The Parr family is back, and Incredibles 2 will pick up right where the first film left off 14 years ago. (Yes, it's been that long since we spent time with Bob, Helen, Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack.) Director Brad Bird has returned to pen and helm the sequel, and this time around, it's Mrs. Incredible, a.k.a. Elastigirl, who gets to save the day while Bob stays home with the kids. Nerdist was among a group of outlets that attended a press day for the film, and we learned a few details about Elastigirl's action-oriented role, saw Edna's new looks, and more.
Superheroes are still not the status quo, but Devtech (more on them below) wants to change that by putting Helen Parr into the spotlight. They don't call her Mrs. Incredible either; she's back to being Elastigirl and she has a new costume for the occasion. It's her turn to embrace the super side of herself and provide for her practically homeless family.
Helen gets her new Elastigirl work thanks to brother and sister Winston and Evelyn Deavor, who run communications company Devtech. Evelyn has all the tech knowhow to keep the company innovating, and from the footage we saw, she seems to form a bond with Helen.
The Edna Report
The Incredibles' breakout character Edna “E” Mode is likewise back for the sequel. Though Bird wouldn't share details about Edna's exact role, we did get a peek at her new outfits and learn about her fashion line, “Mode.” Character artist Deanna Marsigliese was responsible for coming up with Edna's creations; she looked at art from the first film to get a sense of Edna's style, but recognized that fashion designers don't necessarily dress their models in clothes they themselves would wear.
Marsigliese also considered how Edna lives in the now, so she went bold and dramatic. To further cement Edna's looks, Marsigliese had to nail down Edna's motivation for making a fashion line and what she was trying to say with her work. "I realized then that Edna hates models," Marsigliese said. From all of that, she put together that Edna would use her fashion line to celebrate superhero powers.
As far as what Edna herself is wearing, shading art director Bryn Imagire said Bird told them Edna is Japanese-German, so she looked to Japanese designers for inspiration. Imagire started think of Edna's costumes as sculptures, and being inspired by nature.
Remember Honey Best? She's Lucius Best/Frozone's wife, and in The Incredibles, she delivered this gem: "Don't you think about running off to doing no derrin'-do. We've been planning this dinner for two months!" In case you're wondering, you will not get that long-awaited glimpse of Honey in Incredibles 2... but you'll definitely hear her familiar voice. “We wanted to show Honey in this movie, but we didn't end up doing it because she's funnier as a voice," Bird said. "We actually went through all the trouble of designing the character, and the design appears in the movie, but not as Frozone's wife.”
With Elastigirl making an impact, some people start becoming more interested in the hero career—like the Wannabes. We're still learning about who they are and what they can do, but you need to know that the second from left character in the above image has a mouth inspired by Tom Petty. Animators looked at Petty's mouth muscles and shape to give this wannabe hero a special look.
Attention is lavished upon every detail at Pixar. As an example of how they look at the macro and micro, they showed us how an action scene featuring Elastigirl and her brand new Elasticycle was developed from movement to physics to effects. When the cycle runs into some trouble, it causes an explosion they labored over getting right in scope and look. Effects artist Amit Baadkar said they finally nailed it when they put sparks on top of smoke and fire. "The bike is electrical, so we thought about, 'How are we going to do this?' Sparks were added to hint at a lithium ion battery bursting," Baadkar said.
So, yes, they think of everything.
Technology has advanced since the first Incredibles was made, so they were able to make improvements to the look of the characters with new tools and techniques, including hair. They developed a new hair tool for Incredibles 2 and used it for grooming (growing hair on a character's scalp), especially on Helen's hair because it needs to retain the iconic shape but move naturally in the elements. The proprietary hair software hadn't been updated since Monsters, Inc., so they started from scratch and rebuilt it.
Syndrome destroyed the Parr residence in The Incredibles, so they get a new house in Incredibles 2 thanks to Helen's new gig. But behind the scenes, it's called the “new new house," seeing as they spent eight months working on a house design that got scrapped and then had two-and-a-half weeks to make a new one. Given the setting, the home is mid-century modern through and through, and they put a lot of work into the terrazzo flooring, so please be sure to admire it when you see the film.
Every director has to leave ideas on the cutting room floor, and sometimes finishing a film sparks ideas for the future. Bird has had two such concepts in his mind since the first Incredibles in 2004. “The two ideas that were in my head as the first movie was ending was the role-switch between Bob and Helen and showing Jack-Jack's powers and exploring them,” Bird recalled. They've previewed the raccoon fight scene where Bob learns about Jack-Jack's powers; that whole sequence was initially going to be in the first film, but it was cut.
Superhero Movie Renaissance
As the first Incredibles was made years before the dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the superhero movie landscape is much different for the upcoming sequel; Bird mentioned it's kind of like going out to a football field that's had way too many games played on it. He said, “It's really been covered. It reminds me of the way Westerns were in the late '50s.” The director conceded the saturation of the superhero story makes it very challenging on a story level. “It's easy to freak out and go, 'Why even try?' But then I return to what makes us unique and it's the idea of the family and that superheroes have to hide their abilities, and there's plenty left to explore.”
Incidentally, The Incredibles has definitely left its mark on the superhero world as we know it. Bird also mentioned that Tim Kring, creator of Heroes, told him that his NBC series was created as "a mash-up of the movie Crash and The Incredibles.”
Are you excited to see what The Incredibles 2 adds to the superhero realm when it hits theaters on June 15? Let us know what you're most looking forward to seeing in the movie!