Villains. What's a Super to do?
As "The Incredibles" adventure came to an edge-of-your-seat finale, Syndrome
foiled-thanks to baby Jack-Jack and an ill-advised cape-and his jet exploded
fiery ball, destroying the Parr family home. But the family was more bonded than
Violet showed off her newfound confidence, and Dash discovered that second place
would do just fine. It seemed like a happily-ever-after ending until someone
Underminer declared "war on peace and happiness."
Nearly a decade and a half later, fans will learn the fate of the Underminer
"Incredibles 2" opens in U.S. theaters on June 15. When "The Incredibles" first
onto the big screen, Mr. Incredible's super strength and Elastigirl's stretchy
wowed audiences around the globe-the film grossed more than $633 million
worldwide, earning an Oscar for best animated film. But according to
Brad Bird, it wasn't the characters' powers-or the villains-that fueled the
success. "I realized that the super hero aspect of the story didn't interest me
much as the whole family dynamic," he says. "I think that people see themselves
these characters and that's why they fell for them the way they did. 'The
and now 'Incredibles 2' are really stories about a family."
Since "The Incredibles" debuted in 2004, the super hero genre has skyrocketed
the film and television industry with major franchises exploding and new heroes
emerging every few months. "The landscape has certainly changed since our last
movie," says Bird. "But the idea of our Supers worrying about getting jobs and
the rent is still compelling. The challenge of juggling everything life throws
if you have super powers-is still relatable."
In "Incredibles 2," Helen is called on to lead a campaign to rebuild the
reputation, while Bob navigates the day-to-day heroics of "normal" life at home
Violet, Dash and baby Jack-Jack-whose super powers are about to be discovered by
his family. Bird knew for a long time that Helen would step into the spotlight
"Incredibles 2." "I wanted this to be Helen's adventure," he says. "And I was
how Bob would handle that, along with the responsibilities at home."
"Bob isn't a bad dad," says producer Nicole Paradis Grindle. "He's a little
at first. He thinks, 'I'm Mr. Incredible, I've got this.' But I think any parent
can relate to
the idea that kids can wear you down. Add to that a toddler-they want what they
and they don't like hearing 'no.' Jack-Jack is no different, except when he gets
bursts into flames."
The film introduces a new villain with a brilliant and dangerous plot that
everything. "This villain is different," says producer John Walker. "Helen has
cut out for her to stop a villain who can manipulate people from a distance. And
fails, her mission to bring back Supers fails. A lot is at stake."
Story supervisor Ted Mathot finds a lot of yin and yang to Helen's story.
illegal," he says. "In order for her to change the law, she has to break it. In
order for her
to save her family, she has to leave them."
According to Bird, the story strives to strike a balance between the
adventure and the
more ordinary aspects of family life. "It's a dance between the mundane and the
fantastic," he says. "We don't do one for very long without doing the other.
"Helen might take a call in the middle of battling the bad guys to help her
kid find his
shoes," continues Bird. "Or Violet might use her power of invisibility when she
totally humiliated. Audiences see that and think, 'Yeah, I'd do that, too.'"
The film is even edited to reflect the duality of the Parrs' lives. "We are
intercutting between Helen's mission and what's going on at home," says film
Stephen Schaffer. "It's that combination that makes it so entertaining."
Holly Hunter and Craig T. Nelson return as the voices of Helen and Bob Parr,
struggle to juggle their duties as parents and Supers. Sarah Vowell once again
the voice of the teen-queen of sarcasm Violet, while Huck Milner joins the cast
voice of 10-year-old Dash, and Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role as the voice
Lucius Best - aka Frozone. "Incredibles 2" also features the voices of Brad Bird
fashion visionary Edna "E" Mode, Bob Odenkirk as savvy businessman and Super fan
Winston Deavor, Catherine Keener as tech pro Evelyn Deavor, Jonathan Banks as
Dicker, Sophia Bush as "wannabe" hero Voyd, and Isabella Rossellini as an
ambassador and advocate for Supers.
