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Not Pixar's best due to one element.
The Incredibles has a lot going for it. The animation is fantastic and still holds up almost a decade later (although this is Pixar, what else can you expect?), the vocal performances are good (Jason Lee as Syndrome was a good mixture of funny and evil) and its got quite a few very funny moments ("Honey, where's my supersuit?").

So why don't I consider it one of Pixar's best? It mostly comes down to one element - there was a strong stench of cynicism underneath the movie. The message of the movie seems to be "some people are just better than others and you have to put up with that." While there may be a grain of truth to that, that is not a good lesson to teach kids. And kids will watch this movie, despite what us adult nerds may think. Kids movies should teach children to enrich or try their best to better themselves as a person, not teach them to lie down and accept that there is always going to be someone better than you. It's horribly cynical and it just didn't sit right with me. I'm not sure if this was intentional, but its still a very unfortunate Accidental Aesop.

It's still a good movie but this one element somewhat spoiled it for me. Oh, and Edna Mode was awesome.
I guess you're looking at it from Syndrome's perspective? You've got no powers kid, go home?

I guess that's fair enough really. It doesn't justify Syndrome killing all those people but he started off as some poor kid who just wanted to help.

Darn I used to love the Incredibles :D. Syndrome was always one of the worst Pixar villains (Pixar don't really do villains so much come to think of it. Most of the films with proper villains (and not just that kid who you never quite see properly) are pretty weak...
comment #13095 Tomwithnonumbers 7th Mar 12
I think the message your taking from the film is totally unintentional. If anything, we are expected to identify with the superhero protagonists, not the everyday bubbs who stand in the background. Though we'll never be as powerful as them, we do sometimes get the feeling that we're being held back, unable to be the people we want to be. I suppose that does lead into another, rather unfortunate aesop.
comment #13098 maninahat 7th Mar 12
And you weren't offended by the Accidental Aesop in UP which is: Don't have role models because they will always be low-lifes

or the Cars-verse: The City boy has to change his ways,but the country bumpkin is fine the way he is

Rather curious actually

What? Syndrome was a great villain. Other than Lotso, Randall, and Hopper, he probably the only villain that wasn't the Punch Clock kind or obliviously one. Even Stinky Pete was only a Well Intentioned Extremist. But Syndrome was Genre Savvy, the first true Moral Event Horizon crosser, and also hilarious.
comment #13103 terlwyth 7th Mar 12 (edited by: ManwiththePlan)
I never used the word "offended". Stop putting words in my mouth.
comment #13110 PurpleDalek 8th Mar 12
@terlwyth (incidentally are you welsh? :D ) But didn't you feel a bit sorry for Syndrome?

Also coming to think about it, although maybe not quite so stressed in the Incredibles this is a flaw to genetic based superheroes in general. For everyone else they;ve just got to live with not being a hero because they can't do the same things. Maybe that's another reason why people like Batman so much (that and the facts he's the gosh darn Batman :D )
comment #13112 Tomwithnonumbers 8th Mar 12
(The Batman who inherited billions of dollars, so as to buy enough equipment and training to make himself a superman).
comment #13113 maninahat 8th Mar 12
@Purple Dalek Sorry,sorry that's the impression I kinda got from reading the review.

It's just that Pixars films do have a lot of these Unfortunate Implications in 'em,and I was simply wondering why that's the one that strikes ya'.

@tomwithnonumbers Of course I felt sorry for Syndrome at first,but he crossed over the MEH very quickly,and frankly he was " a good mixture of funny and evil",and probably the most developed evil character until Lotso showed up. Randle was just jealous,Waternoose had little screen time,and Hopper was just like a Fat Bastard,not much extra depth to any of them.

What no nods to Iron Man? Or Spiderman who built those web shooters originally?
comment #13115 terlwyth 8th Mar 12
Personally, I'm not sure what the "message" of the movie was supposed to be, if there was one, and I can't think of one that's kind of dubious in it's moral value.

