A Completely Different Villain Almost Appeared in “The Incredibles”

You cunning dog! You have me rambling now.

The Incredibles
  • Syndrome was supposed to be a minor character in The Incredibles, but his character ended up getting bigger and becoming the major adversary.
  • The initial antagonist, Xerek, was a well-dressed elderly man who had ties to both heroes and villains; nevertheless, because of his personal dispute with Elastagirl, he would have been a less effective antagonist for Mr. Incredible.
  • The decision to make Syndrome the main adversary was a better one for the movie since his character had greater impact and because the tone of the movie was successfully tempered by his darkly comical energy.

In this contemporary era of cinematic supers that appear to be multiplying by the hour, Pixar’s The Incredibles is unquestionably among the greatest superhero films available. The movie still holds up as a well-written, family-friendly superhero narrative with lots of entertaining moments and dark undertones even twenty years after it was first released.

The protagonists and adversaries are superbly characterised, and the self-awareness of superhero clich├ęs never crosses the line into the obnoxiously meta. The villain, though, must be a candidate for The Incredibles’ finest element. Buddy Pine, nicknamed Syndrome (Jason Lee), is the #1 supporter-turned-number-one-rival of Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), and he is everything a villain should be: eye-catching, iconic, and a potent mirror for the hero’s flaws. It’s amazing to think that in the opening few minutes of the movie, Syndrome was almost cast as a one-note adversary rather than the major antagonist.

The ‘Incredibles’ Villain Was Almost Completely Different

The opening of The Incredibles was initially supposed to take place at a suburban barbecue where Bob and Helen Smith (rather than Parr) struggle to make friends, according to writer/director Brad Bird. Bob gets sidetracked while seeing Helen and a neighbour argue about the importance of parenthood and unintentionally smacks a butcher knife down on his fingers. The knife naturally bends around his hand, but the other guests at the barbecue don’t see this and think he’s hurt. Bob and Helen joke about the event as they flee with baby Violet, but the scene ends somberly because of their predicament of being in hiding.

A bad guy from their past pays them a visit that evening. This is the character’s initial design; like Bomb Voyage (Dominique Louis), Syndrome was originally intended to be significantly smaller in size. That was pretty much the limit of Syndrome’s intended role: to disclose that the Smiths were once superheroes. The Smiths battle Syndrome and flee before the home catches fire (with Syndrome still inside).

An elderly, well-dressed antagonist by the name of Xerek was originally intended to be The Incredibles’ major antagonist. What could be more unlike from a flashy man-child with access to a whole island’s worth of testing grounds and a collection of lethal weapons than a supposedly mild-mannered man with contacts in both the hero and villain worlds? In particular, when it comes to close relationships to one of the characters, some of Xerek’s ambitions carried over to Syndrome. However, this villain was more closely related to Elastagirl (Holly Hunter) than to Mr. Incredible. Xerek would undoubtedly have been a personal enemy of Helen’s and, consequently, the Parr family. He was an ex after all.

Unfortunately, nothing is known about Xerek or his genuine intentions; part of his appeal is the mystery. While he was never included in the movie’s final edit, he did make an appearance in the Incredibles comic books that were published in conjunction with the film but were regrettably cancelled before their run was complete. Xerek, who is shown as an elderly guy wearing a fine suit, stands apart from the vibrant superheroes.

However, Xerek has drawbacks in his role as a bad guy. If Helen had been the major protagonist instead of Bob, he would have been a far stronger candidate to serve as the main antagonist. Due to their shared past and close relationship, it wouldn’t have been as effective to use Xerek as Bob’s opponent in a narrative with Bob as the main character. There would have been less interpersonal friction and risk involved.

Due to the sequel’s greater emphasis on Helen, Xerek might have been better off in The Incredibles 2. Sadly, Screenslaver instead of Xerek was given the opportunity to feature in that film. When it comes to feature films, it appears as though Xerek will never get his due.

‘The Incredibles’ Villain Should Have Been Syndrome

Syndrome has a lot more oomph than Xerek, and is also a stronger character counterpart for Bob. After viewing the storyboards for the opening of the movie, writer and director Brad Bird claimed that Xerek had a far less impact than Syndrome. Syndrome held viewers’ interest despite having little screen time in the main plot. The storyboards for the house invasion scenario are exciting, hectic, and terrifying; Syndrome’s performance here solidified his promotion to key antagonist from one-and-done adversary.

The Incredibles is also a kid’s movie, despite the fact that it is action-packed and has a lot of danger and death. It may feature many dark themes and mature scenes. With his darkly playful energy, Syndrome is a better fit for this sort of tale than Xerek would have been for the opposing tones of the movie.

It’s difficult to picture The Incredibles without their recognisable villain for a reason. One of the numerous elements of The Incredibles that contributed to its excellent quality is Syndrome, and he undoubtedly added to the humour and good times, even if he was responsible for scores of documented fatalities. In only fifteen years, Syndrome transformed from a spurned fanboy to a hilarious and deadly antagonist, and Mr. Incredible plays a significant role in his goals. The Incredibles would have been a very different plot if his character had remained in the first half of the movie as the one-and-done Syndrome.

The tale was improved by Syndrome’s rise from supporting role to adversary with panache. The movie would have suffered if he had stayed in the background. The Incredibles is a fantastic superhero narrative because to its outstanding use of character, setting, action scenes, animation, music, and structure, and Syndrome is doing his part to make it such. He is far more well-known than Xerek would have been, and he is far more iconic than Screenslaver was in the sequel. The sole drawback of syndrome? Nobody ever cautioned him about donning a cape.

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