However, the movies Disney has been producing in recent years, such as Wreck-it Ralph (2012), Big Hero 6 (2014), and Zootopia (2016), are gradually moving from that far far away land towards sometime in the future. These movies often feature a lot of advanced technology as its background, but the plots of these movies are still pretty similar to those of classic movies. So we call them "science fantasy."
Let's take a look at Aladdin and Big Hero 6.
Although the two stories take place in completely different time and space, the two plots follow a similar pattern: Baymax is just a high-tech version of Genie.
Big Hero 6 is set in an imaginary future metropolis called San Fransokyo. It features the story that a young Japanese scientist Hiro Hamada and a respected professor Callaghan both seeking revenge for their beloved ones.
Aladdin is, on the other hand, set in in the fictional sultanate of Agrabah, a long time ago. It features the story of how a young boy called Aladdin fell in love with Princess Jasmine and prevented Jafar, the Grand Vizier of the Sultan from getting the ultimate power, with the help of the Genie from a magical lamp.
Both movies feature a young male character as a“hero”, Hiro in Big Hero 6 and Aladdin in Aladdin. And both heroes encounter the mission of defeating a villain, Professor Callaghan and Jafar respectively. And all four main characters have some kind of “power” with them: Hiro has Baymax, Aladdin has the Genie, Professor Callaghan uses microbots and Jafar uses magic. Baymax, as a health care robot, has the defaulted function of ensuring the user’s physical and mental well-being, while Genie is set to fulfill the user’s three wishes, and as a result, they both accompany and help the “hero” on his journey.
Based on these many similarities, Andrea Fătu-Tutoveanu defined "science fantasy" as a hybrid genre that
merges the logical consistency, predictability and comprehensibility specific to science fiction with the conventional acceptance of fantastic elements.
Big Hero 6 is a representative science fantasy. It has a lot of fancy technology’s presence, including the microbots, tiny magnetic robots invented by Hiro but exploited by Professor Callaghan, which are able to assemble and install, Baymax, a health care robot, and the powerful combat equipment of Hiro’s friends. But at the same time, it still follows a traditional fantasy plot of justice over evilness.
Big Hero 6 mixes elements from science fiction and fantasy. Source: Google Pictures.
But there are definitely more differences than similarities between science fantasy and traditional fantasy.
Firstly, a good one: science fantasy tends to rely less on stereotypes when it comes to building characters. Megan Logan criticizes Aladdin because of the exaggerated gender traits of Jafar that “don’t fall into the narrow expectations of the performance expected from their respective genders.” While apparently, there is no such problem in Big Hero 6, in which Professor Callaghan is just an ordinary person we even expect to encounter in our daily life. Samantha Sullivan also speaks highly of Big Hero 6's representation.