When it comes to sequels, Pixar and baby Jack-Jack have something in common: the Terrible Twos. Monsters University was about as welcome as Freshers’ Flu, and the less said about Cars 2 the better. Can Brad Bird’s long-awaited follow-up to The Incredibles break the curse, or is it Bye Bye Brad Bird?
The landscape has changed a lot since 2004, when superhero cinema peaked with Tobey Maguire in a gimp mask. 14 years later we have the MCU, the X-Men U (is that what it’s called?) and the DCEU, now re-named Worlds of DC, not to be confused with PC World. Where in the world? More like what in god’s name. Seriously, Aquaman? They might as well make a Captain Cup movie.
And re-branding is the theme of Incredibles 2, as Stretch Girl and Clobber Dude (is that what they’re called?) seek to restore trust in superheroes using a publicity stunt. With public appetite for superheroes at its lowest ebb since Batman v Superman (both in the film and after it), the plan is to publicise Elastigirl’s (Holly Hunter) heroics using a camera built into her suit, a bit like that dog who stole a GoPro.
Incredibles 2 is similarly joyful. Brad Bird doesn’t waste a single frame, revelling in retrofuturistic designs and elaborate action sequences, which remind us that this is the guy who filmed Tom Cruise running down the side of Wiz Khalifa (is that what it’s called?) in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. We can see where it’s going a mile off, but the execution is fun, the gags work and the visuals pop like a PEZ dispenser. Plus it deals with gender roles and manipulation by media, ideas that feel relevant, even when stretched to Elastigirl proportions.
If that’s not enough, this sequel is also a mini Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul reunion (Jonathan Banks and Bob Odenkirk) and features the best raccoon fight this side of Guardians of the Galaxy. The outcome isn’t quite incredible, but still a damn sight more credible than DC World.