Entering a landscape where superheroes have changed so much can't do much more than leave director/screenwriter Brad Bird wondering where to start, which leads to a jerky start/stop nature to the entire two-hour film. "And I finally went, "I think I'm ready, maybe". So far, it has been extremely well-received by critics and fans alike, reaching the impressive score of 97% on the popular film rating website Rotten Tomatoes. So it was a different environment.
But figuring out what story to tell about the family was a challenge for the creative team, especially in light of just how many superhero films have come out since the first Incredibles came out and raised the bar for the genre. "But I felt like what made ours special in the first place was that it was about a family, and that if I kept it about the family, we'd be all right".
Four years before the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked-off an unparalleled legacy of superhero films, it was the Parr family that drove lovers of crime-fighting heroics to the movies. But the outcome isn't good.
Because Elastigirl is the more cost effective choice, she heads into the field first, leaving an indignant Bob behind to play stay-at-home dad, in over his head juggling Violet's (Sarah Vowell) powers and puberty, Dash (Huck Milner) being Dash, and baby Jack-Jack, who is coming into his many, many powers, that first manifest in a riotous scene in which Jack-Jack battles a raccoon and laugh-out-loud amusing every time they pop up after that. An incredibly amusing set piece depicting Bob's first night alone with the kids taps into a parental anxiety that hits very close to home. But the central strength of the family dynamic gets pushed down by less interesting plot threads of young love gone wrong, a cautionary tale of technology, sibling rivalries and a bevy of new characters with superpowers. I'm guessing that the reason he and Pixar didn't rush to make a sequel to the quite successful first film is that they wanted to have something to say before diving in.
Keep in mind he also directed the Oscar-winning Ratatouille (2007) and cult favourite The Iron Giant (1999), as well as live-action films Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011) and Tomorrowland (2015).
He said: "I knew I had the unopened present of Jack-Jack's powers because the audience knew that he had multiple powers but the family didn't. It was all the other stuff that I had to work on and work on and work on". But Bird's rather strenuous sequel lands more in the camp of "Cars 2" and "Monsters University", mistaking calamity and mayhem for real excitement and wit. "That's the original Elastigirl right there".
He's also had some experience being a stay-at-home dad. I think that's kind of an eternal thing.
"I've been the annoying little brother. I have three older sisters and I annoyed every single one of them".
He added, tongue in cheek: "I had a lot of valuable research on that".
Disney ended up being burned by some early box office predictions for Solo: A Star Wars Story, but I have a feeling the Mouse House isn't going to encounter those same problems with Incredibles 2 when the superhero sequel hits theaters later this week.
Deadline reports that while some tracking services are betting Incredibles 2 will earn around $125 million at the domestic box office this weekend, rivals of Disney/Pixar are banking on it actually performing somewhere in the range of $135-150 million.
Last week, he announced he was leaving the company by the end of the year.
With equally long careers in show business, both Hunter and Nelson make a ideal pair to helm the Incredibles family.