So, what's it really like to be a superhero? Sure, it would be cool to fly. But what about all those day-to-day super-hassles, like getting your cape caught in a door?
And what happens after you smash through a brick wall? Who's gonna pay for that?
These are logical questions. But they could only come from the wonderfully weird minds at Pixar (search) -- the computer-animation funhouse that dreamed up a shark support group and the motto "Fish are friends, not food" for last year's blockbuster hit "Finding Nemo."
After making box-office history with "Nemo," "Toy Story" and "Monsters, Inc.," Pixar is back with "The Incredibles," (search) the much-anticipated new movie about a chubby retired superhero who's now, as ads say, "twice the hero he used to be."
"It's all about mixing the mundane with the fantastic," says Brad Bird, who directed the movie, which opens this weekend.
So we get Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson), who used to save the world from supervillains (including a mad French bomber named Bomb Voyage) but now punches the clock at an insurance company.
There's also his wife, Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), who mainly uses her super-stretchiness to reach the vacuum cleaner under the couch, and their kids: grade-schooler Dash (Spencer Fox), who uses super-speed to put tacks on the teacher's chair, and Violet (Sarah Vowell), who, like most awkward teens, just wants to turn invisible. Only she really can. Here's your behind-the-scenes guide to "The Incredibles," which is set to be one of the year's biggest movies.
1. The Incredibles and the Simpsons are practically cousins.
"Incredibles" director Bird was a founding staffer at "The Simpsons" and worked there for eight years, directing many of the Krusty the Klown episodes. He also directed the 1999 cartoon critical fave "The Iron Giant," about a huge metal spaceman who comes to the coast of Maine in the 1950s.
2. Humans are harder to animate than fish.
The Pixar animators made us fall in love with toys and monsters, and their next movie is about a bunch of vintage cars driving down Route 66.
But until "The Incredibles," they've avoided focusing a whole movie on animated people.
"It's a simple rule of thumb," Pixar creative director John Lasseter recently told Time. "The more geometric a figure is, the easier it is to do with computer animation. The more organic something is, the harder it is. Everything about a human is organic."
3. It's all about the hair.
Pixar had to write new computer programs to make the Incredibles look believable, including millions of lines of computer code that moved a "skeleton" and "muscles" underneath the skin for realism.
It's not easy. During meetings with his animators, Bird would draw what he wanted, using a pen that actually writes directly onto the movie, just like John Madden has to draw plays on "Monday Night Football."
But when Bird asked for long, stringy hair on Violet, he almost stumped his animators.
"At one point, it was getting so late that we said, 'We're just going to have to give her a bob,' " Barillaro recalls. "But we finally figured it out."
4. Pixar has a license to ill.
Bird is a huge fan of 1960s movies, especially the Sean Connery-era James Bond flicks, so he had his animators watch all of them, from "Dr. No" to "Diamonds Are Forever." And that space-age-bachelor-pad vibe is all over the film. There are mini-cars that run on monorails, and the brassy, jazzy soundtrack is full of tiki-lounge instruments such as bongos and xylophones.
5. A little fashionista almost steals the movie.
There are plenty of memorable characters in "The Incredibles," such as Mr. Incredible's groovy best friend, Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), who's "so cool he turns everything to ice," as Bird puts it.
But everyone is going to be talking about Edna Mode, or "E," the diminutive fashion designer to the superheroes. With her extreme hairdo and puckered lips, she's a lot like Vogue's Anna Wintour.
But Bird was thinking about her as a cross between "M," the oddball weapons designer from 007 movies, and the legendary Hollywood costume designer Edith Head.