The long awaited Incredibles 2

Public opinion changing is not the source of conflict. The attempt to change public opinion is the source of conflict.

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You appear to be thinking of that conversation differently than I am. In that, I am viewing the conversation as the conflict. Thus, I’m claiming that at least 3 (and now all 4) domains could be viewed as the source of conflict therein.

You could say that it’s the law that leads to this conversation (Universe). You could say that it was the actions of the supers that lead to this conversation (Physics). You could say that how the various characters in the conversation think leads to this conversation (Psychology). You could say that the difference in values between the supers and the cops lead to this conversation (Mind).

My point is any domain could be seen as the source of conflict for this conversation, which I view as part of the first driver. Now, for the context of this scene: The very first thing in this scene is a press release where they are bashing the supers. The final line in this scene is “You wanna get outta the hole, first you gotta put down the shovel.”

Thus, how is the real conflict framed for this scene? There’s a reason that Jim renamed his service to Subtext. The characters are focusing on and talking about the damage, and the (failed) activities of the supers. But, this is a character point of view. So, I ask, then, what is the point of this scene?

Thus, the source of the problems as portrayed and framed by this movie, and your own argument here, is the attempt to complete Step 1, is it not? I like @Lakis’s answer to this.

My questions have begun to stack up:

1.) Where does this story actually start? What is the first driver for the movie?
2.) In pure Dramatica terms, what story is actually portrayed based on that first driver:

  1. Corrections to the external world would lead to fixing the internal issues?
  2. Corrections to the internal world would lead to fixing the external issues?
  3. Corrections to the external world would lead to fixing the external issues?
  4. Corrections to the internal world would lead to fixing the internal issues?

3.) What do you mean when you say “source”? (All of these arguments seem to boil down to the question of what Dramatica means, and what each of us means, by “source”.)

You’ll note that this entire post was, in effect, asking questions about Dramatica through Incredibles 2, as you previously described.

@Greg, I’m worried that you’ve taken one particular tool in the Dramatica arsenal (looking at source/process -> visible conflict, analogous to fire -> smoke), which is definitely helpful at times, and have started to apply it a little too rigidly.

Now, I agree that’s one of the most fundamentally important things in Dramatica, understanding that it’s all about the sources of conflict, often the subtext, not necessarily what you see happening on screen.

However, I also believe that Dramatica is incredibly flexible which is why it works with such a wide range of stories, and why it can be such a great tool for writing (since your ideas aren’t limited by arbitrary rules either).

For example, here:

I think you’re being too rigid on what is the source and what is the conflict. Sometimes, we just don’t know. And I wouldn’t be so rigid about what leads directly to what either – as long as it seems like something about Trust is causing problems and/or driving people, I’d consider it a candidate. I would look at this part of the story and say “Trust seems to be involved here, possibly as the source of conflict” and pencil in Trust, so that if I find a bunch more examples where Trust might be the source, I can be pretty sure it’s not a coincidence.

Not that I’m saying the OS Problem is for sure Trust, just using this as an example to encourage a more flexible approach.

If this paragraph is the entire story, I agree it sounds like Physics is the source of conflict (hoping to change people’s opinions by taking a picture of something real does not sound like it’s intended to be a problematic way of thinking). But you could easily insert that into a larger story, maybe a plot to manipulate people into destroying all wolves… suddenly it’s not so clear.


Another way to look at it, they begin attempting to change public opinion on both sides (Winston/Helen on one side, Evelyn on the other), then conflict with Screenslaver, then public opinion starting to change but a strange sense that it’s too easy, then manipulation of a whole bunch of supers (not just the mind control, but convincing them to come to the boat in the first place), then signing the law turning out to be a way to manipulate the world leaders onto the boat, then foiling Evelyn’s plot and the good guys being happy about it.

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Gotcha. No, I see it as conflict, too. What confused me was when you pointed specifically to the difference in thinking between Bob and government.

If that conversation is conflict, the processes within the conversation seem irrelevant.

