Why The Incredibles Superhero Elastigirl is a Feminist Icon

Tori Brazier
Movies Disney
Movies Disney

“C’mon, Girls! Leave the saving of the world to the men? I don’t think so.” These words at the beginning of The Incredibles clearly set out Elastigirl’s position on gender stereotypes from the get-go. In the earlier days of superheroes being superheroes, before they’re forced into hiding following a flurry of lawsuits brought against them, Elastigirl is out there, smashing barriers, gender norms and the patriarchy alike. She is ambitious and committed to her goal. In Incredibles 2, she is upgraded to protagonist and superhero breadwinner. She is obviously a feminist icon.

Following the change in the Supers’ circumstances during the first movie though, Elastigirl compromises — but graciously. As a stay-at-home mother, she wholeheartedly channels her commitment into this new role. While Mr. Incredible joins the rat race with his bland job at Insuricare, Elastigirl assumes a matriarchal role and looks after the house — without complaint — and the couple’s three kids, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack. While making an effort to embrace her “civilian” side, she also watches out for her disengaged husband, reminding him: “I need you to be more than Mr. Incredible.” She may have compromised in her job, but she has most certainly not compromised her high standards. When she proves what else she is still capable of, she can only be described as a feminist inspiration.

SHE UNITES AND INSPIRES HER FAMILY

 

Incredibles EG and family 2
Elastigirl and her superhero family.

Elastigirl is the family glue, holding the household together with her patience. She pays attention to her kids and husband and demonstrates a great amount of selflessness. Mr. Incredible’s reckless behaviour has forced them to relocate with new identities three times. Meanwhile, she is (almost) single-handedly raising three kids with superpowers (not that she’s aware of Jack-Jack’s) and constantly warning them to be vigilant when it comes to keeping them hidden, as per the law. Despite their father’s example.

She’s also inadvertently responsible for uniting her family as “The Incredibles”, bringing Edna Mode’s cutting-edge suits back to the house where the kids inevitably discover them. She encourages Violet and Dash to believe in their powers too — first of all, to save themselves, and then before long, others too. This woman can provide gold-star parenting and be a superhero at the same time.

SHE’S A HEROIC MULTITASKER

Incredibles Elastigirl, Mr Incredible and Jack-Jack
Basically, Elastigirl is a superwoman, with or without the powers.

Yes, Elastigirl juggles everything. After discovering that Violet and Dash stowed away on her rescue-mission plane in the first movie, she manages to save them when they’re shot down by Syndrome by stretching herself into a parachute. She also morphs into a boat to get them to dry land afterwards. As you do. Later, the whole family flies back to the city from Syndrome’s lair on Nomanisan Island, courtesy of Elastigirl’s ability to support a Winnebago in flight!

In Incredibles 2, she takes a call from Dash in the middle of a chase to halt a runaway train: he wants help locating a pair of shoes. Mr. Incredible is struggling to take care of the kids at home while Elastigirl takes her opportunity to go out and save the world.

SHE’S REAL

Incredibles Elastigirl and Mr Incredible
She's vulnerable, like the rest of us.

Elastigirl is not invulnerable — despite her superpowers. In The Incredibles, she worries that her husband is having an affair after he begins going away to “conferences” (really Syndrome’s phoney hero assignments). It takes a newspaper swipe and a “Pull yourself together!” from Edna to snap her out of her funk.

She’s also famous for that GIF-able moment in The Incredibles, where she scrutinises her lower body in its new superhero suit — and finds it wanting. Reminiscent of a scene from Peter Pan (although Tinkerbell is rather happier with her curves), Elastigirl is self-conscious of her body, something with which every woman can identify. This doesn’t, however, stop her going out and saving the world. In the new movie, Elastigirl has recently been creating waves as a “thicc” icon.

SHE’S QUALIFIED, FEARLESS — AND BADASS

Incredibles Elastigirl badass
Elastigirl is a badass.

 Before we continue to list her impressive achievements, let us not forget that this woman has GIVEN BIRTH not long ago!

As well as taking down a team of Syndrome’s security guards by herself in The Incredibles, her solo effort to rescue her husband is basically the whole hook of the first film. In Incredibles 2 she has progressed to being the sole Super of the family (and is saving the likes of the aforementioned train full of passengers, for example). The plane mentioned earlier? Yeah, she flew that single-handedly. Elastigirl is a qualified pilot, as well as a seriously talented motorbike rider, as we find out in Incredibles 2.

She, of course, has natural advantages as a Super that pave the way towards securing feminist icon status — but she also works hard to attain and hone impressive skills, many of which have nothing to do with her powers. Elastigirl is a superhero that women can aspire to be — in her commitment, attitude and inspirational work ethic. All of these are achievable ‘superpowers’, and they’re what make her a true feminist icon.

Tori Brazier
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