The Incredibles’ cliffhanger set up the sequel that came 14 years later, but that’s not all that’s impactful about this Disney Pixar film’s ending.
- The Incredibles ended with the Parr family embracing their true identities as superheroes, ready to fight as a united front against villains.
- The film’s cliffhanger, featuring the appearance of the Underminer, hinted at the potential challenges that would arise with the emergence of more superheroes and supervillains in society.
- The ending of The Incredibles set up character arcs for Bob and Helen, with Bob learning to appreciate his family and Helen rediscovering her superhero self in The Incredibles 2.
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The Incredibles ended with the Parr family closer than ever, and the villain Syndrome thoroughly smote, as well as a cliffhanger that perfectly set up a sequel. The 2004 film featured a family of superheroes forced to keep their powers a secret thanks to laws prohibiting supers in the public eye. The father, Bob Parr, and the mother, Helen, had once been the famous superheroes, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, until one too many catastrophic rescues led to these restrictive laws. The two continued with a domestic life, but Bob was discontented and yearned for the good old days.
Bob had his chance to put his Super Suit back to work when he was contacted by a mysterious benefactor who requested his help dealing with an experiment gone wrong. Of course, this all turned out to be a setup, and when Mr. Incredible attempted to fight this robot experiment, he learned that its creator was Buddy Pine, an old fan whom he had once slighted. Now calling himself Syndrome, Buddy planned to eliminate all the Supers and present himself as the world’s hero instead. However, after a long battle, in which Bob’s whole family joined in, Syndrome’s cape was sucked into the engine of his own jet. From there, The Incredibles perfectly segued into the eventual The Incredibles 2.
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The Incredibles’ Underminer Cliffhanger Explained
Syndrome’s death wasn’t the end of the Parr family’s problems. After the villain’s defeat in The Incredibles, the family were together at Dash’s track meet, a sign that Helen had relented and allowed her son to participate in sports. In the parking lot, a massive drill-like vehicle came up through the pavement, piloted by a creature who declared himself “The Underminer.” As this new villain monologued, the Incredibles family slipped on their masks and revealed their hidden Super Suits, demonstrating that after everything they had gone through together, they were ready to be heroes side by side.
This is where The Incredibles ended, and audiences went 14 years before The Incredibles 2 was released in 2018. Still, the purpose of this cliffhanger wasn’t necessarily to set up a sequel (though it did so perfectly). It demonstrated how the Parrs had finally accepted both parts of themselves. Bob had learned to be present with his family, and Helen had learned to let go and allow her kids to have social lives. They had become a regular family rather than one that was always hiding. Then, the reveal that they had this secret—their hidden Super Suits ready to go—showed how they had fully embraced this aspect of who they were as well. Their battle with the Underminer wasn’t the important part—it was all about their united front.
For this reason, The Incredibles could have been left as it was. However, over a decade later, Disney Pixar decided there was more of a story to tell here. There were a few questions that the film hadn’t answered, and this is seen in the Underminer cliffhanger as well. Though the Parrs were ready to whip out their Super Suits and fight, it didn’t change that the battle between Superheroes and Supervillains had taken a toll on society, and this was only further reinforced by the damage done to the parking lot by the Underminer. Exploring how Superheroes and Supervillains coming out of the woodwork would change things was the perfect foundation for The Incredibles 2.
Is It Legal To Be A Superhero In The Incredibles’ Ending?
Another complicated aspect of The Incredibles ending is the legalization of Superheroes. It’s implied that the Parr family’s actions in stopping Syndrome had shifted society’s perspective on Supers, which could potentially lead to a change in the legislature that kept the Incredibles from going public. However, it wasn’t so simple a matter that the law was immediately overturned just because Mr. and Mrs. Incredible and their children saved the day. As seen with Rick Dicker’s role in whipping the memory of Kari McKeen, Jack-Jack’s babysitter, it was still illegal to be a Superhero at the end of The Incredibles.
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Jack-Jack’s Superpower Twist & Syndrome Defeat Explained
The legalization of Supers would become the foundation of The Incredibles 2, but there was another critical aspect of the film’s ending that would as well. Bob and Helen had initially believed that their youngest son, Jack-Jack, didn’t have any powers. However, when, in a last-ditch effort to get his revenge on Mr. Incredible, Syndrome kidnapped the infant and tried to make a getaway, Jack-Jack revealed that he was not only a Super as well but likely the most powerful of all of them.
Jack-Jack has basically every superpower in the book, but since he and Syndrome were already high in the sky by the time the infant began to put up a fight, Bob and Helen didn’t see this. All they could tell was that the Supervillain had dropped Jack-Jack, and Mr. Incredible threw his wife so that she could parachute the boy down to safety. It wouldn’t be until The Incredibles 2 that Bob saw Jack-Jack’s powers in action and realized that having a toddler capable of walking through walls, duplicating himself, and turning into a tiny red beast would be a whole lot of work.
Things only got worse for Syndrome after Jack-Jack’s attack, and the villain lost his life in a manner that had been foreshadowed by the fabulous Edna Mode earlier in The Incredibles. The top fashion designer for Superheroes had previously refused to make Bob a Super Suit with a cape. She gave examples of several heroes who had met their demise thanks to their capes getting caught in risky places. This made Syndrome get sucked into the engine of his own jet or a bit of perfectly placed irony.
How The Incredibles’ Ending Set Up The Incredibles 2’s Character Arcs
Bob and Helen had great, complementary character arcs in The Incredibles. At the beginning of the film, during the pair’s interviews as Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, it was Bob who stated that he would like to hang up the cape someday and start a family. At the same time, Elastigirl said, “I don’t think so!” to the idea of leaving her career behind while at the top of her game. Of course, that all changed with the Super Relocation Act. Bob was so desperate to return to the good old days that he forgot to appreciate his family. On the other hand, Helen set her sights so securely on her family that she forgot who she used to be.
The end of The Incredibles saw these two characters embrace their past and present, therefore finding the balance between themselves. This perfectly set the pair up for The Incredibles 2, where Helen took a leading role and returned to her life as the steadfast (and frankly astonishing) Elastigirl. Bob, on the other hand, dealt with accepting his wife’s new role and finding his stride as a father. This resulted in satisfying arcs, with both characters managing to find what they had dreamed for themselves at the beginning of The Incredibles.
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The Real Meaning Of Bob’s Lessons About Family & Purpose
Though Helen’s journey toward no longer suppressing her Super self was a fantastic element of The Incredibles (and was centralized in The Incredibles 2), Bob was the true main character of the film. It’s likely that Elastigirl wouldn’t have rejected her past so vehemently if she wasn’t so afraid of her husband’s obsession with his days as Mr. Incredible. Though Bob had initially dreamed of starting a family, he was forced to retire from being a Superhero before he was ready, causing him to fixate on his past to the point that he couldn’t appreciate the beautiful life he had built with his wife.
It wasn’t until Bob almost lost this that he fully understood what he had. When Syndrome attacked Helen’s jet, Mr. Incredible believed he had lost his entire family all at once. Though he could lift mountains, he realized he wasn’t strong enough to deal with such a tragedy. When Helen showed up to save Bob, and he learned that his children were safe, everything shifted into place. The husband and father realized that being Mr. Incredible wasn’t his only purpose—a concept continued in The Incredibles‘ sequel.