Reviews of Megamind (2010) and related work

Megamind (2010Moving picture, 95 minutes)

Seen in 2022.

A Superman (1941) parody for children. There are a couple of laughs in it, including Titan/Tighten giving himself a wedgie to try out his powers, but the visual designs are worse than Despicable Me (2010) and the animation is similarly unengaging. Notice the detail that Megamind misreads English as if he had a nondescript foreign accent, like Gru: He mispronounces “school” almost like the German “Schule”, places the emphasis in “Metro City” on the second syllable (as in “atrocity”), etc. This is a couple of levels of imitation removed from genuine xenophobia but the stains are on display, for comedy.

Watchmen (1986), which was adapted to cinema a year earlier, deconstructed the genre. Megamind gets a lot of its soundtrack from the ’80s but does not deconstruct the genre, despite the Superman character faking his own death and leaving a world without superheroes. It toys with genre tropes and the idea of evil as a general inversion of good like “Prophet Motive” (Megamind and Minion discuss what a “bad idea” is from good and evil perspectives), but it doesn’t upset the underlying moral dichotomy of the genre. Therefore, Megamind’s villainy is pretty harmless kids’ stuff, like taking cash from banks, something the FBI in reality calls a “loser crime”. When his innate goodness becomes more apparent, he hides garbage from the streets and from a park, which is also a child’s concept of good. Nobody dies, the military never gets involved, the economy is not affected by property damage, and despite the minor talking parts in crowd scenes, there are no rounded human characters.

Instead of genre deconstruction, this corporate merchandising opportunity is a metaphor for the development of children in a Freudian model: Megamind the villain is the child/ego, Metro Man is the parent or older sibling, and Titan/Tighten is the id. The child’s apparently selfish impulses are reactions against the parent, the absence/alienation/resignation of the parent therefore negates the child’s impulses, the negation of these impulses is itself stifling, and so the child develops its own superego (becoming “good”) to emulate and replace the parent. Along the way, the id causes trouble, but even this trouble is muted by the PG-rated presentation and ultimately defeated. It’s not an attempt to have children think, not even to the extent of The Incredibles (2004).

moving picture animation fiction

“Megamind: The Button of Doom” (2011Moving picture, 16 minutes)

Seen in 2013.

moving picture spin-off animation fiction