When I saw it back in 2005, I found The Incredibles quite brilliant. It was, I wrote, easy, silly fluff based on a great idea – after all, what’s more modern and ironic than a world where superheroes have been totally suppressed by lawyers? It was cute, visually stunning, had some classic moments and the kids were just adorable. I loved the fun, snappy storytelling that came with a grounded, ironic vein that I often don’t overly enjoy, but here found charming. The story clearly took its cues from Watchmen, with the idea of outlawed superheroes yearning for the old days. But it never felt like a rip-off, only like a tribute, and an exploration of the concept in a different direction.
This film is really Brad Bird’s baby – and he was definitely a great addition to Pixar, even if arguably he brought with him a short period where the studio’s popularity started to wane, until Wall-E brought it all back. The film is what brought him to Pixar, and broke the Pixar mould by centring on a cast of real humans. Well, superhumans, but still fundamentally human beings. The film had been destined to be an traditionally-animated feature for Warner Bros before their theatrical animation division shut down – and it was really thanks to the fact Bird had gone to college with John Lasseter, with a little help from the artistic merits of The Iron Giant, that the move to Pixar happened. Bird also provides the voice of the scene-stealing Edna Mode, one of the film’s best characters, and was very visible in the DVD extras, and for whatever reason I felt the need when I saw these to observe he looked extremely like a grown-up Haley Joel Osment.
Bird is a bit of wild card in the current Pixar. They’ve got their first critical disappointment on their hands with Cars 2, and Bird is busily making a live-action film about the 1906 earthquake that will be the biggest change in mode for Pixar yet. I’m not sure what Pixar’s future will be, but their place in history is assured and I’m eager to see Brave.