“Incredibles II” tackles real-world issues in a comic book setting

“Incredibles II” tackles real-world issues in a comic book setting

Written by Sarah Shaw and Sophie Cannon

For most college students, the wait for another “Incredibles” movie seemed infinite. With seemingly no hope for a sequel, the now post-adolescent super fans, like myself, laid awake at night dreaming of what could happen next: does the extraordinary Parr family take down the Underminer? Will they turn out stronger, ready to bring justice and a new wave of “supers” to the world they were forcibly shunned from?

Well, a mere 14 years later, on June 14, fans got some answers. The opening scene of “The Incredibles II” picks up right as the first ended, with a montage of Dash competing in school sports, Violet finally asking out Tony Rydinger, and the Parr family fighting evil together as a family. This scene, one I had thought about for over a decade, served as the perfect beginning for the movie. The rest of the 2-hour movie has action scenes with the Underminer, Syndrome and new villain, The Screenslaver, some softer familiar moments, and Jack-Jack getting the character development (along with super powers) many had been waiting to see. And if you were missing Frozone and his wife, there is good news there, too.

Nostalgia aside, although it is hard to separate the two, the sequel packed more than just action and funny one-liners into the film. Almost too overt at times, the overtones of today’s real-world concerns slipped into the fictional world, namely gender roles, technology dependency, and a dash of politically charged commentary. While the tots in the audience may not pick up on the themes, the time-tested fans and parents sure will, especially in the Elastigirl and Mr. Incredible narrative, as the parents switch traditional gender roles — wife heading off to fight crime and big-muscled Mr. Incredible faced with the task of taking care of the children.

One of the major hot-button items the movie addresses is women’s roles and the breaking of traditional boundaries. In some ways, the 14-year wait may have been ultimately necessary for this version of the Incredibles’ continuation — would this woman-in-power storyboard have made it past the drawing board back in 2004? Even today, trying to conceptualize women as the primary breadwinners defies century old gender roles, and the film challenges that at its forefront.

In another instance of women taking the spotlight, the beloved Edna Mode shines bright. When Edna, the larger-than-life fashion designer, returned to the big screen, she immediately received a standing ovation from fellow movie-goers in the theater. When Mr. Incredible goes to Edna, exhausted and with a 5 o’clock shadow, all from just one day of watching baby Jack-Jack, she serves as the hilariously critical and spunky woman we grew up loving, offering some perspective for the husband, unaccustomed to what labors his wife has done for years.

Edna said it best when she said, “Done properly, parenting is a heroic event.” No one who has tried parenting claimed it was easy, and for those who do, I have a few questions. We often take those who help us for advantage, whether it be our parents, our partners, or our friends. “The Incredibles II” shares an honest perspective on parenting and forces audiences to reflect on  societal standards.

Other moments that transport us back to the U.S. for a moment come with mentions of politics, including a line referring to Congress as less trustworthy than a monkey throwing darts and another referring to superheros as “illegals,” a nod to immigration issues. The new villain, The Screenslaver, is a jab at how society has become dependent on their screens, however not as strongly pressed as the other issues in the film (perhaps because the movie is quite literally projected on giant screens).

As mentioned before, while the movie runs long and tried to tackle as many storylines and ideas as possible in it’s longer run-time, the film itself does deliver what many asked for. We get the quotable lines, the red suits, cute chubby-faced wide-eyed animation, and feel-good warmth when the screen fades to black.

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