"The Incredibles" was a movie of firsts for Pixar Animation Studios. It was the first motion picture from Pixar to feature a cast of human characters, utilize a lyric-less musical score, have a PG rating, and win two Academy Awards (including Best Animated Feature).
The team behind "Toy Story," "Finding Nemo," and "Monsters, Inc." took a super leap of faith to make its story of an average American family that just happens to be made up of superheroes. To achieve its goal, the Pixar crew took on Herculean tasks, stretching the realms of animated drama and surmounting design restrictions by using new technology. With "The Incredibles," writer-director Brad Bird and his crew pioneered the creation of a world so inventively "alive" that it's possibly the most human animated film ever made.
Pixar had been building up to this breakthrough for a decade. Since the premiere of "Toy Story" in 1995, the Northern California studio raised the standard for computer animation with each subsequent film. "A Bug's Life" introduced organic environments and characters that squashed and stretched. "Monsters, Inc." ventured further into the world of round organic shapes and successfully tackled the previously unthinkable realm of photo-realistic hair and fur. And "Finding Nemo" convincingly portrayed a wide variety of aquatic life and settings on a fantastic journey under the sea.
"The Incredibles" required everything Pixar had learned from these films -- and much more -- in order to tell its wide-ranging story of a family facing its greatest challenge. In this article, we'll cover every aspect of this groundbreaking movie, from the special effects to the unique characters. We'll begin in this section by summarizing the plot of "The Incredibles," examining the film's enormous success, and introducing you to the people behind the scenes.
The Incredibles Image Gallery
"The Incredibles" follows the adventures of a family of former superheroes who are discovering the true sources of their powers. Once one of the world's top masked crime fighters, Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) fought evil and saved lives on a daily basis. But 15 years later, he and his wife Helen (also a famous former superhero named Elastigirl) have been forced to take on civilian identities and retire to the suburbs, where they live as mere mortals and lead all-too-ordinary lives with their children. As a clock-punching insurance man, the only things Bob fights are boredom and a bulging waistline. Itching for action, the sidelined superhero gets his chance when a mysterious message summons him to a remote island for a top-secret assignment. With the fate of the world at stake, the family must come together and once again find the fantastic elements in its life.
"At its heart, 'The Incredibles' is a story about a family learning to balance their individual lives with their love for one another," says Bird. "It's also a comedy about superheroes discovering their more ordinary human side. I wanted to create a world filled with pop culture references -- with spy-movie gadgets and comic book super powers and outrageous evil villains using ingenious devices -- but also to create a story within that world about family. I really poured everything in my heart into the story. All these personal things -- about being a husband, being a father, the idea of getting older, the importance of family, what work means, and what it feels like to think you're losing the things that you love -- all tucked into one big story."
"The Incredibles" is the fourth-most successful superhero film of all time, following "The X-Men," "Batman Returns," and "Spider-Man." "The Incredibles," which premiered on November 5, 2004, was Pixar's best-performing film to date at the box office. It earned $70 million in its first week and was the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2004 ($259 million). Internationally, the movie was even more successful, ranking as the fourth-biggest film of 2004. Mexico went insane for "The Incredibles," demanding hundreds of character products that quickly sold out. In Belgium, the car manufacturer Opel distributed "Incredibles" model cars.
"Finding Nemo" is the only Pixar film that has been more successful. But while "Finding Nemo" was the first Pixar film to win an Academy Award (Best Animated Feature of 2003), "The Incredibles" won two (Best Animated Feature and Best Achievement in Sound Editing).
At the heart of "The Incredibles'" is the artistic vision of Bird ("The Iron Giant," and "The Simpsons"), who also wrote the original screenplay. One of the most passionate animators in the business, Bird started his first animated film at age 11 and finished it two years later. The film brought him to the attention of Walt Disney Studios, where, at age 14, he was mentored by Milt Kahl, one of Disney's legendary animators. Bird can be heard in "The Incredibles" as the hilarious, scene-stealing voice of tiny Edna Mode, the deadpan diva who designs superhero costumes.
"The Incredibles" was produced by John Walker ("Osmosis Jones" and "The Iron Giant") and executive produced by John Lasseter, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker and vice president of creative for Pixar who made history as the director of the studio's first feature-length computer-animated film, "Toy Story."
Playing a major role in creating the film's retro-futuristic style and exuberant mood was composer Michael Giacchino ("Alias," "Lost," and the video game "Medal of Honor"), who recorded with a 100-piece orchestra for "The Incredibles." It was the first time he had ever scored for a motion picture.
In the next section, learn how "The Incredibles" got off the ground.