The Female Gaze: Mr/s. Incredible’s work

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The kid inside me was nearly jumping up and down when I strolled into Ashley Square Cinema to see “The Incredibles 2.” Despite it being 11 years since the first animated feature came into theatres, I was so excited to see this long anticipated sequel. And because it picked up exactly where the first film left off, watching the movie brought up a lot of nostalgia for me as a viewer. Without missing a beat, you are thrown back into the animated world that is just the same as it was when we left the theatre years ago.

The sense of superhero activities being legal is a large theme of the film, which was also present in the first one. Evoking this deep thematic connection to the original film, director Brad Bird really adds to the experience of the twenty-something viewers who adored this movie and have been waiting for it to premiere. Additionally, it was such a cool thing to get to see kid superheroes. Often that category is only reserved for adult males, and this film offered up three children who were just as important to getting the job done as their parents were. I know if this movie came out when I was younger, I would have desperately wanted to be Violet.

That all being said, the theme of parenting being another kind of superpower is important to me. I think this movie does give serious credit to people who are actively parenting children, while also implying that a family relationship requires patience from both sides. That message put forth in the film is awesome, and really puts forth a renewed sense of understanding between parent and child. But I can’t shake this deeper feeling I have about the movie, and this theme. As a self-proclaimed feminist, I was so excited to see that Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) was going to be the main hero and the main breadwinner. That’s dope. But I am interested in why us as the audience received a flushed out version of Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) doing the parenting.

The obvious or simplier answer is time, and yes I agree this animated feature cannot become an epic. But why did we have to see Mr. Incredible in the role to really care about parenting? Would people have felt the same way if their roles were reversed, or they both left? Someone was going to have to do the job of taking care of those kids. I’m not suggesting that I would have preferred to see Elastigirl at home, on the contrary I really enjoyed seeing her out doing superhero things. I just think Mr. Incredible was doing his job as a father, and assigning a ton of praise for parenting is the wrong way to leave the theatre. And maybe you didn’t or don’t leave thinking that– but it is worth thinking about and contemplating.

I say all this, not to bash the movie or tell you that it has somehow disappointed me. Rather, I really liked it. I love superhero movies, animation, and nostalgia–which this film provided much. But I write all of this to invite some thought on movies that people just brush off as childish or silly because they’re animation. They may seem as if they have nothing for you to think deeply about, but they do. Small things in our culture are important; they inform the way we think about the world and the way we perceive people. Sometimes those things to contemplate are just challenging the narratives of what was told. Anyway, I’ll see you back at the movies.