Megamind: An Under-appreciated Masterpiece
By Skanda Swaminathan
As most of you know, I have been delving into the world of animated movies a lot more recently, and have begun to see the merits and the artistic qualities behind these movies from an objective lens. One movie that stood out to me personally, was Megamind. Megamind is in equal parts hilarious and introspective. It is a movie so far ahead of its time, I'm not even sure we as a society are ready to watch this masterpiece. That was a joke obviously, but yeah, this movie is extremely ahead of its time because of the themes and characters which I will get into later. While it is a parody of the superhero genre, it is also a loving deconstruction of it’s tropes, and embraces the inherent weirdness of the genre–revelling in its absurdity.
The movie introduces us to the theme of nature vs nurture. Is a person inherently good? What are you destined for? And does the surroundings you grew up in define you as a person? This theme is perfectly exemplified by the contrast between the upbringings of Metro Man and Megamind. Megamind, for all we know, could have come from a benevolent blue skinned species, while Metro Man could have hailed from a race of space tyrants. This ambiguity makes exploring the movie so interesting. Metro Man grew up in a very loving and wealthy household, while Megamind quite literally grew up in a prison, where he is conditioned to believe that wrong is right and right is wrong. We see a glimpse of Megamind’s innocent, kind, and overall good nature as he goes to school, and simply tries to fit in. When his attempts fails and he is mocked by his peers, he returns to the only thing he knew: evil. Metro Man is not the typical hero either, neither was he evil all along. He is egotistical and doesn’t really care about the citizens of Metro City; perfectly exemplified by his intro scene. He even fakes his own death and lets Metro City be run over by Megamind (and later Titan), and never bothers to look back, entirely evading his responsibilities. At the same time, he never had a say in who he got to be, he was simply told that he was a superhero and that is the role he had to play. The movie doesn’t outright say whether that is right or wrong and that ambiguity allows the audience to make their own decisions, making Megamind one of the very few animated movies that doesn’t talk down to its audience.
Additionally, Megamind is highly introspective about the fleeting nature of success. Is it the journey or the end goal that truly brings a person satisfaction? Megamind, after taking over the city, something he worked years for, finds it to be pointless. He feels a sense of melancholy and lack of purpose after achieving his goals. While the initial high of conquering the city was present, it was slowly drowned out by the fact that Megamind had nothing to live for anymore. His entire purpose was lost. However, he slowly regained purpose in the form of Roxanne, and thus it is a tale of redemption. Megamind was redeemed by the person he loves, a testament to the positive influence of love on a person's life. This redemption was slow and gradual, but got Megamind back in touch with his inherently good nature. Megamind was told all his life that he was evil and that he was destined to bring pain and suffering to the people around him. He chose to rise, when every other hero fell. He was the last man standing. I relate to this as I was told my entire life that I was disorganised and incapable of change to the point where I believed this narrative. It took a long time and a lot of effort to break myself out of this, but I did this year, and thus I feel quite deeply emotionally connected to Megamind’s journey.
In conclusion, Megamind is an emotionally intelligent, creative, hilarious, and a lovingly crafted deconstruction of the tropes of the superhero genre; and I would universally recommend this to anyone.