When the first trailer for Incredibles 2 dropped, it was clear that the film was not going to be a repeat of the first. The first film focused on the super heroics of Mr. Incredible. He returned to his superhero life without telling his family or his wife, Mrs. Incredible AKA Elastigirl, until he needed her to get into the fight.
In this film, superheroes are still illegal and the Incredibles are still trying to make sense of their powers as a family. However, instead of Mr. Incredible being recruited for missions, this time Elastigirl is asked to be a superhero again. It would be easy to say that the film was trying to course correct by giving Mrs. Incredible a super role while leaving Bob at home. That happens, but so much more happens as well.
Let’s jump into why Incredibles 2 doesn’t just play into role-reversal tropes, but lives at the intersection of both family and feminism.
Is Incredibles 2 a Feminist Film?
Incredibles 2 puts a woman at the forefront of a very political movement: the movement to restore superheroes to their rightful place in public service. Putting a woman in this position is a very intentional decision by the filmmakers to make Elastigirl/Mrs. Incredible a hero who is just as important as her husband, Bob.
In that way, yes, Incredibles 2 is a feminist film. Elastigirl becomes the poster woman of the film’s campaign. She’s given her own Elastibike, like Mr. Incredible’s Incredicar. She’s sent on missions and encouraged to fight crime and save lives on her own terms. This definitely equaled the playing field for her and her husband between the first film and this one.
Elastigirl also works with a female politician to get the anti-superhero bill overturned. She also becomes the leader of a new group of superheroes. In an age where superhero movies are coming out almost once a month, not one of those superhero teams has been led by a woman. It was refreshing to see Elastigirl lead them and help them learn more about their powers.
Is Incredibles 2 a Family Film?
Incredibles 2 isn’t just a feminist film though, it’s a family film. The entire Incredible family gets tested in the second installment. Bob feels sidelined, Jack-Jack discovers new powers, Violet goes on her first date. The whole family is challenged when mom leaves, but Bob more than rises to the occasion.
What’s great about putting Elastigirl as the front superhero is that her husband becomes the front and center parent. He’s not sidelined, nor does he get less screen time than his wife, he just plays a different role: that of Dad. That’s one way the film very successfully achieves a more feminist perspective without falling into any anti-male tropes.
Bob has plenty to do while Elastigirl is off saving the world. In fact — and I think the point of the role reversal — was that Bob learned just how much work it takes to be a full-time parent. That being a full-time parent takes just as many heroics as being a superhero. So, whether Elastigirl is at home taking care of her kids or out fighting crime, she’s still just as valued. Same goes for Bob, now that he knows how to share his Dad duties.
The film opens and ends with the entire Incredible family fighting together — side by side — including Jack-Jack. In fact, if Pixar makes a third film, hopefully the focus in that film would be the whole family, suiting up as supers.
Incredibles 2 is now in theaters.