Mr Incredible and Tom Cruise
[Image: Pixar & Paramount]

Even though it is an animated film, the action set pieces in Incredibles 2 rival those of any other blockbuster.

 

Writer and director Brad Bird utilises color, perfectly precise staging and the creative freedom of the genre to create an intoxicating and preposterously entertaining spectacle, which somehow manages to rival, and sometimes even eclipse, his lauded 2004 original.

 

One of the biggest fans of “The Incredibles” was none other than Tom Cruise, who was so impressed with the film that he asked Brad Bird to oversee “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.“

 

During my recent discussion with Bird he explained how working on that blockbuster gave him the chance to see how his approach to animation could blend with live-action, something that Cruise was just as eager to do.

 

“I did the first ‘Incredibles’ and Tom Cruise enjoyed it and asked to get together with me. I went over to his house and had this great rambling conversation about film and what films we liked. We were both fans of Harold Lloyd, who we thought was underrated.”

 

“And he said that he loved the staging in the action scenes in my animated films. Then he said, ‘If you are ever interested in a live-action film I would love to work with you.’ I said, ‘Absolutely I am.’ Then lo and behold a few years later we did ‘Ghost Protocol’ together.”

“But what I was so surprised and delighted by when we did ‘Ghost Protocol’ was he made the stunt team watch the action scenes in ‘The Incredibles.’ He didn’t view them separately. So many people view animation as the kind of kiddies table, and that it is its own separate thing and that it isn’t part of the larger film community.”

“Tom didn’t make that distinction at all, he knew that staging is staging and color is color and editing is editing and I was very touched by that. Because he doesn’t see it as anything other than another way to do film.”

“He had confidence that I could do it. I don’t think at that point that necessarily other people would have had that confidence that I would go into an action film and execute it.”

So when Bird was working on “Incredibles 2” a few years later he decided to incorporate some of the techniques he had learned on the “Mission: Impossible” films into the sequel, even going as far as to hire the same stunt designer he had worked with on “Ghost Protocol” and “Tomorrowland.”   

“In a very pragmatic way I had some ambitions for some action sequences in this movie. I wanted them to be adrenalized and tough.”

“I invited the stunt designer from ‘Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol” and “Tomorrowland,” his name is Rob Alonso. He just came in and consulted a little bit on some of our fight sequences. Because he is a great fight choreographer.”

“And he met with our animators, and some of our story board artists, and talked about how someone would fight when they can’t see. What’s the smart way to fight if you can’t open your eyes.”

“The animators loved it and storyboard artists loved it. Because, again, you are trying to bring some reality into this fantasy situation.”

“Animators have the same approach as actors, they want to know something in the same way that Holly or Craig or Sam would want to know about the reality of a scene. They ask, ‘What would a character like my character be thinking in this scene?’”

“In one scene a character can’t open their eyes, and Rob said, ‘They would want to get in a corner to limit the places that they can be attacked from. Instinctively they would move to a corner so everyone was in front of them.’”

“And that was something the animators latched onto. They loved that. We loved doing stunt research on what the reality of a situation is, so it can feed the fantasy and make it credible.”

You can see the finished product now, as “Incredibles 2” is finally in cinemas. Thankfully, it was well worth the wait, too.