Superhero movies are more popular than they’ve ever been, but Incredibles 2 director Brad Bird knows his latest offering won’t get lost in the shuffle of all the releases. Back when the original Incredibles came out in 2004, comic book adaptations were not as prevalent as they are today. Yes, franchises like the original X-Men trilogy and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man were in their heydays, but the first Iron Man was still four years away, meaning the Marvel Cinematic Universe was hardly a fleeting thought in anyone’s mind. This was also before Christopher Nolan rebooted Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins.
This decade, however, superhero blockbusters dominate the box office charts year-round. The MCU is now a $14 billion enterprise that will only continue to grow with several more installments on their slate. Warner Bros. has gotten into the shared universe fray with the DC Extended Universe, which despite some bumps in the road is still one of their tentpoles. With everyone from Spider-Man to Ant-Man now a global movie star, one may wonder why Bird would even come back to this realm, but there’s something special that sets The Incredibles apart.
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Screen Rant had the opportunity to visit Pixar Animation Studios earlier this month for an Incredibles 2 press day. During a press conference, Bird was asked about this modern superhero movie renaissance and how that impacted the sequel. The director admitted the landscape is akin to a worn-out football field, but cited the familial element that serves as the Incredibles‘ beating heart:
Heroes [the TV show] used to do five, six, ten different superheroes with storylines that continued on every week. So you were doing quantum superhero stories every week and it seemed like everything had been done. So it’s easy to freak out and go, “Why even try? Everybody’s got everything done to death,” but then, again, I return to what makes us unique, and it’s this idea of a family and that superheroes have to hide their abilities. And those things actually are unique to us, and there’s plenty left to explore.
A twist in The Incredibles is that the movies are set in a universe where superheroes are decreed illegal after decades of service to the community. This aspect gives Bird several compelling angles to work with, such as Bob Parr’s very relatable mid-life crisis in the original. The superhero law is also different from what else we’ve seen in the genre. Titles like X-Men and Captain America: Civil War have dealt with topics like registration and government control, but Incredibles is the only mainstream property where it’s an outright crime for superheroes to fight criminals. How that affects each member of the Parr family is fascinating to watch, since they all come at it from different perspectives. The desire to change the law served as a springboard for Incredibles 2’s plot, with Elastigirl embarking on a mission that could help all of super-kind.
Family is also a theme intricately woven into the Incredibles’ DNA, as Bird makes an effort to give the Parrs’ home life as much attention as the antics of their costumed alter egos. It’s this human component that makes the films what they are. Bob and Helen are parents whose biggest concern is providing for their children and giving them the best possible life. Even for those in attendance without youngsters of their own, this is a strong emotional core that grounds the movies in something that feels real. Elastigirl takes the job at DevTech partially because her family needs the money to keep living. And Bob, as any parent can attest to, will have his hands full watching over three kids – including a baby who can burst into flames. All of this should make Incredibles 2 fascinating, and it’ll hopefully be another winner for Pixar.