Thank you to Disney for sending me to Pixar Studios to chat with Brad Bird, Nicole Grindle, & John Walker
There were a few things I specifically wanted to ask Brad Bird about in regards to Incredibles 2. One was what the #ELL took so long to create a sequel. Fourteen years is a dang long time to wait for a film! The second was a question from multiple dads. They wanted to know if Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) was going to be a bumbling fool as the stay at home dad in this film.
I had seen a significant sneak peek of Bob as SAHD and truly, I wanted to know too.
Things in entertainment are changing. Others are staying the same, and sadly the role of bumbling idiot male is a bit of an industry norm. I see it in the blogging world, I see it in memes shared by women about their husbands, and I hear talk of it in and around town.
I’m so fortunate to have an AMAZING husband. He has the dad gig down and holds down the fort when I’m away better than I ever could. He is the master of routine, I’m the master of fun. Being the master of fun is . . . FUN! But it doesn’t leave much room for routine. He is a better housekeeper than I am, he’s better at scheduling things, and he’s just all around a phenomenal partner and father to our children.
There’s nothing bumbling or incapable of this man where it comes to his performance at home.
I’m not going to lie, I still laugh about bumbling husbands on TV, but I can see how men are sick of the stigma. Hearing these men talk about how they’re waiting to see how Bob Parr is presented in Incredibles 2 made me wonder the same, because it is clear from the latest trailer that Bob is having a difficult time with this stay at home parenting gig.
But is Bob having a hard time with the stay at home parenting thing because he’s male, or because he’s the father to one infant with seemingly limitless and unharnessed powers? I mean, because the other scenes where we see Bob parenting look a lot like my parenting. A 5 o’clock shadow and saying “MATH IS MATH” is kinda my thing.
OK, not the 5 o’clock shadow part, but the rest looks like a page from my own life with ME at the helm.
All three creators agreed on one thing: Bob Parr isn’t having a hard time at home because he’s male OR Bob Parr. It’s because of Jack Jack.
John Walker: I think it’s more because of Jack-Jack. Anybody would have a hard time with Jack-Jack.
Nicole Grindle: Yeah, I agree.
Brad Bird: Helen says in the movie, ‘You know, any baby is a challenge.’ But then to put it on a quantum level with a baby that can go through walls and turn into a little devil or catch on fire. To me, that’s just an abstraction of what babies really are.
Nicole Grindle: Right. I’ve always felt that this was a representation of what we all feels as parents. You all go into it like, ‘Oh, it’s a little baby. How cute. How hard could that be?’
And then at every turn, they’re more and more difficult.
The Parr family and the powers that the Incredibles have were all originally based on stereotypical familial roles, but they’re not looking to make anyone feel bad about their roles in the family if they live outside those norms. It’s one of the biggest things that separates this film from other superhero movies. It’s about family, not superheroes.
Brad Bird: We always felt like what makes our film unique is that it’s about a family and those roles. Their superpowers were based on iconic roles of men and women and children in the family. You know, the dad is always expected to be strong. The mom is always stretched in a million directions.
Teenagers are defensive and insecure. So, she has force fields and invisibility. Ten-year-olds are energy balls that can’t NOT be on. Eleven or off, that’s what they are. Babies are unknowns. They could have no powers at all, or they could be the next leader of the free world or whatever.
Where each character was in the family was how we chose their powers. That was a unique approach, because it was more about stages of your life. I think one of the reasons we’ve been successful is that everyone connects with at least two of the characters, and that’s because we’ve all been teenagers and we’ve all been children.
Many of us have kids, so we’ve dealt with little babies which are really challenging to keep up with. And teenagers which are also a handful in a completely different way.
The truth is, the film is set in the 60s-ish.
There were very specific gender roles during that period of time. For a woman in the 60s to be the breadwinner was odd. The film does play on what happens when parents step into roles that they aren’t necessarily used to having.
Brad Bird: We’ve had parents that seem kinda clueless at moments. We have the dad that maybe speaks before he really knows what he’s talkin’ about. And, you know, the mom that manages everything. That’s where our strengths lie, and that’s what makes us different.
And if we thought about it in those terms, it became a lot easier to make our film.
I don’t know what happens in the end of the film, I’ve only seen the first 22 minutes and the Jack Jack v. Raccoon scene. What I do believe is that this film features the same strong woman we saw in the original Incredibles in Elastigirl. I also believe that we see a Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible that is used to being the man in the house having to take on a role he is not used to assuming. I have faith that the head creative team won’t disappoint with bringing Bob full circle with him eventually falling into his new role like the superhero he is.
What the Crap Took So Long?
Incredibles came out in 2004, that’s fourteen years ago! EVERYONE wants to know what took so long for Brad Bird to create this new film, and I have the answer for you.
Brad Bird: I think there’s a tendency nowadays to not even get the soda pop, you just want direct syrup. You just want syrup now.
For me it was not intentional. I don’t think it’s the greatest idea creatively to immediately follow-up a successful film with its sequel. I think that you wanna take time, you wanna think about it, you wanna enjoy the process.
had other things that were more at the forefront of my mind. The more I kinda chewed on it, the more I thought, ‘yeah, oh, yeah, that’ll be cool.’ And then suddenly it was like 15 years later or something and I went, ‘Holy crap, I better get goin’ on somethin’.’ It was not intentional and it was not calculated in any way. It probably would’ve been smarter if it were a cash grab to do it a lot sooner.
I just was mulling on it and it finally seemed like the right thing to do and I didn’t want to wait any longer.
It literally just got away from him, which is exactly how I feel about my own novel. Like now is the right time and I just can’t wait any longer. So I get it. Life moves at a furious pace sometimes, you know?