Disney/Pixar’s Incredibles 2 is set to arrive this June, smack in the middle of the current superheroic cinematic craze despite the fact that the original film predated the modern MCU way back in 2004. Don’t be fooled by the 14-year time jump, however, since we’ll pick up with the Parr Family pretty much where the first film left off. What you can expect is a leap ahead in Pixar’s animation technology and quality, which gives Incredibles 2 the ability to add not only many more characters, but a lot more explosions, should they choose to do so.
Fandango had a chance to sit down with writer-director-actor Brad Bird for an in-depth look at Incredibles 2 now that the film’s early, pre-sale tickets are available for purchase. Bird talked about the sequel’s story and its long road to realization, as well as the state that the Parr family finds itself in. He also talked about the pumped-up number of superheroes in this feature, the new villain, and how he came to voice the role of Edna Mode. We’ve pulled some of the more pertinent bits below, but for the full interview, be sure to head over to Fandango (and buy some tickets while you’re at it)!
The first and most important question: What happened to the “The” in the title?
Brad Bird: [laughs] I don’t know. It just seemed extra. It just seemed like, if you’re talking about this, when people talked about it, they just said “Incredibles Two”. They never said, “The Incredibles Two”. On the first one it seemed perfect and on this one it seemed extraneous. So, it felt like we added the word “Two”, so we took the word “the” away so that it was balanced.
Here’s how the story came to be:
I had a notion that I thought was worth building from, which was that Helen would get the assignment rather than Bob. And I knew that I had an unwrapped present from the first movie, which was that the audience knew that Jack-Jack had powers, but the family did not. So those two things were pretty much my idea from about the end of the first film, when I was going out and promoting it. I had those notions in my brain.
I think that I thought I have a movie worth doing, and then we got going on it and the storyline that I was originally interested in didn’t quite serve the rest of the story – the family part – as well as it could have. So, I bailed on it and came up with another one. You can have enough of an idea to get you started but that doesn’t always mean that you stay completely with that idea. I think that movies change as they grow. And you either surrender yourself to it or you fight it. And it’s much better to surrender yourself and follow the story where it wants to go.
After coming back around the story years later, here’s why Bird decided to pick up where the Parrs left off:
Well, I thought it was ballsy. I thought it was interesting and not like anyone else. I think that there’s a very literal mindset in people, that, because of live action, if a sequel comes 15 years later, the actors that were in the first one were going to be 15 years older and you need to address it. But in animation, unless their voices changes, we can pick it up. And I thought it was interesting and unusual to begin a movie that starts that much later than the first one, to pick it up the second that the last one ended. I thought it was really interesting.
There might be upwards of 25 superheroes in this sequel, but don’t expect it to approach Avengers: Infinity War levels of character depth:
Well, I mean, they’re in there, but that doesn’t mean that they each have backstories and storylines. They might just be in a shot. They might just represent the fact that superheroes are starting to feel like society will accept them more, so they’re coming out a little bit. But I wouldn’t take it literally that there is, like, we’re trying to outdo the Avengers or something by having more heroes than have ever been seen together. It’s definitely not that. We’re focusing on our guys and the rest are just in there a little bit, but only in so far that it helps the main story with the Incredibles.
Here’s Bird’s breakdown of the new villain Screenslaver:
Yeah, that’s fairly self-explanatory. Screenslaver uses screens to control people. And that’s probably as far as I’ll go. It’s sort of implied in the trailer what his deal is. So, yeah, that’s a fairly descriptive name for a villain.
For fans of Edna Mode, the fashion designer who is responsible for the Parr Family suits and their tech, here’s a delightful anecdote as to how Bird ended up providing the voice:
What happened is that I did the voice for the scratch, which I do often. I also did the scratch voice of Bob, which you just record voices and you cast in-house. You have people around that are sort of like your characters, and you get a decent line reading and you do it for timing and to work on the reels. And then when you feel like you’re ready for the main people, you go to the real voice cast, the real actors. And with E, I did the scratch voice.
And we went to this wonderful actress who I have long admired. And she tried. She did a few takes. And then she wanted to hear the scratch voice more and more. And so finally she kept saying, “Could you just read the characters lines into this tape recorder and leave them with me?” And I thought, “Well, this is odd. Why do you wanna listen to the scratch voice?” And then she came back after about a week and said, “You know what, you do it pretty well. You should do it. I find myself trying to sound like you. You sound more like …” And at the same time John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton were going, “You should do the voice.”
And so I kinda just went, “Okay.” We just used some of the scratch recordings and I did some new recordings and that’s sort of how it happened. We actually went out to another actress thinking, “Okay, now we’re gonna get serious.” And she kept asking me how I would do it. And you know, I just had this character in my head and I could describe her to people, and inevitably, when I was describing her, I would do that voice just to say, “This is the kind of personality she is.” And then other people sort of convinced me that I should do it. So, it’s very strange. I don’t see myself as a half German, half Asian, tiny fashion designer, but there it is.
Could there be an Incredibles 3 in the future?
I have not thought about it and I do not welcome thinking about it for a while. I just got this one heading out the door so the last thing I wanna think about is another one. And it’s not that I don’t love the characters. I absolutely do, but I gotta do something else for a little bit. Cleanse my palate.
But what about the potential for a Pixar crossover with Marvel or any of Disney’s other properties?
I’ve heard it discussed, not with me in particular, but I’ve heard it sort of thrown around a little bit. But at Pixar we’ve always felt like Marvel is Marvel, and Pixar is Pixar, and Lucasfilm is Lucasfilm. And they serve everyone better, including Disney, if they’re separate. If you start crossing them too much it’s like when you blend too many colors together, it starts turning into mud. So, that may make a marketing guy’s mouth water but I don’t think it makes artists excited.
We’ll get to see Pixar’s own take on the superhero genre when Incredibles 2 arrives in theaters June 15th.