14 years is a long time to wait between sequels. As he made the leap from animation into live action movies, writer-director Brad Bird always was facing questions about when we might expect a sequel to 2004’s The Incredibles. In the 14 years since the family of costumed superheroes first graced the screen, the collective attitude towards costumed heroes has changed quite a bit. The Incredibles came into a world that didn’t have the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. It was, at least in terms of superhero cinema, a more innocent time. Incredibles 2 lands at time when superheroes are the dominant force in pop culture, as evidenced by the continued success of Pixar’s corporate sibling Marvel. Thankfully, the 14-year wait was worth as it Brad Bird has gotten Incredibles 2 just right. The Pixar sequel stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its predecessor with its impeccable blend of visual style, comedy, and family dynamics.
The superhero sequel picks up right where The Incredibles left off, with the Underminer (John Ratzenberg) arising from beneath streets of Munciberg. Only the collective might of the Parr family – the superstrength of Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), the stretch-tastic abilities of Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), the invisibility of Violet (Sarah Powell), the super-speed of Dash (Huck Milner), and the toddling of super-toddler Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) – can stop the Underminer during his catastrophic criminal spree. This battle that takes place in public creates an array of complications for the Parr family, including the fact that Supers are still against the law. Luckily for them, Winston (Bob Odenkirk) and Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener) want to use their corporate might and lobby for the legalization of Supers once again. Their plan is to put Elastigirl front and center, sending her off to fight crime in a public relations blitz that will overturn the unjust law.
As Elastigirl goes off to fight crime and become the public face of the new push to bring back the Supers, Mr. Incredible is faced with the most perilous task yet – raising his brood all by his lonesome. The Parr patriarch must contend with a son struggling in school and daughter in the midst of youthful angst exacerbated by a young man whose memory just so happens to have been wiped of her after he saw her as a costumed hero. Compounding matters, young Jack-Jack is just beginning to discover his varying powers, which are powerful and unwieldy.
In the midst of Elastigirl’s media blitz, a new villain emerges. The nefarious Screenslaver uses the multitude of screens that people use as a means to hypnotize unwitting victims into doing the evil deeds of this new mysterious supervillain. Waiting in the wings to join Elastigirl and the Parr family are a roster of heroes old and new, including Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) and Voyd (Sophia Bush).
Brad Bird takes his time in introducing the new villain with which the Incredibles will be forced to fight until about the halfway mark of the film. That’s not a negative, by the way, as it allows the writer-director to firmly establish the multiple character dynamics that will coalesce in the film’s hectic climax. Every member of the Parr family is given a character arc and despite the multiple balls that Bird has thrown in the air, he’s able to deftly juggle them without losing a single ounce of momentum.
The action sequences of Incredibles 2 are as good as you’ll see in any movie this summer. Bird’s expansive roster of heroes employ an array of powers that are pulled from years and years of superheroics on the page and screen, and Bird with his team of animators are able to craft some stunning sequences that make the most of each POW! and BAM! unleashed by this super-family. And it’s not just the film’s action that is impeccably crafted, the whole of Incredibles 2 is a marvel of design, employing a kind of retrofuturism. The world of Incredibles 2 is sleek and stylish in a bygone way, and Bird and company use this stylish sense in details big and small.
Most impressive, though, is the fact that Incredibles 2 is absolutely hilarious. The jokes come faster than Dash can run and practically all of them land. As much as Incredibles 2 is brimming with jokes from each and every of its heroic characters, it’s the infant Jack-Jack that steals the show. Everyone walking out of the theater found themselves enamored with the super-powered baby.
As great as Pixar’s track record has been overall, they’ve had a few rough patches when it comes to sequels. And with nearly 15 years between installments, its not hard to imagine how Incredibles 2 could’ve flown off the rails, but Brad Bird and his dedicated team has crafted a wonderful sequel that is brimming with humor and style in each and every frame. Presented with the near-impossible task of matching the beloved original, Brad Bird didn’t wilt and crafted one of Pixar’s finest sequel to date, standing alongside the Toy Story sequels. Incredibles 2 provides the most superhero fun you can find in the cinema this summer.