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Villainy! Have politics hijacked 'toons?

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"The message of blind faith, though certainly harmless in the context of a Santa Claus story, may trouble viewers who see the same principle at work today in US foreign policy," says critic Stuart Klawans, author of "Left in the Dark" and "Film Follies."

But how about "The Incredibles," about superheroes forced to hide their powers when the public turns against them?

A scene cited by several critics shows a homemaker, the former Elastigirl, reminding her husband, the former Mr. Incredible, that their superspeedy son Dash will be graduating soon. "He isn't graduating," says Mr. Incredible with disdain. "He's only moving from fourth grade to fifth grade.

"They're constantly finding ways to celebrate mediocrity!" he adds, exasperated that Dash gets honored for an ordinary achievement - but can't join his school's track team, because his superpowers would make it unfair to the other kids.

Is there a subtle sociological statement embedded in "The Incredibles"?

"I can't help thinking of [philosopher Friedrich] Nietzsche and his idea that some people are better and more deserving than others," says Mikita Brottman, professor of language and literature at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

"The movie salutes Superman," Dr. Brottman adds. "Not the 'superman' in comic books but the one [despots] believe in. Its idea seems to be that even in a democracy some people are 'more equal' than others, and the rest of us shouldn't be so presumptuous as to get in their way."

Reviewers have been raising these concerns, too. "The Incredibles" suggests "a thorough, feverish immersion in both American comic books and the philosophy of Ayn Rand," writes A.O. Scott in The New York Times, referring to the founder of "objectivism," a philosophy anchored in capitalism and atheism.

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