Sorry for the spoiler, but you'll probably go through a midlife crisis at some point. Don't worry, though. Given life expectancies, it probably won't happen 'til you're at least 60.
So Bob Parr, also known as Mr. Incredible, isn't going through anything out of the ordinary in The Incredibles. Er, besides the whole superpower thing. Tiny difference.
The intro of the movie gives us a glimpse into Bob's glory days as Mr. Incredible. Whether fighting common criminals, dueling with super villains, or flirting with his fellow superheroes (especially the stretchy ones), Bob seems absolutely in love with his life as Mr. Incredible. And can you blame him? Not only is he powerful beyond measure, but the dude is loved and adored the world over.
Perfect setup for a plot twist, right?
In fact, it's Mr. Incredible's own actions that lead to the passage of the Superhero Relocation Program, which bans superheroes from operating publicly. He stops a train from crashing, but in doing so, accidentally injures everyone aboard. He saves a man from committing suicide—but the guy doesn't want to be saved. Both of these "wronged" parties sue our hero for damages, and the ensuing cases end with superheroes being banned outright.
So much for all that good he tried to do.
Conveniently, this societal shift occurs at the same time as a huge personal one for Mr. Incredible: his marriage to Helen a.k.a. Elastigirl. With both of these former heroes out of a job, they dive headlong into family life and raise three kids together.
This, supposedly, is Bob's dream. Check out this interview excerpt from his days as a superhero:
MR. INCREDIBLE: Sometimes I think I'd just like the simple life, you know? Relax a little and raise a family.
Convincing, right? Now, check out what happens when he actually settles down. Boom:
BOB: Reliving the glory days is better than acting like they didn't happen.
HELEN: Yes, they happened. But this, our family, is what's happening now, Bob. And you're missing this. I can't believe you don't want to go to your own son's graduation.
Sure sounds like the simple life ain't so simple for Bobby. So what's the deal? How could this beloved superhero turn out to be such a cruddy family man?
We'd place the blame on his inability to use his powers. He's now forced to blend in with society and live an ordinary life as an ordinary insurance adjuster. Those would be midlife crisis circumstances for any high-school football star or one-hit-wonder musician, but when your glory days were spent as a legit superhero, you have a red alert on your hands.
As a result, Bob longs to be Mr. Incredible once again. He goes out on late-night crime fighting missions with his old buddy Frozone. It's even implied that he's publicly used his powers several times in the past, forcing his family to move and start anew each time. No wonder Dash and Violet are having so much trouble with school life.
Then Bob gets offered what seems like an opportunity of a lifetime when he's invited by a "top secret government agency" to defeat a rogue battlebot. As we know, of course, this is in fact a ploy by Syndrome, once Mr. Incredible's greatest fan, now supervillain dedicated to ridding the world of his former idols. But for Bob this is a dream come true—at first.
When he returns home from this first mission, Bob is a new man. He starts working out, trading his dad bod for something resembling the Rock. He's more loving with Helen, and more caring towards the kids. And, yes, he buys a sports car. Because what midlife crisis would be complete without a sports car?
But here's the most significant thing he does: he lies to Helen. While he hustles to restart his superhero career, he tells Helen that he's still working at the insurance agency, with her none the wiser. At first, at least. By the time he's decided to undertake his second mission, telling Helen that he's going to a business conference, she knows that he's lying to her, but assumes that he's having an affair. Whoops.
The irony is that he would die if it wasn't for Helen, who along with the kids rescues him from the grip of the Big Bad. And not just that—the whole family teams up to defeat the Omnidroid in the streets of New York City. Not bad for a bunch of noobs.
Best of all, this team-up causes a switch to flick in Bob's brain, and he finally realizes how bad of a dad he's been. Check it:
BOB: I'm sorry. This is my fault. I've been a lousy father. Blind to what I have. So obsessed with being undervalued that I undervalued all of you.
And with that, everything comes full circle. After so much struggle, Bob has finally balanced both aspects of himself—Mr. Incredible the hero and Bob Parr the dad. More than that, he's brought them together as one. That means there's not just one Incredible now. There's a whole family of 'em.
Helen Parr isn't the first woman forced to deal with a midlife crisis crazed hubby, and she certainly won't be the last. Of course, most of those hubbies aren't lucky enough to be married to a superheroine.
You know what they say: behind every great man is a woman with the power to stretch her body in strange and frightening ways. Er, they say that, right?
Like her husband Bob, the former Mr. Incredible, Helen Parr was once a superhero: Elastigirl. Both of them were at the top of their game back then, kicking bad guy booty side-by-side and sparking a super-heroic romance. They even wed. D'aww.
