"The Incredibles" director and writer Brad Bird was faced with a few challenges when he decided to give the Disney-Pixar action/adventure flick a sequel 14 years later. For starters, 2018 is way more saturated with superhero movies than 2004 was -- by far.
In "The Incredibles 2," which hits theaters June 15, Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) gets chosen to go on a crime-fighting mission while her husband, Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), is forced to face his greatest challenge yet: taking care of his three children and all of their problems.
And that gender role reversal is one of the methods Bird said he used to help combat today's superhero fatigue. Emphasizing a strong family dynamic was the other.
"The idea of the role switch -- that the assignment would go to Helen rather than Bob -- I had when we were promoting the first film," Bird said at the film's press conference Thursday in West Hollywood. "There was a dark moment when I realized, '2 years from now, the film's gonna come out. There's too many superheroes now. Are people gonna be just sick of this in 2 years?' And then I realized what excited me about the idea in the first place was not the superheroes; it was that it was about the family dynamic and people's roles in different parts of their lives."
"The superhero genre was like a twisted lemon that you squeeze on top," he continued. "It's not what the movie's about. Then I got excited again because, to me, families are a [birthplace] of fresh opportunities. And that's so universal."
Hunter added, "It was a while before I truly realized what I was gonna get to do in the movie. And I was really thrilled, but it was a retroactive thrill over a period of months. To me, it was just really fun. I don't think that this was a message movie in any way. I think it's purely luck of the draw that this happens to be dovetailing with #MeToo and #TimesUp, but obviously, time's up. I feel that way personally, and it happens to be serendipitously reflected in this particular movie."
"I said [to Brad], 'What're you gonna do that's different? How are you gonna compete against that? I mean, the Incredibles are just a little tiny family thingy,'" Nelson told TooFab. That's when Bird let Nelson know he wanted his character to take a backseat to his wife in the sequel. "Bob's not gonna be as active," Nelson recalled Bird telling him.
Nelson admitted he was a bit weary when he first heard the news but said his new role as a stay-at-home dad turned out to be "so much fun."
"It was wonderful because I got the chance, as a character, to get to know [my kids] and instill in them what I believe and what I think," he said. "And at the same time, having to deal with my wife going out and saving the world when I should be, and yet wanting to help her and assist her and empower her in some way to do the best job she can."
Nelson said he feels "The Incredibles 2" has "a lot of aspects to it that are timely and interesting and confrontive." He said it's the "heart" and forward-thinking principles of the film that make it "wonderfully accessible" and set it apart from the "big escapism" a lot of other superhero movies tend to offer.
"The Incredibles 2" hits theaters Friday, June 15.