‘Incredibles 2’ Team Talks Sequel Film’s Push for Female Empowerment, Gender Equality

Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Brad Bird, Samuel L. Jackson'Incredibles 2' film premiere, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 05 Jun 2018
Michael Buckner/Variety/REX/Shut

For “Incredibles” writer and director Brad Bird, a sequel to the hit 2004 film was inevitable, as the family of superheroes “never really left me. The most fun I’ve ever had making a movie was making the first ‘Incredibles’ and so I always intended to come back.”

Now, 14 years later, the adventures of Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and their three super-powered children — Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack — continue in “Incredibles 2,” with the new Pixar film picking up exactly where the original left off. Bird, who also voices fan-favorite character Edna Mode, said it was an essential choice to not jump the story forward into the future.

“I’m not interested in making that movie because I chose the powers around the roles that the characters had in the family,” Bird told Variety at the film’s Los Angeles premiere on Tuesday. “Fathers are always expected to be strong so I made him super strong. Mothers are pulled in 10 different directions at once so I had her stretch. Teenagers are insecure and defensive so I made her have forcefields and invisibility. Ten year olds are energy balls and babies are unknown, so maybe he has no powers, maybe he has all the powers. That works if they’re the ages that they are.”

The sequel also features a very relevant plot line at a time of female empowerment in Hollywood, with Elastigirl called to save the world while Mr. Incredible stays home to take care of the kids. Seeing as Bird has worked on the film for four years, producer Nicole Paradis Grindle called it’s current relevance “a fine coincidence.”

“The first movie had a lot of really strong female characters,” Grindle said. “Brad had the idea that he wanted Helen (aka Elastigirl) to be the one to get the mission 14 years ago. There was that and the idea that the family didn’t that know Jack-Jack had powers, that informed the story that he wanted to tell. It turned out that it was a very timely issue, but I like to say that this is not a message film at all, this is just the way people live.”

Bird was joined at the premiere, held at Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre, by the film’s stars Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, John Ratzenberger, Sophia Bush and Sarah Vowell. Bush, who named “The Incredibles” as her favorite Pixar movie and joins the sequel as superhero Voyd, also spoke on the film’s place in the era of #MeToo and Time’s Up.

“I think it’s incredibly important to take some of hysteria out of arguments for equality and kindness, and a movie like this has the capacity to do that,” the actress said. “People who don’t agree that everyone should be empowered will say ‘No’ to this and ‘No’ to that and ‘This is ridiculous,’ and then they watch this movie and they go ‘Well that’s awesome!’ And it’s like well yeah, we’re dealing with a family that’s trying to figure out what support looks like, what their finances look like, how to handle their three kids, the mom and dad are switching roles for now and she’s going to go be the star at work and he’s going to be Mr. Mom, and that’s okay.”

Hunter, who returns as Elastigirl, echoed similar sentiments, saying the film provided “a validation” for the reversal of traditional gender roles.

“I think a lot of people are now living in families where a woman may be the sole breadwinner or she may be earning more money than the male and that is okay,” Hunter said. “Being a member of a family, there are giant responsibilities in raising children, and it’s a responsibility that’s wonderful if it gets to be shared by two people, whether it’s two men, two women, a male and a female. Who cares, as far as I’m concerned.”

“Incredibles 2” hits theaters June 15.