It’s been 14 years since Brad Bird’s The Incredibles premiered to critical acclaim and a global box office of $633 million. But on June 15th 2018, the Parr family, Bob/Mr Incredible (voiced by Craig T Nelson), Helen/Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter), and their three children Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack, finally return in Incredibles 2.
The story continues from the first movie, and the superheroes are out of favor with the public. But Helen is contacted by Winston Deavor (voiced by Bob Odenkirk) and his sister Evelyn (voiced by Catherine Keener), who are fans of the Supers and are launching a campaign to improve their image. They offer Helen/Elastigirl the job of being the face of the Supers, leaving her husband Bob, Mr Incredible himself, to take care of the house and their kids.
Brad Bird, Holly Hunter and Craig T Nelson came to the London Hotel in West Hollywood to talk about their sequel Incredibles 2. A Film which fans have been waiting 14 years!
Incredibles 2 picks up right where The Incredibles ended. Why did you decide to do that instead of having it take place a few years later?
Brad Bird: I just thought it was bold and weird. Because I think people take the time that passes very literally. And they think that linearly, the characters should have aged. But if they age, their superpowers don’t reflect the part of life that they’re in and their role in the family.
I worked on the first eight seasons of The Simpsons. And the Simpsons haven’t aged a day and they’re still on the air. So it worked for them. Why not us?
Holly, what do you admire about Helen?
Holly Hunter: I think she has total fearlessness when it comes to her role as a Super. But when it comes to her children, she has a very strong protective instinct. She has this innate desire to save others, which is a beautiful thing – especially in the world today
Craig, what do you and Bob have in common?
Craig T Nelson: There are so many things about Bob that are familiar to me. I’m a father. I have three kids, eight grandkids and three great-grandkids. And I’m in control of none of it.
There’s is a role reversal with this movie between Elastigirl and Mr Incredible. Holly, what was your first take when you first read the screenplay?
Holly: Well, I didn’t read a screenplay, because there wasn’t really one. (Brad’s) the screenplay. He was my walking encyclopedia. He was my instruction manual.
It was a while before I truly realized what I was really going to get to do in the movie. And I was really thrilled. I don’t think that this is a message movie in any way. I think it’s purely luck of the draw that this happens to be dovetailing with me, too, and times up. But obviously, time is up. Okay. And I feel that way personally. And it happens to be serendipitously reflected in this particular movie.
At the same time, it’s character revelation. Everybody is having revelations including Jack-Jack. All the characters are revelations to the audience and to themselves. And so I’m no exception as Elastigirl.
Craig, what’s your take on that?
Craig: I was resentful when I was told where Mr Incredible was going to be in this film. Not saving lives. Not exhibiting any kind of strength at all. (he laughs).
I think Bob would’ve preferred to be out there, saving the world, being Mr Incredible, but he accepts his new role and in doing so, he finds out things about his family that I think are intrinsically interesting and important.
Bob is going to learn how to be a dad and he’s going to learn about these kids. And then the process started when we were recording. It was just so much fun.
Then having to deal with Elastigirl out there doing what I want to do and being able to give her the encouragement. Let her know that everything is okay. It was just a lot of fun. I’m so honored to be a part of it.
Why do you think adults feel they can only see animated films with kids?
Brad: Yeah. Kids are strangely treated like beards for animated films.
It’s an art form. It’s for anyone that likes movies. You don’t need to have a kid.
People are constantly coming up to me, ‘My kid really enjoyed it.’ I go, ‘Did you like it?’ They go, ‘Oh yeah, sure. But Billy really liked it.’ And I’m like, ‘I made it for you. And Billy can come. But I’m not a kid. And I made it something that I would want to see.’
How do you feel about that Holly? Would you go see an animated movie by yourself?
Holly: Yeah. I think that we probably all felt that way about the first one as well. It was a movie that stood on its own. It’s not a kid’s movie. In a way, this one is particularly more not a kid’s movie, although kids totally dig it.
There were a lot of kids in the audience in the premier night who loved it. And even small kids love Jack-Jack and love Dash. The movie has complexity that is really astonishing in that it’s like five different movies. And they all work in concert with each other. They all need each other, all five. But it’s an incredible fabric that’s been woven together. It’s very sophisticated.
Brad, it’s been 14 years since the last movie. There’s been a big change in pop culture. Superheroes were not the dominant force that they are now. How much did that affect or not affect the process of developing this movie? Did you feel you needed to change or adjust anything owing to the rise of the Marvel Universe?
Holly: Was there anything that you went let’s not do that?
Brad: Oh yeah. I immediately banned three point landing. I just said no. We’re not doing it on this film. Helen did it once in the first film. It’s not cool anymore. We’re not doing it.
There was a dark moment when all the machinery was kicked into gear. Okay. You got the release date. I realized two years from now, the film is going to come out. There are too many superhero movies now. Are people going to be just sick of this in two years?
Then I realized that what excited me about the idea in the first place was not the superheroes. It was that it was about the family dynamic.
Craig: I rehearsed the three point landing. And after a while, it doesn’t work.
Samuel L Jackson & Craig T Nelson Soundbyte
Returning as the voice of the Parr’s good friend Lucius/Frozone is Samuel L Jackson. He and Craig were asked if kids recognized their voices and approach them – click here to listen to their amusing replies.