So I find it best to ignore any and all messages and just look at it as a character piece. Just because the characters believe things doesn't mean we have to.
comment #13116 Wackd 8th Mar 12
And what I think is that kids don't really pay attention to moral values taught by television and film anyway. I know I didn't when I was a kid watching this film. Especially not underlying moral values that you have to read between the lines to get.

And besides, there's a lot of different ways to interpret the message of this movie. I think the biggest thing I got out of it was "use power responsibly". Because the superheroes didn't, they were forced to face government sanctions. When Bob snuck off to go be a superhero in a shady business deal, it blew up in his face by creating an invincible death robot. And of course, there's Syndrome, who did nothing responsibly and got what was coming to him.
comment #13118 DeviousRecital 8th Mar 12
Fight crime responsibly. If you think you or someone you know might have a heroism problem, dial this hotline.
comment #13119 Wackd 8th Mar 12
"Use your superpowers responsibly" is a bit of a Space Whale Aesop isn't it? And kids are smarter than we give themn credit for. A lot of them notice little details in TV Shows and films because they don't have any pesky real life problems distracting them.
comment #13127 PurpleDalek 9th Mar 12
For the record, the actual morals were, work as a team, stay as a family. And then they had individual ones for each character arc, play nice and don't be ubercompetitive, have a little confidence in yourself, give your kids some trust, trust your wife.

But the thing about the Syndrome arc was that he did genuinely have the same sort of set-up and screentime that the other arcs had. He was very much in Mr Incredibles play-as-a-team line and he genuinely wanted to be the team player. But instead he got rejected, his dreams crushed and learn the error of trying to be a good person, whereas Mr Incredible went on to realise the error of his ways and become a good person.

The thing is Syndrome's faults were what others, the heroes did to him and his limitations in not being born a hero. And then, even when he's full out evil, his plan is to give every person in the world the chance to have super-powers eventually, and the heroes stop this from happening.

I think the good things about the incredibles are still good, but this was a genuine story misstep
comment #13128 Tomwithnonumbers 9th Mar 12
^^I said powers, not superpowers. You could take it as a metaphor for anyone that has some sort of responsibility to others.

^Like I said, there's a lot of different messages that could be taken away from this movie. For instance, the message you could get from Syndrome's arc could have been "the people you look up to are still people just like you and have their own problems to deal with" instead of "some people are better than others". It's because he didn't realize the former and believed the latter that he became a villain. That there's more than one way to interpret it is a sign that it was well written, IMO.
comment #13139 DeviousRecital 9th Mar 12
I'm not convinced, most of the fan base interpreting Eragon as an omnicidal psychopath probably aren't claiming that it was because it was well written :D

It wasn't like Mr Incredible had a problem per say, apart from a big personality flaw. He was just a bit of dick. In a normal story arc he'd realise that what happened to Buddy is his problem and that he needs to help him, instead he deals with the problems he created by destroying them.

The Incredibles is still my favourite Pixar film, (maybe Toy Story 1 beats it out with nostalgia value). It's a fun film, the family interact with each other really well, when I was younger Violet was cute. The brother/sister thing was good, the story arcs for the family were good. There was lots of action, fun jokes. It didn't take itself as seriously as other Pixar films and found that sweet spot where you could sit back and enjoy it but it was still surprisingly deep.

But when I think of Syndrome I think of this (he's also unfortunately identical to Rumplestiltskin in Shrek4 which is unfortunate). Syndrome was short, ginger, enthusiastic, eager, helpful, rejected and mistreated. Everyone else gets to learn to get past their flaws and Syndrome doesn't.

The cool think about the Incredibles was that it was a fun adventure superhero flick right? Everything was played up. The villain they needed was some tall dark brooding shadow. Maybe even a cackler. The Underminer teaser was brilliant, mad bad fun. They needed someone like him. 'If everyone's special, no-one is' doesn't even fit well with the rest of the film. It was all about family and teamwork which is all kinds of messily interacting with that message. What's more, Syndrome is still a kid. What kind of villain is that?

