Written by Vanessa Agius
Brad Bird’s 2004 smash hit The Incredibles managed to appeal to the whole family, with bright animation and fun action sequences for kids, and jokes for mum and dad, too. So what made a hardworking dad, multitasking mum, shy teen, cheeky child and a loveable baby one of the most incredible overnight success stories?
It’s obvious what made The Incredibles tick was its relatability. It showed the balance between work and family life and how families struggle when the balance is disrupted. After a 14-year hiatus, the beloved Parr family will be returning to our screens next month, and it’s easy to see why a sequel is in such high demand.
To be honest, apart from the obvious superhero status the Parr family hold, they are a pretty normal family, which is what Bird was so set on emphasising. Audiences watch Violet wrestle with feeling invisible to a high school crush, Dash getting punished for misbehaving at school, Bob working a mundane job, and Helen stretching herself to hold the family together. Family dinner scenes featuring sibling rivalry and parental input seem all too familiar, making viewers believe that if it wasn’t for the superpowers, they weren’t much different from the Parrs.
The Incredibles also succeeded in providing positive female role models for fans. Being a film under the Pixar franchise it was always certain that both young boys and girls would take interest in the film. With a history of male-dominated superhero stories being a forefront in the pop culture industry, having strong female leads in an animated superhero flick back in 2004 was very reassuring.
In Violet, audiences saw an older sibling with the responsibility of protecting her cheeky younger brothers when the stakes were high, as well as having the strength to believe in her own abilities when times got tough.
Helen Parr showed all kinds of awesomeness both as Elastigirl, and a mother. In the interviews which open the film, she expresses a desire to continue hero work ‘at the top of her game’ and doesn’t fail to deliver, by outwitting her husband in their glory days, and by rescuing her family later on in the film.
Another great aspect of The Incredibles was that it never shied away from addressing adult themes. Bob’s struggle with weight and his boring office job, the desire to relive his youth, Helen’s concern over her husband’s suspicious behaviour, parental instincts when faced with death, and showing how they deal with loss are all heavy themes which The Incredibles covered. Pixar showed children with maturity beyond their years, parents struggling with their marriage, all whilst trying to juggle their work and school lives.
What does the long-awaited sequel have in store for viewers? Picking up directly after where the original film ends, The Incredibles 2 will focus on Helen Parr’s return as Elastigirl, in an attempt to bring Supers back into a positive light. The other major story point is the Parr Family dealing with Jack-Jack’s powers developing, which we saw a sneak peek of at the end of the first film and the Pixar short Jack-Jack Attack.
On top of this, the sequel seems to display the average problems of adolescence, babysitting, helping kids navigate modern life and just being a functioning family! If it can deliver on the exceptionally high standards of the original, this sequel could be truly incredible.
The Incredibles 2 will hit Australian cinemas June 14.