In case you missed it, Incredibles 2 is coming this June! (Finally!) With that out of the way, I wanted to dig into the “sneak peek” that aired during the Winter Olympics on Wednesday, a trailer that reveals what may be a significant plot point of the upcoming film. Have a look:
The trailer picks up where the first movie ended: with the Underminer drilling his way up, and the Incredibles gearing up to face him. Mr. Incredible leaps into action… and is immediately sucked into a pipe before he can make some clever statement. We aren’t shown the outcome of that fight. Instead, we get a brief reminder that superheroes are illegal in this world before Lucius (Frozone) shows up with a message that there’s a tycoon who wants to talk about “hero stuff.”
The surprise twist (in the trailer, anyway) is that the tycoon wants Elastigirl, not Mr. Incredible. We’re treated to a shot of Elastigirl hopping onto a shiny new motorcycle and zipping away, as Bob (in plain clothes) sees her off while holding Jack Jack. A few later scenes show Elastigirl zipping past a car full of cheering women, and an action shot of her landing on top of some moving vehicle. (I realize that it may be the Underminer’s machine, particularly since she’s shown wearing her old uniform instead of the new silver one, though it’s cut so that it looks like it’s related to a train speeding by.)
Meanwhile, Bob Parr has been called to a different sort of duty: taking care of the kids. We get a few scenes of him at home: falling asleep while reading to Jack Jack, getting frustrated with Dash’s “new math” homework, and finally his half-crazed diatribe to Lucius while Jack Jack demonstrates his unpredictable powers. (Where’s Violet in all this? Nearly invisible.)
So: Helen gets a full-time job, and Bob becomes a stay-at-home dad.
That’s what really stood out to me from the trailer, because I’m a stay-at-home dad myself, and I’m always particularly wary of how dads are portrayed in entertainment, particularly as primary caregivers. It has been over three decades since Mr. Mom, and yet that’s still the stereotype that many people use when referring to stay-at-home dads. You don’t have to look very far to see an example of a bumbling dad who can’t change a diaper or figure out how to do the laundry or get the kids fed. I’m anxious to see whether Incredibles 2 gives us a new example of a married couple making this arrangement work, or if we’ll just get a tired retread of old tropes.
I’m inclined to believe that if anyone can pull it off, Pixar can. I love the first film for the way that it portrays a married couple: in love but not without their problems, dealing with both the joys and struggles of having kids. I love that it challenges traditional assumptions about masculinity and strength. Heck, I love that it’s a Disney film in which both parents stay alive throughout the movie.
In the trailer, Bob says at one point: “I have to succeed, so she can succeed!” He looks a little frazzled at this point and he’s kind of ranting, but that’s an important thought. Bob realizes that his success isn’t just for his own glory and triumph: he’s a supporting character for Elastigirl’s superhero career. I’m a stay-at-home dad so that my wife can be the best family doctor she can be—so that she doesn’t have to stress out about whether the kids are getting fed or picked up from school and can focus on doing her job. Helen acknowledges this in a line in the trailer, too: “I couldn’t have done this if you hadn’t taken over so well.”
We’ll see how this all plays out in June. Will Bob bumble his way through his time at home with the kids and end up completely frazzled by the time Helen returns? Or will he find his groove and excel, figuring out how to manage Jack Jack and new math? I don’t fault the portrayal of Bob as stumbling over things at first—after all, it’s not a job he was expecting or preparing for—but if the movie shows that he’s simply unable to learn the tasks of childcare, I’ll be pretty upset.
The other question I have is: will we get to see Elastigirl succeeding as a superhero? It’s one thing for Bob to realize that it’s not all about him, but it’s another if the movie is, well, all about him. I hope that we do get to see Elastigirl in action, showing that she has what it takes to be an awesome superhero just as much as Bob is able to be an awesome dad.
“Done properly, parenting is a heroic act.” The trailer closes with Edna Mode giving Bob this piece of… advice? Encouragement? Caution? Whatever it is, I have high hopes that this is what we will get to see in Incredibles 2: another story of two parents figuring out together how to raise their kids in this crazy world.