Incredibles 2 was good; really good. But I’m not yet sure it’s great. Let me explain…
As part of a Father’s Day Weekend outing, a good friend of mine and I brought our broods, aged two through ten, to see Incredibles 2.
The film was worth the wait, and then some. The direct continuation of Incredibles (2004) is a worthy addition to Pixar canon; it is the best superhero movie I’ve seen since Wonder Woman.
Yes, you heard that correctly, it’s better than Avengers: Infinity War. However, when the film was over, and above our sons’ clapping, my friend said, “I need to see it again…”
Determining whether a film is great, rather than very, very good, remains more than a matter of opinion (sorry Twitter).
Greatness implies a universality of that opinion; with archetypal re-setting and heightening of expectations for any film that follows. To that end, Incredibles, like its sequel, written and directed by Brad Bird (Tomorrowland, Iron Giant), challenged our own thinking about comic book/superhero movies by answering the question, “What do superheroes do when they are not being super?”
Both movies make us re-think traditional superhero tropes, which value might over mitigation and brawn over brains.
In November of 2004, the late-great Roger Ebert wrote of the original film:
The story follows the universal fondness for finding the chinks in superhero armor; if Superman hadn’t had kryptonite, he would have been perfect, and therefore boring, and all the superheroes since him have spent most of their time compensating for weaknesses. Think about it: Every story begins with a superhero who is invincible, but who soon faces total defeat.
The Incredibles also includes a muddled message about meeting your idols and overcoming mediocracy in there, too. However, that is best meant for a more in-depth discussion another time.
However, Incredibles 2 takes the plot of its progenitor — almost down to the beat — and turns it on its head.
This time, Helen Parr (aka Elastigirl or Mrs. Incredible, played by Holly Hunter) has been chosen as the test case, which could bring “supers” back into the mainstream. Bob Parr — Mr. Incredible — Craig T. Nelson is home with the kids. As you might imagine, general chaos ensues in the Parrs’ new swanky digs. Meanwhile, mom is bringing home the bacon and doing so well that the winds of change look to push the Incredibles and their fellow supers back into the sunlight. But always lurking are unseen hands, working from the shadows to keep the superheroes in the dark.
When the movie hits its stride (my wife asked why it couldn’t get to the point a little quicker, just as she asked after seeing the original), the script of the 2004 film continues to serve as a basis for reflection, even as the family begins to understand — again — justs how powerful they are as a unit.
Along the way, the Parr parents and children (Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack, played by Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, and Eli Fucile, respectively) are assisted by Edna Mode (Bird) and Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), as well as a new character, Voyd, voiced by Sophia Bush.
Yes, it is relatable; very relatable – especially when Jack-Jack morphs from a genial ball of a baby into a surrealist nightmare. But is Incredibles 2 fresh? Does it stand on its own? And did I miss a bigger message as I was dazzled by the super-villain’s vertigo-inducing lights? Maybe. That’s why I’ll wait before proclaiming the film an instant classic.
My rating 4 out of 5 stars.