Brad Bird Favors Characters Over Powers in Superhero Films

In a recent interview with IGN, Pixar filmmaker Brad Bird echoed sentiments shared with Steven Spielberg about the superhero genre being a bit too flashy or saturated. His focus working on Incredibles 2 is the characters.

IGN: You’re working next on The Incredibles 2. Did you always envisage a sequel, or were you happy to leave it as a standalone masterpiece, like, say, E.T.?

Brad Bird: Well, my true answer is somewhere in the middle. I wanted to make a film that was self-contained and didn’t have to go on. There’s another worrying trend that if you make a successful movie then you have to go on and follow it up, or you’re leaving money at the table and I hate that mentality. You know, a film like E.T., if it were made nowadays I think there would be E.T. 2 and 3 and 4 and they’d beat it into the ground, instead of letting it be the wonderful standalone film that it is.

IGN: And yet, 11 years later, here we are…

Bird: Well, that said, I really enjoy these characters. And I had many ideas that I wanted to do in The Incredibles that there just wasn’t the real estate to do. I kind of had these piles of ideas that didn’t have a central theme. I liked the individual ideas but I was looking for something more substantive to hang it on. I think that I’ve found that and now I’m at the point of seeing if I’m right.

IGN: What’s the big difference you’ve found in writing the sequel?

Bird: The one thing that you don’t have in this movie that you had in the first one, is that you don’t have the family discovering, or rather, the kids discovering their powers. That’s a wonderful thing to have in a movie and you can’t have that in this one, they already know, so you have to move the story ahead and say, ‘What else can you do?’

IGN: Has the glut of superhero movies we’ve seen in the last decade or so influenced your direction at all? And do you agree with Steven Spielberg’s recent assessment that at some point, superhero movies will “go the way of the Western” and start to tail off?

Bird: No, it reinforced my original belief, which is the powers themselves are not that interesting, it’s the people that are interesting and how they react to having those powers. While I agree with Spielberg’s assessment that there are way too many superhero movies right now, I’m basically sticking with the approach that I had on the movie we did, which is that it’s really about the characters than it is about bursting through walls or something like that.”

Bird wouldn’t get into too much detail about the specific states we would encounter the familiar characters in, but it is good to know he’s sticking to his own vision for the sequel.