Interestingly, it's Helen who has serious doubts about family life at this point. Check it out:
ELASTIGIRL: Settle down? Are you kidding? I'm at the top of my game. I'm right up there with the big dogs.
As we see in the movie, the complete opposite is true. It's Helen who successfully adapts to married life, while Bob—who previously waxed poetic about the "simple life"—crashes and burns with aplomb. What's the deal?
It all comes back to the Superhero Relocation Program, which forbids superheroes from using their powers. In a moment, Helen and Bob are literally banned from doing the thing they're best at. No wonder the transition messes with their heads.
To be fair, it messes with Bob a lot more than it messes with Helen, leading him to go on illicit late-night superhero runs, use his powers in public, and just be an all-around cruddy father. This causes a great deal of tension in the marriage, though their fights often dodge their real feelings.
Here's a typical one:
BOB: You want to do something for Dash? Then let him actually compete. Let him go out for sports.
HELEN: I will not be made the enemy here. You know why we can't do that.
BOB: Because he'd be great.
Although they're talking about Dash, it's clear that Helen and Bob are really talking about their own relationship with their superpowers. Yeesh. Couples therapy much, guys?
These issues become amplified after Bob is hired by Syndrome to fight the Omnidroid. He straight-up lies to Helen about what he's up to, and though she buys it as first, her suspicions quickly grow. She doesn't immediately assume he's being tricked by a supervillain, though—she just assumes that he's having an affair. Given the lies, secret workout sessions, and sports car purchases, it's not a ridiculous thing to assume.
But then something flips. Maybe it's seeing her newly-designed Elastigirl costume. Maybe she's just fed up. Either way, Helen decides to take the situation into her own hands, tracking Bob's location and going on a clandestine rescue mission. Ride or die, ya'll. In this way, Helen returns to her superhero roots just as Bob has been doing the entire movie—and boy does it feel good.
You could even argue that Bob and Helen are only able to make peace because they're interacting like they did when they fell in love: as superheroes.
Here's an important interaction between them during the film's closing battle:
BOB: I can't lose you again. I can't. Not again. I'm not strong enough.
HELEN: If we work together, you won't have to be.
They don't need to choose between being parents and superheroes: they can be both. In fact, by bringing these two separate halves of themselves together, as they do in the final battle with Syndrome, they can be far stronger than they ever were as solo acts.
Like her husband, Helen has done the impossible: achieved personal balance between her present life as a parent and past life as a superhero. You might even call it incredible. She might not have handled this conflict with the same, uh, immaturity as her hubby, but she'll be just as grateful for the opportunity to be who she truly is.
Violet Parr can turn invisible with the flick of the wrist. She should be the next Criss Angel. More than being merely a cool parlor trick, however, this superpower is a nifty reflection of her quintessentially teenaged brand of insecurity.
After all, what teenager doesn't want to be invisible most of the time? At the beginning of the film, we see Violet turn invisible as soon as her crush emerges from school at the end of the day. Like many teens, Violet lacks the self-confidence to be herself. Unlike most teens, however, Violet can literally disappear.
Her other superpower is pretty sweet, too: she can create impenetrable force fields. She seems less comfortable with this than turning invisible, though. In a crucial turning point, Violet fails to create a force field to protect the family as they arrive at Syndrome's island, which forces them to jump ship before its destruction. Once again, Violet's lack of confidence hinders her, as she sincerely doubts she's capable of such a feat.
Violet is devastated. Check out this convo with her mom after they've made it back to land:
VIOLET: Mom, what happened on the plane. I'm sorry. I wanted to help. I mean, when you asked me to. I'm sorry.
HELEN: Shh. It isn't your fault. It wasn't fair for me to suddenly ask so much of you. But things are different now, and doubt is a luxury we can't afford anymore, sweetie. You have more power than you realize. Don't think. And don't worry. If the time comes, you'll know what to do. It's in your blood.
From this moment onward, Violet changes her tune. She protects her family with force fields galore. She frees them from Syndrome's holding cells all by herself. She becomes a superhero. Finally, Violet realizes what her mom was trying to tell her: she can do anything as long as she believes in herself.
The end of the film sees Violet conquering her lack of confidence in that other aspect of her life: the fellas. While at Dash's first track meet, her crush Tony asks her on a date and she accepts—though, to be honest, Violet is so confident at this point that she does most of the talking. Atta girl.
That's a far cry from the girl who'd turn invisible the moment anyone looked at her. Now? She's ready to kick supervillain butt and score high school hotties. Win-win.
Like many a young troublemaker, Dash Parr doesn't act out because he's a bad kid, but because he isn't being pointed in the right direction. He's no super-villain-in-training. He's an Incredible.
