This review is also available on my Letterboxd profile.
After 14 years Pixar finally delivers the sequel to their only movie truly deserving one: the 2004 masterpiece of animation for kids-but-parents-as-well. This begs the question: why did it take so long? Between the first “Incredibles” and now we had an adult version thereof (“Watchmen”, and very good), a decade of record-breaking Marvel mega-franchise, the rise and fall of more than one Batman and about as many Spidermen, some bold exploration of the R-rated area, plus multiple super-misfires (“Fant4stic”, “Suicide Squad”), and all Pixar brought us instead of cashing in on that topic were more or less unnecessary sequels to Cars, Monsters and Nemo?
The superhero genre is in full – bordering on tiresome – motion for over 10 years and the original not only set up a whole vivid universe waiting to be explored, complete with a one of a kind, quasi-60s aesthetic (reminiscent of “The Jetsons” or the video for Gotye’s “State of the Art”) and a handful of plot threads to build upon, but also ended on an actual, honest to God cliffhanger. And we needed a decade and a half to learn what happens next?
Or is it another case of an artist not recognizing their best work? I mean, even U2 claimed they’re “re-applying for the job of the Best Band in the World” just after releasing the best album not only in their career, but possibly in the history of all music, so why would Pixar be immune to such ignorance?
But anyway, 14 years have passed for us, while for the Parr family it was… not even a day! Yes, the sequel begins exactly where the original ended, with the reveal of Underminer, which… is not a good idea. I expected him to be just a Final Scene Before the Credits joke rather than an actual sequel hook. I actually wanted the sequel to take place some time after the original, enough for the world of The Incredibles to react to the events of the first movie, for some change to happen in the aftermath of Syndrome’s attack and the Parrs stopping him to the applause of everyone. Instead we have the sequel telling us the story of exactly that aftermath, but surprisingly, not as a reaction to Syndrome, but that same lackey who showed up as a joke in the last scene of the first movie.
So, what exactly happened after Syndrome’s attack? And, while we’re on that, while I adore the first “Incredibles” with an undying love, I have a specific issue with the Incrediverse that this movie not only doesn’t explain, but even deepens: where were the supervillains during those years when Supers were outlawed? Were they all conveniently wiped out by the good guys just before that? Or did they all just hang up their death masks and capes, because they decided it wasn’t fun anymore without the supers to fight against?
If all it needed for the supers to be welcomed again was one supervillain that the regular law enforcement or military couldn’t stop, why didn’t it happen sooner? And when it finally did happen, as seen in the finale of first “Incredibles” with Syndrome, more supervillains – like Underminer – just showed up right away, as if they’ve been waiting to concoct their evil plans until the Supers are back. If it wasn’t for Syndrome, another opportunity for a grand Super action was right behind the corner. Or, in this case, under the surface.
Anyway, this is where we start, and unfortunately, this is also where another problem of this sequel lies: between this and the first part, the whole story is wholly inconsequential. In terms of the Parrs as well as the whole society, both movies start and end in the same points. Either one of them could have never happened at all. The Supers (not only the Parrs) have to fight the same fight we’ve seen them facing in the original, and while I like the Screenslaver’s plan and motivation (even though the plot might have been a little too easy for me to see through, which I accept because it’s still a movie for kids and for them it might be just convoluted enough to be surprising), I still believe it would make for a better movie if some time was allowed to pass between the stories. Maybe not 14 years, as in real life, but I’d prefer the Incrediverse at the beginning of part 2 to be where it’s at in the end of it.
Another problem that stems from this decision is the sheer amount of plot showing up on screen. Aside from the Super-PR plot and the new villain we still have continuations of all the threads from part one: the Parr family dynamic, Violet’s boy problems, the Supers Relocation Program, Jack Jack’s powers… Some of them were played out pretty well (the working mom vs stay at home dad theme), while some were lacking (Jack Jack is there obviously just for the youngest and as an excuse for Edna Mode to show up again, who is always welcome even if her scene is almost exactly the same as in part one), and my favorite unexplored area from part one (who is Mirage and what are her powers?) was sadly absent.
There is just too much happening throughout the movie and if some time was allowed to pass, some of these weaker themes might have been already resolved off-screen (or in a Pixar short, why not – the JackJack scenes from one were relocated to one as well) and we could have been given some new, better ones instead. As it is, while it’s still a good movie and a ton of fun, it mostly feels like a soft reboot of the “Force Awakens” kind: an old movie remade anew, to remind us what the Incredibles are about before showing us some new content. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another 14 years for that to happen.
PS. Don’t even start the whole Randian view of the Incrediverse philosophy. I could list all the differences in the world, but we need to look no further that the fact that the Supers are not arrogant assholes. And before you say anything about Syndrome just being “a genius inventor wanting to sell his toys” and the Supers destroying him out of jealousy, need I remind you that he’s a murderous psycho and we only wanted to sell the stuff AFTER he had some world-dominating fun with it? Who’s Randian in all that? And the topic of him and Dash Parr articulating the same sentiment of “if everyone is special then no one is” could be a great topic for an actual good sequel. Agan, sooner, please.