The Story, Design and Characters of Pixar’s Incredibles 2

There’s like five movies in this movie. And they all work together to throw each other into relief and make each other better. And everyone in my family related to it. They related to different characters and themes because there are so many and they’re delivered on so well. -Bob Odenkirk (voice of Winston Deavor)

Odenkirk set the tone for the INCREDIBLES 2 Press Conference held in West Hollywood, CA on June 7th. The Pixar creative team and cast discussed their characters, the look and the making of this film. In attendance:

  • Director Brad Bird
  • Craig T. Nelson (“Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible”)
  • Holly Hunter (“Helen Parr / Elastigirl”)
  • Samuel L. Jackson (“Lucius Best / Frozone”)
  • Bob Odenkirk (“Winston Deavor”)
  • Catherine Keener (“Evelyn Deavor”)
  • Sophia Bush (“Voyd”)
  • Sarah Vowell (“Violet Parr”)
  • Huck Milner (“Dash Parr”)
  • Producer Nicole Grindle
  • Producer John Walker

INCREDIBLES 2 STORY AND DESIGN

INCREDIBLES 2 is 14 years in the making, yet this new film begins seconds after the previous film ends. Director Brad Bird addresses this supposed dilemma.

Brad Bird: I just thought [the decision to do that] was kind of bold and weird. Because I think people take the time that passes very literally. And they think that linearly, the characters should have aged. But if they age, their superpowers don’t reflect the part of life that they’re in and their role in the family. So I worked on the first eight seasons of the Simpsons. And the Simpsons haven’t aged a day and they’re still on the air. So it worked for them. And why not us?

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA – JUNE 07: (L-R) Actors Samuel L. Jackson, Sophia Bush, Writer/director/actor Brad Bird and actor Sarah Vowell attend the “Incredibles 2” Global Press Conference at The London West Hollywood on June 7, 2018 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Disney)

Fourteen years is a long time, especially when you realize that INCREDIBLES is older than the current voice of Dash – Huck Milner! And then producer Nicole Grindle informed us that a lot of the artists working on INCREDIBLES 2 were kids when the first film came out. It’s a dream come true for them to work on something that has roots in their childhood.

I was blown away by many of the facial expressions in INCREDIBLES 2, and just how beautiful the animation was in general. Again, Nicole addresses this.

Nicole Grindle: Well, honestly, the technology has allowed us to make the film look more like what Brad intended it to look like the first time. The characters are much more nuanced and developed. We were able to build a lot more sets more quickly. We’ve populated the world with a lot more characters that have hair and clothing. And that’s stuff that most of y’all don’t notice. But actually that makes the world feel richer and more alive. Not to mention all the other visual effects stuff.

We have to thank production designer Ralph Eggleston for all that “visual stuff.” According to Brad Bird, Ralph really thinks about color psychology. When you watch INCREDIBLES 2, notice how there’s an overall color palette of muted, indistinct colors. This allows the bold reds and vibrant neons to POP for our superheroes. The production design even serves the story. At the end of INCREDIBLES, their home is destroyed by an out-of-control Syndrome. The Parr family moves into a new home. So how can production design of a home possibly serve the story? Brad Bird explains:

Brad Bird: Ralph Eggleston is not afraid to make bold choices. The house that the family wound up in, we were kind of working on it. And suddenly Ralph came in one day and he said ‘okay. So I have this idea for the house. And it’s really going to screw things up for everyone including me. But I just have to say it. And here is the idea. The house should not work for them. It should be initially impressive. But then you get in there and everything is wrong for a family.’ And we had already put a lot of effort in another house. And we were under a lot of pressure because they took a year off of our schedule. But I agreed to it. It was right because the house needed to be impressive, but wrong for the family. Because they’re not in a comfortable place yet. They have to find their way there. And that was a way of making the surroundings storytelling. Which is really what good production design is.

Let’s dial it back to 2004 again. INCREDIBLES debuts, and it’s totally different from anything on the market. Fast-forward 4 years, and 2008’s IRON MAN marks the beginning of superhero movie domination by Marvel Studios. In 2013 Warner Bros. Pictures joins the party with MAN OF STEEL kicking off a DC Comics League of films. In 2017 there were no less than 8 superhero films, including WONDER WOMAN, THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOLUME 2. Is the creative team of INCREDIBLES 2 worried about superhero fatigue?

Brad Bird: And so I had a dark moment. Then I realized that what excited me about the idea in the first place was not the superheroes. It was that it was about the family dynamic. And people’s roles in different parts of their lives and how superheroes, that genre is like a twisted lemon that you squeeze on top of this. And then I got excited again. Because it’s so universal.

Yes, the colors pop and flash. The characters kick butt. But the lessons are all about teamwork and family.

THE CHARACTERS

Each character has a role to play, and what makes INCREDIBLES 2 so fun is the role reversal of Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl. It’s now Elastigirl who must take center stage as a superhero, while Mr. Incredible tries to be an incredible dad. Wait, is this movie coming out on Father’s Day weekend, 2018? Well played, Disney, well played…

Holly Hunter: I was really thrilled. I think it’s purely luck of the draw that this happens to be dovetailing with #MeToo and #TimesUp. And it happens to be serendipitously reflected in this particular movie. But at the same time, it’s character revelation period. Everybody is having revelations including Jack-Jack. All the characters are revelations to the audience and to themselves. And so I’m no exception as Elastigirl.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA – JUNE 07: Actors Craig T. Nelson (L) and Holly Hunter attend the “Incredibles 2” Global Press Conference at The London West Hollywood on June 7, 2018 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Disney)

Craig T. Nelson: I found out that I’m going to be helping save the family. And Bob is going to learn how to be a dad and he’s going to learn about these kids. It was just a lot of fun. I’m so honored to be a part of it. To be doing this.

One thing we did learn from the press conference, the actors are seldom in the studio together. So when you hear Violet talk to Dash, or Voyd tell Elastigirl how cool she is, they aren’t actually talking to each other. Sophia Bush (Voyd) explains:

Sophia Bush: One of the things that I just think is so cool about the whole thing is the layering of all the technology that makes these films look to all of us the way they look in Brad’s head. And it’s also totally nuts to go into the studio. I know that technically I’m talking to Holly. But she’s not there. It’s like me and Brad. And I’m just yelling into a void going ‘am I doing this right?’ And he knows what she’s done in the room. And he knows how our voices are going to sound together. So you trust your captain.
Now for the important question. This film is animated. Do you need a kid to watch and enjoy INCREDIBLES 2?

Brad Bird: Kids are strangely treated like beards. For animated films. ‘I’m a single guy. But I want to see this. I found a kid. Can I come in now?’ And it’s like – no man. It’s an art form. It’s for anyone that likes movies. And you don’t need to have a kid. People are constantly coming up to me, ‘My kid, Billy, really enjoyed it.’ I go, ‘did you like it?’ I made it for you. And Billy can come. And I made it something that I would want to see.

And that brings us back around to Bob Odenkirk’s assessment of the film – everyone, no matter the age, relates to this movie. INCREDIBLES 2 comes out June 15th to a theater near you. Take your moms, dads, kids, nephews, nieces, grandparents and your pet raccoon – you’ll all get something out of the film!

FULL VIDEO of the Press Conference

For more family friendly movie news, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on instagramtwitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Richard & Sarah Woloski

Richard and Sarah Woloski are the co-hosts and creators of the Disney / Star Wars Podcast Skywalking Through Neverland. The husband and wife team strives to create a polished, positive and fun weekly show celebrating fandom. They also love writing for Adventures By Daddy. Find them @SkywalkingPod