The Incredibles was Brad Bird's interesting "take" on the super-heroes story, blending many of the tropes of the line of concepts together with his own intense doubts about whether he could balance the pressures of family and work (after his previous film for Warner Bros, The Iron Giant, failed to reach an audience on its first run).*
In it, a super-hero named Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) is forced into retirement after his vigilante activities cause extensive property damage and costly civil lawsuits. Their actions cause more trouble than they're worth, especially as they seem to attract an oddly escalating opposition. They turn away from the lime (and search)-light and "blend" in with your average Joe's and Jane's. In his job as an insurance adjuster, he is merely Parr. Bob Parr.
But, the instinct never really goes away. The core values that make heroes "heroes" is to help others, whether in time of need or not, whether in a sacrificial capacity or not. And you don't need to be "super" to do that, but merely be in the right place at the right time with the right capacity.
We're all heroes when we think outside of our selves and our own personal boxes. And you don't need a super-suit...sometimes it's enough just to wear a tie.
You gotta pick your battles, though.
The Set-up: Under tremendous public pressure, and the crushing financial burden of an ever mounting series of lawsuits, the government quietly initiated the superhero relocation program. The supers will be granted amnesty from responsibility for past actions, in exchange for the promise to never again resume hero work. Where are they now? They are living among us. Average citizens, average heroes. Quietly and anonymously continuing to make the world a better place.
ANNOUNCER Under tremendous public pressure, and the crushing financial burden of an ever mounting series of lawsuits, the government quietly initiated the superhero relocation program. The supers will be granted amnesty from responsibility for past actions, in exchange for the promise to never again resume hero work. Where are they now? They are living among us. Average citizens, average heroes. Quietly and anonymously continuing to make the world a better place.
EXTREME CLOSE-UP: AN INSURANCE FORM
A stamp slam down, leaving the word "DENIED" in red ink.
INT. INSURICARE INSURANCE COMPANY - BOB'S CUBICLE - DAY
A small, frail woman in her mid-seventies, named MURIEL HOGENSON-- blinks in shock.
MRS. HOGENSON Denied? You're denying my claim?
Her claims adjuster BOB PARR looks up. He looks familiar.
FADE IN TITLE:
FIFTEEN YEARS LATER
It's none other than MR. INCREDIBLE himself, now balding, sixty-four pounds heavier, and dressed in a too-tight white collar shirt. Hogenson sits across from him, bewildered and upset.
MRS. HOGENSON I don't understand. I have full coverage.
BOB I'm sorry, Mrs. Hogenson, but our liability is spelled out in paragraph 17. It states clearly...
BOB It states clearly...
MRS. HOGENSON I can't pay for this.
BOB [phone rings] Excuse me. [answers phone] Claims, Bob Parr.
INTERCUT: HELEN INSIDE PARR HOME - KITCHEN - SAME TIME
HELEN PARR chats amiably as she bathes her happy toddler JACK-JACK in the sink of their airy, ranch-style kitchen.
Her hairstyle has changed, her hips have widened a little, but Motherhood has agreed with her, and little else has changed from her Elastigirl days. A stack of empty MOVING BOXES are stacked haphazardly near the door
HELEN I'm calling to celebrate a momentous occasion. We're now officially moved in.
INTERCUT WITH BOB
BOB Yeah, well, that's great, honey. And the last three years don't count because...
HELEN Because I finally...
HELEN ...unpacked the last box.
HELEN Now, it's official. Ha, ha, ha.
HELEN (phone-filter) Why do we have so much junk?
BOB Listen, honey, I've got a client.
HELEN Say no more. Go save the world one policy at a time, honey.
HELEN Oh! I gotta go pick up the kids from school. See you tonight.
BOB Bye, honey.
(Hangs up, turns to Hogenson)
BOB Excuse me.
BOB Where were we?
MRS. HOGENSON [beginning to weep] I'm on a fixed income,
MRS. HOGENSON ...and if you can't help me, I don't know what I'll do.
[blows nose loudly] [sobbing]
Bob stares at her, empathizing completely.
He stands up and leans out of his cubicle,
...making sure the coast is clear.
BOB All right, listen closely.
BOB I'd like to help you, but I can't.
He hands her a pen and a pad of paper. He leans closer, his voice low.
BOB I'd like to tell you to take...
BOB ...a copy of your policy to Norma Wilcox on...
He stops and looks up. She's staring at him blankly, completely puzzled. Bob reaches over and taps her pad.
BOB [whispering] Norma Wilcox. W-l-L-C-O-X.
Suddenly realizing, she begins to scribble...
BOB ...On the third floor. But I can't.
BOB [whispering] I also do not advise you...
BOB [whispering] ...to fill out and file a...
BOB ...WS2475 form with our legal department...
BOB ...on the second floor.
BOB I would not expect someone to get back to you quickly to resolve the matter.
BOB I'd like to help,
(he gives her a little smile)
BOB ...but there's nothing I can do.
MRS. HOGENSON Oh, thank you, young....
BOB [shouting] I'm sorry, ma'am! I know you're upset!
BOB [low whisper] Pretend to be upset.
Understanding, she smiles, stands up, and EXITS weeping.
Bob grins; he's beaten the system.
MRS. HOGENSON [sobbing]
Mrs. Hogenson is gone for a total of six seconds...
...when Bob's supervisor GILBERT HUPH enters. Huph, an anal, micromanaging little troll with a loud voice, throws a folder on Bob's desk.
MR. HUPH Paaaaa-...
MR. HUPH ...-aaaaaa-...
MR. HUPH ...-aaarr!
MR. HUPH You authorized payment on the Walker policy?!
BOB Someone broke into their house, Mr. Huph.
BOB Their policy clearly covers--
MR. HUPH No!
MR. HUPH I don't wanna know about their coverage, Bob! Don't tell me about their coverage. Tell me how you're...
MR. HUPH ...keeping Insuricare in the black.
MR. HUPH Tell me how that's possible...
MR. HUPH ...with you writing checks to every Harry Hardluck and Sally Sobstory that gives you a phone call.
Bob stands there impotently, then sits.
Knocking his pencil holder over.
[PA Announcement] Morning break is over. Morning break is over.
Words by Brad Bird
Pictures by Brad Bird and all the Pixar animators
The Incredibles is available on DVD from Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
* A terrific film, The Iron Giant suffered from the Warners marketing department's inability to "sell" it to a general audience that had been primed for superior animation product from both Disney and Pixar in recent years.