(Check out the list so far)
The Movie: The Incredibles (2004)
One Sentence Plot Summary: In a version of the Fantastic Four that’s Actually Good, the Parr family negotiates being a family, living in the world, and being superheroes.
Why It’s on the List: I’ve talked about this movie before on Superhero Pantheon, and the thing that has struck me lately is Syndrome’s behavior ageing ‘well.’ The family dynamic remains entertaining. Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter were the perfect choices to play the patriarch and matriarch of the Parr family. Pixar is constantly at the forefront of 3-D animation, and to see how much these visuals have evolved from even this movie is wild.
I also love that “monologuing” is a thing. I make frequent references to this, and it’s a shame we don’t see more references to it in popular culture. I also love the way it plays with the mythology of capes and how they can harm superheroes more than help. It really makes you question why Batman still insists on wearing one. There is also mythology set up that really doesn’t get addressed in the sequels, but I’m fascinated by a world that has superheroes but asks them to step down. We see the ramifications of this in the story of the Parr family.
I’ve loved this movie since it first came out in the fall of 2004. It being included on the list was a lay-up. I’m not sure it’s my favorite Pixar movie of all-time as I think the Toy Story franchise has hit some really emotional beats and aged in a much better way than this film and subsequent have. Nonetheless, this is a great family movie which stands alongside a lot of other great superhero films quite well.
*Some have tried to make a connection between Brad Bird and Ayn Rand. I don’t buy that argument in considering his entire body of work.
*Frozone’s wife is a pretty major stereotype, that of the nagging wife. Being Black does not help.
MVP: Brad Bird has made three stone cold animated classics, two of which are on this list. His work as a director on animated projects has become the stuff of legend, from The Simpsons to back-to-back Pixar movies. This movie is much more representative of his aesthetic given the animation style and overall plot. I’m not sure his brand of storytelling works in 2020 (See the sequel that conceptualized the idea of a wife actually being able to go to work instead of her husband), but he certainly has had an incredible career that has pushed the medium forward.
Best Performance: I would probably have said Craig T. Nelson for a number of years, but at this point, I’ve got to say that Jason Lee’s whiny fanboy supervillain is a perfect distillation on the problem with the fandom. Syndrome is actually even more realistic and tangible than he was in in year this movie came out. Lee is probably best known for his performances in Kevin Smith movies, but this might be one of his best ever just because he’s so cartoonishly evil at times but a tremendous threat to our protagonists. It’s so depressing that Syndrome is ultimately the most relevant character from this movie, and his kind of behavior is not only tolerated but rewarded.
Best Quote: “No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid; I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for… for ten minutes!” – Mr. Incredible
Is there a sequel? Yes.
How is it? Some fine moments, including two technically amazing sequences but a retrograde plot and lame twist as to who the real villain is.