Fourteen years in the making! We have finally received the long-awaited sequel to The Incredibles (2004), and it was well worth the wait!
Incredibles 2 is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time! It not only picked up immediately where the first movie left off, but it also expanded on the lore of The Incredibles! More Supers start making their presence known (possibly forming a “Justice League” somewhere down the line), we get to see Violet’s relationship with Tony Rydinger develop (and the conflict behind it), and, most importantly, we got to see more of Jack-Jack’s powers!
Disney and Pixar have yet to reveal the true nature behind Jack-Jack's abilities. There are a few theories floating around the internet, including: the idea that Jack-Jack’s baby brain is processing many possible abilities for Jack-Jack and that he'll eventually cue in on one or two, or that Jack-Jack is truly a god in baby form with multiple abilities. These are good theories, which do make sense; however, I’ve developed my own theory which is simple, yet complex in its own right:
JACK-JACK DOESN’T TECHNICALLY HAVE MULTIPLE POWERS! HE’S SIMPLY A MIMIC!
Yes, I am suggesting to you that Jack-Jack's actual power is copying another Super's abilities via photographic memory! I’ve seen a lot of subtle hints between the two movies and the animated short Jack-Jack Attack, and I’m noticing a trend here.
Almost all of Jack-Jack’s powers are the same as, if not similar to another Super; said Supers would either be someone Jack-Jack has interacted with, or the Supers who went missing or died previously and were all over the media as a result. Jack-Jack is found multiple times flipping TV channels on the couch, and there’s an Easter egg in Incredibles 2 that I think hints at how impressionable Jack-Jack can be to what he sees.
In Incredibles 2, Jack-Jack flips to a show where there’s a masked bandit robbing an establishment. At that moment, a raccoon is seen in his backyard, and because of the raccoon’s dark patch over its eyes, Jack-Jack is under the impression that this is a bad guy in his backyard because he saw it on TV, and proceeds to go outside to fight the raccoon. Best scene in the movie, in my opinion!
Many of the Supers who went missing have been covered on the news at one point or another, meaning Jack-Jack has likely seen their powers, thought it was fun, remembered them, and copied them in similar nature to DC’s character Amazo, except via photographic memory. What Supers did he see and copy, you ask? Well, I'll answer that for you...
My name is Action, and I'll explain my theory about Jack-Jack with a list of Supers whose powers he could’ve been copying this whole time!
Laser Vision – Mimicked From Gazerbeam
A couple pieces of evidence support this theory.
When Gazerbeam went missing, the story floated on newspaper articles and was seemingly a big enough story to even warrant television news coverage, which would likely be where Jack-Jack might’ve seen his powers.
There’s also a fact that Gazerbeam was a close friend of Mr. Incredible, as he was in attendance at his wedding to Elastigirl. It’s likely that Gazerbeam was killed by Syndrome long before Jack-Jack was born, considering he was a skeletal corpse when Mr. Incredible found him, meaning Jack-Jack never actually met him; however, if you think about it, Gazerbeam's close ties to the family are still worth noting, as Mr. Incredible could’ve shown videos of the two working together in the past.
Either way, however Jack-Jack got his exposure to Gazerbeam, it could’ve left a decent enough impression on Jack-Jack to remember him and mimic his powers.
Pyrokinetic Combustion– Mimicked From Blazestone
Blazestone, another ally of Frozone and Mr. Incredible, is one of the heroes who went missing and was likely all over the media just as Gazerbeam was.
It’s possible that along his television-flipping, Jack-Jack might’ve seen clips of her pyrokinetic discharges, making him mimic that ability and assume the flame form first seen when Syndrome tried to kidnap him in The Incredibles (2004). That power surely stuck in his head, because he would take that form again on multiple occasions throughout the franchise.
Polymorphism—Mimicked From Universal Man
Universal Man was the first Super to be killed by Syndrome and his original Omnidroid. Universal Man’s ability, according to the database accessed by Mr. Incredible, was described as “atomic density manipulation,” meaning he could transform his molecular structure.
Becoming invulnerable was an example mentioned in the film's (NSA) files regarding Universal Man, but changing one’s molecular structure can go many different ways, as seen with Jack-Jack: turning his skin to steel, altering his size, making his body malleable, intangibility, phasing, shape-shifting (morphing into other people as seen in Incredibles 2, as well his “demon form”), wall-crawling, and self-duplication.
If he were to see television footage of Universal Man in action and get a glimpse of someone changing their body, Jack-Jack can be very imaginative with this ability considering he’s just a baby.
Levitation and Teleportation—Mimicked From Multiple Supers
Numerous Supers who went missing have one or both of these abilities.
Dynaguy, Stratogale, Meta Man, and Macroburst, to name a few, are past Supers who had some form of flight in their skill set. His “levitation” could also possibly be gravity manipulation, which would’ve been copied from Apogee, another hero who went missing and killed by Syndrome’s Omnidroid.
