WARNING: Spoilers for The Incredibles 2.
The basic plot of Incredibles 2 seems to have been crafted as a direct rebuttal to one of the more popular and prevalent fan-theories regarding the deeper meaning of the original Incredibles movie. Namely, that writer/director Brad Bird intended for The Incredibles to act as a kid-friendly introduction to the philosophy of Ayn Rand.
Rand first lay out the concepts of what became known as Objectivism in her novels Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead (the latter of which is getting a big screen adaptation from Zack Snyder). The core ideals of Rand’s philosophy are that certain individuals are born inherently superior to others and that the inferior will attempt to stifle the natural order by repressing the rights of the individual. The theory ran that The Incredibles was clearly based upon Randian ideals, being set in a world where superheroes are outlawed by governments more concerned with the collateral damage superheroes cause than the good that they do. The theory also pointed out that the movie’s villain, Syndrome, was a technological genius who wanted to use his devices as an equalizing agent to negate the natural order by giving the masses superpowers, gloating that “when everyone’s super… no one will be!”
Related: Incredibles 2: The Screen Slaver Has Really Clever Motivations
There was just one problem with the theory – Brad Bird said the idea was “ridiculous.” Still, the theory has persisted for the last fourteen years, despite Bird’s best efforts to shoot it down. Given that, it might seem reasonable to consider a new theory – that Brad Bird intentionally made Incredibles 2 into a condemnation of Rand’s principles.
Consider The Screen Slaver – the primary villain of Incredibles 2. Early on, the character delivers an elitist monologue describing ordinary citizens in unflattering terms, saying they are content to spend their lives starring at a series of screens rather than truly living. Such contempt for ordinary people frequently arises in Objectivist writings, which alternatively admonish the common clay as they promote their chosen elite. The Screen Slaver also condemns the actions of superheroes, saying that they lull people into complacency rather than inspiring them to greater things – an attitude shared by famous supervillain Lex Luthor, who has been written as an Objectivist by some writers.
Later, The Screen Slaver is revealed to be the creation of billionaire tech-genius Evelyn Deavor – the true villain of the movie. We find out that Evelyn feels she has been held back by her brother, Winston, who acts as the yang to her yin. Whereas Winston is a cheerful people person whose first thoughts are of how their company and the inventions Evelyn creates can be used to do good and make people’s lives better, Evelyn is better with machines than she is with people and possess a far more cynical view of humanity. To that end, Evelyn tries to sabotage her brother’s efforts to improve the public perception of superheroes through The Screen Slaver, saying that her brother’s views on superheroes being good people trying to do good are painfully naive – a belief that fits perfectly in-line with the Objectivist views on altruism.
The irony is that, had Ayn Rand written Incredibles 2, Evelyn Deavor would certainly have been the hero. A noble businesswoman and technical genius trying to save her company and society from her foolish brother and a group of people with government backing who believe in protecting the weak from the strong is perhaps the most Randian hero imaginable. However, until Brad Bird speaks out one way or the other, we’ll have no way of knowing for sure if this was his intention. Either way, this theory balances the scales if nothing else.
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