Want to know what's not incredible, though? Helen and Bob's insistence that Dash not play sports because it might reveal the family's superpowered secret. This backfires, of course. Dash still uses his powers, but to cause trouble in class, rather than doing anything productive with them.
Here's a telling convo between him and Helen after one such incident. Check it:
DASH: Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of. Our powers made us special.
HELEN: Everyone's special, Dash.
DASH: Which is another way of saying no one is.
Afraid of revealing their own secrets, Helen and Bob have accidentally held their son back from fulfilling his own potential. This impacts his life in a range of ways.
Fortunately, this dynamic radically changes after the whole family is thrust back into the world of superheroes and supervillains. Unlike his sister Violet, Dash adapts immediately to the sudden shift, gleefully fighting off baddies and exploring Syndrome's terrifying island like it's Disneyland. This is what he's being waiting for his entire life.
With this experience behind them, Bob and Helen finally relent, allowing Dash to join the track team. Of course, they're careful to keep his superpowers in check, having him throw the race to take a respectable second place. Call it a compromise.
It might not seem like much, but it's exactly what Dash has always wanted—an opportunity to live up to his own potential.
Getting disappointed by a childhood hero isn't anything unusual. Just ask anyone who's a sports fan. But turning into a super villain because of that disappointment? Now that's just ridiculous.
Before he was Syndrome, The Incredibles' chief villain was a dorky kid named Buddy Pine. Buddy was Mr. Incredible's number one fanboy back in the day, as evidenced by his desperate attempt to become the hero's sidekick in the middle of a mission.
It, uh, does not go well. Check it:
BUDDY: You always say be true to yourself, but you never say which part of yourself to be true to. Well, I've finally figured out who I am. I am your ward—IncrediBoy.
MR. INCREDIBLE: And now you've officially carried it too far, Buddy.
BUDDY: This is because I don't have powers, isn't it? Well not every superhero has powers, you know. You can be super without them
Ouch. You might have the watch the scene to get a full grasp on Mr. Incredible's level of shade in this scene.
Despite his immaturity, Buddy clearly is a brilliant kid. He invents his own rocket boots, after all. The only thing we were building when we were his age were snot rockets. Sure, he may be annoying, and yes, he might look like Ron Weasley cosplaying as a character from Dragonball Z, but you have to hand it to the kid—he's one smart cookie.
Instead of using his talents for good, Buddy turns them to evil after this ill-fated encounter. Dubbing himself Syndrome, he dedicates his life to ridding the world of superheroes with his fearsome Omnidroid—yet another one of his brilliant inventions.
Here's a tasty villain monologue expressing his motivations—take a nibble:
SYNDROME: Now you respect me, because I'm a threat. That's the way it works. Turns out there's a lot of people, whole countries who want respect. And they will pay through the nose to get it.
Interestingly, Buddy wants to release the Omnidroid into a city not to destroy it, but to save it himself, therefore becoming the superhero he always wanted to be. True, he still wants to sell WMDs to dictators on the side, but what superhero doesn't do that? Er, right? This show that, despite his clear turn towards the dark side, Syndrome still has a secret desire to live out his childhood superhero fantasy.
Syndrome's Omnidroid is handily defeated by the Parr family, and though he makes a desperate attempt at revenge by kidnapping baby Jack-Jack, he too ends up with an L. Oh yeah—he also gets julienned by an airplane motor. Pretty gruesome for a kids' movie, eh? So let that be a lesson to you: don't become a super villain, or you'll end up chopped up in a million bits.
Yeah. That's the ticket.
Mirage might be tough, but she makes one big mistake: becoming a super villain's sidekick. That gig doesn't usually have great job security.
What's ironic about this is that Mirage does most of the heavy lifting for Syndrome, as hench-ladies are prone to do (sup, Harley). After all, it's Mirage who discovers Mr. Incredible's secret identity. It's Mirage who tricks him into coming to Syndrome's lair. And it's Mirage who does the dirty work of dealing with Mr. Incredible once he's on the island.
Behind every great man, right?
Everything changes after Mr. Incredible restrains her and threatens to kill her unless Syndrome lets him free. That'd be traumatic on its own, but Syndrome's response? A bellowing meh.
Mr. Incredible doesn't murder Mirage in cold blood, of course, but the damage is done. Check it:
MIRAGE: Valuing life is not weakness.
SYNDROME: I called his bluff, sweetheart, that's all. I knew he wouldn't have it in him to actually-
MIRAGE: Next time you gamble, bet your own life.
Betrayed by her boss, Mirage switches to the good guy team, not only freeing Mr. Incredible, but helping the family escape the island and save the world. Talk about a complete 180. Hopefully, Mirage applies her prodigious talents to good from now on, rather than helping some other wack super villain live out his The Most Dangerous Game fantasy.