That’s Incredible…Or Is It Stereotypical?

Summer is here and with it comes the array of summer movies that people flock to the theater to view. I am no exception; I was at The Incredibles 2 the weekend it opened (Abby chose the movie) and although my readers know I am a dedicated Disney/Pixar fan, I was not overly excited to see Mr. Incredible and the Gang back for a sequel. Let me start by being honest- I do not like superhero movies, even if they are done by Disney. No interest in watching Batman take down the Joker or seeing Superman save the world, or discovering all the hidden talents that the X-Men have—I know for many people it’s a genre of film they embrace, but it has never been my cup of tea.

So, when I met the Incredible Family 14 years ago, I was not overly impressed; the kid runs fast, the girl can be invisible, the mom is basically an amped up Gumby and the dad is big and strong. Oh, and he has that friend (voiced by Samuel L Jackson) who can freeze things. I think true fans of superhero films would recognize these “powers” as fairly stereotypical ones; they’ve been featured in other films many a time. Seeing the, albeit highly amusing, family once again a few weeks ago was not a huge draw for me, but I went and at least expected to be a bit entertained…after all it got great reviews…

From Time Magazine: Incredibles 2 goes even deeper, delving into the fragility of the male ego in a world where women are asserting themselves more every day. Honestly, I was a bit put off by that statement, as well as the incredibly (no pun intended) stereotypical way Mr. Incredible and his wife Elastagirl were depicted in the film. For me, it ran like an episode of every sitcom based around the concept that if the woman is smart, the man must be dumb. So, in this film, Elastagirl heads out to save the world because the world responds best to her as a superhero. They’ve got her all fitted out in a tight suit (as if the one from the first film was not tight enough), she’s at glamorous parties, she’s doing press interviews and all the while, there is Mr. Incredible and at this point the name takes on a mocking tone, at home with his teenage daughter, his hyper son and his baby Jack-Jack, who bursts into flames, turns into a temper tantrum throwing demon and multiples when he is really angry. Dear old dad, of course, has no idea how to handle his kids- he ruins his daughter’s relationship with her potential boy crush, son Dash literally just runs around the house, and sweet little baby fights with a squirrel after he is left unsupervised and gets out of the house. And what does Mr. Incredible do?? He is depicted with bags under his eyes, stubble on his face, and a constant look of sheer exhaustion.

Are we, and is a generation of 6-8 years olds meant to come away from the film with the idea that “mom can do anything- save the world and run the house?” but “Dad, lol, he is so clueless.” Because I for one think that is a very bad message to send out to a young generation. I am wary of movies that empower women at the expense of a man looking like a moron. Even our villain in this film is a woman, while her brother is her sweet unsuspecting clueless minion. So, is that how it is? We can be heroes, but only if the men are incompetent? What kind of empowering message is that? Not one at all, as far as I can see…just another retelling of a ½ hour sitcom that is some 2018 version of “let’s all laugh at dad.”

As you know, I am all for empowered women being depicted in film, in novels and most importantly being praised in real life. However, I felt that the kind of empowerment depicted here was the wrong kind, and most surely the wrong message to send to young men and women. We can be empowered yes, but we can also work together to, if not save the world, at least make it a better place!

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