BEHIND THE MASK
Who's Who in "Incredibles 2"
Writer/director Brad Bird looked to his own life when he created the original
of "The Incredibles." "Everyone's powers are inspired by their role in the
where they are in their lives at that time," says Bird. "We played with
archetypes-the strong father figure and the multitasking mother-but in the end,
found that most of us can relate to all of the characters in some way. We've all
that impatient 10-year-old or the insecure teenager. We've all felt like we're
an impossible load between home and work or school, and we've all felt like
pulled in too many directions."
The idea that the movie is a family film extends beyond the audience it
could say that Helen is driving this story or Bob drove 'The Incredibles,'" says
supervising animator Tony Fucile, who helped design the original characters.
think that the whole family-the Incredibles as a unit-is the protagonist in this
"The Incredibles" introduced Pixar's first wholly human cast of characters.
to Bird, who established the overall style of the characters with Fucile, Teddy
and Lou Romano, they didn't want their humans to look too human. "We put a lot
energy into simplifying the characters and making them graphic," says Bird. "The
you get from the center of a character's face, the less detail there is."
Though Bird was happy with the end result, the technology available at the
present some limitations. Character art director Matt Nolte says that 14 years
advances have made the looks easier to achieve. "We went back to the original
used the technology available to us now to create the looks that were always
According to character modeling and articulation lead Mark Piretti, the "Incredibles
team went back to the clay maquettes Kent Melton created for "The Incredibles."
mined those sculpts for any details that didn't make it into the character
models the first
time," says Piretti. "We also pulled old drawings from the archives to look for
inspiration wherever we could find it. In the end, we came up with some very
designs that are fresh and familiar at the same time."
Adds supervising technical director Rick Sayre, "The eyes of the characters
around are inspired by actual human eyes. It's a subtle technical advance that
little gleam to their eyes and a sense of life and realness that makes them that
Of course, these characters are Supers with extraordinary abilities that
physics on occasion. Their powers were carefully cultivated to shape and define
character both as Supers and as members of the family. But filmmakers didn't
them to feel indestructible. "We want the audience to feel their vulnerability,"
Fucile. "We want people to worry about them-despite the fact they have super
We had to find the sweet spot between Super and mere mortal."
Production manager Sabine Koch O'Sullivan says she fell for the characters in
Incredibles," but a lot has changed since then. "When I worked on the first
film, I was a
single young woman who worked all the time," she says. "The characters really
me then. I saw my own mom in Helen. Now I'm married and a mother of two and I
myself in Helen. I think these characters represent us all. We achieved
special-then and now."
"Incredibles 2" welcomes back to the big screen the family of Supers that
audiences in 2004, as well as old favorites like Lucius Best (aka Frozone) and
Mode. The movie also introduces new characters to its super mix-from billionaire
to wannabe Supers-creating a dynamic cast of characters brought to life by
all-star voice talent.
HELEN PARR, known in the Super world as Elastigirl, hung up her supersuit to
the family with husband Bob, leaving their crime-fighting days behind them. But
she's tapped to lead a campaign to bring the Supers back into the spotlight, she
she can still bend, stretch and twist herself into any shape needed to solve the
of mysteries. In short, she's still got it.
"We treat being a Super as a vocation," says writer/director Brad Bird. "The
shuts down the program that protects Supers and provides them with housing and
So Helen and Bob are faced with a real-life dilemma. 'What's next? How will we
bills and provide for our family?' They're just like the rest of us."
Fortunately, opportunity knocks. Siblings Winston and Evelyn Deavor are huge
the Supers and are starting a campaign to improve their public image and
bring them back. Says producer John Walker, "Evelyn does a cost-benefit analysis
finds that Helen tends to solve crimes with far less damage than Bob-so they
Helen for the job."
Adds producer Nicole Paradis Grindle, "Helen has spent the last several years
shouldering the household responsibilities while Bob worked office jobs. But she
really good at being a Super-even if she's forgotten that a little over the
she's pretty excited to be back out there making a difference."
In order to set Helen up for success, the Deavors surprise her with a
Elasticycle. She had one back in the day, but this one is extra special.
exclusively for her, this state-of-the-art cycle can come apart to accommodate
Elastigirl's ever-changing form. Filmmakers consulted a stuntman to ensure
performance on the Elasticycle was as believable as possible. "We went through a
footage of what a motorcycle would do," says supervising animator Alan Barillaro.
needed to understand how she should transfer her weight among other things."
