There are spoilers in this review.
I found it hilarious that they did an opening before the movie in my theater where the cast and crew basically apologized for how long it was since the first one. I can’t believe they did more Cars movies in that time instead of this. Blah. I will say that it didn’t feel like a long time when I actually watched it. It might help that this movie takes place immediately after the last, so even the characters and story didn’t have a gap. A quick mention here that there’s one scene in particular that could definitely set up epilepsy, and I can’t believe that Disney didn’t realize that until after they put it out. What! So anyway, quick recap of the first movie: Superheroes used to exist, but laws were passed to outlaw them once people got sick of their property damage and unintentional consequences. Helen and Bob Parr were superheroes Mr. Incredible and ElastiGirl, and they settled down and got marred, trying to live normal lives with their superpowered children Dash, Violet, and Jack-Jack. Bob was conned by a former fanboy of his into thinking he could come back to being a superhero, and through a series of events all of his family used their powers to save him and also eventually save a city. The movie ended with the family at a race with Dash, and in the parking lot a bad guy attacked and they all put on their masks.
This takes place quickly after the last one, and we see the results of what happened when the family goes up against the Underminer. They fight over who has to babysit, while the Underminer gets away, his giant digging machine destroys a huge segment of the city, and while they stop it before loss of life, it doesn’t really help their image as heroes. They’ve shut down the superhero project that used to help them make new lives when people realized their powers, which sucks for them. But a light in the dark comes in the form of Winston and Evelyn Deavor, a pair of siblings whose father used to be close to supers and believe in them. He died while waiting for heroes to come save him, but that was after the law passed. Winston believes in bringing superheroes back because the world is less safe without them, and his huge company can give them a better image. Evelyn makes all the tech for them, although she’s more skeptical of it all. They want Helen to be the face of their ‘bring back superheroes!’ effort, which of course upsets Bob as he thinks he’s the big hero. It’s an interesting thing to watch him battle his inner misogyny and disappoint while also loving her and wanting to be supportive. The movie does a good job of showing that! Especially since we know that Bob was the one who desperately wanted to get back to work, and Helen’s always been reluctant.Frozone is the one approached first and doesn’t seem to mind letting her take over either. But she agrees and gets back out on the streets.
Helen comes up against her first new villain, the Screenslaver, who uses screens to hypnotize people into doing things they wouldn’t ordinarily. The first act is to cause a giant train to go backward and almost kill people, and Helen stops them. Then Screenslaver tries to kill an ambassador and Helen gets in the way instead, although that leads to the ambassador supporting the return of superheroes. Winston is delighted and thinks they can fnally change the law, and invites all the powerful ambassadors and new superheroes (they’re so cute and hero worship Helen) to a boat celebration. While Helen does fight “The Screenslaver” and beat him, he seems like a harmless pizza boy and it’s revealed Evelyn is actually the person behind it. For one, she believes that superheroes make people weak, because her father relied on them and died for it instead of wisely going to a panic room. She also generally thinks humans are lazy and obsessed with technology, although that element takes a back seat to the MUAHAHA destroy superheroes and their popularity part. She manages to enslave the new superheroes, Helen, Bob, and Frozone who comes to help the kids out. So it’s up to the kids to have a daring rescue!
Over to the side plot which is just as interesting, if not more so at times. Bob is trying his best to learn how to be a good full time parent. He deals with Violet’s crush not showing up (his memory was wiped for recognizing Violet with powers), Dash’s math work that makes no sense to him, and Jack-Jack having so many powers it was impossible to keep up with them. Bob has a mental breakdown of sorts when he hasn’t slept for days and thinks he’s failing as a parent. He brings Jack-Jack to creative genius (and fan favorite) Edna to help him figure out what to do with all his powers. While she doesn’t like babies, she is fascinated by the kid, and she helps Bob and the kids understand what to expect from Jack-Jack as he has uncontrollable powers and he’s a baby. The kids use his powers and their own to attack the ship and eventually manage to wake everyone up from Evelyn’s control. She plans on crashing the ship into the city and killing all the ambassadors, after blaming the superheroes for it. Helen and her have one more stand off, but Helen defeats her … and refuses to let her die regardless. Heroes are made legal again and the family continues as legal superheroes now.
There were a lot of elements going on in this movie, some that worked, some that didn’t. First though, wow to the animation. There are so many incredible action sequences that look wonderful, and with the inclusion of more superheroes they had even more material to work with to make it look fantastic. Jack-Jack’s design and his powers are particularly delightful. I laughed a lot while watching it, and as before the voice cast is solid and believable, and it’s still wonderful to see the family interaction. In the first movie we didn’t really get to see them use their powers until halfway through and the end, so having a lot of powers the entire way through is really fun. I liked the siblings. I had this theory, because I figured out Evelyn was the bad guy pretty much immediately upon seeing her. Kudos to Catherine Keener though for the dry character voice, and the animators for her really unique style. But I originally thought that she was intentionally trying to do all of this so the superheroes would get the credit and be legalized. It would be interesting in my mind if the superheroes had to address the fact that the way they became legal was by villainous behavior, and what moral quandary that would put in their heads about how they got to where they wanted. Of course she ended up being MUAHAHA villain, and I still liked her even then, but I think it would be interesting to have “villains” who really were just trying to help for once. We almost never see that.
Attached to that, Evelyn’s entire motivation was iffy to me, not in the sense of what happened to her father, I got that, but also she sometimes talked about how screens and people’s obsession with technology was bad. But that’s also what she did for a living, so that’s an interesting dichotomy. She was clearly a sociopath of some kind, or more like a highly, highly cynical person who believed the worst in everyone. She didn’t seem to care at all about murdering people, and I think they presented her from day one as someone who clearly was disconnected from people but effortlessly charming at the same time. She was a good villain, but would have benefited from a little more clear cut motivations. I still like the idea of her having done all of it to HELP Helen and what that would have meant, but whatever. It was also disappointing it was so obvious who the villain was immediately. Also in the end, her brother barely gets any reaction to it, which sucks because he did have that moment of WHAT DID YOU DO and chose to help others instead. Immediately after the fight he’s like THANKS FOR SAVING MY SISTER and is still smiling and joking. ??? dude. But other than that, I honestly have no criticisms. I liked the characters and their stories here. I liked seeing Bob struggle to be a stay at home dad, and fail but also succeed in significant ways, and I was very happy that Helen took front and center in this movie because I love her so dearly. It was a really cool role/gender reversal too! The homemaker who remembered that she used to be a big badass and gets to be the hero while her husband stays at home. And the movie didn’t shy away from embracing the dynamics that changed because of it, which is pretty smart. The animation and acting were superb, and it was lovely to be back into the lives of these people I cared about. I would love to see an Incredibles 3 if they feel like doing that some day. I wouldn’t mind a bit of a time jump, what would Jack-Jack be like as a toddler for example? Violet going off to college? Dash as a teenager? The superheroes we met in this movie being their own big team now? I’m just saying.