SUPERVERSIVE: Why “The Incredibles” is the greatest superhero movie ever made
Wednesday , 16, November 2016
I have a lot of respect for animation, and the highest respect for Pixar. Animation is the one genre where you’re allowed to take real risks since the critics are never going to give you the respect you deserve anyway, so why try to please them? Children’s animation especially tends to take more risks than any other type of media I can think of (it’s an easily verified fact that more people die in children’s films than any other media).
So I think it’s interesting that Pixar’s best film is from the most oversaturated genre in Hollywood (though not quite as much at the time): The superhero movie. That movie? “The Incredibles”.
I consider it less an opinion and more of a fact that “The Incredibles” is the best superhero film of all time. Yes, better than “The Dark Knight”. TDK is an overall decent film with one absolutely extraordinary performance. “The Incredibles” is a perfect film save one weirdly out of place poop joke.
What is it that makes it so good? I’ll tell you:
- It’s probably the least politically correct film of the past 20 years. Think about the message. “If everyone is special…no one will be.” What other movie is willing to go and say outright that some people just aren’t special? In a world of snowflakes it’s practically anathema.
- It’s about families. Really, full, nuclear families. Not “blended” families. Not father/son relationships, or mother/daughter relationships. It’s actually a movie about a family undergoing a crisis, overcoming it, and becoming closer in the process. It’s hard for me to think of ANY movies taking on that sort of conflict, let alone a superhero film.
- The action scenes are the best of any superhero movie – yes, even “Civil War”. The airport fight may be incomparable but the movie makes too much use of the shaky cam early on. No such mistake can be found in “The Incredibles”. Every single action scene is fantastic. Bird somehow mastered the trick of making CGI fights feel real enough for the danger to matter.
- The villain is no Heath Ledger Joker (nobody is, was, or will be again), but he IS brilliant. Connecting his backstory to Mr. Incredible and making him a scorned fanboy were masterstrokes. A boilerplate evil genius was turned into somebody weirdly sympathetic, scarily genre savvy, and meta enough to mock the fact that he’s in a superhero film (“You sly dog! You got me monologing!” is one of my all-time favorite movie lines). Syndrome was both fun and genuinely threatening, and that’s exactly the sort of thing you like to see.
- The attention to character detail is stunning. From Elastigirl pausing to look at her butt in a reflection while in the middle of a James Bond-style break-in to the entire “Hundred Mile Dash” sequence to Frozone’s famous “Where is my supersuit?” argument with his wife, Brad Bird clearly paid attention to all of his characters and their personalities, and he makes sure those beats shine through.
- The score is memorable and badass. Michael Giacchino is the most criminally unappreciated composer of the 2000’s; despite critical and popular acclaim I somehow never see him ranked up with the John Williams-es of the world, and he should be. His scores for “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille” (another Brad Bird classic) are two of the best of the decade.
So there you have it: “The Incredibles” is a philosophically mature, meticulously crafted, action-packed masterpiece that also happens to have a badass score. Its characters are fleshed out and feel like real people, and it explores an important aspect of relatiosnhips Hollywood tends to ignore generally (exceptions tend to be masterpieces like “The Godfather”), and outside of “The Incredibles” in superhero movies entirely. Brad Bird is a genius, and I’m just counting the seconds until “The Incredibles 2”.