Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Making 'The Incredibles'


Story and Casting
Edna Mode and Mr. Incredible
Edna Mode and Mr. Incredible
Photo courtesy Disney

Most moviegoers will be able to identify Craig T. Nelson as the voice of Bob/Mr. Incredible, Samuel L. Jackson as his buddy Frozone, and Holly Hunter as Helen/Elastigirl, while fans of NPR radio will recognize Violet's voice as that of commentator Sarah Vowell.

Writer-director Brad Bird got his first choices for these roles, but was unable to cast Edna Mode, the German-Japanese superhero costume designer, "a tiny character that dominates the room." Bird ended up doing the voice himself, and the result is hilarious.

Bird, best known for the critically-acclaimed "The Iron Giant," got the idea for "The Incredbles" a dozen years ago, at a time when he struggled with the conflict between the demands of career and family. "The goal was to make the family based on archetypes. I made the dad really strong. Moms are always pulled in different directions so I had her stretch. Teenage girls in particular are self-conscious, so Violet's invisible and has force fields. Ten-year-old boys are hyperactive energy balls that ricochet off the walls, so I had Dash have super speed," he explains. He named the baby Jack-Jack after his own middle son, then a toddler, who's 12 now.

While there were some slight changes in the film's opening, as well as its villain, "otherwise it's it's pretty much the same story arc that I came to Pixar with," observes Bird, who brought it to the CG studio in 2000. "The rest was the usual process of making a movie where you're trying to strengthen some things, make something clearer, work with it."

Sayre looks forward to the time when achieving computer graphic goals becomes more effortless and simulation will be more directable. "The computer is like an idiot savant. It's completely happy to show you something that no artist in their right mind would ever do -- it just doesn't know any better. Getting to the point where the computer knows better, that may be the next thing," he believes.

An "Incredibles" sequel may be another possibility, but for Bird, it comes with conditions. "There's a tendency that any movie that's a hit is suddenly considered a franchise, which I think is ridiculous. Some movies lend themselves to continuing, and others don't. If you do a film with the original filmmakers, and those original filmmakers believe that they can equal or better the one that everyone likes, then let's go. But it would have to be that."