'Incredibles 2' Spoiler Review: The Family That Fights Together, Stays Together

The Incredibles arrived on the scene in 2004 when superheroes were taking off at the box office, but hadn't ventured into the behemoth of success that would come with the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe just four years later. Now that 14 years have passed since the original, the superhero game is well-tread and seasoned territory. But leave it to the geniuses at Pixar Animation to craft a superhero sequel that is positively superb simply because it isn't your average superhero movie.

What made The Incredibles stand out in the first place was the fact that it was about family first. It just so happens the Parr family were special because every one of them had super powers (except Jack-Jack at the time). Unfortunately, Bob (aka Mr. Incredible) and Helen (aka Elastigirl) decided to start a family after superheroes were declared illegal, forcing their kids Dash and Violet to hide their super powers. Unlike the rest of the world around them, this family can't do the things that make them special.

Incredibles 2 partially deals with this same issue as the family faces the prospect of their heroic actions still being deemed not only illegal, but also unwanted by the general public, thanks to the perception presented by politicians ensuring that people only see the destruction they've caused and not the good they've done. However, all that is an excuse to put pressure on The Incredibles as a family, to change up the dynamic so that each of the characters can grow in their own way. And it's accompanied by some amazingly well-crafted and thrilling action adventure.

Fighting Each Other and Fighting Together

Not only is the opening sequence of Incredibles 2 a visual feast of magnificently staged superhero action, but it also sets the stage for the rest of the movie. Not only is this the inciting incident that sets the rest of the film in motion on a superhero plot level, but it also lays the groundwork for the issues that will be plaguing The Incredibles as a family.

Even though The Incredibles are fresh off their fighting together against the villain Syndrome, we must remember that was their first outing as a superhero family. Though they may have worked well together, they're far from a well-oiled machine, mostly because barely any time has passed since that first adventure. Furthermore, simply because they clicked as a team in that situation doesn't mean that they're a finely-tuned unit that won't have any problems.

From the get-go, we see what these issues are going to be. Despite the fact that Violet and Dash have proven themselves as young heroes, Mom and Dad still want to keep them out of harm's way. Meanwhile, Violet and Dash are so desperate to live up to their potential with their powers that neither of them wants to take responsibility for Jack-Jack, even though that would be a big help in situations like this. They bicker like any brother and sister, passing off their baby brother in the midst of the action.

Meanwehile, Bob and Helen have problems of their own. Bob is still the man who believes heavyweight problems need heavyweight solutions, but the biggest heavyweight problem is his ego and his need to be the hero who saves the day. It's his "punch first, ask questions later" approach to superheroics that creates a little more trouble and allows The Underminer to get away with a bank load of money. And then everyone else is left trying to stop the runaway drill tank that he's inadvertently sent into overdrive, heading straight for downtown Municiberg.

Helen, being the homemaker wife, is left to try to clean up the mess Bob creates to the best of her ability. She saves people along the way by stopping traffic so a smashed overpass doesn't claim any lives. She's the one who has to drop into The Underminer's drill to disable it. Meanwhile, Dash and Violet are still passing the baby around outside, even handing him back to Bob at one point.

This all goes to show you that these may be superheroes, but they're still imperfect people with problems and shortcomings of their own. They're a family just like any other, and that family is about to be tested in a big way.

Leaving the Saving the World to the Men? I Don't Think So

Incredibles 2 changes the game by having Elastigirl go out on assignment instead of Mr. Incredible. This all happens when Winston Deavor and his sister Evelyn, the duo behind the media conglomerate DevTech, have devised a way to paint superheroes in a favorable light again. As the superhero with the least collateral damage on record before superheroes were declared illegal, Elastigirl is named the poster child of this new campaign that will use a small camera installed on her super suit to capture the heroics that the general public don't ever get to see on TV. It's all about changing perception.

