Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

3WA 2017 #19: The Incredibles

One sure-fire way to start an argument on the Internet is to make a bold claim about what is The Best Of A Type Of Thing. I don’t want an argument but I am going to state that the best superhero movie ever made isn’t any of the various Batman films (Burton or Nolan), nor is it the first Avengers movie, not Unbreakable, not even the first Iron Man movie, let alone The Ir– well, let’s shelve that one for now. I’m saying that the best superhero movie ever made is…

What is it?

The Incredibles is a 3D-animated Pixar Studios feature film.

What kind of story is it?

What if you had superpowers, and the world didn’t want you to use them? How much of your identity and how much of your sense of self-worth is tied to those powers? What happens when a city is faced with a threat that can only be neutralized by the people with powers that have been shunned for years? All these questions (and more) are tackled along the way while the viewer is treated to a clever, funny, heartfelt, delightful joyride of adventure.

And then there’s this pint-sized scene-stealer.

Why do you like it?

For all that it’s a fantastical story about superpowered people fighting against superscience technology, at its heart The Incredibles is about family. The movie is at its strongest when it stops down to show the family members coming together, in big ways and in small moments, to relate to one another honestly and directly.

This could be your family. If, you know, each of you had a different superpower.

Also, it’s just plain fun! One moment in particular makes me laugh and grin every single time I see it: Dash, the young speedster, is running for his life and realizes that in his panic he has run out atop the surface of a lake. And he is able to treat the lake like any other running surface. He looks around, processes this new information, delivers the most evil little chuckle of all time… then redoubles his speed and is off like a shot.

Must love speedsters.

That pure joy, tinged with a wicked taste of the thrill of power, is a notable great moment in a movie full of great moments.

What might one not like about it?

To a certain extent, a big part of the plot’s interpersonal drama comes from an old standby: “If this character would simply tell that character the truth, we could avoid much stupidity and unpleasantness.” This trope does get old, especially in superhero storytelling. (Are you listening Barry Allen?)

There are giant robots. But not the kind of giant robots I usually write about!

Other thoughts about it?

There’s an oddly genre-savvy bit partway through. The kids are advised that the bad guys are not like in the stories, they will shoot to kill, so in order to stay alive they must use their powers to the fullest and do whatever it takes. Of course, part of what makes this odd is that we’re watching a cartoon story. Still, it’s one of the most “real” moments in the film. Wild, eh?

Where can I watch it?

You should really just buy it. Probably on Blu-Ray. I doubt it’ll cost too much.



  1. “The Incredibles” is a very strange way to spell “Sin City” when it comes to superhero movies…

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