As for teleportation, Meta Man himself also had teleportation abilities, and considering Meta Man seemed to be the franchise’s equivalent to Superman, he was likely very famous and all over television. It wouldn’t be hard for Jack-Jack to see him in action at some point on television.
Electrokinesis—Mimicked From (Possibly) Thunderhead
Thunderhead is a deceased Super whose abilities revolved around extreme weather control; unlike most of the others; however, his demise wasn't at the hands of Syndrome.
This one, honestly, is a stretch, but I can see a correlation here. Mr. Incredible referred to Thunderhead as “not the brightest bulb.” After all, he was killed when his cape got snagged on the fin of (what I assumed to be) a surface-to-surface missile set up by a villain, which would then rip him from his boots and kill him. He probably got news coverage as the laughing stock of Supers because of this, and the video clips likely would’ve only shown him controlling thunderstorms, and of course the biggest spectacle of an extreme thunderstorm is the lightning.
This power is not as pronounced as Jack-Jack’s other powers, which I assess relates to the fact that Jack-Jack might not have seen enough of Thunderhead’s abilities on television to mimic them effectively, only seeing lightning in a news clip.
Again, I understand this is a stretch, but anything’s possible at this point.
Telekinesis—Mimicked From Psychwave
(NOTE: I didn’t add an image of him using his telekinesis because it would be a MAJOR spoiler for Incredibles 2. All I’ll say is that Elastigirl is involved in the scene. I'll leave it at that.)
Jack-Jack was shown to have telekinetic abilities which played a part in the final conflict of Incredibles 2 (again, no spoilers here).
This power was used by a Super named Psychwave. Like many others in this article, she went missing during Operation Kronos and was later killed by an upgraded Omnidroid. Her records were found by Mr. Incredible in the first film, but she was likely another Super who was reported as missing when the conflict was starting, meaning newspaper and television coverage, meaning Jack-Jack would’ve seen it on TV somewhere, meaning… you know.
Reality Warping and Dimensional Travel—Mimicked From (Possibly) Meta Man and Downburst
I can't help but notice how much this side-by-side image reminds me of Superman and Batman! That's just me nerding out, so don't mind me. Moving on!
Likely another part of news reports with others on this list, Downburst was another missing Super, killed by the third version of the Omnidroid as part of Syndrome’s Operation Kronos. Downburst’s abilities were described in the first film as "atomic manipulation," allowing him to reshape matter and even heal minor wounds. This ties to the reality warping part, which isn’t as defined with Jack-Jack, and we have yet to see just how far he can go with that.
As far as dimensional travel, I’d go as far as to suggest that Jack-Jack somehow figured out how to combine Downburst’s atomic manipulation with Meta Man’s teleportation, creating wormholes that go into his own pocket dimension parallel with the current physical plane. I haven't seen any indication of another Super with dimensional travel, so this would be a plausible explanation. Time will tell, though.
Also, this wouldn’t be too big of a stretch because Jack-Jack has actually combined multiple powers at once, like when he combined superhuman strength with his pyrokinetic combustion.
Speaking of which…
Superhuman Strength and Invulnerability—Mimicked From Mr. Incredible
Obviously, an impressionable child who is close to his parents would take after them, and this would be the case with Mr. Incredible.
Jack-Jack has watched him lift heavy objects on multiple occasions between both films, as well as spend a lot of quality time with Mr. Incredible when he was a stay-at-home dad in Incredibles 2. When Jack-Jack fought the raccoon in their backyard, he started throwing around lawn furniture like it was nothing, and was taking rabid attacks from the raccoon without sustaining any damage, indicating that superhuman strength and invulnerability are now in his grab bag. This, in theory, means that he watched his father in action enough times to start mimicking his abilities with his photographic memory.
Notice, however, that even though he’s pretty close to the rest of his family as well, he hasn’t mimicked their abilities (at least not yet). This could be for a number of reasons.
Elastigirl doesn’t generally use her powers around Jack-Jack, preferring to be a mom at home and having someone look after Jack-Jack if she has to step into action. Dash and Violet have two possibilities. 1) They don’t interact with Jack-Jack as much, nor do they use their powers a lot around him, and if one of them does, the other is generally pre-occupied with looking after Jack-Jack and taking his attention away from the action. 2) It’s also possible that Dash is too fast for Jack-Jack to follow, and Violet being invisible around the house means Jack-Jack can’t tell if she’s there. No photographic memory means no copying abilities.
Mr. Incredible, however, has lifted heavy items in their house many times, with Jack-Jack looking on happily at him (like lifting the dinner table in the first film), plus he was pretty big in the media during his glory days, so there’s more for Jack-Jack to be exposed to with Mr. Incredible. Like father, like son, after all.
And that's my theory on the meaning behind Jack-Jack's powers! Is it something interesting to think about, or am I just crazy?! It's alright, I can take it! What are your thoughts?!
That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!