Megamind (2010)


It’s not exactly obvious to the uninitiated, but there are two distinct types of supervillain:

The Bond villain


The Comic Book villain.

It seemed a strange coincidence when two studios came out with movies with supervillains as heroes at the same time, but Despicable Me‘s Gru is clearly the Bond-iest of Bond Villains…

While Megamind is a superhero parody.

Although, to be fair, Megamind, is more than just a parody as it finds some serious things to say about superheroics along the line, more serious than anything the more serious superhero films out there had to say.

The basic story is, of course, rather familiar.  Megamind’s parents, faced with the impending doom of their planet, send him off to safety in a rocket.

As I said, familiar.

Unfortunately, on another planet threatened by the same catastrophe, another set of parents have sent their own son to safety in yet another rocket.

Only the second child — who will become Metro City’s greatest defender, Metro Man, ends up adopted by wealthy parents, while Megamind ends up in the city jail, where the prisoners decide to adopt him.

Unfortunately, Metro Man is a bit of an arrogant jerk, and Megamind’s attempts to fit in with other children fail.  He finally realizes that there is only one thing he is good at:

Being bad.

This leads to a series of epic battles between the two which are — even if Megamind can’t see it — getting a bit routine.

Until, that is, the day that Megamind kills Metro Man.

And Metro City is his!

…Yet he can’t quite figure out what to do with it.

Even worse, he falls in love with Roxanne Ritchi, the reporter who has long been part of his endless battles with Metro Man.

Which is when Megamind makes his greatest mistake and creates a new nemesis with Metro Man’s powers.

And by mistake gives them to the absolute worst person, Roxanne’s nerdy cameraman, Hal, who is so dim that he can’t even understand his own Superhero name and dubs himself “Tighten.”

Which is just wrong on so many levels.

Now there’s a lot of eye candy here — flying brain bots, giant mecha, weird weapons, and a sweet hot rod flying bike — as well as a lot of slam bang superhero action, but it is all in service of a fairly serious story.  Before he can triumph, Megamind must come to terms with his own flaws and failures then throw aside his belief in his special supervillain destiny that has guided his career.

Only then can he become the hero he was always meant to be.

There are a lot of lovely touches along the way: I love our intro to the adult Metro Man with him casually walking on water — but in the same scene he also juggles babies and tosses them around without any mother complaining.

Then there is Megamind’s only friend, Minion, an alien genetically engineered fish in a tiny fishbowl, who has a robot body which deliberately copies the “diving helmet on an ape suit” look of the Ro-Man in Robot Monster.  This also leads to a nice little Donkey Kong reference during a training montage.  Megamind‘s Brainbots are another nice piece of design as they are both scary and comic at the same time.

And, as this sort of thing bothers me when I see it in movie after movie, it is a major plus in the scene where Tighten pulls the spire off a mega skyscraper and heaves it at Megamind, it doesn’t stay together perfectly as in so many other superhero cartoons (particularly the live-action ones!) but throws off vast clouds of debris.

Was that really so hard, guys?

Ironically, Megamind isn’t just a fun, action-filled superhero cartoon for the kiddies, but it is one of the best superhero films in recent years.  It delves into what makes a hero and how having ultimate power is no guarantee that those who have it will shoulder its responsibilities or use it well.

Yet the film remains cheerfully absurd, always funny, and never feels the need to beat us over the head with its message.

Not bad for a kid’s cartoon, right?

Oh, well.  Just don’t expect such a mature look at superheroes in the theaters again any time soon…

(My thanks to Nutsa for her elegant take on this film!)

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