By this point, Pixar had pretty much proven themselves successful enough to the point where their name became synonymous with quality animation. Basically, if it was gonna be Pixar, it was gonna be good, especially after 'Finding Nemo' would earn Pixar their first Oscar for Best Animated Feature. They would continue this trend with, 'The Incredibles', which became, arguably, the best superhero movie of its time. It was interesting back in '04, asking people how 'The Incredibles' compared to other superhero titles like 'Spider-Man 2' and some people suggesting it might even actually be "better".
For me, that was a little mind-blowing because as far as I was concerned, at the time, 'Spider-Man 2' was easily one of the best. Remember, this was four years prior to 'Iron Man' coming along to breathe new life into what would become an eleven-year story. The time had come where superhero movies were faltering, but would still have the odd hit. There was just enough there to keep fans hanging on, so Pixar decided to come up with their take on the whole superhero thing. It was a huge success, meeting the expectations that come with a superhero movie all while being almost completely original. To this day, people will often call it "the best 'Fantastic Four' movie that has ever been made" (but patience, friends. An MCU version is on the way).
The beginning of the film, interestingly enough, tackles something most superhero movies don't touch with a ten foot pole. We first meet the likes of Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson); a hero with the power of super strength, and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter); a hero with the power to stretch, doing the normal superhero thing in a big city called Metroville. As a result of the collateral damage left behind by "supers", however, the public turns against them, often suing them for doing things like accidentally harming them during rescues. Supers are then made to live their lives in secret, never using their powers to save people. Fast-forward fifteen years, and Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) and Helen (Elastigirl) are married with children, Dash (Spencer Fox), who has super speed, Violet (Sarah Vowell), who can turn invisible, and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile/Maeve Andrews) who doesn't have any powers anyone knows of.
Growing tired of the whole suburban setting, Bob will occasionally go out in secret to "relive the glory days" with his ice-powered friend, Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), moonlighting as vigilantes. Eventually, Bob receives a message from a woman calling herself Mirage (Elizabeth Peña) who calls him into action, and he accepts. But little does he know that the path he's headed down will reveal a lot of secrets behind the sudden disappearance of his old superhero friends. Ultimately, it will lead him to face off against a begrudged former fan of his who calls himself Syndrome (Jason Lee); a guy who wants to take all of the superhero glory for himself, even if it means offing other superheroes in the process. In the meantime, superhero outfit designer, Edna Mode (Brad Bird) sees potential for a new superhero uprising, and it would all have to start over again with the Parr family.
For me, this is a lot like 'A Bug's Life' in that I didn't find anything too deep or profound about it, or a lot of subtext, but it does make for a cleverly written, fun movie. I have to admire the originality to this story, and the idea that it tackles what a lot of people might really think about the superhero type. While some would think you're amazing, many others are bound to find you destructive, and this is a movie that tackles the subject in a most interesting way - aside, of course, from 'Civil War', or 'Watchmen', both of which this movie actually beat to the big screen and had no original comic to adapt from. I also just enjoy the family as a whole - there are no truly unlikable characters, and you definitely get that sense of a typical family dynamic with this bunch. All in all this is a very solid action adventure movie that keeps families in mind. One might say it's how to do a PG-rated superhero movie right.
While 'The Iron Giant' certainly made a name for writer/director Brad Bird, it would ultimately be 'The Incredibles' that would make his name blow up. Today, people will watch 'The Simpsons' and suddenly spot his name in the credits when back then, he seemed to be just another name. His film here would earn Pixar its second Best Animated Feature Oscar, beating 'Shrek 2', and levelling the playing field a little after 'Shrek' beat 'Monsters, Inc.' a few years prior. I would probably consider this the real beginning of Pixar becoming a sort of "Oscar bait" name. It seemed at this point that Pixar could do no wrong, and I looked forward to seeing whatever they'd come up with next - that is until I saw a bunch of cars with faces talking to each other; but more on that soon.
Writers and Directors