Collaboration | Lecture [3] Structural Theories & Storytelling

Structures & Storytelling: 'The Incredibles', (2004).

Act 1
Exposition= An introduction to all main characters which describes their personalities/opinions, and the premise which drives them.
'The Incredibles' starts with a 'tape recorded' style footage, introducing Mr and Mrs Incredible, before their marriage, and their origins as individual characters.
It's here we learn how Mr. Incredible see's family life as a potential future, and how Elastigirl see's herself as a strong woman in a male oriented world. She claims she's at the physical peak of her abilities, and shouldn't be held down by the domestic life ("Girls, come on! leave the 'saving the world' to the men? I don't think so.") .
These feeling sit in contrast to the re-introduction of both character's 15 years later. As our two main character's are reintroduced as, simply, Bob and Helen, we learn of the truth, of the decline/negativity surrounding the previously great 'Supers', and their changing views regarding their roles since. 
Fig. 1
Mr. Incredible, who once saw family life as an ideal, has his future self constrained in an unsatisfactory, limiting desk job. He longs for the glory days', while his wife- who'd once repelled the idea of 'family'- fights against any 'super' ideas of her husband. 
This conflict sets up the plot for the 'Inciting Incident'. 

Inciting Incident = An incident that sets the main events of the plot in motion. 
Arguably this could either be the small moment wherein Bob reads the paper, and first notices the super's going missing (and Syndrome's plan in play), or alternatively his decision to secretly save people with Frozone, which-upon being witnessed by Mirage (and,  in turn, Syndrome), triggers his reinstatement as a 'super'.
Mirage's invitation sets in motion Mr. Incredible's direct involvement to the conflict of the story. However, 'the inciting incident', could be all the little events that push him to reach that decision. 
Fig. 2
Plot Point 1 = A scenario wherein the main character takes on the main problem of the story. 
Plot point 1 see's Bob take on the job suited to his skills without his wife knowing, in an attempt to recapture his identity as 'Mr Incredible'. 
He comes face to face with the new world, far removed from the day-to-day dealings of family, school and work life of the ordinary citizen. 
Quickly he's introduced to 'Syndrome'
Act 2
Obstacles/Rising Action= Wherein the main protagonist must face and overcome a number of complex problems. 
Mr. Incredible faces his first challenge as a re-instated 'superhero', facing off against a second, "bigger, badder" OmniDroid. Although managing to defeat the machine, albeit with a few close calls, Bob quickly finds out there's a bigger conflict at play. The true identity of Syndrome is revealed, and Bob finds out the plan to eradicate all 'prior-supers', and allow anyone to become one. 
Fig. 3
On another story arc, of around the same time, Mrs. Incredible suspects Bob of cheating, creating a domestic obstacle of sorts, wherein their marriage is at stake. 

First Culmination = The characters begin to fulfill their goal, but suddenly "everything falls apart". 
Mr. Incredible trains and succeeds at singularly finding a new reincarnation of 'Mr Incredible'. However, his finding out the truth of his employers, leads to his capture and torture. 
Mrs. Incredible finds out the truth, but upon travelling to Nomanisan Island with Violet and Dash, gets attacked by Syndrome's missiles. 
Fig. 4
It's at this point we reach the mid point of the film... 

Dash and Violet must learn to use their powers to defeat the threats they encounter on the island. 
Helen and Bob reunite, but their marriage is still in jeopardy. However they agree to work together for the sake of their children. 
Fig. 5
Both parties reunite when running from 'Syndrome's' security. 
All four are captured, manage to escape AGAIN, and head to the city to prevent plan 'KRONUS' from being untaken. 

Point 2= Relates to point 1, as the opposite of its outcome. 
The opposite of plot 1... wherein the latter is resolved.
In contrast to the problem of secrecy between Bob and Helen... the two reach a point of understanding that Bob's lack of honesty is down to a fear of losing them, and that the family should act as a unit to defeat syndrome- encouraging 'super' powers, instead of pushing them down. 
The two worlds (of day-to-day life, and the fictitious life of the 'supers') crash together during the fight between OmniDroid 3 and 'The Incredibles'. 
Fig. 6
Climax= The zenith point of action and tension of a story, wherein the heroes must confront the main conflict. 
Having escaped the island, the Incredible's must fight the OmniDrioid whose since learnt to exceed even Syndrome- it's maker. Relating back to what Bob learnt in his previous fight with the 2nd OmniDriod, he uses the robot in question to destroy itself. 
This climax knocks up a notch higher with the families one-to-one confrontation with Syndrome, who holds baby Jack-Jack hostage. 
Fig. 7
Act 3
We find out the youngest of the family actually has superpowers which indirectly defeats Syndrome, along with his cape (a recurring theme of negativity in Edna Mode's opinion).

