Family, Technology and Modern Day Superheroes in 'Incredibles 2'

13 Jul 2018 BY Maria Cabrera

6 mins
Incredibles 2
Incredibles 2

Although arriving on screens fourteen years after the original, this much-anticipated sequel follows directly from the last. After an epic showdown with villain The Underminer - a mole-looking bank robber with a giant drill vehicle - the Parr family must return to their domestic lives as ordinary people. As in The Incredibles, superheroes are still illegal due to damages caused on the city of Metroville after missions, and with the Superheroes Relocation Programme being shut down, that means no more fighting crime.

All that changes when DevTech Corporations, a large communications company ran by superhero-enthusiast Winston and his sister Evelyn, recruit Helen in the hope Elastigirl can change the reputation of supers.This leaves Bob (Mr Incredible) to stay at home and look after frantic pre-teen Dash, invisible Violet (as she deals with her first crush), and baby Jack-Jack, who's discovering his powers. Although the family are embarking on a new chapter, much-loved characters remain a part of their journey, with cool-as-ice Frozone and tiny fashion diva Edna Mode amongst those making appearances.

In spite of the fact both films showcase a high-tech world of computers and out-of-this-world inventions, the setting suggests the action takes place in the early 60s, with classic cars, black and white televisions, and costumes reminiscent of Batman: The Movie. If you look closer, you may even see the date on newspapers. 

Set in an unspecified time that brings together the past with present day technology, but where notably no one has a mobile phone, the sequel could be making a commentary on our modern world.The family's latest nemesis is the mysterious Screenslaver (a play on screensaver), an insidious force dressed in black, sporting huge googles, who can hijack screens and hypnotise people through images. In particularly telling scenes, citizens of Metroville watch Elastigirl fight the villain on a shop's TV display, but then become hypnotised by the Screenslaver's transmissions. The film seems to be making a comment on the huge role social media and entertainment plays in our lives now and their harmful consequences. On the other hand, set just before the rise of colour TV, it suggests that this is not a new concern and technology is constantly changing society. 

Although Incredibles 2 takes us on a journey beyond our imagination with thrilling action sequences, such as when Elastigirl transforms into a human trampoline to bounce the children to safety, one of the remarkable things about the Parrs is how familiar and convincing they are to both young and old audiences. Co-producer John Walker told one of Into Film's young reporters how "there is something iconic about the characters. They seem, in an odd way, more believable superheroes than real actors". With an explosion of superhero films in the past few years, such as the hugely popular Black Panther and the Avengers franchise, Incredibles 2 arrives outside of their universe but still manages to greatly connect with audiences.

This might be due to the theme of family being the crux of the film and how each character's powers is associated with their personality as well as their social role. Director Brad Bird (RatatouilleThe Iron Giant) describes the animation as a form of caricature, with each family member's exaggerated characteristics "capturing the essence of what makes that person distinct". For example, Elastigirl's ability to contort and stretch her body in any direction, reflects the pressure placed on women to multi-task. Another example is Violet, who is going through adolescence and is aptly able to make herself invisible and block people out with force-fields. Although the Parrs are notably a traditional nuclear family, it is the essential element of many other superhero movies - underdogs overcoming their hindrances and using their powers for good - that makes it so tremendously fun and exciting to watch.

With the Parr children taking on a bigger role in Incredibles 2,not least Jack-Jack's new found powers offering some of the most hilarious scenes, this sequel will certainly appeal to a new generation of superhero fans. Mixing sheer entertainment with witty dialogue and relevant discussions on themes such as technology and gender roles, the film showcases the possibilities of animation and how it continues to appeal to a wide range of audiences. 

Maria Cabrera news author image

Maria Cabrera , Curation Officer

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