This coming weekend, a popular Pixar movie released nearly 15 years ago will get its sequel released.
The movie in question would be The Incredibles, Pixar’s take on the superhero genre. I popped in my DVD for the original film and noticed how it took the idea of making superheroes human and, in some ways, went above and beyond how it explored that idea.
The Incredibles starts with established superheroes — not with fighting crime or saving the world, but with sit-down interviews in which our three primary heroes — Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone — talk about what they think their futures will be like. After that, we jump right into the life of a superhero as we think it is, but keep mixing in the moments that remind us that these supeheroes are human beings.
When we jump forward 15 years later, we learn that superheroes have been forced to go into hiding and they struggle with how to deal with it. Mr. Incredible (Bob Parr) is reduced to sitting in an office cubicle, with the expectation he find every reason to deny insurance claims — only he can never bring himself to do so. He is married to Elastigirl (Helen Parr) who is settling into motherhood, but is in conflict with her son Dash, who has superspeed but has been told he can’t go out for sports, and Violet, who can make herself invisible and create force fields, but is too shy because she doesn’t feel normal.
The conflicts mainly focus on Bob and Helen, the former who wants his children to be proud of what makes them unique, and the latter who is worried about how many times the family has had to move because Bob keeps blowing his cover.
It’s a unique way of examining superheroes beyond the powers they have — the idea that they shouldn’t have to hide who they are, that they shouldn’t have to limit their involvement and, most of all, that they should be proud of who they are and what makes them special. These themes leads us into the main plot, in which Mr. Incredible gets the chance to relive the old days of superhero life, only he does it behind his wife’s back, gets into trouble when confronted with the main antagonist, Syndrome, and it leads to Mr. Incredible realizing what’s really become important in his life: his family.
The first film still holds up after all these years. Some may wonder why it took this long to put together a sequel, but now that it’s about to come out, it will be interesting to see how Brad Bird and company explore the superhero life now that the world that The Incredible inhabit has embraced superheroes once again. What aspect can they explore about how “superheroes are human” that makes it unique from other superhero films which explore that theme?
I’m sure I won’t be the only one wanting to find out when The Incredibles 2 hits theaters this weekend.