Fourteen years after Pixar’s “The Incredibles” (2004), the sequel has not only dominated the box office during its opening weekend, but set a new record for the launch of an animated film. PJ Media predicted a stellar opening, but these results are — pardon the pun — nothing short of incredible.
“Incredibles 2” racked up an impressive $180 million at the domestic box office this past weekend, beating out the debut of the previous record-holder, Disney’s “Finding Dory” (2016), by $45 million. The earth-shattering record is good news both for Pixar, which lost its top creative guru earlier this month (co-founder John Lasseter), and for audiences.
“Incredibles 2” started off right where the original film ended, with an epic action sequence revealing family dynamics and the contempt for superheroes in this fictional world. “The Incredibles” introduced a wonderfully subversive narrative for the superhero genre, in which the general public mistrusts caped crusaders and goes so far as to ban them. The film opened with a would-be suicide who did not want to be saved, but ended with the family given an opportunity to redeem the image of superheroes.
The sequel focuses on that very struggle — aided by public affairs executive Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk, best known for “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul”). Deavor prefers the wife and mother Helen Parr (Holly Hunter), known as “Elastigirl,” as the face of superheroes, leaving Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson) to take care of the kids at home.
As with the original, the family dynamic drives “Incredibles 2.” All three kids — Dash (Spencer Fox in the first one, Huck Milner in the second), Violet (Sarah Vowell), and the baby Jack Jack (Eli Fucile, Maeve Andrews) — have super powers. While the first film teased Jack Jack’s abilities, “Incredibles 2” utilizes them to wonderfully hilarious effect.
While some conservative audiences might hesitate to embrace the “stay-at-home dad” angle of the sequel, Bob Parr’s time at home with his family allowed the film to present culturally relevant issues — the ridiculousness of Common Core, the difficulty of raising a family, and just how important the mother’s role is. At the same time, Bob Parr’s hard-won fatherhood also sent an important message for Father’s Day, the opening weekend for this family film.
“Incredibles 2” addresses all sorts of issues in modern America — mistrust of Congress, the omnipresence of technology, and even America’s deep tribal divides. More than that, the film brings up these issues in a light-hearted way, never allowing them to derail the action and fun of a superhero flick.
“The Incredibles” opened to $70.5 million in 2004, raking in $261 million domestically and $633 million worldwide. This superhero flick beat “The Passion of the Christ” (2004), a movie that rode Jesus Christ’s coattails and caused ripples in American popular culture. The only films that beat “The Incredibles” that year were sequels: “Shrek 2,” “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” and “Spiderman 2.”
Now that the freshness and innovation of “The Incredibles” has become a series in its own right, its sequel shot to massive success. While Star Wars may seem to have fallen into the trap of franchise fatigue (“Solo” was great, but did not sell well at the box office), the 14-year hiatus for “The Incredibles” left audiences so hungry for more, they turned out in droves.
There is no word yet on an “Incredibles 3,” but the family franchise seems destined for further greatness. If every installment is as fresh and entertaining as “The Incredibles” and “Incredibles 2,” audiences will be in for quite a treat.