The long awaited Incredibles 2

  • “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.

1 Like

True, I could have. But for some reason I kept putting it off. I think the story is overburdened thematically. They were trying to pass too many messages across. And a great deal of it felt predictable. I could tell that the puppet master was the rich guys sister. They tried too hard to sell him as the evil genius behind everything but I could just see it for what it was.
In all, it wasn’t a terrible movie. It just wasn’t as great as I’d hoped.

1 Like

This may not be right, but after all of the arguments and critical thinking, this is a summary of my conclusion:

I believe there is a Parr Family story with an OS in Physics and Bob as a Universe MC. I also believe that the family story is complete enough to arrange the Domains and Issues, though it may still be incomplete in some aspects. Thus, many of the arguments made, I think, were us picking up on the family story, instead of the nature of the movie overall. Finally, I no longer believe that there is a true Main Character in the realm outside the family story.

With these thoughts in mind, I think the tenuous nature of the RS/OS pair in the realm outside the family allows the family story to bleed heavily out into the rest of the movie. Thus, many of us would want to place the RS in Physics, since the family seems to be the relationship and the family story OS is in Physics. (In other words, we see the family story as the relationship, and since it is overall in Physics, we pick it up as a Physics relationship.) As a result, we see the movie realm OS as positioned in Psychology. Then, without a true MC in this realm, we latch on to the MC in the family story to fill in the personal view, in this case, Bob.

Mix in Brad Bird’s quote above, and I am willing to bet that the parts he wanted in the original movie were the parts that showed the efforts to change the law, while his subconscious was trying to make everything fit with the family story. This, in effect, would give us a tenuous story that could be seen in either direction. In other words, we get a story that isn’t without meaning, but also doesn’t truly examine all sides.

Sometimes I think I read Narrative First articles too much… (Whenever I read back on my explanations, I always feel like they look like Jim’s, even if they’re wrong.)

I never felt like they were trying to sell him as the mastermind, but to each their own. (Actually, I think this is the reason that I wavered so much on my view of the story.) Either way, I agree that it was a decent movie, but could have been better.


:astonished: I’d hate to see how long it would have taken for a sequel if they had taken their time!


Yet another intriguing video about the narrative issues of The Incredibles 2, this one dealing exclusively on the issues with the Screenslaver story. The creator suggests ways he would fix the story, which certainly sound better than what we got (if a bit cliche, imo).

An interesting watch, regardless:


Avatar comes to mind.

I’m not sure I fully agree with that reviewer’s choices, but I understand them. Actually, it sounds like he would have made Winston the Protagonist and Helen or Winston as a Steadfast MC, with Evelyn the IC, all rooted in Physics. (Or in other words, filled in the story that @Greg had been arguing for, just with different players.) Personally, I would rather have the half-baked Psychology story made complete, instead, but that would probably be much harder to do.

What I find most interesting from that, though, is even the reviewer picked up on a missing Change character. After all, he added one in, specifically. …Neat.


Actually I think it would have been pretty easy – just make it more clear that Winston was being manipulated by Evelyn the whole time, so that despite having good intentions, everything he was doing was serving her ends. That’s basically the movie I watched and enjoyed!

You might have to fix the First Driver too, so that a Goal of “stopping Evelyn’s plot” would make sense. Maybe one reason I could fill in the blanks (and blank out the flaws) of the OS Psychology story is that I missed the very beginning while making popcorn. I remember I was like “wait, was that the same fight that they ended the first movie in?” and my daughter was like “no dad! no way!” so I just shrugged and figured I had missed something important.

Sometimes missing part of a movie can be a good thing. There’s a lame action movie called The Island with Ewan MacGregor and Scarlet Johansson, 40% on Rotten Tomatoes, but if you turn it off halfway through it becomes a really cool sci-fi film that you unfortunately missed the ending of.

Maybe. I never caught whether Screenslaver was referenced in any form or fashion toward the beginning. But, I can see what you’re saying. And, the movie you described is what I had thought I was watching.

Probably time I go back to working on my novel, though…

Me too.

Regarding the “improved” version that @jhay posted, it occurred to me that the main thing the reviewer was objecting to was the way the element of Trust was used in the Evelyn/Winston part of the story (i.e. it was stupid and didn’t make sense), and that might be because Trust is part of Being, while the Evelyn story might work better as Conceiving – “Getting people to have a different idea about supers.” So while the Trust element actually ties in well with everything the Parrs are dealing with, it might be wrong for the other part of the movie. The solution might be (as you’ve said @Hunter) to flesh out two different storyforms.

Interestingly, if you choose Conceiving and an Issue of Expedience, that leaves you with an Element quad of Inaction/Production/Protection/Reduction – which seems kind of perfect for the reviewer’s “improved” version.


So the reason I was being so rigid is because I figure that a broken storyform is still objective, right? So it seems like we should still be able to figure out what is there so we can see what isn’t there. What I can see now, thanks to your steadfastness @mlucas, @Lakis, and @Hunter, is that without at least a more complete storyform, even if it is objective, a missing piece is all it takes to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint where the conflict comes from. Like with Incredibles 2, if you have what looks like Physics conflict in service of a Psychology throughline (or the other way around) an MC character without a clear change can really keep you from pinpointing a solid example for a storyform.

When I first saw the movie, I remember thinking that Vi telling Bob she wasn’t going to go anywhere was the solution to the OS and then I was waiting to see where Bob would change. I’ll concede that Vi making that statement could be a Psychology Solution-just as her not going anywhere could be a physics solution-but we really need Bob (or Helen) to change to prove that solution.

Now I know everyone’s thinking “that’s not a new revelation, Greg. It’s been pointed out many times before on this very forum that a broken storyform can keep you from locking anything in.” But i bring it up to let M, L, and H know what I was doing as well as to say that knowing something is very different from experiencing something. Trying to do something and seeing why it can’t be done is a very helpful experience. So thanks for your part in that, guys.

I also want to say that between this movie and Infinity War, I’m also get a much better feel for the difference between a movie that is really good (to me, I guess, some of you others don’t seem to’ve thought this one was that good) and a movie that says something. Again, it’s cool to know it, but much different to experience it.