In this column, I unpack some of the ideas in "Incredibles 2":
In my review last week for “Incredibles 2,” I talked about how the movie was smart in the way it dealt with realistic family struggles and dynamics.
I wanted to also talk about another way the movie is smart, which is a meta commentary on the superhero film genre itself, but to explain that involves spoilers, so I decided to wait a week. Don’t read this column until you’ve watched the movie. And by the way, please, please do watch this movie! It’s really, really good.
When the first film came out in 2004, the fact that it was a superhero movie at all made it kind of fresh. “The Incredibles” didn’t mark the beginning of the superhero genre, but it did come out just before the genre would explode into what it still is today: an all-out takeover of blockbuster entertainment, with movie studios wrestling over rights to comic book properties and racing to make the next sequel as soon as the first origin story is released.
Superhero movies have taken over the world of Hollywood, each with inflated budgets and inflated demands of box office returns on those investments. In 2004, only two of the top 10 highest-grossing films were superhero movies (three if you count “The Bourne Supremacy,” which I don’t). In 2017, five of the top 10 were superhero movies (six if you count “Despicable Me 3,” which has a supervillain as its main protagonist).
I wondered how, or if, writer-director Brad Bird would comment on how things have changed in the genre with “Incredibles 2.” And I was thrilled to see that he has definitely come up with something fresh to say.