Except that if the supers hadn’t done anything, there wouldn’t have been a conversation. [quote=“Hunter, post:141, topic:1857”]
You could say that how the various characters in the conversation think leads to this conversation (Psychology). You could say that the difference in values between the supers and the cops lead to this conversation (Mind)


But do these things lead to conflict? If so, how? As Mike Lucas will tell you, every scene should have as aspect of Universe, Physics, Psychology, and Mind, but only one of those is actually the source of the conflict. Just because you can spot other processes in a scene does not mean they are creating conflict.

It’s framed when the officer says “did you catch him? Did you prevent any damage?” Those are physics. “Putting down the shovel” can mean “stop breaking things” as much as it means “stop behaving destructively”.

No, it is not. The source of conflict is pulling off the entire plan. Step one only gets them to step two and is totally in service of step 2, which is change the law.

I mean the process creates, leads to, or otherwise causes conflict. I do not mean that a process is present. For instance, trusting Evelyn might make it easier for Evelyn to do what she does, but trust does not cause her to do what she does. She would have been Screenslaver whether Helen trusted her or not.

I’m wondering if maybe the crux of this whole thing is whether one sees the overall story as:

a) Winston, a fairly smart guy, making an honest attempt to change the law, and following a bunch of steps to do so. While his sister doggedly tries to undermine him, but is not pulling his strings in any way. For example, whether Evelyn was a badguy or not, Winston would’ve brought the world leaders / dignitaries to the boat. In this view, Evelyn is just reacting to everything her brother does.

b) Winston is basically a patsy, and Evelyn is pulling all the strings. Maybe not from the very beginning (that’s backstory), but once Screenslaver was in the picture. The ideas for how to have summit, having it on the boat with world leaders, inviting supers that she knows she can control, etc. are all hers.

I definitely got the sense that it was b), but I cannot point to any particular thing in the movie that proves this.

Also there is a possible c):

c) Both Winston and Evelyn are each acting on their own, no one is pulling the strings but neither is either reactionary. That is, Winston is in a Physics story and Evelyn is in a Psychology story, so we either have two stories put together in a very strange way, or we have a broken story at the OS Domain level (which @LunarDynasty already suggested I think).

I’m not sure which it is. I watched b) and enjoyed it, but I can be a forgiving viewer especially when my kids are enjoying it alongside me!

EDIT: something really weird and kinda neat here. If you assume a) is a Physics story, and I think we all agree MC would be Situation, then you have a Stop story – the Consequences are already in place, which totally fits a). That is, the bad law that needs to be changed is already in place causing whichever Psychology Type of Consequences. e.g. for Being: existing in a world that doesn’t allow you to be yourself.

And if you assume b) is a Psychology story, with MC Situation you have a Start story. And this totally fits b) – the story is about Evelyn’s plot and foiling it, so the Consequences (e.g. people Doing without supers as in her speech) only come into place if Evelyn wins.

Weird, I thought Stop/Start might help distinguish a) and b), but both appear to work

How does that give us any frame for the scene? This is quite clearly what the characters themselves are focused on. In other words, from a point of view within the story, sure, but we’re supposed to look from outside. (There is no need to answer or respond to this part, as it would just be another re-hash of exactly the same arguments we’ve had throughout the thread.)

This wording allows a view of either Psychology or Physics, and see below to understand my contention over the part of the story that doesn’t deal with the family.

If you haven’t noticed my flip-flopping in my posts thus far… My true contention is that there is one story with an OS of Psychology, and another with an OS of Physics, neither of which is full, but both of which hit all four Types for their respective Class, especially since:

Of course, the way the writers had set things up, I would have loved to be able to place the OS in Universe, but I could never find a Consequence that fit the Mind types… I also couldn’t convince myself that the marriage is strained by Mind.

I really would have liked to have done this, though, for a variety of reasons, but the two big ones: (1) It would have provided a good reason for the flip-flop feel of Bob’s dual nature of a Do-er–Be-er. (2) I feel like the movie sets up the following archetypes.

  • Elastigirl as the Protagonist.
  • Screenslaver as the Antagonist.
  • Winston as a Sidekick
  • Helen (a separate character in the same player) as a Skeptic

And, to me, these four characters (three players) drive the plot, whatever it may be. Only Psychology and Universe allow these four archetypes to be the driving characters. It is because of these archetypes and the fact I couldn’t make Mind work that, if I had a gun to my head and had to choose an OS Domain, I would choose Psychology.

