Pixar released a teaser trailer for Incredibles 2 on Saturday, giving audiences their first glimpse of the sequel to Brad Bird’s 2004 superhero film The Incredibles, and, at least for the purposes of the teaser, Jack-Jack is taking center stage. The youngest member of the Incredibles—banished with a babysitter for most of the first film—stars in this teaser, in which he uses his powers to teleport himself to a magical realm ruled over by the logo for The Incredibles. After Jack-Jack modifies the logo to make it clear this is a sequel, Pixar gives us one real-world shot: a suburban basement where Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) rejoices over his son’s new powers until a baby-sneeze sets off Jack-Jack’s eye lasers and burns a new part in his dad’s hair. Which is a pretty funny gag, as these sort of short teasers go, although it’s territory the studio already covered pretty exhaustively in the 2005 short “Jack-Jack Attack.” But if you want to quickly take our cultural temperature, here’s how Pixar introduced The Incredibles the first time around, more than a decade ago:
The teaser trailer for The Incredibles is not high art or anything, but look at its structure. It begins with a series of slow expository pans over impeccably designed newspapers and magazines—Life choosing to cover Mr. Incredible with a photo essay entitled “A Hero’s Day” is a particular highlight—while the brass on the score builds; standard days-gone-by stuff. The second the phone rings, the cinematic language changes to Michael Bay-style inserts as Mr. Incredible suits up. And then the belt enters the story, and the style changes one last time, to a nearly static shot of Mr. Incredible’s office in which his motion around the frame—emphasized by sudden, jarring cuts as time passes—provides most of the comedy. (The rest comes from Mr. Incredible’s gut, a truly amazing achievement in animation.) So, in 2004, to sell a new movie, Pixar made a short film introducing us to one of the characters and his central conflict—a heroic past getting buried under the trappings of age, suburbia, and family responsibilities—and did it in a visually interesting way, packing every shot with clever details and impressive animation. That teaser still makes me want to see The Incredibles, and I’ve seen The Incredibles.
In 2017, to sell the sequel, Pixar structured their teaser around a central image of a baby clapping with delight at the sight of a familiar franchise logo. It feels like there’s a metaphor there, if only we could think over all this clapping.