Study Guide

The Incredibles Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson)

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Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson)

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.

Superman No More

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.

Superhero Reboot

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.

The Incredible Midlife Crisis Man

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.

New, But Not Improved

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.

An Incredible Team

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.

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