As I said, though, my contention is that there is an OS in Physics and an OS in Psychology. In addition, I contend that both have the Types in their respective Classes fully explored, but neither make an argument. To me, there are two statements made:

  1. Fight for fair and just laws in however is necessary. (Physics, seen as Psychology)
  2. Get off the stinkin’ screens once in a while, dopes. (Psychology, seen as Physics)

My wording indicates the way the messages actually came through to me.

Finally, a couple of direct responses.

@Greg, I’m of the same mind as @mlucas with the rigidity of “source” here… That’s why I asked the questions I did, which, by the way, you responded to everything in that post, except for the two questions in which I was most interested to get an answer. (Questions 1 and 2)

@mlucas, I watched it enough times over the last week, that I can tell you both (a) and (b) are very visibly available for selection, and I tried hard to find proof of © or some option of (d), (e), or (f), as you can see in this post. I’ve come to the conclusion that both (a) and (b) are filled in as tales in this movie down to the RS Domain, which gives the movie a dual nature, and thus, an unsettling feel.

That is, I am thoroughly convinced that the story/stories that involve Winston and Evelyn are added in to give the movie the superhero feel the Incredibles is known for and do not make a complete argument. I have decided that this movie, first and foremost, displays the story of a dad trying to help his kids while the mom does the day job. (I posted an analysis somewhere in this thread for that story already.)

In other words, they tried to fit too much into the movie by trying to cover a number of (semi-)modern issues.

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I’m really just asking the one thing Jimmalways asks, which is ‘how is this a problem?’ Just asking in a slightly different way. And as far as I can tell, that’s the one requirement for determining if it belongs in the storyform, that it’s a problem. So I don’t think I’m being too rigid at all. Any other time someone isn’t rigid with it, Jim comes in and says it’s weomg because their not answering how it’s a problem. But the conversation isn’tgoimh to move forward with me in it, so this will be my last post in this thread.

As far all the times you guys say something like ‘look how often they discuss manners of thinking’ in more or less those words, look at Coco. No one on that movie can talk about anything other than how much Miguel’s family hates music. If the storyform came from what they talk about, hating music would be a Mind problem. But the OS is Physics, MC Universe. The only one in mind I’m Hector and his presence there has nothing to do with loving or hating music.

Also, Subtext is about what’s not being said, so it’s kind of a strange argument to point out times they discuss manners of thinking and then to also claim that the Subtext is manners of thinking.

That is all. Sorry for any ruffling of feathers.

I’ve only watched it once and you’ve clearly seen it more times than that, so I feel like I should probably defer to your impressions – but I still have a hard time seeing this as such a broken story. Not saying it’s perfect, but my impression from this thread is that upon first viewing, people really enjoyed the movie (as did 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and it’s only with subsequent analysis that people started questioning themselves. This suggests to me that it’s more likely that the storyform is unusual than that story is completely broken.

I was pretty convinced initially that the OS was in Psychology. I felt good about Being, though Jay’s suggestion that it could be Conceiving sounded possible; but when @mlucas suggested Trust/Test as Problem/Solution, the whole thing seemed to click. The fact that we were able to find pretty good illustrations for Bob as MC and the RS (Accurate/Non-accurate) convince me we were on the right track, especially when you consider the family as a unit as the RS. In other words, I think there’s a good case for the whole thing in one storyform. I don’t remember anything extraneous, though there are a lot of storytelling action scenes (as would be expected).

Apologies if you’ve already said this upthread, but what are your objections to the storyform I posted? Specifically, what is it about the Winston plot that puts it in Physics (if that’s what you’re saying?) (I apologize – I dind’t really understand your internal/external world questions).

Regarding the “source of conflict” question:

So one view of “source” is something that occurs before and causes something else. I think this often (usually?) works. But another meaning of “source” could be the “root” of something, or the answer to the question “what’s really going on here?” This is harder though, as it seems to leave more room for disagreement.

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No feathers ruffled here. I appreciate the opportunity to debate/discuss all of this with you and to be forced to formulate, articulate and defend my position. I’ve learned more about Dramatica from our attempts at analysis than from anything else, even when we eventually have to agree to disagree.

