“The Incredibles 2” and its predecessor “The Incredibles” take place in a world pretty much like ours, with the key difference being for a while at least, superheroes were as common as they are in comic books. And the similarities to our world have long made fans wonder when, exactly, all this is taking place. The bad news is that both movies are pretty vague about that question. The good news is that they still have a lot of hints and clues that seem to suggest a specific, highly retro time frame. Let’s take a closer look.
The first thing to remember is the context: 15 years before the start of the original film, superheroic activities were made illegal after people hurt during super-events stared suing the heroes for damages. The heroes were then forced into retirement as part of a sort of witness protection program. Furthermore, “The Incredibles 2” picks up right after the end of “The Incredibles,” meaning the two stories happen in roughly the same year.
With that context in mind, the two biggest clues aren’t lines or elements from its alternate, superhero-filled history, but real world TV shows that the family of supers watch during the course of “Incredibles 2”: “The Outer Limits” and “Jonny Quest.”
“The Outer Limits,” which appears in the movie to foreshadow the powers of the villain Screenslaver, first aired in 1963 and ran until 1965. The episode airs late at night, and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) catches the show’s famous opening after leaving his crib the night his father Bob (Craig T. Nelson) discovers Jack-Jack has powers. Meanwhile, Dash (Huck Milner) watches an episode of “Jonny Quest” one morning during breakfast. “Jonny Quest” originally aired from 1964 to 1965, and ran in re-runs for the next 20 years.
“The Outer Limits” and “Jonny Quest” provide the earliest possible year “The Incredibles 2” takes place — 1964 — but we have some other information as to where to place it as well.
Another clue comes from the first “Incredibles” movie, when Edna Mode (Brad Bird) lists several Supers who died in cape-related accidents (it’s why she won’t make capes for the costumes she designs), and even gives years for several of them — 1956, 1957 and 1958.
If the movie took place 15 years after the last death in 1958, though, that would put “The Incredibles” into the 1970s, so it seems likely that some Supers might have been operating after the Superhero Relocation Program kicked off.
There’s one last piece of the puzzle to consider. In “The Incredibles,” Bob is seen reading a newspaper that lists the year “1962” in its date. That’s more of flavor than a hard date, though, it seems. It also seems too early, based on the other evidence in the film.
So taking all that into account, it seems a fair bet for the year “The Incredibles 2” takes place is at least 1965. It seems more likely that it’s a little bit later, like 1968. That lines up well with the TV shows and the aesthetic vibe of the two movies, while also taking into account the deaths of the other Supers — putting those deaths after Supers were made illegal, but only by a few years. That seems to fit best with all the pieces, without dragging “The Incredibles” into the 1970s, which seems at odds with the old “James Bond”-type feel Pixar is going for.
Of course, if you really must know, writer and director Brad Bird said in a recent interview with Bustle that he didn’t intend for the first movie to have a hard date at all. He just wanted it more to have a 1960s feel, and apparently he didn’t even know that 1962 date was on the newspaper in the original film.
So we don’t know for sure what year “The Incredibles 2” is supposed to happen in, but we do know that while it happens in a completely different world, it shares a lot of similarities with our own.