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In the Incredibles films, it seems that the villains all rely entirely on technology, while the heroes (while they can use it) have innate powers.

We don't have as many examples as Marvel, but I think there's enough at this point to see a pattern.

  • Screenslaver. Uses brainwashing transmissions and glasses that she created.

  • The Underminer. Uses a drill machine and bionic limb enhancements.

  • Mirage. Uses her technological and computer skills.

  • Syndrome. Uses various kinds of technology; technology is heavily related to his reason for villainy.

  • Bomb Voyage. Uses bombs. It's not totally clear that he lacks powers.

By contrast, all the heroes that I recall seem to have innate powers, i.e. tied to their physical or metaphysical person, and probably heritable. Certainly this is true of Frozone, the Parr family, and seemingly all the heroes in the new film...

..who only act villainous because of Screenslaver.

This is particularly interesting because in the Marvel and DC inspiration, the top villains who fight powered people usually have their own powers: Doomsday, Darkseid, Hela, Zod, Loki, Magneto, and so forth. (Though there are exceptions: Lex Luthor, say). The Fantastic Four, the most direct inspiration, are known for fighting Dr. Doom, a powered individual.

But the Incredibles is different.

Why is this? Has there been any comment on it?

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    @Valorum you could probably argue that's true about a large portion of the villan list above -- Syndrome and SS both had extreme to the point of super intelligence. So does LL from Superman etc. It's also interesting to note that both major villains were trying to achieve something for the greater good with technology, only to be stopped by Supers. Maybe it is time for the Supers to "go away." – Wraith Leader Jun 19 '18 at 18:13
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    @ivanivan - He's not just a "decent engineer". At the age of ten he built flying boots. By his thirties he's designing killer robots and 'zero-point energy' weapons. It's pretty obvious that he has superior (possibly super) intelligence – Valorum Jun 20 '18 at 21:24
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    @Valorum - It doesn't matter. The villains are still technologically based even if they have "super" intelligence. The question is then more "Why do all the villains have only super intelligence and build stuff to do evil, while the heroes use a variety of powers?" But it amounts to basically the same thing. – Adamant Jun 20 '18 at 22:51
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    @Adamant - Not really. How is a super-intelligent villain supposed to use their powers if not by making things? – Valorum Jun 20 '18 at 22:52
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    @Valorum To put that point to an end, Syndrome is not a Super (scroll down to the Syndrome section or see my answer here for the quote), or at least wasn't born one. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 21 '18 at 9:47
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Jealousy/resentment?

I haven't seen the sequel yet. But there don't seem to be that many Supers around. But they do get all the fame and stardom.

The villains could simply be people who are "bummed out" that they were born as a normal person, but they want to achieve great things. Somehow this usually gets out of hand, and they get too powerful. And the Supers stop them.

Like Wraith Leader an ivanivan said in the comments. There is a lot of resentment towards the Supers from "the villains" because they are always stopped trying to achieve great things or they are rejected simply because they are not a super. Why should the Supers have that much power, just because they are born with it, right?

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    FWIW Syndrome didn't have resentment to all the Supers, not initially anyway, it was almost mainly directed at Mr. Incredible after he rejected him. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 22 '18 at 8:40
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Whacko's answer seems to be on the right track.

Resentment of supers is a theme in both movies. To some degree, Syndrome planned to end Supers by (killing them and) by commercializing equalizing technology: "when everyone is super...no one will be". Screenslaver planned to end Supers by permanently marring their reputation.

Another interesting aspect that may pertain to the villains' use of technology is that in both Incredibles movies, the stakes are heightened not just by the immediate danger to general welfare, but by the danger to Supers' right to be themselves.

WARNING: the following may feel like English class:

If you want to get metaphorical about it, it seems there's a symbolic goodness or purity in the Supers' powers when juxtaposed with the technology-driven threats of evil. Assuming that most viewers relate to the Supers, the implications could be something along the lines of valuing intrinsic abilities and qualities. Related discussion here.

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In the tie-in novel A Real Stretch: An Elastigirl Prequel Story, we see a powered supervillain who turns bad after being exposed to some experimental chemicals and decides she'd be better equipped to rule the city all by herself (maniacal laugh).

"But why, Blazestone?" Elastigirl called out.
"Why not?" Blazestone said with a laugh.
"That can't be it. That's not a reason," Elastigirl said.
"Fine. Here's the reason: once I get rid of the Supers, who can stop me?" Blazestone said. "I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. Rule Municiberg if I want. Or somewhere bigger and better!"
Elastigirl knew Blazestone was right. Regular law enforcement would be no match for Blazestone.
"And besides, don't all those stupid rules and regulations annoy you?" Blazestone yelled. "Sheesh! All those meetings! The forms we have to fill out in triplicate. It's enough to drive a Super right up the wall."
"Maybe so," Elastigirl conceded. "But that's still no reason to—"
"Come on! You wish you could handle things your own way, instead of by the book. Am I right?"

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    It's interesting that even she has "get rid of the Supers" as her goal. This is technically the right answer to my question, but I think it also confirms that there's some Theme at play. – Adamant Jun 14 at 22:23
  • There's a comment in one of the supplementary books Never Wear a Cape! And Other Tips for Supers that mentions that all supers have an innate "crime sense" which would imply that all supers are inherently good – Valorum Jun 14 at 22:34
  • Unless they get doused in chemicals, I guess. – Adamant Jun 14 at 22:54
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    @Adamant - She seems to have been plotting world domination before she was given the drugs that enhanced her powers. It's not entirely clear though. – Valorum Jun 14 at 22:55
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I don't think the villains of the Incredibles universe are required to not have powers. The two movies just happen to both have anti-Super resentment as the driving force.

At the end of Incredibles 2,

when the Supers hijack the ship, nobody (with the possible exception of Winston Deavor) spends any time wondering "Wait a minute-- how could the Supers be evil?" Their reaction is pretty much just "RUN FOR YOUR LI-I-I-I-I-I-I-IVES!" Even the crew member who manages to alert the city does so by saying (in paraphrase) "The Supers have taken over the bridge!" in a very cool-under-pressure way.

Keep in mind that the two movies happen back-to-back, so I think it's easy to see the similar plot of the second as a reasonable extension of the first.

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