No! Come back!

Honestly, I don’t care that much about this movie’s storyform. I was participating more to help myself and others understand Dramatica better. And I found it strange you had trouble seeing “attempting to change how people think about supers” as a decent possibility, at least, for the source of all the OS conflict.

I was really interested in what you thought of the a/b/c scenarios I mentioned.

  • “causes” is definitely a good way to think of “source” – something that causes the conflict
  • I would be careful with “occurs before.” It probably works most of the time, but sometimes people’s minds can make something a thing before it actually occurs. For example, maybe your wife isn’t attracted to her co-worker, but you start to think she is, and your jealousy pushes her away and she does end up attracted to that co-worker (or to someone else), and now that real attraction causes you further pain. Desire was still the cause of problems from the beginning, even though the actual attraction comes later.
    Another way to look at this, fear of Desire can still be a Problem of Desire, as can hating Desire, loving Desire, having no Desire, anything to do with Desire. In stories, sometimes it’s hard to see the weird instances that “occur before” the big obvious ones, so if you always apply that logic you might miss something.

Yes, absolutely. Beyond that though, the thing I was having trouble articulating is that when we say “cause” someone might think that it’s synonymous with “leads to” e.g. x then y.

But isn’t it also possible that the “source” of conflict and the conflict could appear simultaneously? So maybe nothing specific happened that made jealous, but as my wife and I are fighting about where to go for dinner, the audience can see that the underlying cause is a problem of jealousy (e.g. desire). In other words, the subtext of this scene is that the RS has problems with Desire.

I’m half-questioning the Start dynamic myself. Another solution to this is to flip the MC/IC and make Helen the MC. This has the additional benefit of allowing Evelyn to stand in as an additional IC who influences Helen (I don’t have any evidence of this, but it feels like it could be right).

If this is the impression that you’re getting, then I must be wording things horribly. It is most definitely not my intent to say ‘look at what they discuss’. What I have been saying is that the characters themselves view the law as justification for their actions.

As was I. I would make the case for Conceiving, though I can see Being as a possibility. (Though, that I can see Being as a possibility is, I think, a remnant of the family story having the upper-right concerns.)

For both @Greg and @Lakis:

The story that I most immediately pick up on is this: The PR for supers is down the toilet, and thus, it leads to the argument between what supers should or should not be doing. Trying to fix the PR is what leads to Winston calling the supers. It leads to Helen working to save trains, capture Screenslaver, or rescue ambassadors. It leads to Winston throwing parties and trying to get signatures. The attempted change in this PR, which is very much a manipulation, leads to Evelyn’s attempts at crashing the train, attacking the ambassador, and destroying the ship. In other words, manipulation leads to the problems in the movie.

Immediately, your response to this argument is always, but what is the source of the PR problems? In the story that I suspect most everyone is seeing, the law is not shown as a source of the PR problems. It is, instead, shown as character justification for their manipulations. In this story, you could remove the law, and you would still have the PR problems leading to similar activities.

However, you can, as you have done, just as easily flip it on it’s head and say that the law is the reason for the manipulations. That, if it weren’t for that law, then the machinations of Winston or Evelyn wouldn’t exist, and Helen wouldn’t be out their trying to prove that supers are able to save people and cities without damages. I think, though, that most people would say that sounds like one of the characters of the movie talking. (In other words, a subjective view.)

And honestly, it seems like a chicken-egg scenario:

  1. Is it the illegal activities that lead to the machinations? (Physics)
  2. Is it the machinations that lead to the illegal activities? (Psychology)

There are scenes throughout the movie that claim the answer is “Yes” for (1).
There are scenes throughout the movie that claim the answer is “Yes” for (2).

When you add in the family story (and I am convinced that the family story is complete), where the OS is in Physics, most would get this feel that the full movie RS would be in Physics. From this, the story most people are likely to pick up on is a Psychology story.

Well, thank you for reading my thoughts, dude!

For all those who do wish to continue an analysis:

There are shades of a relationship there. I briefly thought of trying this, but never did. Another thing that might be possible is that Elastigirl is an Influence Character, while Helen is a Main Character, (one player, two characters), which I haven’t tried, yet.

