LOS ANGELES – Here comes Elastigirl!
Helen Parr is one mother of a superhero as she steps up as the main crime-fighter in "Incredibles 2." Her secret identity as Elastigirl takes the spotlight in the long-awaited Pixar sequel (in theaters Friday).
Her heroic theme song takes on renewed vigor ("Elastigirl! No one is beyond her reach!") as Elastigirl flies on a fancy new electric Elasticycle in her spiffy new suit.
"Her superhero identity is fully fledged in this story, no apologies, no excuses," says Holly Hunter, 60, who voices the role. "It’s so enlivening to see her feel the glory of her gift. She really stretches with what she’s good at – no pun intended."
Fourteen years ago, in "The Incredibles," Elastigirl showed the skills and the fire. "Settle down, are you kidding?" she boasted at the start of the first movie. "I'm at the top of my game! I'm right up there with the big dogs! Girls, come on. Leave the saving of the world to the men? I don't think so."
But with family life, Helen was content to look after the three children: Violet, Dash and baby Jack-Jack. It was husband Mr. Incredible/Bob Parr (Craig T. Nelson) who was drafted for a secret mission – on the down-low because superheroes are illegal.
"Helen had to save her husband, that's why she put on the suit in the first movie. She was a very reluctant hero," says Hunter.
In the new tale, it's Helen who's wooed to return to crime-fighting by billionaire superhero supporter Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his tech-genius sister, Evelyn (Catherine Keener). They believe highlighting a female superhero would be a better public-relations ploy for winning support.
While Bob stays home with the kids, Elastigirl finds she hasn't lost a step as a crime-fighter. And she thrills in it. Her first solo action scene is an edge-of-the-seat affair involving a runaway tram whose driver's mind is controlled by the villain Screenslaver.
"It’s fun to see Elastigirl on a chase like that," says Hunter. "There’s a real appetite for seeing women kicking (butt) like that."
Writer and director Brad Bird says he came up with the idea for the emergence of Elastigirl while promoting the first "Incredibles." But his animated heroine is now suiting up in a world brimming with Wonder Woman adulation.
Elastigirl even has her own wannabe superhero fan, Voyd, voiced by Sophia Bush, who understands why Voyd admires Elastigirl.
"Helen is such a phenomenal character. She clearly represents the way so many women feel, that no matter what you are doing, society says you’re doing it wrong," says Bush, who noted how fans at the "Incredibles 2" world premiere cheered on the mother/superhero's awesome return. "I love seeing Elastigirl reclaim her personal identity."
Elastigirl never lets fame get to her head and ultimately relies on her superhero family to get through the movie.
"Families can hold conflict, stress and tension," says Hunter. "But this family comes together and we face the world together. Then we fight off the bad guys."