In the fourteen years since the first Incredibles film hit theaters, the landscape of superhero films has dramatically changed. Notably Marvel celebrated a 10 year anniversary, having dominated the superhero genre since it’s debut of “Iron Man” in 2008. Fast forward to 2018, and Pixar is giving us a much anticipated, and new superhero film to delight audiences for years to come- The Incredibles 2.
When it came time to make the sequel there was a lot of discussion as to what shape the film would take. Where and when would the story take place? The most important question was how will all the kids who watched the first Incredibles in 2004, feel about a second film fourteen years later? Producer, Director, and Pixar maverick Brad Bird already had a plan. In fact, during a recent press conference promoting The Incredibles 2, he says he’s had a plan since 2004. But with other projects and a long stretch of time between films that plan has undergone many evolutions. Bird said only one thing changed because of the rise in popularity of superhero films. He banned the iconic three-point superhero landing. The most significant change was the villain. Bird laughed because this always seems to be the case. Sinestro, the franchises first villain, was originally killed off in the opening sequence. But producers saw a complex and compelling character in the boy who loved and was disappointed by his favorite heroes, so a switch was made.
A similar situation arose in the sequel. Bird tried to attack the villain’s story from many perspectives, but was having difficulty nailing a pitch-perfect arc. “I realize the villain we had didn’t serve the story,” Bird said. This led to a lot of frustration. Animators and voice actors were continuously tweaking their performance to match the new tone. For Bird, this caused a lot of anxiety. “But I think we wound up with the right version of this movie,” Bird said of the final product.
Another aspect of the film that was under constant reconstruction was the family’s house. The film’s design aesthetic relies heavily on the sleek looks of the fifties and sixties. A screenshot from any scene in The Incredibles can easily be compared to the look of AMC’s Mad Men or a classic MGM picture.
Ralph Eggleston led the production design team that flawlessly executed the film’s vision. “Ralph loves movies. He really loves films and he’s always reading books and has something to show you,” Bird said. The film really benefited from that fuel. He’s not afraid to make bold choices.”
One such bold choice arrived at a very inopportune time. When Pixar took a year off of The Incredibles 2 production schedule Eggleston had an epiphany. The house the team had already designed wasn’t dynamic enough, it didn’t push the story forward. Bird recounted Eggleston’s illuminating moment. “This is going to screw things up for everyone, including me, but I have to say something,” Bird said as Eggleston.
“The house should be initially impressive. Once you get in there, it should be totally dysfunctional for a family.” Though a change that late in the game would mean a lot of extra work Bird concluded that Eggleston was right. Suddenly he saw how the house could add value to the story. This concept led to trap doors, a fireplace in the baby’s room, and a lot of frustration for Mr. Incredible.
These last minutes changes, mixed with the pressure of a shortened production schedule, and fourteen years of development turned out to be the perfect recipe for a sequel.
The Incredibles 2 hits theaters June 14th.