The Politics of the Incredibles (minimal spoilers)

I saw an early release of the Incredibles 2 last night. I wasn’t expecting too much given Pixar’s history with sequel. Finding Dorothy, Monsters University and the Cars sequels were okay, but below average for Pixar. I am happy to report that the Incredibles 2 was a pleasant exception. Not only did the film re-capture the magic of the original, it made a point that many readers and fellow Notewriters should appreciate: legality doesn’t equal right.

The film starts off directly after the events of the first film. The titular Incredibles family fights off the Underminer, a mining themed super villain. Instead of getting praised for their actions though, they get arrested. Superheroes are still illegal. The events of the past film haven’t changed that. One of the characters wisely remarks, “Politicians don’t understand why someone would do the right thing for its own sake. They’re scared of the idea.”

The family is let go, but they’re at a low point. Their home has been destroyed. They’re unemployed and broke. They’re gifted with super powers, but they live in a world where they can’t legally use them. That’s when a businessman approaches them and asks – why not use their super powers? The businessman proposes that the family continue to use their powers illegally, and convince the government to change the law after the public has been shown how useful superheroes are. This leads to a funny exchange where the characters argue about how they’re being asked to be illegal in order to become legal.

I won’t spoil the remainder of the film, but I love the businessman character’s early scenes. It’s refreshing to see a corporate character, and his disregard for legislated morality, portrayed in a positive light. Tony Stark/Iron Man starts off this way in the early MCU films, but makes a u-turn by Captain America: Civil War. This new character, for better or worse, stands by his beliefs.

The tension between legislation and morality isn’t a new theme for Pixar. The idea of breaking the rules to do what’s right was a central feature of Monsters University as well. It’s a lesson I think many children, and their parents, could benefit to learn. Legislation isn’t morality.

I give the film a solid 9/10. It’s around Wall-E or Up levels of quality. It’s easily one of the funniest Pixar films in a while. The animated short before the film is, as standard for Pixar, a tear jerker. Bring some tissues.

Thoughts? Opinions? Post in the comments.

2 thoughts on “The Politics of the Incredibles (minimal spoilers)

  1. We decided to “out” ourselves and acknowledge our delight at seeing your positive review of this film, Michelangelo. Yes, despite our reputation for intellectual gigantism, the majority of us here in the WOOF cave recall and freely admit attending showings of the first one, years ago (for various reasons, mainly having to do with kids and grandkids) and finding ourselves beguiled by the film’s essentially libertarian theme.

    Like you, we expected the sequel to prove disappointing, either because sequels typically disappoint, or because the Hollywood establishment, anxious to counteract the first version’s (accidental?) objectivism, would use the follow-up as a vehicle of atonement—a chance for the characters to engage in all the action and flamboyance of the first film while rediscovering the timeless values of collectivism and social equalitarianism. How wonderful to learn otherwise.

    Galvanized by your critique, we will make a point of queuing up for “2,” even if some of us have to borrow other people’s children to accompany us—you know—the better to preserve a certain image. And since actually seeing the movie will preclude our reviewing it for WOOF (where our longstanding tradition is to review only films we have scrupulously avoided seeing) we will use the spare time to contemplate other cinematic conundra —like, how a full-throated paean to throne-and-alter conservatism like “The Lion King” ever made it into production, let alone survived to beguile millions without exciting the slightest peep of opposition from the Left. But then, come to think of it, some mysteries simply defy dissection.

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