- "I never look back, darling. it distracts from the now."
- —Edna Mode
Edna "E" Mode is one of the major characters that decides the outcome of The Incredibles.
Edna is a short half-Japanese, half-German fashion designer and auteur. She is known for calling everyone "dahling". She is very talented and as demanding of others as she is of herself.
Edna has created original custom-made outfits for superheroes since the "glory days", saying she "used to design for gods". Her job was important as the supers needed suits that both complemented their powers and abilities and made them look good in the process. It is apparent that she feels infinitely superior to all other designers in the world and shows much disregard towards runway boutiques and modern fashion models, claiming that she had gone to Milan to design clothing for the supermodels, and called them "spoiled, stupid little stick-figures with poofy lips who think only about themselves".
Edna is called out of a 15-year period of imposed retirement to repair damage to Bob's super-suit, but she initially refuses to do so because it is outdated. Instead she sets about designing a completely new suit for him and finds the finished result so beautiful that she cannot resist continuing with the design, expanding into suits for the rest of the Parr family. For safety reasons, she is very insistent on not including capes in the new design (recalling the cape accidents of Dynaguy, Thunderhead, Stratogale, Meta Man, and Splashdown), because while capes look cool, they are also impractical and potentially hazardous.
Later, when Bob's wife Helen discovers the rip of his super-suit has been mended, she immediately suspects Edna as she was the one who designed it and is the only one Bob would trust to fix it. She contacts Edna, wanting to talk about the suit, and Edna insists that she come see her almost immediately. Helen goes to Edna's mansion, where Edna reveals that she has designed super-suits for the entire family, adding that each suit is equipped with a homing device. As Helen desperately wants to find out her husband's whereabouts, Edna hands her a device that gives her his exact location. When Helen finds out that Bob is on a faraway island, she breaks down in tears, in fear that she is losing the man she loves. Edna then whacks Helen on her head with a newspaper, demanding that she pull herself together because she is the famed Elastigirl. Edna then tells her that she knows where Bob is, so go, confront the problem, fight, win "and call when you get back, darling, I enjoy your visits."
The Incredibles in a Magic Kingdom Adventure
Edna stars in the Disney on Ice play, Disney Presents Pixar's The Incredibles in a Magic Kingdom Adventure. She somehow anticipates an emergency at the Walt Disney World Resort (the Parrs chose to go there after their initial vacation plans were foiled by Mother Nature). Then, she hears about a robotic version of Syndrome interrupting the Main Street Parade and holding Mickey and Minnie Mouse hostage.
When the Parrs arrive to become the Incredibles, Edna tells them that she had heard all about the incident and then monologues about how "ridiculous" Syndrome's homemade super-suit looks.
After the day is saved, Edna goes with the Incredibles and Frozone to see the Enchanted Tiki Room (Helen wanted the family to go to the Room first, but her idea was rejected by the rest of the family). It is revealed in this play that Edna has a trio of comical assistants who apparently are supers themselves -- as evidenced when one of them is flattened in an ironing machine and recovers without getting hurt.
Behind the scenes
Director Brad Bird has stated that he intended E to be a combination fashion maven/gadget builder along the lines of 'Q' from the James Bond movies. The character, who presented the Best Costume Design Oscar at the 2004 Academy Awards, along with Pierce Brosnan, is voiced by Bird himself.
Some believe that Edna is based on the real-life fashion designer Edith Head and possibly Mary Quant. However Brad Bird stated on Twitter that E wasn't based on Edith Head, furthermore saying that "People from MANY countries [...] were convinced I based E on a local icon". Her name refers to EMode, a small piece of custom design software used by Pixar (not related to other similarly-named software). Calling the character "Mode" is also certainly a pun on the French and German word for Fashion. Also, her hairstyle, personality, and appearance at European fashion shows may be a vague connection to Vogue super-editor and fashion force Anna Wintour.
Others believe that this character may be based on Costume designer Una Jones, who shares not only in physical appearance with the character, but also in personality. Jones is also acquaintances with many Pixar staff, as she lives near Orlando, in central Florida.
Edna's hairstyle, ultra-diminutive stature and facial features also resemble actress Linda Hunt's fashion editor character Regina Krumm, in Robert Altman's 1994 film Prêt-à-Porter. Her catchphrase of "dahling" may be a reference to actress Tallulah Bankhead.
Due to her astonishing talent with fabric and fashion design—for example, the minimum width of Elastigirl is stated as 1 mm on the National Supers Agency file on the special edition DVD, her supersuit is missile-proof, resistant to temperature extremes, can stretch as far as she can (without injuring herself) and still retain its shape, and breathes like Egyptian cotton—she herself may have some minor mental super ability.
- In addition to Brad Bird, Edna is voiced by the following actors and actresses:
- Thuraya Ibrahim in the Arabic version (female)
- Favio Posca in the Argentinian version (male)
- Nadia Carvalho in the Brazilian Portuguese version (female)
- Eric Kot in the Cantonese version (male)
- Emma Penella in the Castilian Spanish version (female)
- Jiří Strach in the Czech version (male)
- Paul Haenen in the Dutch version (male)
- Anu Lamp in the Estonian version (female)
- Amanda Lear in the French and Italian versions (female)
- Mechthild Großmann in the German version (female)
- Halász Aranka in the Hungarian version (female)
- Tetsuo Goto in the Japanese version (male)
- Dario T. Pie in the Latin American version (male)
- Olga "Kora" Jackowska in the Polish version (female)
- Zuzana Kronerová in the Slovak version (female)
- Ewa Fröling in the Swedish version (female)
- Asif Ali Baig in the Indian version (male)
- In the Disney on Ice live show A Magic Kingdom Adventure, Edna is played by Pia Airaksinen and voiced by Kevin Delaney. Edna's comedic assistants are played by Shae Green, Kristian Ryan, and Richard Stringer.
