Warning: Spoilers for Incredibles 2 are in play. If you haven't seen the film for yourself, please bookmark this story, and come back when you've caught up
Throughout both The Incredibles and Incredibles 2, we've followed the adventures of the Parr family and their super-powered antics in a world where heroes are illegal. In the world of the films, Mr. Incredible has always been a big deal, with Incredibles 2 making a point to draw the comedy out of the fact that his storied crime-fighting career doesn't mean he's the best hope for legalizing superheroes once again. But after seeing the film a second time, a question burrowed its way into my mind, undermining all of my previous thoughts: is Mr. Incredible really that good of a superhero to begin with? After some thought, and careful consideration, I have to say that no, he really isn't.
I don't mean to knock Bob Parr or his Incredible alter ego, but take a look at the stats from the moments we've seen in his career. For starters, Winston and Evelyn Deavor's risk analysis portfolio only confirmed something we saw in The Incredibles and its sequel: wherever Mr. Incredible goes, mass property destruction follows. Now that's fine when you're fighting an Omnidroid on a tropical island that doesn't happen to be inhabited by a town the size of Municiberg or Metroville; but when you're in two towns that happen to have monorail service, and you've destroyed at least part of both, your record isn't exactly the best when it comes to saving the day.
Not to mention, while Bob's strength is still his best asset, Mr. Incredible has another nasty habit: his major villains always seem to get away in the opening of an Incredibles film. Both Bomb Voyage and The Underminer are still on the loose, free to commit as much wanton destruction and thievery as they please. With Bomb Voyage, there's obviously the excuse of Buddy, aka Syndrome, being a distraction at the worst time possible, so that's a slight bit of slack. But with The Underminer, Bob was so clumsy he got sucked into The Underminer's vehicle, and in the process of brawling with his nemesis, he smashes the controls that could have stopped the drill from penetrating through valuable city infrastructure.
The truth is, in the world of The Incredibles, Elastigirl actually is the better hero. Between being a certified pilot -- which has helped her survive two high-flying attempts on her life and the lives of those around her -- and an amazingly adept problem solver, she's like the Sherlock Holmes of the Incredibles universe. Taking both films as a mirror image of the same plot, Elastigirl figures out the villain's plot by asking the right questions; while Mr. Incredible only stumbles onto Syndrome's evil plans after he's successfully lured into an attempt on his life, endangering his family in the process.
Again, I don't want to draw all of the credit away from Robert Parr's super abilities. The man is pretty damned strong, and in the confines of a super team like that of his family unit in Incredibles 2, he's a valuable asset. Not to mention, as a character, seeing the Bob we knew from The Incredibles progress into an even more loving and supportive father, while also nurturing his kid's own powers, is something beautiful to behold. Hell, he even figured out New Math once he really put his mind to it, so clearly, he's not totally useless! But if he's really going to sit there and wonder just why he was sidelined for a good part of Incredibles 2's plot, or if he's wondering how he can up his hero game and become a better super powered man, he might just want to go back to the video tape and study his past just a little harder.