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Incredibles 2 Completely Ignores Modern Superhero Films

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Warning: the following contains spoilers for Incredibles 2.

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Incredibles 2 picks up where The Incredibles left off over a decade ago, both in terms of plot and style. In remaining true to the original, the sequel ignores many of the trends and trademarks that have developed in the last fourteen years; however, by embracing the ridiculous and light-hearted, Incredibles 2 sets itself apart from live-action superhero films; because it's an animated film, its retro superhero style is charming rather than tone deaf.

A lot has changed since the first Incredibles film arrived in theaters in 2004. At the time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was just a twinkle in Kevin Feige's eye, and Christopher Nolan's revolutionary Dark Knight trilogy hadn't been released, much less the DCEU. The major superhero franchises of the time were Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man and the initial X-Men trilogy. Catwoman, starring Halle Berry, was released the same year as The Incredibles. In between the release of the Incredibles films, two separate Fantastic Four franchises have come and gone.

Related: The Incredibles 2 Cast & Character Guide

The failures of the live-action Fantastic Four, however, may give us some insight into the stylistic choices of both Incredibles films. While Mr. Fantastic's flexible limbs have never translated in live-action, Elastigirl's powers are central to a number of scenes in Incredibles 2, including an epic race to stop a speeding train. The over-the-top powers that seems silly in a live action film ends up being a dynamic and interesting power when removed to the world of animation. Similarly, the brightly-colored super suits, the super cars with rocket launchers, the brain-washing super goggles, and the host of superpowers Incredibles 2 use are ridiculously corny: if this was a live-action film, it would be so disparate from how audiences understand superhero films today that viewers would balk at it. However, as an animated film, Incredibles 2 is able to deliver on this over-the-top and retro superhero style. Surprisingly, because Incredibles chooses to embrace a classic superhero look, it stands out from many superhero films today.

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Superhero Films Have Changed - But Incredibles Hasn't

Superhero films, perhaps beginning with Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins in 2005, began to explore a more serious side of masked heroes. Of course, films like The Dark Knight and Logan take a more stark approach than, say, Spiderman: Homecoming, but Marvel's films leading up to Infinity War have still done some acrobatics to convert their source material into something palatable for the big screen. Superhero characters often go by new names, with their super moniker coyly revealed, or in the case of some outdated characters, the "super" name is left off entirely: M'baku in Black Panther avoids the racially charged "Man-Ape". Supersuits are either re-imagined as stylized and sleek armor or in the case of Scarlet Witch, a trenchcoat and corset.

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Even just between Marvel and DC, the number of superhero films has also dramatically increased. While there is an almost constant discussion of "superhero fatigue", neither franchise is planning to slow down any time soon. Instead of trying to address or engage with the numerous new films, however, Brad Bird opted to keep Incredibles 2 within the niche of the original film.

Related: The Incredibles Is A Better Cinematic Watchmen Than Watchmen

This means Incredibles 2 is family-centered, both in terms of audience and the focus on the super Parr family, but it also means the new film includes supers like Brick, a super strong masked man with a giant "B" on his belt invoking The Thing from Fantastic Four; Krusher, a man with a giant K on his spandex suit that crushes things but can't "un-crush" them; and Screech, a man who is dressed like an owl and can fly. Incredibles 2 doesn't have comic source material, and so Pixar could choose to include any superhero characters that they want. But if these character did exist in Marvel films, they would be adapted to seem more "believable", more relatable, and more reasonable. Screech would probably ditch the face paint and owl cowl for a supersuit more akin to Falcon in the MCU. Krusher would probably go by the name his parents gave him. Brick might not even make it into the film.

Page 2: Why the Incredibles Can Be Ridiculous

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Key Release Dates
  • Incredibles 2 (2018) release date: Jun 15, 2018
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