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Tag: opinion

Moms, aunties, and fangirls: female representation in Incredibles 2

Contributed by
Jun 18, 2018

The first Incredibles movie centered on family man Bob Parr, who struggled to leave his past as a superhero behind him. In Incredibles 2, it's wife/mother/Super Helen Parr who is called into action and the spotlight. And she's not alone.

Incredibles 2 explores new angles on established female characters and sets up new ones like a body-building broad, a brilliant engineer, a feisty fangirl, and more. So let's dive into the female representation in Incredibles 2, for better and for worse. 

Spoilers for Incredibles 2 below.

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Helen Parr, working mom

"You know it's crazy, right? To help my family, I gotta leave it; to fix the law, I gotta break it."

In the first Incredibles, Helen (Holly Hunter) was a stay-at-home mom dedicated full-time to the raising her three children: shy Violet, brash Dash, and gurgling Jack-Jack. In Incredibles 2, Helen goes to work. As Elastigirl, she's not only saving the day but also advocating for a future where her Super children won't have to hide their identities for fear of the world's ignorance. While she loves the rush of being a hero, Helen battles guilt over not being home with her kids, and she fears what might happen if she's not there to protect and guide them. It's a plight to which working moms around the world can relate. Sometimes it feels like you need to have superpowers to stretch and achieve a work/life balance. But with her partner Bob by her side, they can be the heroes the world — and their kids — demand.

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Violet Parr, awkward and angsty teen

"Boys are jerks and superheroes suck."

Oh, the pains of being a teen girl. Awkward and insecure, you just wish sometimes you could be invisible. Lucky for Violet (Sarah Vowell), she can! But by the end of Incredibles, this Super girl found her confidence and was ready to be seen — especially by cute classmate Tony Rydinger. But once her crush has his mind wiped, Violet and their date are totally forgotten. Her heartbreak at being stood up, her seeking comfort in a generous portion of ice cream, her clothes-flinging tantrums and searing embarrassment is all too familiar to too many of us. But despite renouncing her family of Supers, Violet is there when they need her to help save the day. And in the end, she regroups and re-introduces herself to Tony, getting that date of which she's long been dreaming. Go get your happy ending, girl.

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Voyd, fangrrl

"I felt like an outcast before. But now with you being you? Yay me!"

Voyd (Sophia Bush) is a young Super who's been in the closet because of the ban. She felt alone and lost. But Elastigirl returning to the public stage with pride and power inspired Voyd to live her truth. Sure, she spends much of the movie a brain-washed minion to the evil Screenslaver. But not long after fangirling over her favorite Super, Voyd aids Elastigirl by portalling her up to Screenslaver's getaway jet. Later, when Elastigirl is plummeting hundreds of feet toward the ocean, Voyd mutters desperately for her to "make the chute" and save herself. But rather than watch helplessly, Voyd becomes a hero in her own right by creating a portal that pitches Elastigirl and the Screenslaver to safety. And in the end, Voyd passes the love and encouragement on, praising young Violet on her super moves.

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Brick, bodybuilder

"I'm from Wisconsin."

Another newly out Super, Brick is not a woman of many words, but she is a brick house — mighty, mighty, and letting it all hang out. And by "all," I mean those cannons she calls arms!

Elastigirl is thicc, Voyd is slender, Brick is broad-shouldered, busty, and muscular, with a jaw almost as strong has her right hook. She doesn't get a ton of attention in Incredibles 2, but she makes a big impression, proving that heroes come in all shapes and sizes.

Honey Best, the greatest good you are ever gonna' get

"What do you mean ASAP? You better be back ASAP!"

In Incredibles, she was an off-screen scene-stealer. But we know little about Honey (Kimberly Adair Clark) other than that she's Frozone's wife, and she hates when he slips into his super suit to daring do when they have plans (for two months!). Her return was teased in an Incredibles 2 trailer. Sadly, Honey is still off-screen, existing only as a callback joke. Though fans tend to assume Honey is a sassy black woman, without her appearing we don't know for sure.  Director Brad Bird missed out on a chance to confirm Honey's identity for fans and involve even greater inclusion in his cartoon cast, which currently has no black women in key roles. Frustratingly, Bird has revealed Pixar did design a character model for Honey, but he decided she's "funnier as a voice."

For a movie with so many strengths, this reasoning is pretty weak sauce.

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Edna Mode, auntie

"He is bright and I am stimulating. We enjoy each other."

Edna Mode (Brad Bird) is a world-renowned fashion icon and genius engineer who has designed custom suits for the most powerful Supers. She's also an excellent auntie. In Incredibles 2, Edna is asked to babysit the fiery, disappearing, devilish, laser-shooting Jack-Jack. Though initially reluctant, she agrees when she sees a little of herself in him, literally. The kid shape-shifts to mimic her button nose and signature haircut.

By the time Bob comes to pick his baby boy up, Edna and Jack-Jack have bonded deeply, becoming a mutual appreciation society of two. They have their own version of playing, which involves Mozart, a flame-retardant test room, and blackberry-lavender extinguishing foam. He mimics her walk and holds his lollipop like she does her cigarette holder. She gives him access to her stringent security system, and both relish every moment together. But loving Jack-Jack doesn't mean Edna wants to be a mom. Incredibles 2 respects her identity as a child-free auntie, who loves her nephew yet does not desire a bundle of joy and trouble of her own.

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Evelyn Deavor, engineer/ Screenslaver, supervillain

"Superheroes keep us weak."

This brilliant mind is the brains behind her brother Winston's telecommunications company Devtech, but Evelyn (Catherine Keener) resents his "childish" attitude about Supers and screens. She exploits both to make the public wary of them with her malevolent master plan. As Screenslaver, she uses screens to spark a runaway monorail, attempt to assassinate a pro-Supers ambassador, and frame a "surly" pizza boy for her crimes. By slapping some special brain-controlling specs on a slew of Supers, she strives to turn the public opinion against them for good. Her goal is to shock people out of their reliance on superheroes and their complacency in staring at screens, but her method is one of deception, slavery, and violence. 

Still, you got to admire Evelyn for two things. First off, her style, which is full of black-and-white patterns and gives off a casual yet chic business casual vibe that made her seem the perfect go-to for a girls night out for chardonnay and spilling the tea. (Who could blame Helen for falling for Evelyn's cool allure and smirking, whiskey-rich voice? And am I alone in shipping them?)  Secondly, to paraphrase Helen from the original Incredibles, "Leave the terrorizing the world up to the men? I don't think so. I don't think so."

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