From Elastigirl to Edna, Incredibles 2 is a feminist statement: Mr. Incredible doesn’t want to admit to Elastigirl that things aren’t necessarily working the way they should at home. But thanks to Edna Mode, Bob solves the infinite problems caused by baby Jack-Jack having more superpowers than you can count on both hands.
From Elastigirl to Edna, Incredibles 2 is a feminist statement
When we talked to Incredibles 2 director Brad Bird, he made it clear the movie doesn’t have a female lead because of the #MeToo movement. He came up with the idea of putting a woman front and center “right on the heels of the first film,” which came out in 2004.
“That’s the oldest idea in this current movie,” the filmmaker said. “We don’t really respond to whatever the thing of the moment is. We just kind of tell the stories we want to tell.” In this film, Elastigirl is the one with a job, fighting crime, while Mr. Incredible stays home taking care of the kids. The film features other strong female role models too.
Elastigirl to the rescue
When superhero advocate Winston Deavor sets out to legalize caped crusaders, he doesn’t want Mr. Incredible or Frozone to be the public face of the movement. He wants Elastigirl. He knows Helen will be good at catching the bad guys while keeping everything on the more disciplined, less messy side.
The stay-at-home mom dons a new dark supersuit (not designed or approved by Edna) and goes to fight crime, leaving her husband in charge of the kids. And she has a great time at work, especially riding that bike Evelyn Deavor designed with Elastigirl’s superpower in mind. As superheroes go, she’s just cool.
Edna still does it all
Mr. Incredible doesn’t want to admit to Elastigirl that things aren’t necessarily working the way they should at home. But thanks to Edna Mode, Bob solves the infinite problems caused by baby Jack-Jack having more superpowers than you can count on both hands.
Edna is not only good at designing superhero suits (without capes!), she’s also good at delivering smart lines full of heart: “Done properly, parenting is a heroic act.” She’s even good with babies and ends up finding the perfect solution to deal with Jack-Jack.
Judging by her looks, you could dismiss Edna as too cartoonish. She’s all glasses, bob and exaggerated accent. But she’s also an independent professional capable of understanding the needs of her friends. Someone who really has her life together and is always there for the supers, ready to share her wisdom. And being always fabulous, darling.
Woman as a bad guy
The villain in this movie is actually a villainess, the master mind behind Screenslaver. Sick of her brother’s obsession with superheroes, Evelyn Deavor sets out to destroy the public image of people with superpowers by hypnotizing them using screens.
Leaving aside the subtext about screens being omnipresent and dangerous, I thought the villains here would be both Deavor siblings. Maybe even just Winston. It didn’t occur to me the bad one was going to be Evelyn. Traditionally, baddies tend to be men and I fell for that assumption. But I liked how the movie portrays complex women who can be strong, sensitive, feminine, independent, funny, creative and, yes, evil.
Plus, there aren’t that many female villains of this sort in Hollywood — ones who look like bohemian executives with trendy hairstyles and dreamy eyes and sound like Catherine Keener.
Acing the Bechdel test
The Incredibles already passed the Bechdel test, which states that there are at least two named women and they have conversations together about something besides men. Incredibles 2 also passes the test. Elastigirl and Evelyn share a special connection from the beginning of the movie (at least until Helen discovers who the other really is). There’s also admiration and camaraderie between Elastigirl and Voyd, a new superhero discovered by the Deavors and who’ll be especially important at the end of the movie.