When we last left our heroes they were poised upon the precipice of action, the villainous Underminer freshly surfaced and their matching black masks adhered across the collective brow of justice. And then The Incredibles ended, leaving us to fill in the blank(s) with our own theories and assumptions. It was a classic cliffhanger.
That was 14 years ago.
Enter Pixar’s The Incredibles 2, which picks up right where The Incredibles left off, the Parr family never aging a day and taking on said Underminer (John Ratzenberger), but this time with feeling!
At a recent Pixar press event, Director (and writer) Brad Bird was asked about his choice not to move the sequel forward a few years:
“I thought about aging everyone, the way everybody does, and then I thought “no, that sucks” [laughs]. One of the conceits of the original film is that I tried initially—when I was first starting to work on the project, long before Pixar, even before Iron Giant—I went to a comic book shop and thought “I’ve got to think up new powers.” After about half an hour in the comic shop I realized every power has been done by somebody, somewhere. Everything has been done.
“Right after that I had a little epiphany. I realized I’m not very interested in the powers, what interests me is the idea of having a family and a reason to hide the powers. Once I had that insight into what I wanted to do I picked their powers based upon who they were in the family: Men are always expected to be strong, so I had Bob have super strength. Women, mothers, are always pulled in a million directions, so I had her be elastic. Teenagers are insecure and defensive, so I had Violet have forcefields and invisibility. Ten-year-olds are energy ball that can’t be stopped, and babies are unknowns. That idea changes if you age the characters up. That insight into those periods of your life, and those particular perspectives, disappears once you age them up. I’m not interested in a college-age Jack-Jack. I’m just not. I’m interested in my sons growing up, but in terms of interest for me in these movies, it stays more iconic if everyone kind of situates themselves."
“I was also on the first eight seasons of The Simpsons, and that’s worked out rather well for them."
Which is why we join our heroes already in progress.
The opening battle is not the only fight in Incredibles 2, obviously, and while there are plenty of superhero action scenes, there are also confrontations with less tangible adversaries, such as government interference, gender role stereotypes, new math and the proverbial demons we all face. Also, raccoons.
Most of the original cast is back: Helen Parr/Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Violet Parr (Sarah Vowell), Dash Parr (Huck Milner, Spencer Fox was the voice in the first film), Lucius Best/Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), Edna Mode (Brad Bird) and Agent Rick Dicker (voiced by Jonathan Banks following the passing of Bud Luckey). The role of Jack-Jack Parr is once again voiced by Eli Fucile from an hour of audio recorded nearly 16 years ago by his dad, supervising animator Tony Fucile.
There are several new characters, including Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), brother to Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener), hero Voyd (Sophia Bush) and The Ambassador (Isabella Rossellini), not to mention a who’s who of supers from different regions around the globe.
There is also a new home, a new mission and a new focus, all of which build upon the epiphany that Brad Bird had in a comic book shop so many years ago: It isn’t the powers that make a hero, but the perspective of life and family. It’s the moments we spend together, fights and all that tell our story.
No capes, tho’.