TL;DR
  • Stands out amongst other superhero films
  • Weaker villain – as is plan and motivations
  • Fewer messages than the first
  • Elastigirl demonstrates stronger female agency – Disney/ Pixar is doing things right!
  • We see more of the characters
  • Good humour
  • Its style is still unique and enjoyable – blend of 60s Bond films and superhero genre works brilliantly
  • A sequel worth waiting for

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Nowadays we expect superhero films at the cinema (can anyone remember a time when there wasn’t at least one being shown?!). But in a time dominated by Marvel (or DC and Fox trying desperately to keep up) it’s refreshing to have a superhero film that a.) isn’t based off a comic book, b.) isn’t from the usual Marvel, DC etc. and c.) is animated (although that’s bound to change with the upcoming Teen Titans Go! To the Movies and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse). Not that Incredibles 2 is completely original – the “2” makes its sequel status clear, but it’s been a long 14 year wait since the first… Back in 2004 the only superhero movies we really cared about were Raimi’s Spider-Man films… So how does Incredibles 2 fare in an age already saturated with superhero films?

We all remember that cliff-hanger back in 2004, when the Underminer emerges to wreak havoc on the city and the Incredibles family don their masks… 14 years later we finally get to see what happens, much to the joy of inner children worldwide. However, despite the heroic antics of Mr. Incredible/ Bob (Craig T. Nelson), Elastigirl/ Helen (Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner) and Frozone (Sameul L. Jackson), Mr. Incredible and co are angrily reminded that Supers are still illegal – something Winston (Bob Odenkirk) wants to change, along with his sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener). Much to Bob’s chagrin, Elastigirl is chosen as the new face of Supers – leaving Bob to be the house-husband while Helen goes out saving the world. While she deals with the rising threat of the Screenslaver, Bob tries to re-learn Math for Dash, help Violet with boy-trouble and try to raise the unpredictable Jack-Jack… But it isn’t long until the Incredibles unite to save the world from the Screenslaver’s sinister plan…

There was something undeniably special about the first film’s plot – it had moral messages both explicit and implicit that pleased countless audiences. Many went away with Syndrome’s line ringing in their ears – “When everyone is super, no one will be.” Ultimately the villain’s plot and motivations in Incredibles 2 pale in comparison to Syndrome, as does the character itself. It all makes sense during the film, but after it feels forgettable and devoid of a powerful message. Additionally, I can’t help but feel robbed of a large final encounter – but maybe we’ve become accustomed to Marvel’s structure…

On the other hand, it’s impossible to walk out of Incredibles 2 without noticing some of the powerful messages conveyed; specifically it’s brilliantly relevant and timely feminist message. Let’s face it – Elastigirl is a better hero than Mr. Incredible; he’s basically a non-green Hulk who hits things hard whereas there’s no limit to what Elastigirl can do by contorting her body – she absolutely deserves the spotlight in this sequel. But more than that, Elastigirl’s role in this film demonstrates another sense of female empowerment that Disney is doing so well at the moment. Not that Helen Parr is ready to stand up to the likes of Elsa and Moana, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction and a good female role model for the young audience.

The sequel also gives us an opportunity to enjoy more of the family dynamics within the Parr family. Although edging on the patronising side, seeing Bob cope with the reversal of the traditional roles adds in a nice bit of comedy, particularly his exhausted face as he deals with Jack-Jack’s refusal to sleep and his rising frustration in the face of Math he was never taught. Incredibles 2 allows more of a focus on the family itself, giving the film a more unique feel to the original. As a result, we see a little more of each character; we see more of Violet and her effort to deal with her teenage angst; we see much more of Frozone; and we even see a more maternal side to Edna… It’s even better to see more of Jack-Jack, a character who was noticeably side-lined for most of the original.

However the best returning aspect is the style itself. As with the first film, Incredibles 2 marries the 60s era James Bond style with the superhero genre – a beautiful match made in heaven; Michael Giacchino’s rollicking brass-dominated score is stronger than ever, strongly evocative of the old Bonds, and the set design is impeccable. I don’t know if it was just me, but on top of everything else the music and aesthetic was one of my favourite parts of The Incredibles and I’m just happy it’s as good in the sequel as it was back in 2004.

Waiting for sequels (whether we know they’re coming or not) is not unusual; after all there were over 30 years between the two Top Gun and Blade Runner films and more than 50 years in between the two Mary Poppins outings, not to mention the countless gaps between Star Wars and James Bond films… even Finding Dory came out 13 years after Finding Nemo. On the whole, I think it’s safe to say that the sequels we wait for are worth waiting for (let’s forget Godfather: Part III and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull for now…).

It may be 14 years since the original but Incredibles 2 is just as enjoyable as the first. Though it may lack the bold heart and strong messages of the first, the characters are out in full force, kicking ass and making audiences laugh in style. This is the sequel we wanted – able to stand proudly amongst other superhero films that have come out in the meantime. As was integral to the film itself, Incredibles 2 is proof that we need more of Pixar’s Supers!

P.S. The Pixar short film before the film starts is just as adorable as ever (especially once you get to the end).

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