The Incredibles is unique among Pixar films in that it that was both written and directed by one person: Brad Bird. Any film is a massive team effort, of course, but it's notable that The Incredibles' initial creative vision came from the head of just one person.
With a career in animation stretching back to the 1980's, Bird was more than up to the challenge. He worked for Disney in his early career, collaborating on The Fox and the Hound and The Black Cauldron, and even served as a consultant on The Simpsons for eight seasons. His directorial debut didn't come until 1999's The Iron Giant, which although not a box office hit, would go on to become a cult classic.
Though he had the experience, Bird was operating on a whole new level with The Incredibles. The Incredibles presented some serious technical challenge to the Pixar team, primarily because it was their first time working on a film with mostly human characters, which is always tricky in an animation context. Fish? Easy. Humans? Hard.
Whether thanks to Brad Bird's skills as a director, Pixar's skill as animators, or a combination of both, The Incredibles well exceeded anyone's expectations, becoming one of the most popular franchises in Pixar's well-stocked repertoire.
Written by director Brad Bird, The Incredibles took over a decade to make it from a sketched-out idea to a full-blown screenplay. Talk about commitment.
Bird first had the idea back in 1993. We can only assume that he was wearing flannel, listening to Nirvana, and playing with a Furby at the time, but maybe we're just projecting. Either way, this hare-brained idea was a reflection of the challenges Bird faced in his own life balancing the personal and professional—a conflict that pops up repeatedly in the film.
An old friend of former Pixar head John Lasseter, Bird joined the studio in 2000. That doesn't mean The Incredibles was a shoo-in, though. Prior to the film, Pixar hadn't made a movie with mostly human characters, which presented all sorts of challenges for the still-young studio. It's a lot harder to animate people than bugs or toys, apparently. That, along with the ambitious nature of the script, made it a long shot.
Somehow, though, The Incredibles won the day. (Typical superheroes.) It may have taken eleven years, but Brad Bird's super-powered family finally completed its leap from its writer's brain to the silver screen.
Wonder why The Incredibles is such a wonderfully animated tour de force? Well, that might have something to do with it being produced by two of the greatest animation studios in the history of, uh…history.
In fact, Disney's 1945 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was the first full-length animated film ever released. As we know, Disney would go on to dominate the medium of animation for the remainder of the century—that is, until the arrival of the dreaded computer. Suddenly Disney's hand-animation seemed passé and quaint in comparison to the polygons produced by a PC, leaving the King of Animation looking more like a jester.
Enter Pixar Animation Studios. Pixar was founded in 1979, first as a part of George Lucas' Lucasfilm, then as an independent studio partially owned by Steve Jobs. (Talk about pedigree.) It took some time for the studio to release its first full-length picture with 1995's Disney-distributed Toy Story, but it was worth the wait. Toy Story went to infinity and beyond, earning nearly $400 mil in the box office and turning Pixar into a household name.
With its heir apparent, Walt Disney purchased Pixar in 2006 and made the hottest free agent in the game the star player on its team. And it paid off big-time. Whether we're talking about Finding Nemo, Cars, Coco, or The Incredibles, Pixar is now known the world over for producing the highest-quality animated films of its era.
If you were born during or after the 1990's, then you might just call this animation. But believe it or not, animators used to draw everything by hand. With pen and paper and stuff. That must've taken a hot second.
The Incredibles, on the other hand, is a prime example of the digital animation style that made Pixar famous. Although the graphics are rather basic by today's standards, the use of simple shapes and bold designs help the film stand the test of time despite ample technological progress since its release. That being said, if you compare screenshots of The Incredibles and The Incredibles 2, the difference is like night and day.
Heavily inspired by 1960s spy thrillers and action movies, The Incredibles' soundtrack is the perfect boppy companion to its frenetic cartoon energy. So much so, in fact, that this sucker was nominated for a Grammy. Not too shabby at all.
The score was composed by Michael Giacchino, who would later go on to great success with films like Rogue One, Jurassic World, as well as several Pixar classics like Ratatouille and Coco. Quite a range, huh? Dude's got versatility. With The Incredibles, Giacchino turns his versatile approach towards '60s spy films like James Bond, reinventing that lounge-y, retro-future sound as the perfect companion to modern superhero mayhem.
The pulsing horns and driving bass of "Glory Days," perhaps the film's most recognizable theme, pushes things forward at a frenetic pace. On the other hand, "Bob Vs. The Omnidroid" uses the same base elements and instrumentation but flips them in a different direction, taking what was peppy and energetic and transforming them into dark and ominous. There's even the driving "Marital Rescue" which adds a tense and almost militaristic vibe to Helen's rescue of hubby Bob.
Despite this range of moods, however, The Incredibles remains consistent in its stylistic and orchestral techniques, creating a soundtrack that manages to be both cohesive and expressive at the same time.
Pixar is such a legendary animation studio that their films basically come with built-in fandoms, and The Incredibles is no exception.
After all, if you're a parent looking for a Halloween costume set for the whole family, you could do a lot worse than The Incredibles. A little baby dressed up as Jack-Jack? Adorable. It might not be the merchandising bonanza that is Toy Story or Cars, but The Incredibles still has a loyal base of diehard fans—as evidenced by the fact that a sequel was made 13 years after the first film was released.
That doesn't happen unless the fans are there to back it up.