SPOILERS for Incredibles 2.
In Incredibles 2, the patriarch of the Parr family, Bob aka. Mr. Incredible, is one of the worst movie husbands to Helen aka. Elastigirl. After The Incredibles released in 2004, it became one of Pixar's most beloved animated adventures, in large part due to the core family at its heart. Bob and Helen Parr were former superheroes - who went by the names Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, respectively - raising their children, who also had superpowers. By the end of the film, the family came together as the superhero team The Incredibles. Now, the family is back for a sequel nearly 14 years later in Brad Bird's Incredibles 2. However, the followup goes in a slightly different direction.
While Bob and Helen were raising their children, Bob worked a white collar job and Helen stayed at home to raise the kids. They were a seemingly perfect nuclear family, which was all part of staying under the radar because superheroes were illegal. In Incredibles 2, however, Helen takes a job with the Deavors to improve the public perception of Supers so that the world will be convinced to make them legal once again. Helen is chosen by the Deavors to be the face of their project because, between Elastigirl, Mr. Incredible and Frozone, she historically causes the least destruction. She's the best person for the job. This leaves Bob to stay home and take care of the Parr children. Predictably, it doesn't go well.
Bob's storyline in Incredibles 2 essentially boils down to a remake of Mr. Mom - the 1980s comedy about a man left at home to raise his children when his wife becomes the breadwinner of the household. That arc alone is sexist, reinforcing outdated stereotypes about the roles men and women should fulfill in in a household. Incredibles 2 plays right into the stereotype that raising children is expected of women and, as such, it's a superheroic feat when done by men. Rather than challenge that status quo - a status quo that was typical more than 30 years ago - Incredibles 2 simply follows it, recycling a tired storyline we as viewers have seen for decades.
Further, all the while that Bob is at home with the kids, he's jealous of his wife. When they find out the Deavors want Elastigirl to be the face of their project, Bob outright insults Helen. His reasoning is that Mr. Incredible is a more famous superhero than Elastigirl. But, as the Deavors explain, fame isn't what's needed for their project. Still, this comment from Bob reveals two things about him that are quite telling: Not only does he think he's a better superhero than his wife, it's actually very important to him that he remains a better superhero than his wife. He needs Helen to be lesser so he can feel better about himself - and when his self-worth is challenged by her becoming the breadwinner and the face of the Deavors' Supers initiative, he gets jealous.
What makes Bob's storyline so infuriating, though, is that there's no real resolution to it. Bob gets somewhat better at managing things at home while Helen is away - but by no means is he shown to have developed much. Instead, the older kids, Violet and Dash, start to chip in and help out their father by taking care of him when he collapses from lack of sleep and taking care of Jack Jack when Bob and Helen get brainwashed by the Screenslaver. At no point does Bob deal with how much of his self worth is tied to his need to be a better superhero than his wife, and rather than see Bob learn to take care of his children, we see everyone around him put in more work.
Ultimately, Incredibles 2 - like The Incredibles - is meant to be inspired by classic comic book superheroes from a time period gone by. However, while the Incredibles franchise may be successful in deconstructing superhero archetypes, it perpetuates outdated and sexist stereotypes about family, especially in Bob Parr's arc in Incredibles 2. He may be Mr. Incredible, but he's not an incredible husband.
- Incredibles 2 (2018) release date: Jun 15, 2018
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