There are few animated movies so good that a sequel is simply superfluous. The Incredibles is one such film (Monsters Inc unfortunately fell to the curse of sequelitis (or, more correctly, prequelitis) last year with the Boo-less Monsters University, much to my disappointment)–at least, at the time of the writing of this blog post, it still is. From what I’ve read, Brad Bird, creator of The Incredibles, is contemplating a sequel should he be able to come up with a good enough storyline.
Does that make me an anti-sequel opponent? Well, not per se, but it is hard to make a sequel top its predecessor (unless your name happens to be James Cameron, who, by the way, has already set the bar pretty high for himself with Titanic and Avatar). A sequel may do well financially, but the story is often bigger, rather than better. And (unfair or inevitable) comparisons to the original storyline are almost always drawn. Should a sequel have a standalone storyline? Should it connect the dots and address questions unanswered by the original? And don’t even get me started with the continuity errors that nitpickers invariably find.
The Incredibles is not a spoof of The Fantastic Four (there are no secret identities for the latter group, for one). Instead, it offers a look at superheroes when the glamour and attention that goes with being one wear off, and the falliabilities of middle-age set in, complete with bigger butts, receding hairlines, expanding waistlines, a mortgage in suburbia land, constant job relocations (thanks to Mr. Incredible’s inability to stay secret for long), plus a hefty dose of pre-teen cockiness, and teenage angst.
In the same way that Shrek dispelled the happily-ever-after mythos of fairytale stories, The Incredibles offers a more realistic look than most superhero movies care to shine a light on. After all, it may be the common people who applaud superheroes for saving them from natural and supernatural disasters, and even other villains, but I’ve always wondered, isn’t it those same taxpayers (who often aren’t superheroes) who have to pick up the hefty tab for reconstruction of commercial buildings, houses, statues, gardens, etc. that are demolished as a result of superheroic intervention?
Along those same lines of realism, creator Brad Bird dispels the myth that superheroes are great fashion designers/seamstresses. I have to give him props for that, too. I’m tickled when Edna Mode (voiced by Bird himself), the quirky, diminutive but feisty “designer to the supers”, laments how she has been relegated to making clothes for supermodels (who are anything but super). Ms. Mode (“no capes!” is her catchphrase) further demonstrates that making superhero costumes is no walk in the park, when she lets Helen (aka Elastigirl) see the complexities and challenges involved in making new outfits to match the power of each member of the Incredible/Parr family.
The fact that this story takes place in an animated universe doesn’t make this a family film, though; there is lots of violence and death to put even Wonder Woman (the 2009 animated film) to shame. It does give the animators a bit of creative license with the characters and scenes — particularly where Helen/Elastigirl and Dash are concerned. Still, I’m amazed that all one needs to secure one’s (nonsecret) identity is a mask around the eyes — apparently Lasix surgery and digital enhancement software hadn’t made their debuts yet. 🙂
photo credits (first two images): Walt Disney Entertainment and Pixar Studios