If I were to ask you whether The Incredibles is a family dramedy or a superhero epic, what would you say? Fantastic arguments could be made for either choice, but they'd both be wrong.
See, this is a trick question. The Incredibles is about equal parts family and superhero, and both are key to making this movie as great as it is. In fact, these two themes are so ingrained in the fabric of the franchise that the traditional family roles actually led to each member of the Parr clan getting a very specific super power.
During a recent press event at Pixar Animation Studios, Incredibles writer/director Brad Bird revealed that he didn't just give Mr. Incredible super-strength of Violet invisibility because he thought they were fun powers to play with. He looked at the stereotypes facing each member of a family and used them to create the unique and intricate Incredibles that we know today.
"What interests me is the idea of having a family, having there be a reason to hide the powers," Bird said. "And once I had that insight into what I wanted to do, I picked the powers based on who they were in the family. And so men are always expected to be strong, so I had Bob have super strength. Women, mothers are always pulled in a million different directions, so I had her be elastic. Teenagers are insecure and defensive, so I had Violet have force fields and invisibility. Ten-year-olds are energy balls that can't be stopped. And babies are unknown, maybe they have no powers, maybe they have all powers, we don't know.
"So, that's what Jack-Jack was, he was seemingly the first normal one in the family and then at the end of Incredibles you find out that he's the wild card, and that he's sort of the Swiss army knife of powers. And that to me reminds me of the way babies can grasp languages really easily and adopt them easily."
In mid-century America, where both Incredibles films are set, traditional family values and roles were a staple in every household. The father was supposed to be strong anchor to the family, the mother was supposed to stay and take care of the kids, so on and so forth. We saw those roles play out in the first movie back in 2004.
However, Incredibles 2 will flip a lot of those traditions on their heads, mainly when it comes to Bob and Helen's roles. This time around, Elastigirl will be the one out on adventures, and Mr. Incredible will be left home with the kids, learning just how challenging the life of a stay-at-home parent can really be.
Be sure to check out Disney and Pixar's Incredibles 2, flying into theaters on June 15.