For 14 years, fans of Pixar’s “The Incredibles” have demanded director Brad Bird for a sequel. They have hoped — no, begged — for another epic adventure that the beloved family of superheroes will embark on to save the world from destruction.
The long awaited “Incredibles 2” hit theaters last Friday in an era unlike that of its predecessor — now, superheroes are modern mythological icons, and this sequel already marks the fourth major superhero film that has been released this year.
However, while another superhero film can often be overlooked, Bird’s “Incredibles 2” is a refreshing and unique take on the hero flicks that have dominated the box office in recent years. Complete with electric visuals and witty humor, the animated sequel shatters the expectations that once governed the superhero genre.
Immediately following the events of the original film, the sequel transports the audience into the catastrophic bank robbery devised by The Underminer. While the Incredibles do their best to save the city from complete wreckage, the police officers are not happy. The year is 1962, and instead of entrusting superheroes with the selfless duty of crime-fighting, the government demands them to stay out of it. According to the law, superheroes leave behind more destruction than necessary and must resort to their secret identities.
Enter Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), a multi-million telecommunications tycoon who wants to change the perception of superheroes with his tech-savvy sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener). As a die-hard superhero aficionado, Winston plans to redefine and legalize superheroes using technology. For Winston’s first step, Helen Parr (Holly Hunter), or Elastigirl, is shoved into fighting crime in the streets — saving a runaway train, using her super-stretching abilities to stop the Screenslaver, another major villain — all while having a surveillance camera installed in her suit that lends the public a proper glimpse into the life of a superhero.
The plot then forks into two: Helen is taking on her new job as a superhero advocate, while Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson), or Mr. Incredible, is at home taking care of the kids. Turns out that parenting is a task easier said than done for Bob, with adolescent Violet (Sarah Vowell) dealing with boy drama, fifth-grader Dash (Huckleberry Milner) not understanding his math homework (perhaps a 1960s version of today’s Common Core) and seemingly harmless Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) testing out his 17-or-so superpowers that were revealed at the end of the previous film.
While the improved computer animation welcomes audiences into a more saturated and fine-tuned world — viewers can count the hairs in Dash’s voluptuous ’do, and the cityscape is full of Pixar’s working magic — the villain’s storyline fell short to that of the original. The character is not as compelling as Syndrome (the Mr. Incredible fanboy-turned-villain in the first film), who was more cunning, daunting and tragically flawed. The Screenslaver’s actions are not as dark and twisted as Syndrome’s operation Kronos, which killed underground, retired superheroes by luring them into fighting omniboid robots and eventually getting killed.
As noted by Bird, “The Incredibles” left a shadow that was difficult to outshine with a sequel. Unlike any other superhero film, “The Incredibles” delves into family matters, a midlife crisis and a dismantling marriage that reeks of a possible affair. Even with the Avengers and (God forbid) Justice League, “The Incredibles” has continued to stand out with its complex, yet relatable storyline.
While it was assumed that these characters would not develop drastically (the sequel does take place right after the original, after all), the family’s humor, the action sequences and a well-deserved Edna Mode appearance all wrapped into Michael Giacchino’s energetic soundtrack bring back plenty of nostalgia for viewers.
The characters are still just as lovable or even more so than in the first film. Dash is still young and cocky, and Jack-Jack never fails to steal the hearts of viewers. Bob finally learns what it means to be a dad — even if that means getting the right kind of batteries — while Violet struggles with impressing her crush Tony Rydinger (who is arguably underrated as a side character), bringing viewers back to the horrors of middle school romance.
Overall, the sequel seamlessly complements the original. “Incredibles 2” manages to stretch its world to one that is progressively bold, daring and, most of all, heroic. With its newest release, Pixar surmounts the superhero genre. And now, all there is left to do is to wait another 14 years for “Incredibles 3.”