When The Incredibles hit theaters in 2004, it was obvious right from the start that it would become a classic. The movie was a hit with critics, earning two Oscar wins for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year and Best Achievement in Sound Editing. It even earned writer/director Brad Bird a nomination for Best Writing – Original Screenplay, a rare accomplishment for an animated film.
The Incredibles was also a huge box office success. The movie made $633 million at the worldwide box office and currently ranks as the 23rd highest grossing superhero film of all time and the 19th highest grossing animated film of all time. The film was successful enough that it eventually earned a sequel, set to premiere in June of 2018, nearly 14 years after the original hit theaters.
Although it has been a long time since The Incredibles‘ release, the movie still captures the attention of adults and kids alike thanks to its fun storyline and engaging animation and performances. If you’re an adult who hasn’t watched the film in a long while, though, you’ll probably notice a few unexpected things in the kids’ movie, which actually has some surprisingly dark and deep moments. Here are some things only adults will notice in The Incredibles.
There are some adult-oriented jokes
Like every Pixar movie, The Incredibles contains some surprisingly adult humor for a kids movie. Most of the adult jokes are fairly hidden, although some are obvious enough that savvier kids may catch on — for example, Syndrome’s reasoning for avoiding putting just an "S" for sitter as opposed to a "BS" for babysitter on his chest. Syndrome also makes a suggestive comment to Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl upon seeing their family, saying that he’s surprised to see that they got married and "got busy."
Other adult jokes are more blink and you’ll miss it. For example, in the montage about how supers have fallen from grace, one newspaper headline shows that a superhero with X-ray vision was using his powers to turn him into a high-tech peeping tom. There’s also the innuendo in Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl’s first on-screen encounter, in which she suggests that he be more "flexible." Ooh la la.
The supers must have an awesome (and unsung) tech genius
Everyone who’s anyone knows about The Incredibles‘ resident fashionista Edna Mode, who designs the group’s tricked out super suits. However, throughout the film, the supers use a lot of other tech — in just the first few minutes, Mr. Incredible demonstrates his car’s tricked out GPS system, its ability to auto-drive, and it’s ability to transform into a much speedier vehicle upon request. (It also, if you look closely, has a hover mode.)
Throughout the film, the Incredibles and the other supers continue to show off some hugely impressive tech, but they never once mention the person who created it all for them. Who is this unsung hero? How did they manage to create so many technological advancements that the rest of the world does not seem to have access to? What happened to them after the supers went underground? Tech geniuses deserve to be thanked, and the supers need to slow down and think about the less flashy people who make their powers shine.
Dash’s name is a bit too convenient
The Parrs may have superpowers, but none of them can see the future. This raises the question of just how Bob and Helen figured out how to name their son, who just happens to be gifted with super speed, Dashiell, conveniently shortened to Dash. There is no way that the proud parents could have known that Dash was going to have super speed when they named him, so did they just happen to get lucky?
It wouldn’t appear so. Dashiell isn’t exactly a common name — assuming Dash was born in 1994 (he was ten years old in The Incredibles, which was released in 2004), it would have been the 2,648th most popular boys name, according to Baby Center. It’s tough to buy that Bob and Helen just happened upon the name and then found out that their son’s powers fit it perfectly. Fictional characters have overly convenient names all the time, but this one might be a bit too fitting.
Mr. Incredible is kind of the worst
Mr. Incredible seems like the hero of the movie, but when you really pay attention, he’s actually kind of the worst. Start at the beginning — he destroys a large, likely fairly old tree just to rescue a cat, rather than thinking about the environment and simply climbing it instead. He continues to show this disregard for the things around him throughout the film, unleashing his powers in destructive ways even when he doesn’t have to.
His greater sin, though, is shown just a few seconds later, when he finds a young Syndrome, then going by Incrediboy, sitting in his car. Instead of being nice to the child, who clearly looks up to him, Mr. Incredible immediately dismisses him, bullying him and ejecting him out of his car. While his actions are more understandable when Incrediboy interrupts him just as he is taking on Bomb Voyage, during their first interaction, there was no reason for Mr. Incredible to be as rude as he was.
Aside from being at least part of the cause for the anger of the film’s villain, Mr. Incredible is also a bad father to his kids. Throughout the film, he lies to Helen and ignores his family all in pursuit of making his own life more exciting. He is moody and temperamental, and doesn’t leaves the tough family discussions to his wife. Mr. Incredible is rude to his loved ones, but always assumes that he’s in the right. Not exactly what you want to see in a hero.
Elastigirl is definitely a feminist
Elastigirl starts off The Incredibles with a pretty iconic line, saying right to the camera, "Settle down, are you kidding? I’m at the top of my game!… Leave saving the world to the men? I don’t think so!" This is just one of many indications that Elastigirl, who, if we’re being honest, is the movie’s real hero, is actually a feminist at heart. Holly Hunter, who voices Elastigirl, has credited the character’s outspoken persona to writer/director Brad Bird, calling him a "true feminist" in a recent interview.
The clever script shows that Helen really is a woman who can do everything. She is a good mother to her children, and she’s also a supportive wife, despite the fact that her husband often has his own often nonsensical whims. Elastigirl isn’t afraid to step back into action when she’s needed, though, and she winds up being instrumental in the family’s success. She is definitely a strong feminist role model and would probably proudly pick up the label if asked.
