Spoiler warning for Incredibles 2. If you haven't seen it yet, read on at your own risk (and don't say we didn't warn you)!
Elastigirl peels out of her garage as the waterfall parts to make way. She’s back on patrol for the first time in 15 years. She doesn’t know it yet, but she is about to save the lives of hundreds by stopping a runaway train throttling down the rails in reverse. Through a series of acrobatic, fantastic, body-contorting feats of strength, flexibility, and endurance, Elastigirl follows the train as it winds through the city. She jumps, slingshots, parachutes, and somersaults over traffic and around obstacles with the aid of her Elasticycle, specially designed to split and move with her plasticity.
Suddenly, a call comes through on her earpiece. Her son, Dash, asks where he can find his high tops. She explains that she’s busy, and in the background of the call you can hear her husband shouting to his son not to call his mother.
After getting off the phone, she continues to pursue the train, ultimately bringing it to a stop by boarding the train and throwing the failsafe with a very stretched-out, contorted arm.
The chase scene is truly enthralling, and different from so much of what we see in superhero movies. Elastigirl manages to chase down a speeding train with zero casualties and minimal property damage. Compare that to any chase scene in a MCU or DCEU film and it’s downright shocking.
This moment also captures the way Elastigirl balances her work and family perfectly. She takes the call from her son, because her child is important to her, but once it’s clear no one is injured, she gets back to business. She’s a working mom—and an utter badass.
Whereas The Incredibles focused on Bob Parr (aka Mr. Incredible)’s mid-life crisis and covert return to superhero work, Incredibles 2 brings the real hero of both films to the forefront. Helen Parr (aka Elastigirl) assumes center stage and allows her husband to take over care of the children and the home. (Spoiler: He’s not very good at it.)
Incredibles 2 begins right where the original left off. Our super family battles the Underminer to protect the city of Municiberg. Elastigirl, Mr. Incredible, and their buddy Frozone, the ice-manipulating superhero and friend of the Parrs, cause major destruction battling the unremarkable villain.
After the Incredible family botches the job magnificently, they are left homeless and without work. Their longtime handler has been let go, and the government agency that has been supporting them while they’ve been living as civilians has shut down operation. The heroic Supers are going to be forced back underground—and this time, there won’t be anyone to help them if their cover is blown.
As they sit down to takeout dinner at the table in their hotel room, the family debates whether they should continue to use their powers. Bob argues that the children have powers, that they themselves have powers, and that no matter what the law says, they have a responsibility to use them. Helen disagrees. She thinks that Supers need to obey the law, but there’s a hesitation in her argument. Some part of her still wants to be Super.
Luckily, Frozone arrives with an enticing offer from an entrepreneur who wants to put the Supers back in business, and back on the right side of the law. He doesn’t want Mr. Incredible to lead the charge with his high-impact way of fixing things, though, much to Mr. Incredible’s chagrin. Rather, the market research indicates that Elastigirl should be the hero in charge.
It’s a lovely flipping of the script from the original film, and Elastigirl stands out as a rare example of an alternative type of superhero: someone careful, interdependent, and flexible.
Even under pressure, Elastigirl makes her decisions meticulously. When she helps the ambassador and her entourage escape from a helicopter that is about to crash, she takes the time to make sure that everyone onboard can swim. Good thing she does, because it turns out the ambassador can’t. She drops the swimmers into the river and then flings herself and the ambassador into the air, stretching herself into a parachute for a gentle landing.
Later, when Elastigirl must rely on the overzealous Voyd, she doesn’t hesitate. Elastigirl falls from a crashing plane in pursuit of the villain. As they descend, tumbling together, the villain manages to get free of Elastigirl multiple times. Voyd watches, creating more time for them by opening portals to higher elevations. Elastigirl and the villain get dangerously close to slamming into the water. Even Voyd doubts her ability to help save the two, but Elastigirl has faith, which is rewarded when Voyd pulls off opening a last-minute portal that gets Elastigirl and the villain to safety.
Sure, flexibility is kind of Elastigirl’s whole thing, but her gift for adaptation isn’t just limited to her superpowers. She’s also willing to change her mind. At first, Elastigirl is against the kids using their powers, but when Violet, Dash, and even Jack-Jack save their parents, she simply tells them she is proud.
The whole film is brimming with social commentary. There are allegories for queerness (Hello, Voyd, you self-loving fangirl), immigration (Frozone refers to himself as “illegal”), and female empowerment (mama’s got a brand-new bag). Overall, Incredibles 2 is a great hero film filled with interesting female characters, and the greatest hero just so happens to be a kickass mom.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.