Today Is "Incredibles Day," So, Let's Have A Look Back At "The Incredibles"
Disney has declared today "Incredibles Day." So, I thought it would be fun to watch The Incredibles again and give some thoughts on that movie before the sequel comes out on June 15. The Incredibles has long been one of my favorite Pixar films, so let's see how I feel about it on this most recent viewing since I haven't seen it in awhile.
I think the thing that makes this film so special is not really the superheroics, but the family dynamics. Its the same thing that made the Fantastic Four, the Marvel team on which The Incredibles is inspired by, so great. They were superheroes with real world problems.
While Bird says he did not draw inspiration from another comic book source, you can't help but think that the resemblances between Fantastic Four and The Incredibles are uncanny (to borrow the adjective from another superhero team).
In 1974's Origin of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee said of his goal in creating the Fantastic Four, "For just this once, I would do the type of story I myself would enjoy reading.... And the characters would be the kind of characters I could personally relate to: they'd be flesh and blood, they'd have their faults and foibles, they'd be fallible and feisty, and — most important of all — inside their colorful, costumed booties they'd still have feet of clay."
This reminded me of an interview that The Incredibles director Brad Bird gave CinemBlend. He remarked that the powers The Incredibles received were not just random, but designed to work with their role in the family, "Once I had that insight into what I wanted to do, I picked the powers based on who they were in the family. And so, men are always expected to be strong, so I had Bob have super strength. Women or mothers are always pulled in a million different directions, so I had [Helen] be elastic. Teenagers are insecure and defensive, so I had Violet have force fields and invisibility. 10-year-olds are energy balls that can't be stopped. And babies are unknown. Maybe they have no powers, maybe they have all powers, we don't know. So that's what Jack-Jack was. He was seemingly the first normal one in the family. And then at the end of Incredibles, you find out that he's a wildcard and that he's sort of a Swiss army knife of powers."
My favorite scenes in The Incredibles are over the more mundane conflicts than the battles with Syndrome himself. For example, the family dinner in which Bob (Mr. Incredible voiced by Craig T. Nelson) is completely disengaged from the conversation as he contemplates where his life has gone since his glory days. An argument among the children ensues as they use their powers against each other. Helen (Elastigirl voiced by Holly Hunter) has to mediate, using her elastic powers to keep her kids apart. When Helen insists Bob engages in the conflict, his way of dealing with it is to raise the table off the ground. This was the perfect example of Bird's thinking at work.
Another scene I love is when Helen realizes that Bob has been secretly fighting crime with Lucius (Frozone voiced by Samuel L. Jackson). She confronts him as he gets home and the two get into a fight. As Helen and Bob scream each other as wives and husbands sometimes do, Helen's body ever so slightly inflates to make her stand taller than Bob himself. Its very subtle, but beautifully done. This leads into seeing the kids hiding in the corner, afraid that their parents might get divorced. These are issues that face every family.
Other things like Dash (Spencer Vox) being so bored in school he uses his super speed to play tricks on his teacher to Violet's (Sarah Vowell) becoming invisible because she is shy about a boy she likes are all great moments.
Another thing I love about the film is the retro feel from the Mid-Century modern architecture and interior design to even the score by Michael Giacchino (which is easily one of my favorite scores of all time). These things are also little homages to the Fantastic Four which was created in 1961, but it also creates both a timeless and futuristic look at the same time.
Giacchino's score has such a dynamic feel to it. Originally, Bird wanted John Barry to reproduce a sound similar to the soundtrack he wrote for the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service. But, Barry didn't want to retread something he already had done, so Giacchino was chosen to create that retro pastiche. Honestly, though, to say Giacchino just mimicked Barry's sound does him a disservice as The Incredibles score is great on its own and fits the overall retro look that Bird wanted for the film. The score completely expresses retro superhero.
The true scene stealer of this film, of course, is Edna Mode voiced by Bird himself. As designer to the supers, her "no capes" rule has become a household catch phrase. She was created as a way to explain where super heroes get their costumes and based her quirky look on famed designer Edith Head. While her personality is brusque, she is actually the ones to get these heroes who've fallen from glory to once again believe in themselves.
Despite The Incredibles really being a family drama, the film is definitely full of fun superheroics as the family has to come together to battle the villain Syndrome (Jason Lee) who is extracting his revenge for what he think is being mistreated by his hero Mr. Incredible. The elastic powers of Mr. Fantastic in 2005's Fantastic Four or even its 2007 sequel pale in comparison to Elastigirl's elastic powers. The way they animated her abilities from pure stretching to shape shifting into a boat to becoming a parachute was just so creative and such a treat to see on the big screen. Same goes with Violet's force field and invisibility powers, Dash's super speed and Frozone's ice powers.
Having been trying to keep up with all the Marvel films, I'm glad to have been able to go back and watch The Incredibles again. Honestly, The Incredibles holds up as one of the best superhero movies of all time and is able to compete with some of the best of Marvel Studios films. And, it reminded me why it is still one of Pixar's best and one of my personal favorites.