I don't want to be down on this film, I don't want to make you have to defend the Incredibles. It's one of my favourite all time films. I think the incredibles were actually probably the best set of characters in a Pixar film. Dory was cool, but she's obviously there as a joke, a narrative device, whereas their family felt like people. Edna was great. Freeze was great 'Honey, where is my SUPER _suit_?!' was a good line, it's stuck with me. 'Fly home, Buddy' was also a powerful line. It just went the wrong way in the story
comment #13150 Tomwithnonumbers 10th Mar 12
I never sympathised with Syndrome, he was rejected but he tried to force himself to be Mr.Incredible's sidekick with no other incentive than because I said so. I don't think he was mistreated since the only thing he managed to do was put himself in danger and cause the villain to escape. I could had been more synpathetic if somehow things would had happen right away, but he grew up and in all those years he never thought that the reason Mr.Incredible was "dickish" then was because he only caused him trouble. Then he went and took it out on all superheros and arranged things to be viewed as a superhero by putting people in danger (since he was the one who knowingly programed the robot).
comment #13151 marcellX 10th Mar 12 (edited by: marcellX)
^^ Well that's the thing; I don't think it's all about family. Half the film has Mr. Incredible sneaking off on his own to set up the villain unwittingly and try to recover the glory days. You could say that just drives home your point, but it does for one of mine as well. I think it's nice they tried to make a more complex villain for once, and they should have. Even though kids were going to watch it no matter what, I definitely saw it marketed as a more adult Pixar film at the time of its release, and it isn't hard to see why. And it's not like anything I'm saying put Syndrome in Designated Villain territory in the same way as your Eragon example; he's still very much evil. Not to mention wrong. That's why the villain was the one who said the "If everyone's special..." line. He was wrong. Once again, it isn't about what kind of power you have, it's about what you do with it. Mr. Incredible and the other superheroes all eventually did good with their powers. Syndrome did not.

^Agreed, mostly.
comment #13155 DeviousRecital 10th Mar 12
I don't think the film's moral is "Some people are just better than others". I think it was "don't throw away your family in pursuit of glory days". That's the lesson Bob learned and confessed when Syndrome caught them all, and that's the lesson Syndrome didn't learn, because he wanted glory so bad.
comment #13157 Tuckerscreator 10th Mar 12
the Mr Incredible stuff though is basically meant to be a lighter representation of marital unfaithfulness and midlife crisis which is still family topics. But family is family and that does mean older as well as younger. I still enjoy this film now.

I just... I don't know I don't even feel that Syndrome is more complex. It's basically your bog standard Freudian Excuse. In fact I was looking at that page, because there's another bad trope as well and so I was clicking on the links on Freudian Excuse (because a heck of a lot of that description matches up with Syndrome) and look whose on the page quote for the stock phrase after a Hanibal Lecture from someone suffering from a bit of Freud. Whos Laughing Now? (This is the other trope I was looking for)

A more complex villain is more sympathetic or more motivated, whereas Syndrome was _evil_ with really stock motivation, the difference being instead of being bullied out school by randomers, he was bullied by the hero this time.

I don't know, there's only so far I can go with this. I really am not the sort of person who tries to argue that Orcs are lightside, or that the Stormtroopers brought structure to the world. I championed Alan Rickman in Die Hard, but that was because I _liked_ Hans Gruber and thought he was a really interesting villain. I don't like Syndrome, he's even a little repulsive it's just... I guess it feels like it isn't his fault that he was that way. The Joker is a cool complex villain...Buddy is just...ugh

This isn't a logical thing and you can come up with the cleverest argument in the world and I'm not going to like him, or feel he was a good character, or that he was well linked in, or had a good back story because this is just how I feel about this. I guess equally by now there's nothing I can say to you either
comment #13158 Tomwithnonumbers 10th Mar 12
I think the main moral is that "esponsibility is far more important than personal glory. Mr Incredible resented the responsibility of having a family and living 9 to 5. He misses the buzz and dreams of being a hero again. Syndrome kind of wants the same thing; not content with being a normal person, who demands the glory of being a hero. Both want something they shouldn't have.

