In Big Hero 6, one of the central plot points is when Hiro tries using Baymax to kill Robert Callaghan. He tries to do this to avenge his brother, who died in a fire at the university Callaghan taught at.

Is it ever stated explicitly that Callaghan started that fire? It is certainly implied that way, but I don't recall Callaghan straight-out admitting it.

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    Explicitly confirmed, no. Implicitly confirmed? Hell yeah. – Valorum Aug 19 '18 at 11:18

According to the 2014 factbook The Art of Big Hero 6, Tadashi died in a tragic accident. The strong implication is that while Professor Callaghan certainly took advantage of the fire to conceal his theft of the microbots, he doesn't appear to have set the fire in the first place.

Big Hero 6 is the fifty-fourth film made by the Walt Disney Animation Studios. But it's their first bona fide super hero action movie. The story follows Hiro Hamada, a teenage genius, who is left adrift when his beloved older brother, Tadashi, dies in a tragic accident. Together with his robot, Baymax, Hiro leads a reluctant team of first-time super-heroes in a fight to stop a masked villain from destroying their high-tech, fast-paced city, San Fransokyo.

Presumably he put on the headset in order to save himself, and only then realised that he basically had the perfect opportunity to fake his own death and steal them in order to help him rescue his daughter.

As to how such an accident could have occurred, my personal guess is that one of the exhibits caught fire. Not an unusual occurrence when dealing with experimental robots. It's also possible that Hiro's earlier stunt (hanging from the lighting fixtures) caused some sort of electrical fire.

  • Sometimes blurbs can intentionally mislead to avoud spoilers. – Adamant Oct 29 '18 at 5:31
  • @Adamant - They can, but this book is spoiler-tastic. – Valorum Oct 29 '18 at 8:15
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    Excellent find! – TheAsh Oct 30 '18 at 17:25
  • @TheAsh - It's not conclusive, but it's the only source I've found that makes reference to the fire – Valorum Oct 30 '18 at 17:47

There is no explicit indication in Big Hero 6 of the origin of the fire.

In Big Hero 6, Callaghan never discusses the fire except right after he is revealed to not only have survived the fire, but ...

to be the villain of the movie.

At this point, the only dialog is:

Hiro: Pro ... Professor Callaghan. The fire ... You died.

Callaghan: No. I had your microbots.

Brief interlude showing Callaghan putting on the transmitter and forming a microbot shell around himself.

Hiro: But, Tadashi. You just let him die.

Callaghan: Give me the mask, Hiro.

Hiro: He went in there to save you!

Callaghan: That was his mistake!

After this, Hiro orders Baymax to destroy Callaghan.

However, earlier in the movie, Hiro theorizes that the "guy in the mask" stole his microbots and set the fire to cover his tracks. While Callaghan does not confirm this, this is the only explanation we have for the fire in Big Hero 6.

Additionally, Disney's cast announcement does imply that Callaghan (called Yokai as the villain) started the fire. If that is the case, than Hiro's theory is most likely correct.

YOKAI is the silent masked man behind the terrible tragedy that strikes San Fransokyo, turning Hiro’s world upside down. As a result, Hiro transforms a group of nerds into a team of high-tech crime fighters—Big Hero 6—with one mission: Track down Yokai and bring him to justice.

Finally, Big Hero 6: The Series picks up after the events of the movie. As of October 2018, Callaghan has only appeared in the episode "Mini-Max," where he is remorseful for what he did in the movie. However, the only explanation he gives is:

Callaghan: I never set out to hurt anyone. What happened to Tadashi, because of me, I know it's not enough, but I'm sorry.


Callaghan is never stated to have started the fire in the Big Hero 6 movie or TV show, so we cannot prove that he did. However, the cast announcement and Hiro's hypothesis imply that he may have done so, or at least did not rescue Tadashi when he had the chance. Because the connection could have been further explained and hasn't, I would assume that Disney's intention is to keep it ambiguous.

  • Is it ever answered in other canon materials? The TV show or the novelization perhaps? – TheAsh Aug 20 '18 at 11:25
  • @TheAsh I added some more details I could find. I don't think I can get a hold of the novelization, comics, or the TV series, so feel free to accept another answer if someone can find those and they have definitive information. – TemporaryIdentity Aug 20 '18 at 19:34
  • @TemporaryIdentity - The novelisation doesn't offer any useful info. It's basically just a visual retelling of the on-screen events. – Valorum Aug 20 '18 at 19:39
  • @Valorum Okay, then. I doubt there is anything much more definitive, but I would love to be proven wrong. – TemporaryIdentity Aug 20 '18 at 20:01
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    @TheAsh I added information from the episode of Big Hero 6: The Series that Callaghan appears in. I think this is as definitive an answer as we will get. – TemporaryIdentity Oct 28 '18 at 21:10

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