Leave it to Disney and Pixar. They have the stable of Marvel superheroes at their disposal and they approach “The Incredibles 2” not as a cash grab but a sincere look at the idea of superheroes in the modern era. Sure superheroes seem like a great idea in theory, but “The Incredibles 2” uses its concept as a means of exploring the world with superheroes and how it can have its definite upsides and crushing downsides. The first film had the concept of the idea of the meaning of being exceptional, our natural advantages, and how mediocrity has become the norm for society that only accepted stellar, once upon a time. “The Incredibles 2” takes it a bit further dissecting the need for heroes and whether self-reliance is the only thing we have in this world.
“The Incredibles 2” takes place directly after the original film where the family meets and sadly fails to defeat the Underminer. After they manage to gain considerable publicity, they’re once again relocated by their officials, and all memory of them are erased. When the supers relocation program is shut down, the Parrs are forced to live in a motel with no other options. Fortunately they gain the attention of technology mogul Winston Deaver, who seeks to turn the Parrs in to heroes again and help the supers become legal citizens once more. Using Helen as a main source of publicity as she fights crime, Bob stays at home and has to care for the kids. Their jobs become harder as Bob faces Jack Jack’s emerging powers that make him a danger to himself and others. All the while Helen is facing a mysterious new mind controlling villain named the Screenslaver who has nefarious plans for the world.
Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener are stellar as brother and sister wizards that have their own sense of ideals and views on the world. Brad Bird seems to take inspiration from the legend of Superman’s creation involving a horrible murder and the need for a superhero to cushion the blow of a senseless crime. Helen is unfortunately thrust in to the philosophical conundrum about the need for superheroes, and whether they’re just good ideas not actually benefiting anyone in the world. Is it idealistic to believe heroes can exist in such a horrendous and violent world? Can we rely on other people for help? Are we truly all alone forced to rely on our own talents and wits, in the end? Much like Syndrome, the villainous Screenslaver works by their own guidelines and principles that allow the audience to second guess the Incredibles left and right.
Beyond that, “The Incredibles 2” switches up the family dynamic well, focusing more on the kids blossoming in to their own people, and expanding the world of the supers before our eyes. Brad Bird’s direction matched with the brilliant animation makes the sequel a striking new adventure with an aesthetic that’s different but still very much in line with the original’s whimsy and science fiction overtones. The cast all returns, never missing a beat as the Parrs, while new cast members like Sophia Bush, Bob Odenkirk, and Catherine Keener are absolutely memorable. I was worried after such a long period that “The Incredibles” follow up would have a hard time retaining its unique flavor, but Bird’s return to this universe is absolutely fantastic with action, laughs, stellar animation, and genuinely evocative ideas put forth for older audiences.