Before Syndrome became the main villain of The Incredibles, the Superfamily originally had to face a mysterious foe named Xerek.
Disney / Pixar Superhero Adventure 2004 The Incredibles presents one of the most memorable movie villains of all time in the form of Syndrome. The former Mister Incredible fanboy turns evil after being rejected by his idol, becoming a formidable arms dealer with a plan to eliminate and replace all superheroes. While Syndrome is widely appreciated for its humor, charm, and threat, there was a time when he was originally only going to be a minor character in The Incredibles, because Brad Bird’s original idea for the film featured a completely different villain named Xerek.
While not much is known about Xerek, the bonuses on the DVD for The Incredibles provide insight into Bird’s ideas for him, just like the book The Art of the Incredibles. Xerek was originally intended to be a decrepit little criminal mastermind with a plan to take out superheroes everywhere using his army of henchmen and robots. Along the way, Xerek ended up being rethought as a tall, dark, and mysterious character akin to a prototype James Bond villain.
In the years that followed The Incredibles‘, some minor information about Xerek has been released to the public. These include the reveal that Xerek was apparently going to be portrayed as an obsessed ex-boyfriend of Helen, while other early scripts supposedly portrayed him as being on the good side by the end of the film. He was going to preside over Nomanisan Island with Mirage by his side, and would also use the Omnidroids which eventually became the focal point of the Syndrome plan.
Interestingly, Syndrome was actually part of Brad Bird’s original pitch for the film, but he was going to serve as a thug supervillain with a fairly minor role towards the beginning of the story, similar to the role Bomb Voyage played in The Incredibles‘ final product. He intended to attack the Parr family after discovering the secret identity of Mister Incredible, only to perish in an explosion, but Syndrome proved so popular among the film crew that he was ultimately brought up. to the role of the main villain. This led to Xerek’s role being reduced and ultimately his removal.
Despite being cut from the movie, Xerek ended up getting a second chance in Boom! The studio comic book series that served as the sequel to The Incredibles. He’s portrayed as the main villain of the comics, retaining his status as Helen’s ex-boyfriend as well as his original decrepit physique, which is due to the fact that he once used a machine to extend artificially its lifespan. As part of a sinister plan, Xerek puts together a team of villains called the Unforgivables, but the comic book series was unfortunately canceled before its endgame was revealed. Incredibles 2 finally published and rendered the events of Boom! Non-canon Studios series, once again erasing all traces of Xerek from the Incredibles universe.
Ultimately, The Incredibles most likely ended up much better with Syndrome as a villain than it would have with Xerek. While the mystery surrounding his character is interesting, it’s likely that Xerek ultimately wouldn’t have been as vibrant as Syndrome, especially given the latter’s outwardly boisterous and attention-seeking personality. The “Rich and Mysterious Criminal Mastermind” is an undoubtedly overused character archetype in action movies, so choosing to go with a rejected sidekick turned out to be a daring, dramatic, and ultimately much more memorable option.
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