Beware, spoilers for THE INCREDIBLES and WATCHMEN below!

In 2004, a family-friendly Pixar film burst into theaters to capture the hearts of parents and children alike. I, too, was among the millions of children who fell in love with THE INCREDIBLES. Despite this, many years passed before I saw the film again. When I say many years, I mean that I did not see the film again until a mere few days ago; but when I did, something interesting occurred.

I recently wrote an article about the upcoming WATCHMEN series on HBO. So, upon watching THE INCREDIBLES again, I had WATCHMEN on the brain. With this, I could not help but notice an abundance of parallels between the Pixar film and the acclaimed, adult graphic novel.

At first, I thought maybe it was just me overthinking certain elements of THE INCREDIBLES, but then I checked out various message boards and discovered I was not alone in my observations. Perhaps some of you have heard of the theory that WATCHMEN inspires THE INCREDIBLES in many ways — whether you have or have not, take a moment to explore this bizarre perspective.

INCREDIBLES
A retired Mr. Incredible reflects on his past accomplishments.

In A World…

Let’s start off with some simple parallels. In the WATCHMEN universe, the 1977 Keene Act outlaws all superheroes. Most of them hang up their capes, but a select few engage in vigilantism (i.e. Rorschach). In the world of THE INCREDIBLES, superheroes are also banned. After a string of collateral damage and public opposition, various civilian relocation programs are implemented for these former heroes since the world seems to no longer want them. A select few though, specifically Mr. Incredible and Frozone, engage in vigilantism to get their fix.

Now, can a superhero exist without opposition? Of course not! How can one be a hero if they have nothing to combat?

READ: Want to read the latest on WATCHMEN? Click here!

Well, the central conflict of WATCHMEN is the mystery surrounding the murder of The Comedian by an unidentified person. After an assassination attempt on former vigilante Ozymandias’ life as well as accusations against Dr. Manhattan, correlating cancer diagnoses to his powers, Rorschach concludes that someone is trying to eliminate former costumed heroes.

Rorschach is then imprisoned, restricting his ability to investigate further. Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II free Rorschach for they now believe Rorschach’s suspicions despite initially denying them. Together, they reunite as a team to confront the enemy.

A very similar situation takes place in THE INCREDIBLES. Mr. Incredible begins covertly operating solo to continue his crime fighting duty while his family maintains an ordinary life. Just as Rorschach operated solo while his former teammates attempt to go on with their lives as if they were ordinary.

However, when Elastigirl grows suspicious of her husband’s secret activities, she goes to find him with her children. Along the way, they adopt new supersuits and renew their roles as superheroes.

INCREDIBLES
The evilest villain you will ever encounter…

WATCHMEN: A Story for Kids?

In doing so, they learn that a former admirer, aka Syndrome, has created a device that has been tested against multiple superheroes, many of whom are killed in the process. Syndrome’s ultimate plan is to perfect the device and manipulate it in public so he can be hailed as the hero.

Unsurprisingly, the villain of WATCHMEN holds a similar cause with Syndrome. Ozymandias devises an intricate plan revolving around a killer targeting former heroes to throw suspicion off of him while creating an “alien” entity that will destroy millions with the purpose of uniting all nations as to prevent impending nuclear war.

Through this plan, Ozymandias perceives himself as a hero despite killing and framing other heroes as well as being responsible for the deaths of three million people. Syndrome and Ozymandias thus intend their successes to be built on a public lie.

READ: Reflect on twenty years of Harry Potter!

Perhaps the most important aspect to take away from the parallels between these two works is that themes are transcendent across all mediums, audiences, and creators. Just because a story has an intended adult audience does not mean one cannot convey that story to younger audiences.

Take the Green Lantern/Green Arrow series of the 1970s for instance. There is a notable story that depicts Green Arrow’s sidekick, Roy Harper aka Speedy, succumbing to a heroin addiction. For the time, this was incredibly controversial. Despite this, the writers wanted to focus on a real world issue through a medium that appealed to younger audiences so that they could become informed of the dangers of drug addiction.

It is quite common to find adult themes buried in children’s works. A TV show such as SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS is notorious for its subliminal messages. Now, THE INCREDIBLES is entirely different from SPONGEBOB; however, the film certainly contains its fair share of subtle parallels to adult works and themes.

INCREDIBLES
GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW 85: Snowbirds Don’t Fly

NO CAPES!

Remember that iconic moment where Edna Mode rants about the dangers of wearing capes? Well, she is not wrong.

In a brief moment, WATCHMEN depicts a sequence that recounts the deaths of numerous vigilantes. Among these deaths includes that of Dollar Bill. While running after thieves, his cape gets stuck in a revolving door. The thieves then shoot and kill him at point blank range. It is quite the anticlimactic demise for a renowned vigilante, but he never thought about the risks of wearing a cape with his supersuit. Perhaps if Edna Mode existed in the WATCHMEN universe, he could have lived another day to fight crime. Poor guy.

INCREDIBLES
The Death of Dollar Bill (as depicted in the 2009 film)

In Retrospect…

Is THE INCREDIBLES an adaptation of WATCHMEN? Certainly not, but one cannot deny that there are certain aspects of the graphic novel tucked away in the 2004 Pixar film. It is an interesting notion to ponder that these two distinct works have a lot more in common than one would expect.

Overall, it is important to note that one’s age does not restrict the story they can be told. Also, does anyone else notice the parallels between THE INCREDIBLES and the FANTASTIC FOUR? Just me?

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