When it was released back in 2004, The Incredibles made such an impression on the pop culture landscape that a sequel seemed inevitable.
Not only did it gross over $633 million at the box office, but it was met with widespread critical acclaim, and won two Academy Awards. Most importantly, though, there were clearly plenty more stories to tell of the Parr family struggling to mix their secret identities as superheroes with their everyday lives.
Despite this success, writer and director Brad Bird recently told me that he was in no rush to get an “Incredibles” sequel out, while commending Pixar for having the exact same attitude.
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“Obviously when one film is successful there is very little resistance to a sequel. Pixar was very cool in saying, ‘If you want to do a sequel to this ever, obviously we are ready to go’.”
“What was cool was that they said, ‘When you’re ready, we’re ready.’ They didn’t say it had to be done by a certain date.”
“Which is kind of a rare thing nowadays, because money is usually put before everything else. But Pixar is a filmmaker centric place. That’s one of the reasons I love working there.”
It wasn’t as though Bird was starved for plot ideas, though, because he had come up with the two main plot points for the sequel while working on the original.
“I’d love to tell you there was a sharp entry point for returning to the franchise. But the truth of the matter is that I had the core idea that Helen would get the assignment instead of Bob while we were promoting the first movie.”
“Plus I also had the unexploded bomb of Jack-Jack having superpowers that the audience knew about but the family did not. So I always had that in my back pocket, too.”
Bird’s return wasn’t all plain sailing, though. “I had a few other notions that I knew I would have loved to see in a sequel. But the part that alluded me was the villain, superhero plot part. It took me a while to get something that I thought would be interesting and right.”
“Finally I came up with an idea that I thought was cool, I pitched it to Pixar while we were doing ‘Tomorrowland.’ They liked it, we started in motion on it, and then 6 months in I realized that didn’t work.”
“Now I had a release date, a team going, money is being spent, and, ‘Holy crap! I am screwed.’”
Bird wouldn’t go into detail about the aborted villain, except to say that it “involved artificial intelligence” and was a “cool idea” that might “pop up in another project.”
But his decision to replace the foe clearly worked wonders, because once he had figured out the right idea to move “Incredibles 2” forward it immediately began to morph. So much so that Bird just couldn’t stop writing.
“That part of the story kept morphing and I had to kill an enormous number of darlings. I have never on any film that I have done written so much that I have then cut. I probably have another 2 and a half other ‘Incredibles’ movies in terms of scenes that are just on the floor.”
We’ll just have to wait and see whether that’s Bird’s way of teasing “Incredibles 3,” “4” and “5.” But, for the time being, “Incredibles 2” will do just fine.