Hello everyone! With today’s entry, I would like to start a recurring series that you’ll be sure to catch on my blog from time to time – “Unraveling the villain”. In this series I am going to tackle the pop-culture villains of my choice and briefly analyze them – their motivations, their story, their growth. Please let me know what you think!
The following text contains spoilers to the film Megamind.
Amongst all of the animated features that Dreamworks has birthed, my absolute favourite to this day is the 2010’s Megamind. With a boom of superhero films these days, I would like to turn the tables and look at the big-headed, mould-breaking super villain that is the alien Megamind.
It’s safe to say that Megamind was too early to the party – today hardly anyone seems to remember it as much as it deserves to be. But let’s start from the very beginning.
Megamind is sent away from his home planet when it’s headed on the course towards inevitable destruction in a black hole. Just as he’s leaving in a fun-sized spaceship, we notice another alien child from another planet – a Superman-type, with shiny, dark hair.
The two of them end up on Earth, in a fictional Metro City. The black-haired boy is adopted by a wealthy, childless couple, and Megamind grows up in a prison. A couple of years later they meet at school, and thus the real part of their rivalry begins.
Megamind is a production that shatters the fourth wall in a more subtle way than many other films do – instead of directly pointing out that they’re in a film, the characters constantly use the hero-villain antagonism however they please. Well, mostly Megamind himself does that. Because the black-haired kid grew up to become Metroman, a homage to the city that took him in. he is treated like a god. The citizens idolize him, and they hate Megamind who he’s constantly fighting with.
We should probably put aside the reason why both of them seem to age similarly to humans since both of them come from other planets, since as weird and illogical it may be, I would be way too tempted to write this whole piece about this aspect of the film only.
Their continuos fighting lasts for twenty-ish years. They go back and forth, time and time again – Megamind kidnaps Roxanne Ritchie, a successful journalist and Metroman’s sweetheart, then Metroman comes to save her and defeats Megamind everytime. Eventually Metroman himself feels stuck in a rut, which leads him to faking his own death as a means to free himself from the pressure and responsibility of being a hero.
Consider this – if the two aliens ended up on a planet that had no concept of superheroes, or even of good and evil, would they still end up fighting?
It’s possible that the answer to that is no. We never hear of any superheroes or villains other than Metroman, Megamind and Titan, that’s true. Might be that no other people or aliens in the world have such power as they do. And yet I think that it’s the culture they grew up in that shaped their relationship the way it is when we meet them.
Like I said, they could’ve ended up on a planet that has no fixed idea of good and evil. But the community they joined on Earth does. And here, Megamind is actually a victim of discrimination at first. Metroman looks very human, it’s just his powers that make him stand out. But Megamind on the other hand, with his blue body, big head and intensely green eyes does everything other than fit in. He does make an effort though, at least at the beginning, but eventually comes to a conclusion that he’s going to embrace the villainous part of his personality.
Then, something interesting happens – when it seems like Megamind has finally killed Metroman, the villain has no one to fight with anymore. He sure goes through a short-lived high of power when he trashes the city with his sidekick Minion, but then his mood suddenly drops, and he starts feeling empty, having no opponent. Smells like One Punch Man, doesn’t it?
That’s right – both productions follow a mighty person who defeats their nemesis and become depressed due to the lack of stimulation. Because, as Megamind himself put it, he has no purpose. If you cannot advance any more in the skills you have, what is the point? So, he takes the matter in his own hands, and… Things go awry to say the least. The “nice guy” he injects with a hero-making serum starts to feel all too powerful for his own good, and he eventually terrorizes the city. It’s when Megamind needs to step in and become the hero Metrocity so desperately needs.
As it turns out, fate can play great tricks on people and villains alike. Megamind himself entered the “villain” box, and it had to take someone not only powerful, but even more evil than him, to make him realize how great of a hero he could be. It seems that he missed out on many things simply because he failed to see himself in a position other than of “the bad one”. It becomes very clear when he starts opening up to Roxanne about his life, even if he’s speaking as Renard, the librarian. For a moment we can see that the things he went through at school left a mark, whether it healed or not. Eventually, when he did win the fight, get the girl and have people idolize him in the end, there is something important happening that is not really addressed – a start of healing. There is hope that with the right support system, with people acknowledging his value not only for his intelligence and his ability to build complicated machines, but just for him as a whole, for Megamind who chose to do the right thing and protected the city from a bad guy – he can overcome his fear of letting people in and will finally learn to trust others.
This story always seemed so much more to me than it looked at first. It’s not just switching the hero-villain dynamic. It’s about letting people see you for who you are, about finding your true purpose, and about learning to do the right thing even if it seems wrong at first. Plus, there is a very nicely played out romantic storyline, which for me is one of the best ones I’ve seen in an animated feature to date.
If you give Megamind an hour and a half of your attention, you just might find something in there that will resonate with you. There are so many important lessons hidden in the story. Will you unravel them all?