Denouement / Resolution= An action or event, that's in some way linked to an earlier plot point in the film / Wherein all plot strands are accounted for.
Syndrome comes back one last time to steal Jack-jack and raise him as a 'sidekick' (a recurring theme in the film, where the main hero continuously denies all outside help), but is eradicated by 'good'. There is a re-acceptance of the 'Superhero Life' into the day-to-day norm...the film resolves itself with the family becomes more acceptive of their powers- i.e. Dash being allowed to compete in the racing, and Violet gains confidence in herself. 
Fig. 8

Ending Type
'The Incredible's' features a 'partial ended' plot, wherein most story arcs from the main plot are resolved in a fashion typical to historical superhero texts (i.e. the villain is unredeemable, the hero is victorious etc.), and the main character's return back to the start, at the height of their 'superhero' powers. A new villain arrives, (the 'Underminer'), and we're left thinking the character's are now to embark on a new story... something that's down to our imagination, and the potential remake of a sequel. 
Fig. 9
Plot  vs. Story
'The Incredibles' feature's a number of arc plots, some smaller ones that have existed since the start (i.e. the husband and wife's attitudes to 'super' work... Jack-jack's apparent absence of powers... etc.). All plots work in chronological order, and can influence upon each other. 
Arguably however, the film could be using 'mini plots', around Mr and Mrs. Incredibles' domestic problems, Syndromes' origins story, the baby-sitter whose phone calls actually make an additional animated short for the movie etc. 

Does it completely fit the structure? 
As a pastiche of 1950's superhero texts ('The Golden Age' of comics), set in the 1960's and with a 'retro' aesthetic, 'The Incredibles' relies heavily on the traditional 3 by 3 narrative structure, as a means of playing with that theme. There are a few diversions however, (Syndrome's identity being revealed earlier on etc.) but all in all, the simple 3 act story allows for the clever references, and it's consistent visual look. 

Aguirre, Eugenio (2015), 'The Incredibles 2 - Fan Poster', [Online Image]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 13/10/2017]
Fig. 1 'The Incredibles', (2004), Directed by  Brad Bird, [Screenshot], California, USA:  Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures.
Fig. 2 'The Incredibles', (2004), Directed by  Brad Bird, [Screenshot], California, USA:  Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures.
Fig. 3 'The Incredibles', (2004), Directed by  Brad Bird, [Screenshot], California, USA:  Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures.
Fig. 4 'The Incredibles', (2004), Directed by  Brad Bird, [Screenshot], California, USA:  Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures.
Fig. 5 'The Incredibles', (2004), Directed by  Brad Bird, [Screenshot], California, USA:  Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures.
Fig. 6 'The Incredibles', (2004), Directed by  Brad Bird, [Screenshot], California, USA:  Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures.
Fig. 7 'The Incredibles', (2004), Directed by  Brad Bird, [Screenshot], California, USA:  Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures.
Fig. 8 'The Incredibles', (2004), Directed by  Brad Bird, [Screenshot], California, USA:  Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures. 
'IMDb', (No Date), 'The Incredibles', [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 13/10/2017]
Moura, Gabe (2014), 'The Three-Act Structure', [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 13/10/2017]
Romano, Lou (2008), 'ART of THE INCREDIBLES', [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 13/10/2017]
Segers, Karel (2009), 'Structure: The Incredibles',[Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 13/10/2017]
'RPGnet Forums', (2005), 'The Incredibles: A period piece, but what period?', [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 13/10/2017]
'StackExchange', (2012), 'What Inspired the Incredibles?', [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 13/10/2017]
Weiland, K.M. (2016), 'The Incredibles', [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 13/10/2017]


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