After a 14-year wait, Incredibles 2 has hit theaters and is a massive success, landing the eighth-largest opening weekend of all time. The film has been lauded its fun, family-friendly take on the superhero genre, but while that praise is warranted, there is one concerning element in the PG-rated film: the reoccurring, almost decorative presence of guns. Although Incredibles 2 is set in a technologically advanced world, guns are still present in several scenes — despite the fact that their inclusion is never necessary to the movie's plot.
In Incredibles 2, there isn't a scene in which a gun is held to a member of the Parr family’s head or anything nearly that dramatic in nature; the film's use of guns is much more subtle. In the opening sequence, Elastigirl uses a gun to shoot open a lock, an action that's easily overlooked because the weapon operates more as a tool than as a way to inflict bodily harm. In another scene, Jack Jack watches a black and white movie featuring a robber with a gun, and in yet another, a flashback scene of Winston and Evelyn Deavor’s parents sees the parents fatally shot by armed robbers. The film even ends with the Parr family following a getaway car of robbers shooting their guns.
Overall, Incredibles 2's use of guns is fairly minimal compared to many other action-centric movies; audience members may even exit the theater without really registering the fact that they were ever depicted on-screen. But the question is, are the guns necessary at all? In a fictional world as advanced and creative as Incredibles 2, one would expect equally creative weapons. Yet while those do exist in the film — there’s the use of mind control through television screens and very technologically advanced goggles — so do old-school, everyday guns.
But they're simply never essential to the plot. Elastigirl, for instance, can turn her body into a parachute, pancake, or noodle; opening the door using her body, rather than a gun, could have made for a much more inventive and intriguing scene. The filmmakers of Incredibles 2 clearly knew how to make creative, out-of-the-box choices, as shown by the creation of Elastigirl’s motorcycle, which conveniently splits in half to accommodate her abilities, and Jack Jack’s suit, which subdues his out-of-control powers. Mr. Incredible’s car apparently has any capability Dash can think to say out loud, and the great Edna Mode can make a super suit do pretty much anything she wants. With those kind of possibilities, it just doesn't make sense that Incredibles 2 also relies on guns one of the least creative and most antiquated weapons around.
To be clear, this is not to suggest that Incredibles 2 is a worse film for the inclusion of guns, or an anomaly among animated works. 1942’s Bambi features what may be the most iconic and heartbreaking moment of a gun firing in animated film history. Likewise, television shows marketed to teens — 13 Reasons Why, American Horror Story, and One Tree Hill, just to name a few — have heavily featured gun violence as major plot points. Guns are widely present in entertainment for children and teens, and Incredibles 2 is just following a trend.
However, what makes the movie's use of guns so noteworthy is how blasé it all is. While most other films and television shows tend to include guns in a more significant manner, in Incredibles 2 guns are just kind of... there. The film normalizes guns as tools that may help open a door, weapons that may be seen in an old movie, or something that may be wielded by villains in a getaway car. In the film's world, guns are ubiquitous and, with the exception of the Deavors' murder, mostly harmless.
Yet while the guns in Incredibles 2 aren't overtly violent or problematic on their own, they are a direct symptom of the prevalent gun culture in the United States, which is violent and problematic. Americans have more guns than any other country and the highest gun ownership per capita, as The Washington Post reports; it's estimated that for every 10 Americans, there are nine guns. As such, Incredibles 2's portrayal of guns — as commonplace and always in the background — is unfortunately an eerily accurate depiction of the US.
Incredibles 2's depiction of guns likely won't deeply affect the young members of its audience; there's no conclusive evidence to the theory spouted by Jeff Sessions and others that there's a legitimate link between seeing fictionalized violence and perpetrating violence in real life. But even still, it's disappointing that the new movie includes guns nonetheless, when there were so many other easier, more creative options in every situation.