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‘Incredibles 2’ Redefines Gendered Family Norms & Here’s Why More Films Need to Do This

We’ve waited approximately 14 years to see the sequel to the first Incredibles movie, and it was well worth the wait. Even if you just went to the theaters to see Incredibles 2 to indulge in your early 2000s nostalgia, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Incredibles 2 highlighted Elastigirl's (Helen Parr) powerful role in the franchise. However, Incredibles 2 also used the Incredible family to redefine often toxic gender norms in a healthy way that could influence a new realm of mindful movies beyond animated superhero films.

Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you know from the trailers that Mrs. Incredible and Mr. Incredible flip the traditional family dynamics in their second film. While a vague superhero temporary organization basically hires Elastigirl to revitalize the superhero image (no pressure, Helen), Mr. Incredible takes on a more nurturing role with their kids Violet, Dash and Jack Jack.

From Penelope Alvarex (portrayed by Justina Machado) in One Day at a Time who supports her family as the provider and emotional anchor to fellow animated women like Kim Possible’s mom who was both one of the Possible family’s primary earners, the entertainment industry has been steadily integrating mindful roles that show motherly figures who financially support their families and absorb some (or all) of the traditional fatherly roles. Though present-day cinema is (finally) revamping the role of moms in film and TV shows, Incredibles 2 takes a different and refreshing perspective on family roles and gender norms—specifically by also subtly commenting on toxic masculinity.

More notably, Incredibles 2 combats toxic masculinity by showcasing a physically and emotionally strong man, Bob Parr, as a stay-at-home parent. Typically, movies highlight empowering women who redefine their role both within and outside of their family dynamic, but Incredibles 2 simultaneously focuses on Bob’s critical role taking care of the kids, cleaning the house and being a consistent role model. Because of Bob’s natural strength and manly demeanor, this helps show young men and masculine-presently individuals that you can still take on a more maternal role in your family without sacrificing your masculine identity.

According to Cinemablend, Incredibles and Incredibles 2 are also set in the 1960’s, which actively serves to rewrite problematic stereotypes throughout history. Albeit Incredibles 2 is an animated film in a fictional universe, the family tones behind the film are certifiably non-fictional. Using the movie to rework history also shows other productions that they can’t hide behind the ancient excuse that stereotype, in this case, gendered family norms, exists in historical context, which some productions use to justify problematic on-screen tropes, stereotypes and overall lack-of representation, as well as blatant misrepresentation.

Incredibles 2’s fluidity on gendered family norms illustrates that the film recognized histories problem with sexist roles and gender norms, and it actively uses its production to change these troubling themes. However, the production's flexibility on what defines a mom or a dad, or a family in general, also shows viewers that family roles are ever-changing just like gender norms in general. 

Helen and Bob’s respective roles in the Incredibles 2 also shows young people and families that your role in your own family can be malleable and you don’t necessarily need to commit to the caretaker role for the rest of your life—just like you don’t need to be the sole breadwinner. Ultimately, this healthy family portrayal could inspire other super-powered productions to continue the cycle of mindful roles, and thus show viewers that you don’t need to base your identity on outdated gendered norms.

Chelsea is the Health Editor and How She Got There Editor for Her Campus. In addition to editing articles about mental health, women's health and physical health, Chelsea contributes to Her Campus as a Feature Writer, Beauty Writer, Entertainment Writer and News Writer. Some of her unofficial, albeit self-imposed, responsibilities include arguing about the Oxford comma, fangirling about other writers' articles, and pitching Her Campus's editors shamelessly nerdy content (at ambiguously late/early hours, nonetheless). When she isn't writing for Her Campus, she is probably drawing insects, painting with wine or sobbing through "Crimson Peak." Please email any hate, praise, tips, or inquiries to cjackscreate@gmail.com
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