Filmmakers also spent a lot of time mastering Helen's stretchy super power.
Supervising animator Dave Mullins spearheaded Elastigirl for "The Incredibles"
returned for "Incredibles 2." "We're able to do things now that we couldn't do
he says. "When I animated Elastigirl before, I had my own set of rules. So now,
apply them and improve upon them."
According to Mullins, Helen's regular rig can stretch, but filmmakers created
rig with added bells and whistles, taking cues from the rig created for Hank in
Dory" (which was also used for Dante's tongue in "Coco"). But Mullins wanted to
animators fully understood how to incorporate Elastigirl's stretch, so he
bands to each of the animators' desks. "When she stretches, she's like a rubber
he says, "taut, but the farther she stretches, the less strength she has."
As tempting as it was to stretch Elastigirl-just because you can-Mullins says
doesn't stretch unless she has to. And no matter how much she stretches, her
face are always intact.
And so is her hair. "Helen's hair defies gravity," says simulation supervisor
Erickson Klohn. "It's graphic and super cool. But when she's on top of a train
miles per hour and the wind is blowing through her hair, it is a real challenge
her classic look." A new hair system and pipeline were introduced to address
and simulation needs.
Holly Hunter returns as the voice of Helen/Elastigirl. "I think she has total
when it comes to her role as a Super," says Hunter. "But when it comes to her
she has a very strong protective instinct. She has this innate desire to save
which is a beautiful thing-especially in the world today."
According to supervising animator Tony Fucile, Hunter brings important
qualities to the
character. "Holly has a very specific voice," he says. "She has a lot of energy,
toughness and intelligence, which really impacts how Helen moves."
The character's personality-the toughness and intelligence-actually affected
filmmakers shot her action sequences. Says Mahyar Abousaeedi, director of
photography-camera, "We wanted to convey that Helen is a strategist-she's a
steps ahead of the game. She uses her environment to her advantage, which is
different from Bob's approach. She's more proactive. I've always liked that
Hunter says the recording process was nothing but fun. "Brad [Bird] plays the
characters when we record," she says. "I appreciate his sense of humor. He's so
BOB PARR cherishes his days as Mr. Incredible-a popular Super with
and the power to singlehandedly take out the bad guys. Ever since Supers were
outlawed, Bob's been mostly lying low, raising the family alongside his wife
when she's called on to stretch her super skills and hopefully change the public
perception of Supers for the better, Bob must manage the household on his own,
calls for a completely different set of super powers.
The idea that Helen is chosen to lead the campaign to bring back Supers
stings Bob at
first. "Bob loves being the hero," says story supervisor Ted Mathot. "But he's a
kind of super hero. So while Helen is the better choice in terms of improving
the Supers' reputation, Bob is surprised and maybe a little disappointed he
chosen. But he wholeheartedly supports Helen."
Always a champion of his family, Bob isn't afraid of taking on the duties at
either-but he's hit with a few surprises along the way. "Bob is perfectly
taking care of Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack on his own," says writer/director Brad
"But he has to fail a lot before he can succeed-like we all do every single day
parents. Failure, however, isn't easy for this particular super hero to accept."
Adding to the challenge of taking on the household responsibilities solo is
the fact that
Jack-Jack's super powers are emerging. "Bob is really excited to discover that
has powers," says producer John Walker. "But with those powers comes a real
challenge. Toddlers are hard enough without lasers shooting from their eyes."
The character was designed to be extreme with a giant torso and short legs.
putting on his socks is a very tricky scene with his tiny feet and big hands,"
supervising animator Alan Barillaro. "He's all upper body, which informs how he
He's strong, but not necessarily elegant."
