'Incredibles 2': A Sequel Worth the Wait
'Incredibles 2': Everything you need to know about Pixar's new superhero sequel
The final moments of 2004's "The Incredibles" were meant to be the fitting conclusion of Pixar's superhero tale, with the united superfamily suiting up together to battle the emerging, over-the-top villain Underminer.
But the end was only the beginning.
"That first ending was meant to show the family riding off into the sunset," says Brad Bird, writer, and director of both films. "But I always felt if I did a sequel, what if I started with that moment? That would be cool."
Fourteen years later, "Incredibles 2" (in theaters Friday) picks up exactly where the original movie left off as Mr. Incredible/Bob Parr (voiced by Craig T. Nelson), Elastigirl/Helen Parr (Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell) and Dash (Huck Milner) get to the first order of business — stopping the Underminer.
Here's what you should know about Pixar's long-awaited sequel and the challenges of unfreezing time on screen.
Bird thinks preserving the moment made perfect sense for both the Parrs and the story.
"People tend to be literal about sequels: 'It's 14 years later, they have to be 14 years older,' " says Bird. "But that concept is not as cool. That had to be the same."
Their ages needed to track from the first movie to fit audience expectations of the characters.
"Men are expected to be strong, so (Mr. Incredible) has super-strength. Moms are pulled in 10 different directions, so (Elastigirl) is stretchy," Bird says. "Teenagers are insecure and defensive, so (Violet) has invisibility and force fields. Ten-year-olds want to push every button now, so (Dash) has super-speed. And babies (Jack-Jack) are unknowns."
Spencer Fox, now 25, had aged out of voicing the preteen Dash and had to be "swapped out" with Milner. The 10-year-old voice actor has the same energy "but absolutely has his own take on it," says Bird.
Jack-Jack, who secretly showed superpowers out of family view in the original, has had a major growth spurt in his faculties, much to the shock of his parents.
Violet's friend Tony plays a pivotal role
The family encounters the Underminer after leaving Dash's track meet. In "Incredibles 2," that encounter is shown from a new perspective: that of Violet's burgeoning love interest, Tony Rydinger.
'I didn't want to pick up where we left off in a predictable way, so I did it through Tony's eyes," says Bird.
Tony and Violet had already agreed to go on their first date when he witnesses the family's hidden, shocking super-side.
Bringing Tony back for an extended role was tricky. He's voiced by Bird's son Michael, now 30. Michael successfully pitched his voice higher to find Tony's range ("He got there," Bird says), and any vocal blemishes were fixed electronically.
Superheroes are still illegal
"The Incredibles" story hung on the premise that once-mighty, always honorable superheroes had gone underground after their work was outlawed as too destructive.
This forced Mr. Incredible to be a down-low superhero-for-hire while his wife stayed home.
In "Incredibles 2," it's Elastigirl who gets the assignment from philanthropist Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his tech-genius sister, Evelyn (Catherine Keener), to fight crime with body cameras to help change public perception and reverse the anti-super laws. Mr. Incredible is tasked with minding the home.
While Elastigirl's heroics reflect the national mood, Bird insists he came up with the concept years ago.
"Truth is, I had the core idea of the role switch as we were promoting the first film," says Bird.
The Underminer goes low, the Screenslaver follows
Underminer moves up from quick laugh in an exciting scene to a major "Incredibles 2" villain, a boon for Pixar fixture John Ratzenberger. He bellows the immortal salvo to the trembling metropolis: "I'm always beneath you, but nothing is beneath me!"
"John can really bring it," says Bird.
But that story is overshadowed by the mysterious villain Screenslaver, whose potent mind-control methods even work on superheroes.
Their battle takes the best aspects of the original film and twists them.
"The gold place for a sequel is "The Empire Strikes Back," "Godfather II" or "Road Warrior," where you take the concepts the world feels are familiar, but the world can't predict what’s going to happen next," says Bird. "Those are the films I want to emulate."
(All photographs are courtesy of the original owners unless otherwise indicated)