My conflicting excitement for ‘Incredibles 2’

Since the final scene of “The Incredibles” previewed more adventures for the Parr family, I’ve been asking, no, begging for a sequel.

After 14 years and in my view unnecessary sequels like “Cars 2,” Disney | Pixar is finally releasing “The Incredibles 2” in June. While I am looking forward to seeing it, though, I do have my reservations.

When the first trailer dropped I was happy to see these characters again, and with more promotional material coming out, I have become excited for the sequel. However, there’s one hang up, one thing that bugs me about this long awaited follow-up.

The time in which it takes place. That’s been my main issue.

Before plot details came out, myself and others were predicting that the sequel may take place years in the future. That idea came from the potential of seeing how the Parr siblings deal with being younger super heroes while at the same time exploring the lives of their parents.

The reason for this thought process was because it is how many sequels work, even those made by Pixar.

All three of the “Toy Story” films, for example, take place years apart from each other. Not only does this show the changes in the lead toy characters, but it also shows the changes in their outside world. Over the course of the trilogy, the character Andy grows up, meaning the surroundings for the toys change and the movies evolve as the years pass.

This allowed for new perspectives from the characters, as they work through different matters and issues than the film before. The passage of time and the changes it brings plays a big role in that sense.

Another series from Pixar that used the element of time, albeit in a different way was the “Monsters” franchise. The first movie, released in 2001, was “Monsters, Inc.” and showed the main characters leading their adult lives and making their way through their careers.

The other film, meanwhile, “Monsters University,” was a (2013) prequel taking place years before and showed how the characters became who they are and why they work the way that they do.

Unlike these and other sequels, though, “Incredibles 2” won’t start off years down the line from its predecessor. Instead, it will pick up right where the first picture left off.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director of the original and its sequel, Brad Bird, had the following to say on the matter:

“I think that part of the intent of The Incredibles is to capture people and how their powers connected with the way they are at a certain age and their roles in the family, that was actually kind of the ‘Aha!’ idea for me when I thought of the original film.

“Men were expected to be strong, so I made the dad super strong, mothers are pulled in 20 different directions at once, so I had her be elastic. Teenage girls are defensive and shy and insecure, so I made Violet invisible and gave her force fields. Ten-year-olds are energy balls, so I made Dash super fast. And babies are unknown! So Jack-Jack either has no powers, or every power in the universe, because babies are all about possibility. So, if you age them up, then they’re just powers. And that’s not interesting.

The Parr siblings in an “Incredibles 2” ad.

“Animation does not have to observe linear time the way live-action films do, as long as people’s voices are the same, the characters don’t need to age. I mean, just ask the people on The Simpsons. You can do it in animation, just as long as the voices don’t sound older.”

Now, I get what he’s saying here. The powers are obviously tied to the characters’ personality and the way they act, and that does add another layer of depth to the people on screen.

However, I don’t think Bird is correct when he says that if you age them up, the powers have less meaning. The proof is in the parents, as technically, the first “Incredibles” introduces the older Parrs in their crime-fighting prime and then picks up with them later in middle age. For both characters, their personalities seem to be largely the same and they live with their powers just as they did before.

By having time pass in the sequel, we could explore the parents closing in on retirement age while also seeing how the Parr siblings have grown up with their responsibilities as super heroes. I think in doing so, it’s still possible to connect the powers of the characters to their personalities.

By having a time skip to a few years in the future, audiences could see how Violet has changed, maybe she’s more outgoing and is getting ready for college. The film could explore Dash’s rebellious nature clashing with his super hero duties as a teen.

Plus, there could be an interesting concept of seeing Jack-Jack learn all of the powers he has. All of these factors would also mean a lot of different interactions with the parents than we saw in the first film.

I want to stress that I’m not hating on this film before it’s released, in fact I’m still excited for it. I think the dynamic of having Helen be the one returning to hero work while Bob stays at home is a good flip and can lead to interesting interactions.

Mrs. Incredible: Helen Parr.

It’s a chance to see gender roles reversed and also another opportunity for some comedy to show how the standard American nuclear family operates when they have to live with super powers.

Plus, I’m never one to doubt Pixar. Aside from some missteps like “Cars 2,” “Brave” and “The Good Dinosaur,” the animation studio has a good track record of knocking it out of the park with well crafted films that tell meaningful stories.

The same is true for Brad Bird, who directed another one of my favorite Pixar films, “Ratatouille.” The guy knows how to helm an animated film, and I have enough trust in his skills to believe that “Incredibles 2” will be a solid entry into the Pixar lineup.

Yet, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like having a flash forward of some years in the “Incredibles” universe. Even if it was just a few years, like the time difference between “How to Train Your Dragon” and its sequel. It could be a way to introduce new issues in both the family dynamic and the outside world.

Hopefully, if this film does well enough (of course it will) we will get an “Incredibles 3” that’s set some years in the future. I think it’s certainly a possibility considering the potential of super hero stories and the fact that we’re in the comic book movie golden age. But please, please, don’t let the wait for a third “Incredibles” be 14 years.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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