Freeform’s 30 Days of Disney September continues today with another showing of 1994’s The Lion King, but the more exciting film to me is Disney’s best superhero film, The Incredibles. Now that may be a bold statement considering the phenomenal success that the company has had with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I firmly believe that the film is better than any movie that Marvel has released.
Outside of the first couple of Sam Raimi Spider-Man films and Batman Begins, the mid 2000s were a pretty rough time for superhero films, particularly with the critics. A fair amount of them were pulling in a decent haul of money, but the critics were panning films like Daredevil, Catwoman and X-Men: The Last Stand left and right, so the genre was nowhere near the gold mine that it is today.
Via Sound and Vision
Out of this muck, The Incredibles emerged as a triumphant example of how great a superhero film could be. The movie ended with a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and 2 Oscars wins. But more impressive than the Oscar wins is that the film was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, becoming the first superhero film to be nominated for a writing Academy Award, with only Logan having accomplished the feat since.
Based on just these couple of things, it is apparent that The Incredibles is far above any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films critically, with the exception of Black Panther, which managed to snag a Best Picture nomination. However, that nomination comes with a caveat as there were eight nominees last year, compared to five in 2004, so it would have been interesting to see if The Incredibles could have slipped in with more spots.
Via Into Film
All of these accolades are fine and dandy, but what about the movie itself? Well, what stands out to me is that film is an origin story not for each individual hero, but for The Incredibles themselves. In most traditional origin stories, we are stuck with the first third of the movie explaining exactly how the hero got his or her powers and then testing them out to learn what he or she is capable of. Instead, The Incredibles just jumps into the middle of things with some brief explanation at the beginning of the film to explain why superheroes must remain in hiding, but no nonsense about how the Parrs got their powers. They are superheroes simply because.
As I mentioned earlier, the story is still an origin story, but it’s one that focuses on the origin of a superhero team as opposed to each individual hero. We’ve seen similar things in the MCU with films like Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers, but these films still followed familiar beats as they introduced their characters individually either through the film or previous films. Where The Incredibles tops that is its ability to introduce an entire family as a whole and give each character his or her own time to shine while also connecting each of them as members of a team.
Via Telegraph India
My favorite MCU movies are the ones where the filmmakers decided to move beyond traditional superhero tropes and create a superhero film set within another genre, like Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a political thriller or Ant-Man as a heist movie. But no one does it better than The Incredibles using superheroes in the context of a family dramedy. As much as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 goes on about family, it has nowhere near the effect of seeing the Parr family truly come to embrace each other through all of their disagreements to become a super team.
While the superhero parts are always fun, my favorite parts of the movie are watching the Parrs go through normal family stuff. Helen trying to take care of a family with a husband who is away on business, Dash and Violet bickering, Jack-Jack causing havoc – all of these elements of a family drama are so perfectly executed in a way that we’ve never seen in a superhero film.
But beyond featuring a family, what truly sets the film apart is that anyone in a family can enjoy it. From age 3 to 103, there is something there for everyone. We’ve never seen a PG-rated MCU film because there are some darker moments in terms of villains being killed in graphic ways, language and romantic tension. While these are all fine in those movies, The Incredibles manages to make an enjoyable film while straying away from these mature themes.
All in all, The Incredibles brought the best elements of many of Marvel’s films together in one near-perfect film that represents the gold standard of Disney superhero films.
The Incredibles airs at 8:30 PM this evening on Freeform, and the basic cable channel’s 30 Days of Disney programming block runs throughout the month of September. It will also be available on Disney+ when the streaming service launches on November 12.
Cole Geryak is a college Disney fan making his way through the world. He has ridden every single ride in Disneyland in one day, all while wearing a shirt and tie. Imagination is his middle name, and his heart truly lies in the parks.