In the modern world where superhero movies are asked a lot of in terms of pacing, the amount of dead air in The Incredibles simply wouldn’t pass. Easy to see the film’s faults in the Superhero Era of today’s Hollywood, we have this expectation of most action movies to be this perfect ball of entertainment–one pitfall and we’re ready to jump all over it.
But watching The Incredibles, we have to remind ourselves that the only superhero movies that were coming out at that time were the early X-Men films and the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man. In 2004, there wasn’t much to base genre cliches on, yet Pixar decided to make their sixth movie about a family of superheroes–naturally gifted ones. The family superhero trope is pretty much exclusively reserved for children’s movies–especially animated ones. This type of thing probably wouldn’t ever be tried by Marvel anyway, so maybe any comparisons are unfair. Though we can’t possibly get them out of our scope while watching this.
The Incredibles follows the Parr family, made up of Mr. Incredible (who has super-strength), his wife Elastigirl (who can stretch her body like rubber), and their three children, who each have different powers. The beginning of this story is set fifteen years in the past. After countless collateral damage lawsuits against superheroes by citizens, the government initiates a ban on superheroes publicly displaying their powers, forcing them to permanently use their secret identities. It’s a concept utilized a lot in superhero movies, but rarely put into bold action like this.
Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), who is still secretly listening to police scanners with his superhero friend, Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), receives a mysterious message requesting his help on a remote island to destroy a large robot, Omnidroid. We discover that the mastermind behind the Omnidroid is a villain named Syndrome (Jason Lee), who ends up using Mr. Incredible’s battle against the robot as training and preparation for the robot to wreak havoc on the city, just so it can ultimately be “defeated” by Syndrome himself–declaring him as the real hero.
Syndrome’s plans are convoluted to say the least, and the way they’re presented doesn’t help us out much. But his motives are sound, which means the filmmakers may have confused the two.
The Incredibles doesn’t allow its Disney tag get in the way of much censorship. The film still has a decent amount of violence and the tone is pretty dark. It’s also not outright hilarious like other Pixar movies, but does have a nice helping of self-parody and satire. Because it’s animated, the action is more well-choreographed, with the medium allowing the characters to do more, excellently utilizing each hero’s unique powers in conjunction with one another.
Despite it being one of the more dated animated movies of recent vintage, The Incredibles is still a lot of fun, and takes a slightly different look at the superhero genre–still giving it value amongst today’s movies.