[personal profile] wingedbeast
It seems official. The Incredibles Sequel is in the works for 2019. There's no reason why we shouldn't have a sequel. It's an entertaining movie about people fully embracing who they are (some for the first time some again) and the need to work with others and the need to value your family. These are good morals.

But, as you might be able to tell from a couple Scenes I'd Like to See*, there's a pervasive problem within the movie.

The Incredibles takes, as given, the moral superiority of those with super powers. They're not just special for being individuals with their own unique space-time and the unreplicable perspective and experience within, like everybody else. No, if everybody's special then nobody's special. The accomplishments that most people achieve, through hard work or study, are mediocrity. Someone born with a superpower that makes practice and exercise immaterial, such as that which others need to win a race, has the unique capacity for greatness.

To put it another way, The Incredibles despises participation trophies, but applauds to celebrate accidents of birth.

This isn't an intended moral of The Incredibles, but not setting to outright tell people that they shouldn't try to achieve greatness if they weren't born great is a very low bar to set. It's more of an underlying assumption throughout the movie. But, for all that, I'm not suggesting a remake.

Whether by intention or not, The Incredibles can be both its own movie and Act I. The first act has the job of establishing the setting and the basis for the conflict to come. The Incredibles has done just that.

We have a world where people have super powers, yes. We also have a family (and maybe a wider super-powered community and, potentially, entire portions of the government) with a view of greatness that accepts being born great, but refuses to accept achieving greatness or greatness being thrust upon someone. And, we have a shadowy government that routinely violates the 14th Amendment rights of Americans for the purpose of maintaining secret identities.

That means that we can make this sequel into, at the same time, it's own movie and it's own Act II, in which the conflict reveals itself.

With the time between movies, we have the opportunity to move each of the Par children (The Incredi-Kids, if you prefer) into a new stage of life.

Jak-Jak can go to grade school, coming close to Junior High, but without Dash's outlet. There's no sport in which Jak-Jak can use his power without anybody knowing. Neither can he use his power to subtlety get away with mischief. In hard numbers, he's the most powerful member of the team. But, when he acts in his secret identity, he's naturally bound from doing anything that would be out of the realm for any normal child.

This means that, for Jak-Jak to feel accomplished in school, he has to do something that Dash, at the end of the first movie, doesn't. In order to feel accomplished in school, Jak-Jak has to accomplish something.

Dash, himself, can make it into High School. This is where Dash can struggle with his academics... or rather not struggle. Remember, he's getting the message that striving for greatness is only stealing other people's greatness and that doing what is easiest for him is the legitimate way to be great. He'll take his homework and his studies as unimportant, except for studying how to show improvement in his track and field performance without letting anybody suspect that he has a super power.

This will be made easier by the fact that he is a natural star athlete. If he maintains consistent performance, he can't always just be in second place. Even if he did, that's an athlete that's going to represent the school, to pull in trophies, to bring pride and money back to the school. As a result, he's likely to be more forgiven, by the school, in both behavior and academics, than would be healthy.

And, Violet can go to college. It's got to be a close-by college. Don't write her out of the story and make sure that it's geographically reasonable for her to still be a part of the team.

There should be the obvious difficulty of meshing her super-hero life with her student life in college. It'll be somewhat leave, unnoticed, in dorm life. Nobody will stop her, but they might notice her. Also, when she's in control of her own schedule, there will be the time-management problems of the inherently unstable superhero schedule.

The less obvious, but more important difficulty will be what she learns in college. It's a different learning environment. Grade through High School tends to have a narrative in mind. It wants to create citizens with a positive view of America. College is a more active, more challenging learning environment. You go there and you might learn about the lies your teacher told you.

It's not necessarily that everything you know is wrong. But, everything you know is certainly more complicated than that... even when it comes to Super Hero Studies.

In the first Incredibles movie, Syndrome wasn't the main conflict. He set the scene for the main conflict, which was between the members' need to embrace themselves and their need to work together as a family. In this case, we can have a similar situation, with a different conflict.

Despite what some people seem to think, families aren't the means to make carbon-copies of your own religious or political views. People are going to differ in their thoughts, in their opinions, in their beliefs. They'll rub each other the wrong way. Dash's easy accomplishments will rub Jak-Jak the wrong way when Jak-Jak has the experience that tells him that the accomplishments that everybody accomplishes are, in fact, accomplishments worthy of celebration. Dash's dismissal of the academic will rub Violet raw, when she's developing a fuller awareness of the importance of nuance and comprehension in understanding things.

And, Dash, of course, will easily see this as people devaluing his own accomplishments as a member of the team. It's not the only means of praise-worthy accomplishment, but saving the day from the bad-guy is, indeed, worthy of praise. And, that's praise that he's not getting when his siblings tell him that he's doing this life thing wrong.

Through it all, through the family, there's the political and philosophical difference that grows. Is the participation trophy (for an example) celebrating mediocrity?

It's the easy thing to say that it is. But, participation trophies are usually used for children like first graders. In first grade, winning can't be the only thing because, among first graders, sometimes it's a matter of luck. If you've ever watched a first grade soccer game, nobody holds their position and everybody runs after the ball, regardless. You want to celebrate having the kids not only show up, but doing their part, their exercises, making their effort, listening to the coach, etc. Celebrating only which team had the good luck to get the ball into the right goal once isn't the way to teach them the habits that, later on, will be needed to win.

On the other hand, when are you devaluing actual achievement in the name of making everybody feel nice regardless of whether or not they're achieving anything at all?

Of course, there's the point that moving from the second to the third grade *is* an accomplishment.

The bad guy, because we do need one for a setting conflict to the family conflict, should be, like Syndrom, someone who opposes super heroes. Instead of selling people the power to be super, themselves, this bad guy will use the legitimate harm super heroes do to turn people against super heroes. A government and a super powered community and even a prevailing culture that uses super heroes as, at once, objects of veneration legitimization of power, while using that power to perform the aforementioned 14th Amendment rights violations, all make this... well... not entirely wrong.

It'll be easy for Dash to and Mr. Incredible and even Elastigirl to see this as wrong. But, for Violet's education and Jak-Jak's personal experience... there's a point, a reality to the bad guy's motivation.

For the self-contained movie element, the moral will be that, in addition to embracing what makes you special and what makes you one of your family, it's also important to embrace what makes you and each member of your family different from the family. Conformity isn't the goal. Just avoiding the topic isn't the goal. To disagree, openly, and still be family is the goal.

And, that's Act II, the rampup that readies the story for Act III.

* http://wingedbeast.dreamwidth.org/53513.html
http://wingedbeast.dreamwidth.org/56092.html
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