Gattaca versus The Incredibles

Gattaca is the story of a genetically regular human whose dream is to travel into space. In the future, positions like this have been reserved for a genetically superior brand of humans, and as such, it is impossible for him to achieve this goal. Vincent Freeman, who is played by Ethan Hawke, undergoes enormous difficulty to take over the identity of Jerome, played by Jude Law, one of the genetically superior who has been crippled in a suicide attempt. The Incredibles, on the other hand, a cartoon about a family of superheros, glorifies the principles of exclusion.

Critics greeted both films positively. Rotten Tomatoes gave Gattaca 82%, while the Incredibles received a 97%. But the message of these accolades, we are told is quite different. Critics pan the unfolding of Gattaca’s plot. Void as it is of violence, robots, and spaceships, the film still manages convey a science fiction story through imagery and dialog rather than gadgets and special effects. But the most significant aspect of the film is its moral message. The RT synopsis of Gattaca states that it is, “Intelligent and scientifically provocative, Gattaca is an absorbing sci-fi drama that poses important interesting ethical questions about the nature of science.” Film Freak Central tells us that, “…it ultimately wants nothing more than to argue there’s something in the human equation that can’t be predicted by science.” So it seems that Gattaca is a story of how human will can ultimately triumph over the bureaucratic exploitation of human characteristics; no matter how carefully we engineer humans, we are still people who have desires and make choices that override our genetic destiny.

The Incredibles, we are told, is not a moral story. It is a, “a family-oriented superhero adventure with the brilliant animation…” Reviews focus overwhelmingly on the quality of the animation, calling it “stunning“, “terrific“, a triumph of design“, literally enough to make one speechlesseverything that an animated film should be“. No one seems to feel the moral message of the film is worth mentioning. Perhaps they didn’t even notice it. But in contrast to Gattaca, the message is start and bleak.

While Vincent and Jude Law battle genetic discrimination, the Incredibles have solved all this. But there is no winning when it comes to the judgment of an Incredible. Buddy Pine was the first to find this out. Just as resolute as Vincent to overcome the limitations of his birth, Buddy is determined to become an Incredible – even adopting the name Incrediboy. Brushed aside by the Incredibles who seemingly could find no use for his obvious brilliance, Buddy is driven to reinvent himself as the evil Syndrome. While Buddy spends the rest of his life inventing devices that would give anyone the same abilities as a superhero, he would fail miserably in his drive for acceptance as an Incredible. It would seem that artificial powers are not good enough to make one an Incredible. For those not born with superpowers, no acquired ability, enthusiasm, or potential would ever be able to make up for this.

Gattaca tells us that genetic differences are not enough to overcome the human will. This is true even when these differences have clear consequences both for the person in question and for others traveling in space with them. And despite Vincent’s brave words when his charade appears to be up, that he was, “…as good as any and better than most”, there were many clues to his charade shown through lack of performance. The Incredibles tell us the same thing. The difference is, they’re the good guys when they do it.


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