This motivation is the perfect catalyst for an Incredibles sequel. As Elastigirl lays out, in order to save her family she has to leave them behind, and in order to fix the law, she has to break it. These walking conundrums aren't just the core of the superhero story, but they set off the events that will end up changing this family forever. Because while Mom is out fighting crime in the spotlight, Dad gets to stay at home with the kids.

What I love about the set-up for this storyline is that Bob is clearly so desperate to get back to being a hero. He argues with Helen at the dinner table about whether they really did anything wrong by saving the day again (albeit with some destruction in their wake). He pushes her to succeed not necessarily for the good of the people, but more for himself, so that he can get back out there and do what he feels gives him purpose.

It's not all selfish, since he also wants Violet and Dash to be able to choose whether or not they want to be superheroes and not be forced to hide their powers. But the larger driving force is Bob's desire to be a hero again. He wants his wife to succeed, but it's hard for him to muster up the genuine support since he believes this is a job tailor made for him. He's about to learn that there's another job that gives him purpose – a job that requires him to be super in another way.

Stay-at-Home Super Dad

Incredibles 2 doesn't exactly go in any creative directions with the idea of Bob being placed in charge of the family. Of course he thinks it won't be that hard, but he's in for a rude awakening. Sure, it seems easy at first. But that's just the first half of the day. When the evening rolls around, the kids hit the fan.

Violet is stood up by a date she was supposed to have with Tony Rydinger (whose memory was erased because Bob told superhero handler Rick Dicker about him), causing her to renounce her life as a superhero. Dash needs help with his math homework that Bob doesn't understand. And Jack-Jack is about to reveal that he has quite the array of super powers. All these problems converge together to make Bob lose sleep and push him to the brink of a breakdown. But much like his approach to superhero work, he thinks a quick fix to each of these problems will help him win the day.

Instead of just using a quick punch or a smash through a wall, Bob uses cookies to try to subdue Jack-Jack's powers that he can't control. Instead of trying to help Violet work through her boy troubles, he clumsily tries to reintroduce her to Tony in the most awkward, forced way possible (complete with the hilarious yet painful visual gag of Violet embarrassingly blasting water through her nose and gasping for air to recover). And finally, Bob realizes that helping Dash with one homework assignment isn't going to be enough, because now they're on to decimals, and he has to start the cycle all over again.

Bob doesn't start to get a good grasp on life until he realizes that he can rely on his kids in ways he didn't know. Violet and Dash don't need to be kept in the dark about everything because they might be able to help, especially when it comes to Jack-Jack's powers. And on that same subject, he doesn't need to try to tackle these problems himself. He can ask for help when he needs it, whether that's calling Uncle Lucius (Frozone) for some much needed assistance when Bob is red-eyed, stubbled, and losing his mind, or going to Edna for her technological expertise in trying to take care of Jack-Jack.

Welcome Back, Elastigirl

As Bob deals with the overwhelming duties of being a stay-at-home dad, Elastigirl is back on the streets being a hero again. Aside from her superheroics, she has a lesson to learn too, because just like Bob has a hard time letting her be the one taking the spotlight as a superhero, she has just as difficult a time trusting Bob to be able to take care of the family while she's gone. Even at the slightest hint of something going wrong, she instantly panics and second guesses the entire plan. It's a big change for these two, and they each need to learn to trust each other in different ways.

But let's not forget that there are still superheroes in this movie, and Elastigirl is heading back into action on her own. The result is some spectacular superheroics where Elastigirl uses her stretching abilities in unique ways to save the day in action sequences that are every bit as good – and, in some cases, better – than those from the best live-action comic book movies.

First of all, Elastigirl's chase after the runaway hover monorail is an absolutely extraordinary sequence. The way Elastigirl stretches her body while using her new motorcycle makes for some fantastic moments. Whether it's splitting the bike in two and extending and retracting herself to get enough momentum to jump over a busy intersection or stretching her torso across the monorail tunnel, splitting the front and back of her bike to ride the walls on either side, Elastigirl is the MVP of this movie when it comes to getting the job done in a clean, efficient, and exciting manner.