According to simulation supervisor Tiffany Erickson Klohn, Bob's massive
required extra attention from the simulation department. "Hopefully you'll feel
than you'll see it," she says, "because we try to make it as physically real as
Mahyar Abousaeedi, director of photography-camera, says many of Bob's scenes
for a toned-down approach to the camera movement. "Bob's experience in this film
the opposite of the first film," he says. "His scenes call for less camera
limited lens choices, a visual reminder that he's bound to the responsibilities
Craig T. Nelson provides the voice of Bob. "I think Bob would've preferred to
there, saving the world, being Mr. Incredible," he says. "But he accepts his new
in doing so, he finds out things about his family that I think are intrinsically
"There are so many things about Bob that are familiar to me," continues
Nelson. "I'm a
father. I have three kids and eight grandkids and three great-grandkids. And I'm
control of none of it."
"Craig is so great at being both powerful and a little bit clueless in a
charming way," says producer Nicole Grindle. "Bob's a caricature of that
in some ways-yet he's committed to this new mission, and Craig really finds the
VIOLET PARR, the firstborn of the Parr clan, is an introverted and
teen who doesn't quite fit in with the normal crowd. Socially awkward, outspoken
and sarcastic, Violet plays her teenager role to perfection-all while secretly
her super powers of invisibility and creating force fields. A Super at heart,
help her urge to fight crime alongside her family.
"Violet turned a corner at the end of the first movie," says producer Nicole
Grindle. "Thanks in part to her role in fighting crime with her family, she was
to believe in herself. She was confident enough to ask her longtime crush, Tony
Rydinger, to go to the movies."
Filmmakers showcase Violet's confidence in her look. "For most of the first
hair is in her face, as if she's hiding," says character art director Matt
Nolte. "This time,
we pulled her hair back. It symbolizes that she's not scared anymore."
Achieving Violet's hairstyle is challenging in CG. "Her hair is one of the
hardest types of
hair to do, which is why we don't often see characters with long straight hair
Violet's," says simulation supervisor Tiffany Erickson Klohn. "We want it to
and straight, but in action scenes, it should have some breakup, too.
tough to get both of these qualities at once.
"Plus, Violet has a small frame and a larger head," Klohn continues. "So when
moves and turns, there's very little for her hair to rest on."
Pele, a proprietary new grooming tool, is named after the goddess of
Debuting on "Incredibles 2," Pele allows artists to see their changes in real
they're being developed. "Before, we couldn't see the overall silhouette we were
creating until we rendered the shot," says character shading and groom lead Beth
Albright. "With Pele, we can see complex hair patterns hairs in real time in
American-history author Sarah Vowell lends her voice to Violet. "Violet, like
teenager, is trapped between childhood and maturity, between self-confidence and
insecurity," says Vowell. "She just happens to have a secret after-school job as
Super. Her powers-the abilities to turn invisible and produce increasingly
force fields-reflect a female teen's occasional desires to protect herself,
block out the
world and avoid scrutiny or surveillance."
Violet's enhanced force fields called for new effects. "We wanted to start
with a similar
look to the first film," says effects supervisor Bill Watral. "But she
progresses quickly and
is able to do more with her force fields, so we had to figure out how that
look of her force fields. There are several key components-noise or static and
interaction component. It has to be cool because Violet wouldn't use it
"Violet can be hilarious, but her humor has some bite to it," says Vowell.
"She has a
tendency to comment a little too truthfully about any given scenario in the
moment. As a
smart aleck myself, I imagine wise guys of all stripes can also empathize with
sarcasm and her very human inability to edit uncomfortable thoughts. For better
worse, if she thinks it, she says it."
Grindle suspects Vowell understands her character for a very good reason.
genuinely thinks the way Brad [Bird] wants Violet to think," says Grindle. "Her
are spot-on for that reason. And this isn't even what she does. She's an
author. We're lucky to have her."
DASHIELL PARR is a 10-year-old boy-restless, relentless, curious-with the
remarkable power of super speed. Dash sports a hearty sense of adventure and a
boundless supply of energy. He'd love nothing more than to show off his special
and fight a few bad guys along the way-and doesn't understand why he has to keep
his powers a secret.
Says producer John Walker, "Dash got a taste of life as a crime fighter in
the first film.
Returning to regular life doesn't really interest him-he loved fighting crime
family and, even better, showing off just how fast he can be."
