When Pixar’s animated hit The Incredibles was released in 2004, the superhero landscape was drastically different. Hugh Jackman had only played Logan twice. The Marvel Cinematic Universe had not yet launched. Christian Bale had not yet begun as Batman. Superman hadn’t even returned yet with Brandon Routh (yeah, remember that one?).
In other words, there weren’t superheroes hitting movie theaters on a near-monthly basis, or “every two seconds,” as Brad Bird, the writer and director of The Incredibles and its new sequel, Incredibles 2, put it.
“The field was lush. It was well manicured. No one had played on it much. Spider-Man was over there, and then way on the other side was X-Men. There was room for us to move. It was really nice,” Bird told Yahoo Entertainment at the Los Angeles press day for Incredibles 2, where he was joined by producer John Walker (watch above). “And now it’s like a crowded subway with no air.”
As Bird went to work on the long-rumored new sequel, the escalating proliferation of caped and/or masked crime fighters put doubts in his mind.
“I was sitting there going, ‘In two years are people going to be sick to death of having superheroes every two seconds?'” said Bird, who also voices Incredibles fan favorite Edna Mode. (Editor’s note: Take one look at the box off receipts of Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Deadpool 2 and you’ll see that they’re/we’re not.)
“And then I thought, ‘Well, wait a minute, the reason I made the first movie was not to do superpowers, but to comment on family. And that’s still very rich. So once I sort of reassured myself that that was really the core of the movie, I felt like there’s a lot of new stuff to explore there.”
Incredibles 2 finds the superpowered Parr family in role-reversal mode as Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) is called into duty while Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) stays home with the kids (Violet, Dash, and maybe the most powerful of them all, Baby Jack-Jack).
Speaking of timing, Bird and Walker cleared up when exactly the Incredibles movies take place. Earlier this year, Oh My Disney sleuthed out clues from the first film indicating that it took place in 1962.
“It’s like an alternate universe that has ’60s flavor,” Bird said, and Walker added: “It’s like the imagined future from the ’60s.” There are flares of more modern technologies used in the films, but the filmmakers’ intended setting is much more obvious in Part 2 thanks to a more urbanized setting that shows off not only more cars but the architecture of Metroville and the fashions of its populace.
One of the more impressive elements of Incredibles 2 is how stylistically in tune it feels with the first film, despite being released over a decade later, as the bells and whistles of computer-generated animation grow increasingly advanced.
“I like when films build on something rather than erase it,” Bird said. “If they did something right, you want to build on that. And I always felt like the look of the first film was one of its successes.”
Incredibles 2 is now playing.
Watch the filmmakers and cast talk about the movie’s role in a new wave of female-driven superhero movies:
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