Elastigirl further shows her skills in a fast-paced aerial rescue when an ambassador in support of superhero rights is attacked by The Screenslaver, as well as when she comes face-to-face with the villain himself (or at least who appears to be the villain at that time). The sequence involving the strobe lights that forced a warning at theaters is particularly satisfying, both in its unique visuals and impressive action staging. Speaking of which...

The Screenslaver as Both a Modern and Classic Villain

As predictable as the reveal may be that Evelyn Deavor is the face behind The Screenslaver, it doesn't make the villain any less interesting. First of all, the villain has a classic design, masked with no hint of identity. The Screenslaver taunts Elastigirl from a distance, using impressive technology and cunning to create dangerous situations for her to deal with. It's a classic faceless villain that wouldn't feel out of place in period comic book adventures like The Rocketeer or The Phantom.

But The Screenslaver is also modern in the criticism and perception of society at the time in which The Incredibles takes place. Set some time in the early 1960s, this is more of an alternate timeline where much more advance technology exists than what was available at the time. Even without the presence of cell phones, this civilization has numbed itself with entertainment, at least in the eyes of The Screenslaver. The villain's diatribe as Helen tries to track down their whereabouts provides a fascinating philosophy, mostly because it's critical of the very audience watching this movie (as well as the audience watching what was meant to be a showcase of Elastigirl's heroics):

"The Screenslaver interrupts this program for an important announcement. Don't bother watching the rest. Elastigirl doesn't save the day. She only postpones he defeat. And while she postpones her defeat, you eat chips and watch her confront problems that you are too lazy to deal with.

Superheroes are part of your brainless desire to replace true experience with simulation. You don't talk, you watch talk shows. You don't play games, you watch game shows. Travel, relationships, risk. Every meaningful experience must be packaged and delivered to you to watch at a distance so that you can remain ever sheltered, ever passive, ever ravenous consumers who can't bring themselves to rise from their couches, break a sweat, and participate n life.

You want superheroes to protect you and make yourselves ever more powerless in the process, while you tell yourselves you're being looked after, that your interests are being served, that your rights are being upheld, so that the system can keep stealing from you, smiling at you all the while. Go ahead, send your supers to stop me. Grab your snacks. Watch your screens. And see what happens. You are no longer in control. I am."

Whew. That's quite the monologue. Imagine it coming from Mickey Mouse and it becomes that much more interesting. This is an indictment of the entertainment we love so much by the entertainment that we love so much. Not only is that brilliant, but it's bold. It points out a legitimate problem within the universe of The Incredibles, one that is echoed in our own society. People accept what they are told and sold without questioning, without trying to gain any further understanding, without having any real perspective beyond what is thrown at them through a screen. They expect others to do what's in their best interest. Sound familiar?

The Screenslaver's motivations aren't wrong, but it's the methods that Evelyn employs that are misguided and out of control. The solution isn't getting rid of superheroes and the media by making them completely untrustworthy. It's making sure that we take an active role in the trajectory of our lives and not merely be bystanders waiting for someone to make everything okay. Or in the words of Rick Dicker, "You want out of the hole? First you gotta put down the shovel." Stop digging your own hole in the ground.

Fighting Together...Again

In the final act of Incredibles 2, our family gets to work together yet again as they try to stop the gang of hypnotized wannabe supers, and then keep the DevTech hydroliner, the Everjust, from crashing into New Urbem.

By now, they've each learned a valuable lesson about balance. Bob and Helen realize they can trust their kids after they show up to rescue both he and his hypnotized wife in the face of seemingly insurmountable danger. Helen sees that Bob has been able to handle much more than she thought, especially after she finds out about Jack-Jack's superpowers. And both Dash and Violet realize that being real superheroes isn't always about being at the center of the big fight. Sometimes it means taking care of Jack-Jack and being responsible for each other. Overall, it means balancing being part of a family with a normal life with being a superhero. This time they're not arguing with each other about who is going to do what or handing off Jack-Jack to one another. They work together not just as superheroes, but as a real family.