In those years, we didn’t have anything like Marvel fatigue yet. I was the guy who was watching the 2003 Ben Affleck-led “Daredevil” on repeat, hoping a director’s cut would leak its way to my original XBox-modified DVD player. I was the holdover fan of Ang Lee’s “Hulk” movie.
2003’s “X2” was the gold standard of superhero films at that time, and I knew it wouldn’t get any better than that. What I’m trying to say is that it was a different time. The idea of a mainstream superhero satire was something that blew everybody’s minds, and it came out of Disney Animation.
The original “Incredibles” movie was political. It questioned the need for heroes. Considering that those early superhero offerings were mostly origin stories- with the exception of “X2”- “The Incredibles” took what was fundamentally the Fantastic Four and outperformed the very topic it was satirizing. It was amazing.
“The Incredibles” had a bombastic score by Michael Giacchino and a color scheme that just screamed retro pastiche. It was fun. But more important, it was smart. It was a love letter to comic books and fantasy, but it didn’t mind poking a few holes in the fanboy fabric. And I didn’t know anyone who didn’t like it.
I remember that, like most really cool college guys, I’d let my Windows Media Player cycle through my music when I was in the dorm. Not much got attention with the exception of “The Incredibles” soundtrack. Nerds across campus would pop their heads in and say, “Is this ‘The Incredibles?’” I would slyly nod my head, go back to reading whatever dorky comic book I was reading instead of studying and this would repeat on a cycle.
That story may say more about certain demographics at Franciscan University than anything else, but that is besides the point. “The Incredibles” was a phenomenon.
But my life is different now. To get to go see this movie, it took a little movement of heaven and earth. It also didn’t hurt that this movie was released on Father’s Day weekend.
I love having a new baby at home. My new daughter is hilarious and weird already, but a newborn is taking its toll. Since my wife’s third trimester, I feel like my life has been put on overdrive. Occasionally, I just need to take a breather, but that breather rarely arrives. My wife is a saint. She holds the baby so much. Penelope, our newest, and our third, is obsessed with being held. The blessing is that she is completely consolable through most of her issues. The downside is that you have to hold her the entire time.
I always have to remind myself that I get the chance to be a better dad with each kid. Like the Parrs, the protagonists of “The Incredibles” series, I have a lovely wife, an older daughter, a blonde son, and a baby. Things would be difficult with just a Penelope/Jack-Jack. But there are times when I feel like I’m Bob Parr, patriarch of the Incredibles clan, and like I’m not addressing my family’s other needs. Young “Dash” wanted a hot dog, but I cut it the wrong way. I should have noted that it needed to be cut differently this time from every other time. “Violet” is a good kid, but she loves to push buttons. Oh, and she never listens until I get mad. “Helen” is going back to work in two weeks and leaving me alone with all three fledgling superheroes.
Believe me, I get Bob Parr.
And that’s what has changed with “The Incredibles.” While “The Incredibles” has always been about family dynamics, fans of the original film now have young families of their own. Fourteen years later, we stop relating to Dash and Violet. We relate to Bob and Helen.
“The Incredibles 2”, it turns out, is about a dad who knows that he could be a Herculean father, if only he could only catch a break for two seconds. Parents understand that feeling.
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During the movie, I looked over at my wife in the darkened theater- she was holding our little “Jack-Jack, meaning that, once again, she had to provide something I couldn’t. A teacher, like me, has summers off. A doctor, like her, does not.
I don’t have that “Spider-Man” poster anymore. I now worry about the day that my daughter will bring home the math textbook that I won’t understand. I worry about potential medical issues with my newborn and wonder how I’ll be able to get through the tough times with my kids. I sometimes wish that any kind of health thing my kids experience lead to a diagnosis of “laser eyes”, but poe-tay-toe / poh-tah-toe. I have to believe that “Incredibles 2” director Brad Bird gets that feeling. He wrote and directed this story fourteen years after the original, to say that family life is tough, but absolutely worth it.
My kids throw on the original “Incredibles” movie pretty often. It’s not on as much as “The Peanuts Movie” or “The Lego Movie”, but I do know pretty much every line and music cue by this point. I’m glad that my kids watch this Disney action movie. They love it and it is significantly less annoying than some of the things that could be playing in the house. My cards on the table? I tend to avoid saying the words “Paw” and “Patrol” together within a five minute span in case it reminds my son that he could be watching a show that shall not be named. The first “Incredibles” movie is great and it is heartwarming.
“Incredibles 2” shows that Brad Bird and his team have not forgotten what it really means to tell a story about putting family first, showing all elements of the struggle. This movie is really great at conveying those realities of family life. Considering that it is often hard to talk about the stresses of new parenthood without sounding like a constant whiner, this felt like unloading with a friend.
But fundamentally, is it a good movie? I always hate to gush about a movie immediately after I’ve seen it. It comes off as cheap and kind of tacky. Still, I’d go as far as to say that “The Incredibles 2” is a great film.
My kids were constantly entertained. My son, who is terrified of everything, was riveted the entire time. The main villain is a little creepy. My son sat in my lap for the “bad guy” parts. But the movie doesn’t forget that while it is satirizing superhero films, it has to be a superhero film in its own right. Brad Bird creates some awesome action set-pieces, and balances bombastic moments with touching scenes and great comedy.