Incredibles in the Age of Super Heroesby Megan Walker, contributing writer
When The Incredibles was released in 2004, Hollywood, and also the world, was a different place. The connotation of the word "superhero" in Hollywood was nowhere near what it is today. In fact, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (known colloquially as the MCU) did not even exist. Iron Man, the movie to spark the flame of the MCU, wouldn't be released for four years after The Incredibles. So, if you really stop to think about it for a minute…The Incredibles were at the very beginning of the superhero craze in Hollywood, they were there at the start, and they're still here now in the midst of it all.
The slate of superhero films has never been larger than it has been. The Incredibles came out — 14 years ago. Although there were these types of films before The Incredibles, and there were films releasing simultaneously, Iron Man wasn't released until 2008, and ended up setting off a chain of almost 20 movies from the MCU alone, since the release of The Incredibles.
When The Incredibles came out in 2004, it was a unique genre. Superhero movies weren't terribly popular at the time, certainly not what they are today, and they made a splash at the box office as a result. Having a good old-fashioned superhero movie, that was fun for the entire family, in the theatres was pretty rare in 2004, and it resulted in a massive fan base for The Incredibles. Brad Bird, Pixar, and the entire team behind The Incredibles stumbled into unknown territory, and it ended with fantastic results. When the original movie ended on a cliffhanger that seemed destined to mean a sequel, it was honestly quite the Hollywood shock that years came and went with no second movie. Especially, as years later, fans of superhero films became accustomed to two or three movies per character in a small span of years. As such, when Disney announced that there would indeed be The Incredibles 2 to be released in 2018, the stakes were high.
Not only does The Incredibles 2 have to live up to the high standards set by the original film, but it has to live up to the standards set by the numerous superhero films that have been released since the original. Don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting anyone to be able to compare The Incredibles to The Avengers; I'm simply saying that audiences have been groomed to view superhero films in a very specific way since The Incredibles was first released. So did The Incredibles 2 live up to these stakes?
I personally think that it did. It wasn't nearly as good as The Incredibles, not even close, but it's hard to capture the magic of a first movie like that. However, I feel like it was a perfectly good sequel and lived up to the storytelling and fun of the first film. It also left me, an avid superhero film viewer, satisfied with how it performed in the genre. There was humor, action, drama, tense moments, and a core group of characters that I truly cared about and felt very familiar—in the way you feel while watching a Marvel film. The Incredibles 2 especially excels the most at what sets Marvel movies does best, showing the balance of superhero lives and normal lives. Both sets of films do a fantastic job of showing what happens when these heroes aren't out being "super," and The Incredibles 2 does a very good job at that, which makes it a special film.
It would have been hard enough to capitalize on what made The Incredibles special when it first came out, it's even harder now that audiences have had the experience of watching numerous superhero films over these 14 years. Fortunately, I think it stood up well to the task, and succeeded, and it looks like The Incredibles have a place in our modern superhero world after all.