The character got a makeover that took him closer to another Incredible. Says
supervisor Bill Wise, "We wanted him to look more like his dad-more like a mini
So we spent a lot of time finessing his shape, giving him more of a sculpted,
forehead, and making him a bit more muscular. And his hair was a big challenge."
Dash sports what filmmakers called a "hood ornament"-the swoosh of hair in
of his head-which makes him look even faster when he's running. "When we're
him in a shot, it might not be visible," says character shading and groom lead
Albright. "If an animator wants to see it, Pele [the new grooming software tool]
the ability to interact with the hair curves and bend the swoosh to get the
Showcasing Pixar's relentless attention to detail, because Dash's hair was so
complex-it was difficult to render. "Light bounces around inside each strand of
passes into the next," says optimization and rendering supervisor Reid Sandros.
blonde hair, the light bounces around a lot. And Dash's hair is not only blonde,
especially his swoosh. All of those bounces make it hard for the renderer to
final color, which ends up appearing as noise in the image. So we had to set up
rules to limit the way light could travel through the hair in order to get a
Since Spencer Fox, the 22-year-old original voice of Dash, no longer sounds
like a 10-
year-old, Huckleberry "Huck" Milner was brought in to voice the middle Parr.
to Walker, Fox embodied the character a little too well. "He was
Dash-but he'd give these completely original readings," says Walker. "Huck was
only kid we interviewed who had that same thing going on. We'd never get what we
expected, but what we did get was brilliant."
Milner says he can relate to Dash in a lot of ways. "I have two sisters who I
annoy. I'm also a 10-year-old boy who goes to school and plays sports."
What is it about Dash that's so likable? "Because speed is awesome," says
"Dash is at an age where he doesn't think too deeply," says supervising animator
Barillaro. "He enjoys his life, watches his cartoons and eats his cereal. So
"But we do give him some subtle behaviors that really shape his character,"
Barillaro. "He cues off his sister a lot to know how to react to a situation."
JACK-JACK PARR, the baby of the family, likes to sit back with a bottle and a
story. Well-versed in gibberish with a penchant for throwing food, Jack-Jack
a typical toddler, but he just might turn out to be the most powerful Parr in
"The family has no idea he has powers," says producer John Walker. "At the
end of the
first film the audience gets the first glimpse of what Jack-Jack can do-like
flames and turning into a demon baby-but the Parrs didn't see that all
He's still 100 percent toddler, too, with a host of needs, wants and
emotions that keep even the best parent guessing. "Anyone who's taken care of a
regular baby day in and day out knows that it can be exhausting," says
Brad Bird. "Toddlers have curiosity and mobility-but zero judgment. And
isn't just trying out one power-he has a multitude of powers going on."
Jack-Jack has a bigger role in "Incredibles 2," so filmmakers wanted to
look. "We studied how babies move," says supervising animator Tony Fucile. "They
have all kinds of quirks that only careful observation revealed-the way they
their toes or catch themselves when they fall. There is a blend of athleticism,
can control themselves-and awkward wobbling, when they can't."
The toddler's makeover includes a chubbier face and body, with added
his face since he's more expressive in the film.
LUCIUS BEST is not only Bob's best friend, he's a fellow-former Super who's
he can make ice with the point of a finger. But even when he's not fighting
Frozone, Lucius is all about style. He has a quick wit and a cool, can-do
he wouldn't think twice about breaking out his supersuit if it could help bring
"Lucius is the first Super to get approached about the new campaign," says
supervisor Ted Mathot. "He quickly lets Bob and Helen in on the plan, which he
sounds great. He's adjusted pretty well to civilian life, but-like Bob-he'd jump
opportunity to be a Super again."
Samuel L. Jackson returns as the voice of Lucius in "Incredibles 2." "Lucius
easygoing," says Jackson. "He's hard to rattle. He seems to enjoy his powers and
they enhance his cool factor."
