WARNING: Mild spoilers for Incredibles 2.
What can you expect from Incredibles 3 - and what do we want to see in a Pixar threequel? 14 years after the original, Incredibles 2 has finally been unleashed, and while whether it was worth that near-decade-and-a-half wait varies depending on the audience member, there's one thing fans can agree on: they want an Incredibles 3.
The Incredibles is probably Pixar's most tailor-made franchise. Toy Story may have become a beloved trilogy (with the fourth entry due next year) and Cars a merchandising behemoth (while Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo both got follow-ups), but by the nature of being based on serialized comic book heroes - characters who now power cinema's biggest shared universes - they feel ripe for more adventures. That's why Incredibles 2 was so anticipated, and given how that movie ends with a rather open status quo, there's going to be similar expectations for a third.
Related: Read Our Incredibles 2 Review
But we're talking about the notoriously long production process of animation and a company who endeavor to put story first, cancelling projects that don't meet their high expectations. With that in mind, what can we expect from Incredibles 3 and when could we actually get to see it?
- This Page: What Should Incredibles 3 Be About?
- Page 2: Will Incredibles 3 Actually Happen (And When)?
What Incredibles 2 Sets Up For Incredibles 3
While The Incredibles had a major sequel tease, Incredibles 2 ends on a much more resolute note, albeit one that definitely allows more adventures in the future.
The first sequel takes the thread of illegal superheroes forced into hiding and flips it, with the main plot dealing with an attempt to re-legitimize the Supers. This is the central debate of Incredibles 2 - not quite "should there be a Superman?", but definitely a real-world application - and in the end the film has the costumed vigilantes legalized, their benefit to society finally understood by the world at large. That may remove a key constant backdrop to Incredibles that allowed it to push in on the family but it does set up a fresh and open status quo for any potential sequels.
At the end, the Parr family is back together, fighting villains as The Incredibles in the open. It's not overt setup, but this is nevertheless a blank slate for the franchise that allows for a different Incredibles 3 with less-restricted characters.
What We Want In Incredibles 3
The sum of Incredibles 2 is its own story, with few unresolved plot points that directly set up the third movie. But, of course, given that The Incredibles' sequel-tease ending - the Underminer making his moves against the surface world - was dispatched in the movie's opening, anything overt needn't be expected to be the plot of Incredibles 3.
With that in mind, it's worth looking at ideas, themes and, yes, shortcomings that a threequel can address. What Incredibles 3 needs most is a time jump. Getting to jump right into the Parr action makes getting Incredibles 2 going easier, but it also limits what the story's able to do; Dash and Violet written as adolescents is easy to pick up, but that in turn means their arcs have limited room to grow. Taking the characters forward, even by just a few years, would go some way to introduce natural development that a new narrative can then jump off: one of the kids leaving home and having to find their own way feels like the natural progression for a series about family.
On the flipside of what makes The Incredibles is the superheroics. Brad Bird made a conscious decision to avoid much of what's happened in the cinematic genre since the first movie in the sequel, instead having the story hinge on the world he set up 2004. While that avoids Incredibles 2 feeling like it's riding trends (in contrast to the likes of Deadpool), it also means that one of the original's core qualities - that it was essentially a genre deconstruction a la Watchmen - is lost. With no acknowledgment of The Dark Knight Trilogy or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Incredibles 2 risked feeling out of time. By the time Incredibles 3 rolls around, the genre will be over two decades on from The Incredibles and the variance in tone and shared universes will be too ingrained to not explore.
Page 2 of 2: Will Incredibles 3 Actually Happen (And When)?
Will Incredibles 3 Actually Happen?
Of course, all of this Incredibles 3 speculation is moot unless Pixar actually make it. And while the fact a second one exists (both Toy Story and Cars have hit the trilogy count) and the box office predictions promise Pixar's biggest ever hit, that is actually a question mark.
Incredibles 2 comes as a wave of sequels to some of Pixar's early greats - Finding Dory, Monsters University, Toy Story 4 - that appears to have come from a higher Disney mandate. Pixar was purchased by the Mouse House in 2006, and even though having John Lasseter as the head of Disney Animation allowed the Emeryville Titans to operate mostly unimpeded, it has been alluded to that the push for more sequels to the proven brands was a higher up decision. However, that appears to be over: Pixar's president Jim Morris has said the sequel glut is coming to a close, with the upcoming Pixar movies all original ideas.
That said, Incredibles 2 is proving to be a massive hit, with the general mood from all corners considerably more positive than 2016's Finding Dory. Depending on box office legs, the argument for a sequel could be unavoidable from the higher-ups at Disney, putting the onus on Bird and the rest of Pixar. Of course, if the mandate is truly spent, then it may actually be up to the creatives, and with that comes the question of how long it'll take.
When Could Incredibles 3 Release?
Fans may have been waiting 14 years for Incredibles 2, but that doesn't mean it took that long to make. Bird had a vague idea of where he wanted to take the sequel pretty much from when The Incredibles released, but it wasn't officially confirmed until March 2014, with the filmmaker starting the script soon after and stepping up to direct at some point in 2015. That's a four-year turnaround on the project, about average for animation, and it's worth noting that it was originally longer: Incredibles 2's initial release date was June 2019, with it brought forward a year after Toy Story 4 (then Pixar's 2018 release) needed redrafting. That means the plan was for a full five years of production. Therefore, at the very least, we can expect five years until Incredibles 3 releases - and that's if the movie started development today.
As it stands, Pixar's slate of releases goes up to 2022: Toy Story 4 on June 21, 2019, then five other movies on March 6, 2020, June 19, 2020, June 18, 2021, March 18, 2022, and June 17, 2022. What exactly those five are is unknown, but it's been said at least four (including both 2020 releases) are original stories; Pixar is confirmed to be working on a suburban fantasy (directed by Monsters University's Dan Scanlon and presumably one of the 2020 releases), with directors Domee Shi (Bao), Brian Fee (Cars 3), Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Up, Inside Out) and Mark Andrews (Brave) all also developing their own projects. That pretty much fills up development. Sure, this needn't clash with Incredibles 3, which would surely come later, but still means there's a lot of other Pixar to come first.
However, that's all in an immediate green-light circumstance. It's much more likely that a new Incredibles would have a similar gap as there was between Cars 2 and Cars 3 (six years) or Toy Story 3 and Toy Story 4 (nine years): if - and as established it's still an if - it happens, Incredibles 3 probably won't dash its way into theaters until the late-2020s.