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While most members of the Parr family in The Incredibles have rather basic power sets, baby Jack-Jack is definitely different. Rather than just being super strong, or incredibly fast, the little guy instead has a seemingly endless list of abilities, from teleportation to combustion inducement, to laser eyes. We got a hint of them in the first movie, and see many of them on display in Incredibles 2 -- but it leads to a question: does he really have unlimited gifts? According to writer/director Brad Bird, it seems the answer might be no:
Babies are able to speak multiple languages easily, at the beginning, but then they start to harden like cement, and certain things drop away. So, you know, maybe Jack-Jack will start losing powers, because he starts to rely on this one or that one... I think we kind of choose our powers by what we're encouraged with, and what we enjoy doing, and all of that. Usually people, if they have multi-talents, they're kind of interested in a lot of things, and they're passionate about a lot of things. So who knows! He may have more, he may start dropping a few off. You never know. That's what babies are.
Sitting down with Brad Bird and producer John Walker for an interview earlier this month, I specifically asked about the unlimited potential of Jack-Jack's powers -- and was surprised to hear their answer. It turns out that the baby doesn't have a bottomless well of skills, but instead offers that what we see happen in Incredibles 2 might just be temporary. He may be able to go into monster mode, or turn into rubber, or multiply himself now, but eventually he'll probably start to focus on developing one of those skills, and as a result the rest might just fade away.
By the end of Incredibles 2, Jack-Jack demonstrates nearly 20 different powers, but what's kind of funny is that wasn't really the original goal. During my two-on-one interview with Brad Bird and John Walker, they explained that they had tried to regulate themselves when it came to exploring different kinds of superpowers, attempting to create certain rules, but they just wound up plowing through those limits like a locomotive. Said the filmmakers,
John Walker: We tried to make rules for ourselves about how many... because more of them just kept coming. 'We gotta slow... he can't have powers every sequence.'
Brad Bird: Yeah, so our rule was by Act III, no new powers. And then we got there, and went, 'Nah, one or two more!'
Considering these comments, it does make one think harder about how powers manifest in the world of The Incredibles (sadly I didn't have time for a follow-up question). Is it possible that all super-powered individuals in this universe have multiple abilities at the start, and then wind up settling on one? Incredibles 2 certainly paints Jack-Jack as an anomaly, but perhaps the excitable little kid is just accessing parts of his brain that most children can't. Unfortunately, we'll probably never know all of the answers, because it seems Brad Bird has zero interest in exploring those ideas.
You can watch Brad Bird and John Walker discuss the development of Jack-Jack and his potentially unlimited powers by clicking play on the video below:
Audiences can now see Jack-Jack in all his glory up on the big screen, as Incredibles 2 is now playing everywhere (and just had the biggest opening weekend ever for a Pixar movie). We're going to be talking about this one a lot here on CinemaBlend, so stay tuned for more, and to see what else is heading to theaters in the next few months, be sure to check out our 2018 Movie Release Calendar.