Today is my birthday, and birthdays have become rather boring after going through the alienating trauma that is high school. Yeah, I should have gotten over it before turning 21 thanks to college, but that never happened.
So instead of going out and getting shit-faced drunk with what few friends I still have, I popped in my copy of The Incredibles and curled up with my dog to watch it on the family Christmas present, also known as the 52-inch HDTV and Blu-ray player.
And then I realized something. The Incredibles is very similar to Watchmen. Knowing I wasn’t the only person in the world to come to this conclusion, I searched for any articles that may relate to this only to find just one on Filmstalker that doesn’t really go into any depth at all. Everything else I found were isolated comparisons that pretty much died when people agreed upon the fact that Brad Bird, writer and director of The Incredibles, was just playing up to the superhero and comic book genre that made the film so great to so many Spill members. This includes but not limited to things like referencing other comic titles like Fantastic Four, Flash, and in some respect Green Lantern.
So let’s just dive in to this compare-and-contrast between these two films, shall we? I mean, I got nothing better to do on my birthday.
Major Plot Points
In both The Incredibles and Watchmen, superheroes were outlawed by the government for one reason or another. You have collateral damages, personal health, and even a right to privacy being the main fuel for the fire in The Incredibles, while Watchmen’s reasoning was because the mask vigilantes were starting to become a threat to society more than a blessing. While it is not written out, both of these government orders result in the same thing: our main cast of characters going into hiding. And interestingly enough, because of this order, members of our main casts from both stories long for the days before the government said No More Masks. And from that very fork in the road, we have two different paths that the characters take in order to justify putting the masks back on again and doing what they do so well, albeit one is more complicated than the other.
Syndrome? Meet Adrian Veidt.
To preface this section, I’ll be talking about Veidt in the comic and not the movie changes.
It’s rather eerie how similar these two characters are. They both have similar motives in that they want to bring about a new world order through selfish means. And neither one is afraid to take as many lives as they need to in order to get to their end goal. Surprisingly, both come up with generally the same plan: fake an alien invasion. Syndrome does it with the Omnidroid, while Veidt takes a more biological approach. Once introduced, both their goals are essentially achieved. Veidt gets his utopia of world peace, and Syndrome reintroduces a need for supers in society. But even after achieving their goals, they are still retained as the bad guys of the story, though Veidt’s position is a matter of perspective rather than there being a clear line drawn in the sand as with Syndrome.
Brought up several times in what I was researching, this is often the first thing people bring up to compare The Incredibles with Watchmen. Second only to the plot similarities.
I’m sure everyone knows the scene I’m talking about.
Though the deaths and accidents Edna lists off are rather comedic, Hollis describes in the chapters from the Under the Hood biography a very similar cape-related death involving Dollar Bill’s cape getting caught in a revolving door of a bank. That being said, it’s a wonder how Night Owl II and Ozymandis were able to get by.
And so on…
At this point in the game, the similarities seem to end between the two stories. Family and a second generation of heroes is presented in both, but we’ve seen this trope before in several different genres before both these stories were ever written. But given what I researched and discovered on my own in just these past several hours, I can’t help but wonder if there are other similarities between The Incredibles and other titles that may not be so obvious.