After a 14 year wait, Pixar are finally releasing Incredibles 2, but for Brad Bird, it was an accidental journey by way of Tomorrowland.
It’s been 14 years since Pixar released The Incredibles, a pitch-perfect superhero comedy that lovingly parodied both the 1960s retro-futurist aesthetic and old-school era of golden age comic books. Brad Bird, formerly of The Simpsons, had ventured into animation with The Iron Giant, which disappointed at the box office but has since gone on to become a cult classic. The Incredibles yielded far greater results, grossing over $633m at the box office (making it the 4th highest grossing film of 2004), and winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Incredibles 2 is projected to best those numbers. The teaser trailer released last November received 113m views in its first 24 hours online, making it the most viewed trailer for an animated film ever. Clearly, audiences are hungry for more Incredibles. So, why did it take 14 years? Brad Bird has kept busy in the meantime and talk of a sequel was plentiful, but it took a detour through Tomorrowland to get him there.
This Page: Brad Bird’s Road to The Incredibles
Brad Bird’s Road to The Incredibles
Bird had the original idea for The Incredibles back in 1993 and had tried to develop it as a film while he was still mostly working in television. At the time, he was gearing up to sign a production deal with Warner Bros., who were moving into animation in an effort to keep up with Disney. The fruits of that partnership, The Iron Giant, was a spectacular critical success but a huge box office disappointment. From a budget of $70 - 80m, it grossed only $31.3m, and essentially led to Warner Bros. Animation shutting down before it truly began.
The Incredibles was originally planned as a 2D animated film, probably in conjunction with Warner Bros., but after The Iron Giant, Bird reconnected with old friend John Lasseter, head of Pixar, and pitched the film to them. He was offered a multi-film contract and place of price among the beloved studio's brain trust. The film was a rarity not only in Bird being an outsider to the Pixar system but in having him be the sole credited writer and director. Once that film became a rousing success, Bird started working on ideas for his next project.
Bird Had An Idea for an Incredibles Sequel Right Away
Bird had talked frequently about plans for an Incredibles sequel since the first film's release. Talk picked up steam in 2007, following the success of his next film, Ratatouille. After discussing the upcoming third Toy Story movie, Bird told Coming Soon he would do a sequel to The Incredibles "if I can come up with a story that is as good or better than the first one. If I can come up with a “Toy Story 2” with “The Incredibles,” then I would do it in a second. I have pieces that I think are good, but I don’t have them all together."
In May 2013, while talking with The Hollywood Reporter, he repeated this claim:
"I have been thinking about it. People think that I have not been, but I have—because I love those characters, and love that world … I am stroking my chin and scratching my head. I have many, many elements that I think would work really well in another Incredibles film, and if I can get 'em to click all together, I would probably wanna do that."
In early drafts, Bird had considered a storyline where Bob and Helen Parr, a.k.a. Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, switched roles, and the family would deal with baby Jack-Jack's burgeoning yet chaotic set of powers, but, as he told io9, "the part I needed, to feel like I could make it, was the more superhero villainy plot." Bird also said that he had thrown out almost three movies worth of material before he formulated his full sequel idea. One idea Bird had pitched to Pixar successfully involved A.I., but he hasn't said any more on the subject since "I don’t want to give it away because I might fix it one day." Incredibles 2 includes a villain named ScreenSlaver, who controls people's minds by hijacking their screens, seems to be a version of that but not so technologically focused. But getting to that point was tough work since Bird had deliberately made the world of The Incredibles one without cell phones. Perhaps the original sequel idea focused more on an A.I. gone rogue and the superheroes' attempts to stop it?