The Incredibles – This was a good movie, although I’m not sure I’d say it was incredible. It centers around a family of superheroes loosely based on the Fantastic Four. At least, one of them can stretch, one turns invisible and makes force fields, and Mr. Incredible’s super strength and durability made him similar to the Thing without the rocky appearance. The fourth member of the family (not counting the baby, who doesn’t appear to have any powers until the end of the movie), however, ran really fast instead of being able to control fire. The story tells how a multitude of lawsuits against superheroes led to costumed crime-fighting becoming illegal. Mr. Incredible is now working at an insurance agency, and his desire to help the clients means the agency is making less money. I’m not sure why he hasn’t already been fired, or why the guy in charge of relocating former superheroes would give him a job in such a cutthroat industry, but I guess everyone but insurance CEOs can get behind skewering the insurance industry. There was even a Saw movie that did that.
Anyway, Mr. Incredible has taken to crime-fighting behind his wife’s back, and starts doing undercover assignments for a secret organization that turns out to be led by a supervillain. Not only that, but he’s a former fan of Mr. Incredible who wanted to join him, and became jaded when the hero rejected him.
They did something kind of similar in Iron Man 3, although Tony Stark was much more of an ass about it (something that I’m sure surprises nobody). Is the moral supposed to be that celebrities should humor their annoying fans? Because I know there are obsessed fans who will take a mile if you give them an inch. I also thought the family dynamic of Elastigirl being nagging her husband and his repeatedly lying to her was rather clichéd, but Brad Bird has said he based the characters on archetypes anyway. It does make it kind of hard to root for Mr. Incredible when he’s lying to his loved ones, although the film does establish some sympathy for him in that superheroics were what gave his life meaning.
When Mr. Incredible is captured, his wife goes to rescue him, and their kids stow away with them. The older one, Violet, is a shy girl who can turn invisible, and is voiced by Sarah Vowell. has she gotten any more voice work since then? Her brother Dash acts out because he’s unable to do anything else with his powers. They have to work together as a family to defeat the villain Syndrome, who plans to launch a killer robot against the city and then stage defeating it.
Not only does Syndrome end up flat-out dying, but he’s said to have killed a bunch of other heroes. We all know death is cheap in the superhero world, but it’s still pretty dark for a children’s film, especially when we’re assured that the people Mr. Incredible throws out of cars or through walls remain alive. Syndrome’s death is foreshadowed with the rant against capes by Edna Mode, a costume designer based on Edith Head.
It kind of reminds me of a Darkwing Duck episode where the titular hero got his cape caught in a car door, and Negaduck later congratulates himself on the fact that HE doesn’t buy rip-proof capes.
I suppose you could say that the film was an affectionate parody of superheroes, combined with some family drama. Writer and director Bird has said the family element was the most important part for him. That said, the superhero characters were quite clever, and names like Elastigirl, Frozone, Bomb Voyage, and the Underminer are ones that comic writers probably wish they’d come up with. The city in which the Incredibles live, Metroville, is shown on a map near the beginning to be pretty much exactly the shape of New York City. There were also a lot of designs that hearkened back to the fifties or sixties, even though the setting was modern in other respects. But then, that kind of fits the comic aesthetic.