The Incredibles’ Nearly Featured a Completely Different Bad Guy

In Pixar’s ‘The Incredibles,’ a major change in the initial storyline nearly resulted in a different main villain. The film, even after almost two decades since its release, remains a well-crafted family-oriented superhero tale with a blend of entertainment and darker themes. The characters, both heroes and villains, are exceptionally well-developed, and the film’s self-awareness about superhero tropes is cleverly executed. However, what stands out as one of ‘The Incredibles’ highlights is the character of Syndrome, originally known as Buddy Pine, portrayed by Jason Lee. He transforms from Mr. Incredible’s number one fan into his number one rival, representing an exemplary villain: distinctive, memorable, and a perfect foil to the hero’s weaknesses.

Initially, the film’s beginning was set at a suburban barbecue where Bob and Helen Smith (not Parr as in the final cut) struggled to make friends. In this original version, the character of Syndrome had a much smaller role, akin to a minor character like Bomb Voyage in the final film. Syndrome’s primary function was to reveal the Smiths’ secret superhero identities, but he wasn’t intended to be the primary antagonist.

The planned main villain for ‘The Incredibles’ was a well-dressed older character named Xerek. This choice contrasted sharply with Syndrome’s flamboyant, gadget-armed villainy on a secluded island. Xerek’s character had connections to both the hero and villain worlds, providing a unique dynamic. He also had a personal connection with Elastigirl rather than Mr. Incredible, which would have made for a different storyline, emphasizing different character conflicts.

While Xerek’s motives and background remain largely mysterious, his enigmatic nature was part of his appeal. Ultimately, he didn’t make it into the final movie but did appear in the tie-in ‘Incredibles’ comic books by BOOM! Studios. In these comics, Xerek was portrayed as a reserved, older man in a sharp suit, a significant departure from the colorful superhero world.

However, Xerek had limitations as a villain. He would have been a better fit if Helen were the central character rather than Bob, given their history and personal connection. Placing Xerek as the antagonist with Bob as the main character might have weakened the personal conflicts and stakes.

Syndrome, in contrast, proved to be a better choice. He not only served as a compelling foil for Bob but also added excitement and charisma to the story. The storyboards for Syndrome’s home invasion scene left a strong impact, solidifying his role as the central antagonist.

‘The Incredibles’ balances dark themes and mature moments with its status as a family-friendly film. Syndrome’s darkly playful energy complements this tone perfectly, making him a more fitting choice than Xerek. Syndrome’s transformation from a rejected fanboy to a humorous yet dangerous villain added depth to the film and enhanced its appeal. Had he remained a one-note character in the film’s early moments, ‘The Incredibles’ would have been a substantially different story.

Syndrome’s promotion from a supporting character to the primary antagonist was a pivotal decision that enriched the film. His iconic presence in the film’s narrative contributed significantly to its quality and entertainment value. Syndrome’s memorable character is more recognizable than Xerek would have been and remains a highlight of the film. Syndrome’s only flaw? His penchant for capes, which famously led to his downfall.

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