I think, though, that if I weren’t trying to make a case for one way or the other, than all I would remember from this movie is that the message comes out to saying something like “Be yourself, and let others deal with their own problems,” which is not a Narrative First style argument, but a plain old blurb.

As much as I’ve expressed interest in analyzing incomplete stories in the past (even starting a lounge topic on it), it has been limited to cases where what’s missing is fairly obvious, like, “Oh they never defined the MC,” or “Oh it’s clearly lacking the entire RS.” Top level evaluations.

But when you try to deep-dive a full storyform on a broken story, you end up going in circles, because anything could mean anything – there isn’t a complete argument that locks it all in place. And eventually it becomes a debate about Dramatica itself. Every time. Much the way you’d debate the usefulness of algebra because the teacher messed up question #5 and it has a flawed equation. “Why isn’t it working?!” Because the example is broken.

I think that, per @Hunter’s suggestion, there might be a full storyform with just the Parr family. But it seems obvious to me, just from this thread, that whatever story Winston/Evelyn/Screenslaver belong to is incomplete.


This, combined with @mlucas’s interesting start/stop observation, makes me think this whole thing is a bit of a paradox. It probably is both. It could be a Conceiving story with the Test/Trust solution, or a Physics story with a Being concern. Or something else altogether.

While it’s not quite as hollow and narratively pointless as something like Mother! (by which I mean a feature-length Rorschach test upon which you can impose any meaning whatsoever and have it be correct), the authors clearly muddled whatever argument they had to such a huge degree that we can’t even identify what the overall story is on a storytelling level, let alone the structural. On that note, this is an interesting quote from Brad Bird that may explain things:

“I had a bunch of ideas that I wanted to put in The Incredibles,” says Bird to Coming Soon, “but they just didn’t fit. Certain ideas fit, but other things make you go, ‘This is great, but I’d have to give up two other things that matter more to me to get this other thing in.’ So there were a pile of ideas left over from The Incredibles, but it’s not a big thing. There were little scenes and things that I was interested in. I wanted to come up with sort of an over-arching idea that connected to the first film that went somewhere different. That’s the one that took a little more time.”

Obviously, we don’t know which ‘unused’ parts were used here or how they fit into the film, but I imagine Bird somewhat confused his intent by trying to fit these things in to a story that didn’t really need them.


It seems, now, that the remainder of us still working this thread have come to the conclusion that there is a broken, dual story form. Is this observation of agreement correct?

Either way, I kinda now would like to hear any of the experts’ takes on the Incredibles 2… Should we ping someone?


Incredibles 2 was a rush job – the result of which can be seen in the discussion above.


I will speak now. I’m glad some of us have reached this conclusion. It was inevitable. I’d sensed this fact long before the credits rolled. Somehow during the production the writers must’ve gotten lost or something. The film just felt off.

Now, I’m not bashing all the hard work that went into it; for that, they have my highest respects. It’s just that the film could have been so much more. And just thinking of the dent in the legacy of the series pains me deeply.

So there. Purged my mind.

I’m kind of surprised you didn’t speak up earlier, especially when everyone started to remark that it was likely there were two broken story forms. It might have been nice to see this view argued more directly, instead of sidled upon. (I blame myself for some of that.)

I had that same feeling, but I had initially attributed it to the ret-conning of important plot points from the first movie. Upon reviewing this movie alone, I would say that I got the sense that the action portion of the movie didn’t feel complete, say, like Star Wars or How to Train Your Dragon. I did, however, feel satisfied, unlike I do when reading a simple fairy tale. Perhaps that’s because they managed to get both an OS and RS, even if set up so the domains could be flipped around?

I’m still rather convinced there is a full, or at least much more fleshed out, story form with regard to the family that spilled over into the larger story… But, perhaps that should be a different topic.

Me too. Honestly I’m a little surprised that the consensus is that it’s completely broken. It didn’t feel that way to me, and I felt pretty good about the storyform @mlucas and I were circling around. But I concede this might be my blind spot. It would be great to get a better idea of what exactly was missing and what would have completed it.

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