videocall is a surprise to say the least, even when remembering this is based on a Marvel comic, set in a universe where anything goes. (Norse gods? Atlantis? The Wendigo? Sure, why not?) Like the possibility of replacing Lee with a healthier voice actor, I’m curious about what avenues this opens up for the show.

    4. Steampunk is silly

    So this episode’s villain, Baron von Steamer (Jeff Bennett), is an old enemy of Fred’s dad (who remarks he was old even back then), and rather appropriately he has that most creaky fashion sense, steampunk. He has a gloriously cobbled together (almost Mignola-esque) look that makes him look both like an Imperial leader and a mad scientist’s hunchbacked assistant:

    The show’s writers clearly had a good time poking fun of how impractical and silly steampunk can seem, from Von Steamer using vinyl recordings to threaten his enemies, or getting stuck up pneumatic tubes. Still, there’s something weirdly progressive in how he mistakes Wasabi for Fred and accidentally kidnaps him instead of Boss Awesome’s son (only realizing his mistake after seeing Fred posing like his dad – in a lizard costume).

    5. Rodrigo

    Quirky ol’ Honey Lemon names the animal-shaped treats Aunt Cass bakes for the bro-tillion. In particular, she names one Rodrigo, with a particular accented emphasis. It’s the first indication – that I recall, at least, I’ve only seen the film once – that Honey is Latina like her voice actress, Genesis Rodriguez. It’s nice that Latinx children will know they’re represented on the team as well as Asian, black and white kids too.

    Continued below

    Bonus thoughts:
    – Heathcliff looks so much like Alfred Pennyworth without his film counterpart’s double chin that I’m worried it’ll be considered copyright infringement.
    – I never noticed Fred’s bedroom portrait before and I am laughing at how Masters of the Universe it is.
    – Binky really doesn’t talk at all, she does just scowl.
    – Wasabi’s dad’s an orthodontist, in case you were wondering.

    //TAGS | Big Hero 6

    Christopher Chiu-Tabet

    Chris is a writer from London on the autistic spectrum, who enjoys tweeting and blogging on Medium about his favourite films, TV shows, books, music, games as well as history and religion. He is Lebanese/Chinese, although he can't speak Cantonese or Arabic. He also writes for Nerdy POC.


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