A couple of years ago on this website I ranked all the superhero films that had come out in the previous decade (with the exception of the few I hadn’t seen which were mostly Teenage Ninja Turtle movies). Read it here. Prior to seeing Incredibles 2, I went back to see where I placed its predecessor but I had forgotten it wasn’t on the list. The Incredibles came out in 2004, so long ago that it didn’t qualify for the timescale I’d specified. Yep, it’s fourteen years between that film and this one and that is an uncommonly long time between a first film and its sequel. I know a number of big franchises have recently been restarted having been quiet for decades but this is not the start of a second trilogy, this is just part two.
In this case though this doesn’t matter. There was no desperate need to strike while the iron was hot with The Incredibles because when it comes to classic kid’s animations those irons don’t really cool down. These movies get rewatched and rediscovered continually. My eldest daughter was three when The Incredibles came out, my second daughter was one and my youngest still five years away from being born yet we all know the film really well. The Incredibles is a proper classic too. I’ll tell you now, if it had been on my ranked superhero movies list it would have been number five after two Batmans, an Avengers and Kick Ass. So it was then that our whole family of five eagerly went off to revisit this other family of five whose company we have enjoyed with some regularity for quite a long time.
Of course this carries some expectation but let’s not beat around the bush any longer, Incredibles 2 is excellent. It is easily as good as the original, possibly even better. What was great about The Incredibles was the way it combined normal family life with properly exciting superhero adventures. Also, beyond Hit Girl and Robin, there aren’t that many well known child superheroes and there was great charm in seeing fourteen and ten year old Violet and Dash using the powers they had grown up with in real high stakes situations for the first time. All of this continues in Incredibles 2 but there are several great new aspects that add hugely to the story.
First off, this time the focus shifts to Elastigirl which gives the film a strong feminist theme. The narrative sees a young entrepreneur fund a push to have superheroes legalised again. (The criminalisation of super-powered vigilantism was another thing that was brilliant about the first film. Marvel Studios are now running with the same idea). The guy realises that Elastigirl is his best hope of winning public support and this gives the movie a strong ‘anything boys can do girls can do better’ message. Mr Incredible is then left at home looking after the children and drama is drawn both from the gender issues of her being out there and him being indoors. The story continues to be an effective ensemble piece but as much as Bob Parr was the protagonist of the first film so Helen Parr is the lead in this one.
In fact the ensemble has somewhat increased in size. There are a handful of new superheroes here and just like when Toy Story 3 threw dozens of new characters in with its original line up, this adds to the tapestry rather than overcrowds it. I can’t help but feel that with this coming out in the same summer as Infinity War this is a nod to the Avengers and a reminder that when it comes to superhero gangs on screen, these guys got there first. Interestingly, the brother and sister duo that are equipping and financing the heroes look a lot like Roxanne Ritchie from Megamind and Alistair Krei from Big Hero 6 respectively. This too, I am sure, is a subtle but noticeable wink to similar films that very much follow in the Incredibles’ wake.
The most significant addition to the band of heroes is baby Jack-Jack who joyously got his powers at a key moment in the end of the last movie. Jack-Jack’s capabilities were explored in the Pixar short film Jack-Jack Attack and on seeing the trailer I was worried that this movie may be a retread of that as Dad Bob discovers the stresses of caring for a multi-powered infant just as babysitter Kari did in that story. I needn’t have been concerned though as Jack-Jack still has plenty of surprises up the sleeve of his romper. The extended scene where he takes on his first assailant is probably the best part of a film that is full of really memorable moments. If it’s not this section then it’s his time with fashion designer Edna Mode, or maybe his walkabout on the ship. Either way little Jack-Jack is the most entertaining member of the family.
In the end Incredibles 2 is mostly about that family and families in general. Odeon cinemas are giving away free face masks with tickets for the movie this weekend which is an obvious marketing tie in but, by accident or design, this fits quite profoundly with the film. What Incredibles 2 seems to be ultimately saying is that all families are incredible and holding these together and cherishing them is the greatest thing any human can achieve. We all get wear the masks because we are all heroes.
Taken at face value or with consideration of the (slightly) deeper meaning though this movie is super fun.
There is no post credit scene as with a lot of superhero films these days but take my advice and stay put for the music.
Here is my nine year old daughter’s review which essentially says the same thing but more succinctly (minor spoilers):
I think Incredibles 2 was a great movie but the best character of all was baby Jack-Jack. He is really funny and, if you think about it, if wasn’t for him, Elastigirl would still be wearing those strange glasses. Jack-Jack saved the day! I also like the lady who decided to look after him, Edna No Capes. She is very strict she also changes her mind very quickly.
This is a great film with loads of interesting and funny parts in it. It made me feel happy.