"Sam is a force of nature," says writer/director Brad Bird. "He's a strong
when he enters the room. When he sits down, he's like a cool cat who is very
comfortable, yet he exerts a kind of authority that animators love because it's
Jackson intuitively understands the animation process. "When we use our
allows animators to create something that's expressive in a very specific way,"
"We've all been hired to bring a vocal dynamic to our characters that paints a
the people animating them. We have to put ourselves in the mind-set of what the
is and what the rules of the world are so that we can create real characters
According to Jackson, the characters are easy to channel because they are
everyday people. "They could be anybody," he says. "They're out there trying to
ends meet. They just happen to have super powers."
EDNA "E" MODE possesses impeccable design sense, a keen understanding of
cutting-edge technology and an unmatched skill set. A creative visionary, she
the return of Supers so she can once again create functional yet cutting-edge
"E takes over every room she enters," says writer/director Brad Bird, who
voice to the fan favorite. "No matter how big and strong the people around her
she's often surrounded by Supers-her personality just dominates. I think we all
summon our inner E during our most confident moments."
Since Edna shares several scenes with Bob aka Mr. Incredible, director of
Mahyar Abousaeedi had to figure out how to frame the duo. "Edna is so small
compared to Bob, who's unusually big," he says. But instead of cheating the
filmmakers decided to lean into the size difference. Says Abousaeedi, "When
Edna and Bob, we composed those moments in the spirit of 'The Incredibles.' Edna
commanding, and we sometimes frame her to dominate the composition, but still
highlight their size difference by framing parts of Bob's body, which is a fun
their scale difference."
WINSTON DEAVOR and EVELYN DEAVOR lead a world-class telecommunications
company. "Winston and Evelyn's parents were big supporters of the Supers," says
writer/director Brad Bird. "So when they inherited the company, they continued
support and have decided to take it to the next level, kicking off a campaign to
Adds producer John Walker, "Since the government just shut down the program
helps Supers, the time is right for the Deavors to step in."
Ultra-wealthy, savvy and suave, Winston goes big in everything he
plan to bring back the Supers. All he needs is a super hero (or three) to help
change public perception and eventually make them legal again.
The design of the billionaire businessman went through many iterations before
filmmakers concluded that the character's determination and drive were
reflective of a
shark. "We incorporated a lot of sharp angles in his face, and his forehead
into his hairline like a fin," says character art director Matt Nolte. "He even
Bob Odenkirk was called on to voice Winston. "He's very gung-ho-he's a real
salesman," says Odenkirk. "He wants to convince the Supers to come out from the
shadows and do what they were meant to do."
Walker says Odenkirk helped make the billionaire relatable. "Bob has a great
style, yet it's understated," says Walker. "The role isn't necessarily comedic,
but Bob is
able to bring humor to his performance."
"I've spent my life writing comedy," Odenkirk says. "I really respect the
hard work and
talent that is evident in Pixar's storytelling. I'm always trying to be a better
writer, so to
get to see Pixar's process from the inside-that alone was a reason to do this."
Winston's brilliant but laid-back sister and business partner, Evelyn, knows
around tech-she's never met a problem she can't solve. When Helen is recruited
help the Deavors bring back Supers, she and Evelyn become fast
ideas, creating strategies and sharing a lot of laughs along the way. "They form
sisterhood," says producer Nicole Paradis Grindle. "They find they have a lot in
common-they're both strong and smart."
Filmmakers wanted the siblings to look like they were family-Evelyn has the
to her eyes that Winston sports-while showing the contrast in their
compares Evelyn to a cat-laid-back, confident and comfortable wherever she goes.
"She'll walk into a boardroom, plop down and sit cross-legged," he says.
Walker says that Catherine Keener, who provides the voice of Evelyn, embodies
character's bohemian personality. "She walks in to record, kicks off her shoes
down on the floor," says Walker. "She'll put her feet up-really she's doing
we imagined the character doing, which is kind of fascinating."
"Evelyn's very brainy and nerdy, but really cool, too," says Keener of her
a dream come true to be in an Incredibles movie, because the first one is one of
Keener was particularly drawn to the Parr family. "They're a mess-just like
family," she says. "As a parent, you have to make hard choices, you have to
for your children's well-being today and in the future. It's messy and
uncomfortable, but I
think you become a better person as a result."
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