The key difference isn't that Bob is a superhero, and Syndrome isn't. The key difference is that Bob is a good person who still feels a duty to others. Ultimately, a sense of responsibility to win out against glory. Syndrome however is willing to disregard the lives of others, and is utterly self serving. He isn't interested in helping anyone, he just wants the praise and the sense of self-importance.
comment #13159 maninahat 10th Mar 12
So the moral is "with great power comes great responsibility?"

(Sorry, had to say it.)
comment #13163 JackAlsworth 10th Mar 12
Even as a kid, when I first saw the movie, I thought the moral was "Some people are just better than others", and I had a lot of experience firsthand with that kind of moral so it made the most sense to me to this day. To that end, at worst Syndrome comes off as a Strawman Has A Point character for me.
comment #13164 VeryMelon 10th Mar 12
Me, I took away from it as a child also that "Some people are just better than others at certain things. You're one of these people. Find what you're good at." So not a broken aesop for me at least.
comment #19778 GallowsNoose 9th Jun 13
I never got the "some people are just better than others" vibe from this movie. I guess I can sort of see how that might come through, but ultimately Syndrome was as good as or better than the heroes, but his power was his inventiveness and intelligence. I always found much more meaning in Mr. Incredible's rather arrogant "go home, Buddy." To me, a big part of the movie dealt with how one shouldn't turn away help when it is offered; just like Incredible turned away Buddy, and it caused problems for him down the line, society turned away the supers, and it caused trouble for them down the line.

Granted, Buddy was rather inept at the beginning of the movie, but maybe if Mr. Incredible had given him the time of day he could have been a great ally. I mean, the kid built rocket boots. That's gotta count for something. That's gotta be a sure sign of potential.
comment #19795 JobanGrayskull 10th Jun 13
Gallows Noose pretty much summed up my thoughts on it. There definitely is an undercurrent of "Some people are just better at others than certain things", but thing is... that's true. Some people are better than others in terms of skill, and pretending that everyone can aspire to the same things is doing children a disservice. It's far better that they learn to come to terms with the fact that no, they might not be the best at everything and that's okay, because they probably have other skills.
comment #19824 JapaneseTeeth 12th Jun 13
I think that it's inherent to the Superhero Genre. Everyman heroes are far and few between; I'm not denying they exist and even many superpowered ones come from humble/common origins empowered by luck but of the ones that come to theatres, they're mostly unrealistically awesome people who beat up people who work hard to get to their level.

I give this film credit for it that it makes Syndrome sort of sympathetic for it; I've always felt a little more for Luther and the guys who loose every time only to come back with new plans to beat their enemies. However this is a complex moral question to get accross to kids and so they show Syndrome as taking it too far and stepping into the wrong; Mr. Incredible clearly should have given him a chance [though it would be dangerous for someone so little] but just because someone dismisses you for being too weak/too young, you shouldn't dedicate that sort of time to proving them wrong like Syndrome does.

The message could have been handled better by showing a mundane person making it into the crew and helping out since they didn't go bitter like Syndrome and it's a thing that needs work but I feel like this is something that should be injected into a lot of Superhero films.
comment #19829 Fauxlosophe 12th Jun 13
It's not the "some people are just better than others" issue that's the problem, it's the "and you have to put up with that" part that seals the deal. In reality, all skills are much more a matter of dedication and effort rather than raw talent, and even inborn physiological deficiencies can be overcome with technology - which is exactly what Syndrome was doing with his gadgets. Engineering is after all a learned skill rather than a genetic gift.

In real life, you don't tell people with eye-glasses that they'd never be as good as "true seers"; and in a superhero story, you don't tell people born without superpowers that they'll always be mediocre... Spider-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America might take offence to that.
comment #20326 indiana404 28th Jul 13
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