Study Guide

The Incredibles

The Incredibles Introduction

Believe it or not, there was a time when superhero movies didn't dominate the box office. So what started the trend? Batman Begins? Spiderman? Iron Man?

Not in Shmoop's book. Marvel and DC are cool and all, but the real trendsetter behind the modern superhero revolution is Pixar's 2004 animated classic The Incredibles.

Take that Bruce Wayne.

Following a family of ex-superheroes in a world where superpowers are banned, The Incredibles takes its comic book inspiration and uses it to create a relatable family story. Parents Bob and Helen Parr struggle to adapt to life now that they've put up the costumes for good. Their kids have difficulty in school because they don't know how to deal with their powers. And just to make matters worse, a new but familiar super villain has arrived on the scene, threatening to upend everything the Parr family holds dear.

The Incredibles was written and directed by Brad Bird, who cut his teeth working on classics like The Simpsons and The Iron Giant. It was also only the sixth film produced by Pixar—not to mention their first with primarily human characters—so it presented a whole host of new challenges for the team.

Here's a shocker, though: they knocked it out of the park. The film generated over $600 million in worldwide profits, not to mention earning Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Sound Editing. Now that's incredible. And with a sequel that hit the big screen in 2018, this certainly won't be the last time this superhero team graces our screens.

Move over, Avengers. Time to meet the Parrs.

What is The Incredibles About and Why Should I Care?

Superhero movies are a dime a dozen these days, but trust us—The Incredibles ain't your average superhero movie.

That's because it focuses first and foremost on characters with relatable issues. Bob Parr struggles to get over his bygone glory days. Dash acts out in school because he doesn't feel special. Violet is so insecure that she'd rather be invisible most of the time—which is actually literally possible in her case. Though we might lack their powers, we've all gone through similar experiences in our own lives.

The Incredibles doesn't necessarily give us easy answers to these questions, though. Bob's glory days are still in the past, and Dash still can't show off his powers to the full extent he might like. Regardless, they all manage to make peace with these conflicts over the course of the film by uniting as a family and being open with each other.

Sounds touchy feely, right? Well, if that's not your bag, there's always the cool action scenes and funny meta-jokes about superheroes. If that's not incredible enough for you...well, then we guess we won't see you at the theater for the sequel.

Trivia

Brad Bird got the idea for The Incredibles way back in 1993, even though the film wasn't released until 2005. Like all good things, The Incredibles was born in the '90s. (Source)

The Incredibles is the only Pixar film to be written and directed by the same person, with no else credited in either role. Don't get it twisted, though: The Incredibles was still a super-team effort. (Source)

Syndrome was not initially meant to be the film's chief villain. Instead, a baddie hilariously dubbed Xerek would be our hero's chief rival. Yikes. Glad they went back to the drawing board with that one. (Source)

Sarah Vowell, who plays Violet, isn't actually an actress: she's a writer and reporter for This American Life, the radio show. Producers thought her quirky voice was the perfect fit for The Incredibles' resident Invisible Girl. (Source)

The Incredibles Resources

Websites

The Incredibles Official Site
For more info about the film's characters—as well as its sequel—head over to the internet's Incredibles HQ.

Pixar
If you're a true fan, then this is already your homepage. If not, then shame on you.

Articles and Interviews

An Interview With Brad Bird
This stellar interview with writer/director Brad Bird provides amazing first-hand insight into the development of the film.

Should You Go to Couples Therapy
Paging Bob and Helen Parr. We have something you guys will wanna read.

Video

Cast Interviews
This short video provides some cool interviews with the film's starring cast, as well as writer/director Brad Bird.

The Incredibles 2 Trailer
Want a peek at the second adventure for the Incredibles? Click and enjoy, Shmoopers.

Audio

The Man Behind The Incredibles
This NPR piece explores both Brad Bird's work on The Incredibles as well as the rest of his impressive filmography.

An Interview with Brad Bird...Again
Although this interview focuses heavily on Bird's 2015 film Tomorrowland, it provides some great insight into his perspective as a filmmaker.

Images

The Incredibles Poster
Peep the lowkey Edna hiding in the corner of the poster. It's like playing Where's Waldo.

The Incredibles 2 Poster
Even though it's a lot simpler than the first poster, it's clear how far animation technology advanced between the releases of the two films.