Why Brad Bird Doesn’t Love Seeing Live-Action Versions Of Animated Films

Mrs Incredible Elastigirl Holly Hunter Incredibles 2

There are multiple trends currently running their course in Hollywood, from the horror boom to cinematic universes, but one of the most successful is certainly animated movies being remade in live-action. Disney in particular has had massive success, with features like Cinderella, Jungle Book, and Beauty And The Beast. They are certainly popular, but one person who isn't a huge fan is writer/director Brad Bird, who recently had this to say about the idea of a live-action Incredibles:

People have talked about it with Iron Giant, and you can tell any story in any medium. But to me, I thought of Iron Giant as an animated film; I thought of Incredibles as an animated film, even though it's human characters. You could absolutely tell that story in live-action, but I feel like we're re-chewing the same food too much. I want something new, and this is not a time where the world is friendly to that. It wants sure things. And so you're constantly being served the same meals. 'But this one has a sprig of parsley on it!' It's like, 'No!'

Earlier this month I joined a group of journalists flying up to Pixar headquarters in Emeryville, California, and it was during that trip that I had the chance to sit down with Brad Bird and producer John Walker to discuss their work on Incredibles 2. It was at the end of the interview that I asked about the possible future of the franchise, and what the filmmakers thought about a medium change -- and Bird definitely made it sound like he wouldn't be on-board.

Continuing his thoughts on the operation of the box office marketplace in the industry, Brad Bird clarified that he isn't against sequels and franchises -- notably having made both Incredibles 2 and Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol. However, what he says really excites him is when a great filmmaker introduces a wholly original idea to the world, and it's more of that kind of material he wants to see on the big screen:

I love a good sequel as much as anybody else. I've made two of them. But I don't want a whole diet of that. I love seeing James Cameron do Avatar, and come out with something brand new. I love seeing Back To The Future, and not knowing what's going to happen. So I hope that we move into a time where some sequels are made, but there are a lot more original films on a grand scale. I'd love to see that.

It's hard to miss Brad Bird's point when you consider that John Krasinski's A Quiet Place is the only non-sequel/non-adaptation in the domestic Top 25 of 2018 right now.

Adding his two cents, John Walker -- who produced both Incredibles movies as well as The Iron Giant -- also agreed that specifically creating a live-action version of Brad Bird's first Pixar film just wouldn't work. Not only does the concept elude his imagination, but he just doesn't feel that the material would have the same effect if it were adapted differently. Said Walker,

I wouldn't want to see it, no. The style of the film is so embedded in how it's designed, and how it looks, and how it feels. I just can't imagine. I just can't imagine even great actors doing it... In an odd way I think it would be less believable. I think that you buy into those characters in those situations because of the entire package.

As implied by Brad Bird's comments earlier, Incredibles might seem like a natural film to remake in live-action because its human characters, but that would rob it of some of its special-ness. Both it and its sequel have a gorgeous animation style that harkens back to the golden age of comics, and what it renders through its story just wouldn't have the same effect if recreated with actors and CGI.

At the very end, Brad Bird stood behind his message, but also added a caveat. Obviously there are a lot of these live-action versions of animated movies coming together, and a lot of people love them and have different takes on the approach. For him, though, it seemed like his thoughts were rather black and white. Said Bird,

The opinion is ours, to take responsibility -- but there are many different opinions.

Incredibles 2 is one of four movies to make over a billion dollars at the box office in 2018, having finished its worldwide run during the summer. Those excited to revisit the adventure will have the chance to do so very soon, as it will be available digitally on October 23rd. Those holding out for physical copies will find it on Blu-ray and DVD November 6th.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.