When The Incredibles came out in 2004, its chief superhero cinematic competition that year was Spider-Man 2 and… well, it would be charitable to call The Punisher or Catwoman "competition" in this context. At the time, The Incredibles was easily the best superhero movie ever made - but Incredibles 2 now has the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (and some other decent efforts outside of Marvel-ville) to grapple with. Naturally, when SFX got the chance to speak with some of The Incredibles 2's creators, it had to ask what still sets the story of this super-family apart 14 years and countless other super-movies later.
“We love to think that this movie is primarily about a family, a family that happens to have superpowers, so in that respect it wasn’t more challenging," producer Nicole Grindle said. Maybe that sounds like a trite answer; isn't every kid-friendly movie about family in one way or another? Not to mention many more that definitely aren't for all ages, like the Fast and Furious films? Sure - but the Parr family's roles as a typical suburban unit impact more than just their relationships.
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"For the most part the powers that the family have come out of who they are," Grindle explained. "Bob is the father and generally fathers are supposed to be really strong and powerful, mothers are stretched between all sorts of different things, so you have Elastigirl. Teenagers are shy and they’re trying to repel people, so Violet is invisible and has her forcefields. Ten-year-olds have a lot of energy, so Dash is always running around. And babies have a lot of potential, so Jack-Jack, it turns out, has all sorts of different powers that he’s sorting through. The symbolism of those powers carries most of the movie.”
The familial inspiration for the powers was probably one of those things you had already subconsciously realized long ago, though hearing them all laid out like that is definitely still an "Oh, duh!" moment - this really is a film series about family, not just starring one. With those roles established in the first film, Pixar decided to shake up that dynamic for a big part of Incredibles 2. It was a long time coming: director Brad Bird actually wanted Elastigirl to embark on her own solo mission in the next movie even before the first one hit theaters.
“He’d always wanted Helen to be out there, and it made sense that Helen’s first assignment would be to help turn public opinion to make Supers popular again, so that the law could finally change and they could all live out in the open," Grindle said. "The important thing was to leave Bob home alone with the kids and to get Helen out of that family dynamic and get back in touch with her professional ambitions.
"Bob thinks it’s going to be easy with the three kids because, after all, he’s Mr. Incredible, he can do anything. But of course, anybody who’s a parent understands how challenging that really is. You start out with a little baby and they seem so easy, and then they continue to challenge. I have two young adult children now and I can tell you it never really gets easy, it’s just different!"
Incredibles 2 is in theaters in the US now and will debut in the UK on July 13. You can read more about the return of cinema's favorite superfamily in the latest issue of SFX Magazine, on sale now.