Talk-o-Babble, Episode 4:
The Incredibles and The Incredibles 2
While I’ve been reading the third and final book of the I Hunt Killers series by Barry Lyga, I started rewatching a lot of Disney and Pixar movies. That included two of my absolute favorite movies: The Incredibles and The Incredibles 2. And I thought, what better way to appreciate these films than to analyze them to pieces?
The Incredibles is a 2004 American computer-animated superhero film, and The Incredibles 2 is the 2018 sequel. Both were directed by Brad Bird, a man who also gave us Ratatouille and one of the best Mission Impossible movies (in my humble opinion): Ghost Protocol. He’s got a pretty stunning record for amazing films, and both the Incredibles movies are fighting for a top spot on the list.
So let’s get into why…
To give a quick summary:
The first film follows the story of Bob Parr, aka Mr. Incredible, a former superhero who’s forced into retirement and a mundane life after the government bans superheroes. Without superheroing, Bob’s life feels directionless and miserable. Until he gets a chance to relive the old days when a mysterious woman named Mirage asks him to don his old suit again and stop her rogue robot…on a remote island.
The second movie follows a similar story, but this time it focuses on Bob’s wife, Helen Parr, aka Elastigirl. With superheroes still illegal, a massive company tries to bring superheroes back by just reintroducing Elastigirl. And with her help, they hope the world will change its mind about the superhero ban. But their plans are interrupted by a dastardly new villain: Screenslaver.
Here are my thoughts…
I’m going to preface this discussion with a quick disclaimer that I love these movies. They’re fun for the whole family, but they also present a deeper meaning. Pixar just has a talent for that kind of thing, and I guess that’s why I’m a little biased for them.
But let’s really get into the nitty-gritty and dissect these movies.
The Incredibles is a well-thought-out film. From the dead-end job that makes Bob fat, to the lure of being something more again, it presents a real human problem and situation. If Bob wasn’t a superhero, this situation would still apply, which speaks to the film’s relatability. We all hate feeling stuck.
But here’s the thing, the Incredibles 2 has a very similar plot setup. We take the same family but pick Helen instead, and she gets lured by a big company to be something more—again. Yes, this time the owner of the company isn’t the bad guy. Instead, it turns out to be his sister. Despite that fact, there are parts of this plot that I like more than the first. I like that it’s about Helen, I like that it’s meant to be a set-up to make heroes look bad, and I like that we get more time with the kids and their powers. Like Jack-Jack. I love Jack-Jack. What a fascinating and fun character! I love the development of his powers,and I love thinking about what the future holds for the little guy, but I have to ask…Did Helen really not see him light on fire when Syndrome grabbed him in the first film? And all the calls from the babysitter…She never suspected? But then in the second film, she’s upset because she somehow missed that he had powers. I’m not fully convinced about that one.
But speaking of Syndrome…I liked Syndrome more as a villain. Syndrome was a pitiable young kid who went bad, while Screenslaver’s a woman who blames superheroes for her father’s death in such a roundabout way that it feels like a stretch. Not to say that I dislike Screenslaver though because I don’t. She feels like a Batman villain and putting that together with the scenes in New Urbem, which are dark and gritty like Gotham in many ways, it makes for a cool parallel.
Another parallel I noticed, which could’ve been on purpose or not was how similar the first movie felt to a Mission Impossible movie. Considering Bird didn’t direct a MI movie until after the Incredibles, I guess he just got a feeling for it in the Incredibles and carried that into Ghost Protocol. (It’s also just the soundtrack…which is eerily similar.)
Back to the movies…I appreciate that Mr. Incredible isn’t a perfect man. We see his jealousy, we see his weakness, and it makes him real. The same is true for Violet and Dash, who both go through kid trauma that every kid goes through: public school. As for Helen, I wanted a little more weakness. She’s a wonderful mom who the kids look up to and appreciate, and she’s also a kick-ass superhero. So what’s her weakness? Nagging on her husband? Not catching the bad guy the first time? She’s strong, she’s intelligent, she’s flexible, and she’s gorgeous. The only moment we get from her, the only time she hesitates or doubts herself, is when she sees her backside in a mirror. Her body isn’t what it used to be, and that’s the only weakness we witness. Aside from that, I love her character. She’s one hell of a role model, I just wanted her to be a little more human the way Bob was.
These movies brought me nostalgia, warmth, joy, excitement, and awe, which is what the first movie brought me when I saw it in theaters years and years ago. They’re both lovingly put-together movies with important themes, and they question a lot about our society. And they’re still some of the best superhero movies to come out since the superhero genre became popular. Both movies are all-around wonders, and if they ever consider making a Jack-Jack spin-off, I’ll be there!
A little tidbit…
Oh, and a fun little tidbit for all you Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul fans, the Incredibles 2 has voice talent from both Saul (Bob Odenkirk) and Mike (Jonathan Banks). It was fun to hear because I’ve recently been binging Better Call Saul and hearing their voices in something other than that show was almost surreal. Even though Saul was basically just playing a more kid-friendly version of himself…Haha.