- Brad Bird says that he had approached Lily Tomlin as the voice of Edna, but when he demonstrated the voice he was looking for, Tomlin suggested that he did well enough to perform himself.
- In the special features section of the special edition DVD of The Incredibles, Edna is "interviewed" about her work in the film. When asked whether working with superheroes was difficult, she replies, "Superheroes are easy, dahling. Mediocrity is much more difficult to work with -- and it is in such great supply."
- An animated Edna (voiced live by Brad Bird) presented Best Costume Design -- with Pierce Brosnan -- at the 77th Annual Academy Awards.
- "Your boy's suit I designed to withstand enormous friction without heating up or wearing out, a useful feature. Your daughter's suit was tricky, but I finally created a sturdy material that can disappear completely as she does. Your suit can stretch as far as you can without injuring yourself, and still retain its shape. Virtually indestructible, yet it breathes like Egyptian cotton."
- —Edna tells Helen Parr about her daughter and older son's suits.
- "Helen: "E, it's great to see you, but I gotta tell you, I've got no idea what you're talking about."
Edna: "Yes, words are useless! 'Gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble-gobble!' Too much of it, dahling! Too much! That is why I show you my work! That is why you are here!"
- —Edna and Helen
- "Edna: "I didn't know the baby's powers, so I covered the basics."
Helen: "Jack-Jack doesn't have any powers."
Edna: "No? Well, he'll look fabulous anyway."
- —Edna tells Helen she is guessing about Jack-Jack's powers, improvising them with the basics.
- "My God, you've gotten fat."
- —Edna, to Bob Parr
- Edna: "This is a hobo suit, dahling. You can't be seen in this. I won't allow it. 15 years ago, maybe, but now? Feh!"
Bob: "Wait, what do you mean? *You* designed it."
Edna: "I never look back, dahling! It distracts from the now."
- —Edna to Bob, about his torn supersuit
- "Edna: "I cut it a little roomy for the free movement, the fabric is comfortable for sensitive skin... "
(a sheet of flame erupts in front of the suit)
Edna: "And it can also withstand a temperature of over 1000 degrees. Completely bulletproof..."
(four heavy machine guns appear and open fire on the suit, without effect)
Edna: "And machine washable, dahling. That's a new feature.""
- —Edna to Helen, on Jack-Jack's supersuit
- Edna: "You need a new suit, that much is certain."
Bob: "A new suit? Well, where the heck am I gonna get a new suit?"
Edna: "You can't! It's impossible! I'm far too busy, so ask me now before I can become sane."
Bob: "Wait. You want to make me a suit?"
"Edna: "You push too hard, dahling! But I accept!"
- —Edna, telling Bob he needs a new supersuit
- Edna: "It will be bold! Dramatic!"
Bob: "Yeah. Something classic, like-- like Dynaguy. Oh, he had a great look! Oh, the cape and the boots..."
(Edna throws a wadded ball of paper at Bob's head)
Edna: "No capes!"
Bob: "Isn't that my decision?"
Edna: "Do you remember Thunderhead? Tall, storm powers, nice man, good with kids."
Bob: "Listen, E--"
Edna: "November 15th of '58! All was well, another day saved, when... his cape snagged on a missile fin!"
Bob (chuckles): "Thunderhead was *not* the brightest bulb..."
Edna: "Stratogale! April 23rd, '57! Cape caught in a jet turbine!"
Bob: "E, you can't generalize about these things--"
Edna: "Meta-Man! Express elevator! Dynaguy! Snagged on takeoff! Splashdown! Sucked into a vortex! NO CAPES!"
(Edna talks in a much calmer voice)
Edna: "Now, go on. Your new suit will be ready before your next assignment."
Bob: "You know I'm retired from hero work."
Edna: "As am I, Robert. Yet, here we are."
Bob: "E, I only need a patch-job. You know, for sentimental reasons."
(Exasperated, Edna takes the old suit)
Edna: "Fine. I will also fix the hobo suit."
Bob: "You're the best of the best, E!"
Edna: "Yes, I know, dahling. I know."
- —Edna warning Bob about the danger of wearing capes whilst discussing his new suit.
- "Helen (sobbing): "Now I'm losing him! What'll I do? What'll I do?"
Edna: "What are you talking about?"
Helen (stops crying): "Huh?"
Edna (shouts): "You are Elastigirl! My God..."
(Edna starts to smack Helen's head with a newspaper)
Edna: "Pull-yourself-together! "What will you do?" Is this a question? You will show him you remember that he is Mr. Incredible, and you will remind him who *you* are. Well, you know where he is. Go, confront the problem. Fight! Win!"
(Edna goes back to normal voice)
Edna: "And call me when you get back, dahling. I enjoy our visits.""
- —Edna giving back Helen's confidence
- Edna (into microphone): "Edna Mode."
(laser gun comes out from the ceiling and points at Helen, who gasps)
Edna: "And guest."
(the laser gun retracts)
- —Edna, going through an identification process
- She is one of the few female characters voiced by a male, as Brad Bird is male. However, she is voiced by actresses in some foreign language versions of The Incredibles.
- Her surname, Mode, directly translates to "Fashion" in German.