Edna Mode is voiced by the movie’s director
The fashionable suit designer Edna Mode was The Incredibles‘ breakout character thanks to her snappy one liners and pitch perfect delivery. As an adult, you may find yourself heading to IMDb after viewing the film to see who voiced the iconic character and be surprised to find that it was none other than writer/director Brad Bird.
Bird recorded the character’s vocals while making temporary voice tracks for the film, which help animators to "get a sense of the pace." Bird did pursue actresses for the role, approaching Lily Tomlin and others to take on the part. However, he said that the other employees at Pixar, as well as one of the actresses he approached who he really admired, kept on going back to his vocals, and eventually they stuck.
Bird isn’t the only Pixar employee whose voice ended up in the film, either. Kari, the Parr’s babysitter, is played by animator Bret Parker, while the government agent who interrogates her in Jack, Jack Attack, Rick Dicker, is voiced by Bud Luckey, who designed Woody for Toy Story. Production designer Lou Romano also lent his voice to Dash’s put-upon teacher, while Bird’s son Nick voiced the shocked boy who sees Mr. Incredible use his powers while on his bike.
Mr. Incredible gets sued for preventing someone from committing suicide
At the beginning of the film, Mr. Incredible is in full hero mode, dashing around the city saving everyone and everything in sight. One such person is Oliver Pansweet, a man who was planning to jump from a skyscraper and fall to his own death. Viewers actually get to see him jump from the building in a disturbing sequence, but, thanks to Mr. Incredible, he winds up being saved before he hits the ground — much to his chagrin. "You didn’t save my life, you ruined my death," Pansweet accuses him.
Pansweet actually winds up suing Mr. Incredible for preventing him from killing himself, a sticky legal situation that’s actually reminiscent of some intense real-life debates. His lawsuit inspires a slew of further lawsuits from people saved by superheroes, which is what winds up forcing superheroes to go into hiding. The moment is clearly instrumental to the movie’s plot, but it’s still an unexpectedly disturbing and dark situation to include in a children’s movie.
Kari deserves a huge raise
Most kids watching The Incredibles for the first time are probably a bit too young to have taken on their first babysitting job, but once you have, it’s easy to see that the Parrs’ poor sitter Kari deserves a huge raise. The fidgety teen is asked to go well above and beyond the duties of a normal babysitter in her time taking care of the young Jack-Jack after the Parrs left him behind on their mission to save the world.
Kari may get a bit of a bad rap for giving Jack-Jack up to Syndrome when he finally relieves her after a stressful night, highlighted in the short Jack-Jack Attack. However, it was totally justified for her to want an adult to step in, especially considering that everything she encountered with Jack-Jack definitely wasn’t covered in any babysitter’s training class. At the end of the day, Kari tried her best, and she deserves to be fully compensated for it — and get a great letter of recommendation from Bob and Helen as well. However, considering her memory of the whole encounter was eventually erased, it appears that she never got the reward she deserved.
It has a lot of similarities with Captain America: Civil War
Marvel broke box office records and earned high critical praise for their 2016 film Captain America: Civil War, but Disney had already covered most of the movie’s main themes 12 years earlier when The Incredibles was released. If you look closely, there are a lot of similarities between the superhero flicks, with The Incredibles asking some questions that may seem very deep for a kids movie.
The Incredibles‘ early scenes bring up the question of whether superheroes are worth the destruction they bring, something which is also hugely instrumental in Civil War. Mr. Incredible definitely seems to be on Captain America’s side, fully believing that his powers are still necessary to the world, despite the fact that he often brings about quite a lot of collateral damage.
Regardless of Mr. Incredible’s thoughts on the matter, the government ultimately decides the question for everyone, just as they did in Civil War. The Incredibles‘ decision to force supers into hiding has some similarities with Civil War‘s Sokovia Accords, and discussions like the ones that the Avengers have throughout Civil War likely occurred off screen before the supers decided to drop out of sight in the Incredibles universe.
Considering The Incredibles and Captain America: Civil War are two of the best superhero films of the modern age, it’s not that surprising that the pair share some thematic connections. Still, it’s interesting to see a kids’ movie covering the same moral ground as a big screen Marvel blockbuster.
It’s a send-up of superhero tropes
The Incredibles definitely seems like a superhero movie on the surface, but if you dig down deeper, the movie far transcends the genre. This is thanks mostly to its constant, clever skewering of superhero tropes.
First off, the family has a lot of similarities to some very famous superheroes. Their superhero last name echoes that of the Fantastic Four’s Mr. Fantastic, while their powers are similar to famed heroes like Captain America, the Invisible Woman, and the Flash. The quick snippets of other superheroes shown in the film also echo some classic powers, including Frozone’s ice abilities and Gazerbeam’s Cyclops-esque laser eyes.
However, despite their similarities to classic superheroes, the supers in The Incredibles spend quite a lot of time skewering some of their favorite stereotypes. Sometimes this is shown through the characters’ dialogue — for example, Frozone complains to Mr. Incredible that a villain who had just caught him felt the need to launch into an unnecessarily long monologue. In other parts, its shown through the characters’ interactions, such as when the family has a typical road trip argument while they are off to fight a killer robot.
Even Edna Mode is part of the movie’s attempts to skewer the superhero genre. The stylist was born after Bird started to wonder how every superhero suddenly became an expert with the needle and thread after getting their powers. "Every once in a while there would be a half-hearted attempt where they’d show some muscle-bound guy sewing in the basement," Bird joked. "And I never really bought it that suddenly this guy had an interest in fashion, you know?"