I love Megamind.
I shouldn’t. I’m not particularly fond of Will Ferrell, who often seems to be adlibbing to amuse only himself. I’m over the whole “superheroes are celebrities” angle. And at this point I think we all know most villains are just misunderstood.
But Megamind nails it. Ferrell, as Megamind, is a giant blue-headed geek that’s easy to sympathize because he’s not a muscle-bound villain. He’s the scheming nerd to rival Metro Man’s (Brad Pitt, but it should have been Bruce Campbell) ridiculous physical stature. Megamind, you see, is a victim of his upbringing, raised in a prison, unlike his rival Metro Man who was raised on a farm. The two go to school together and Megamind learns quickly that being smart isn’t the same as being popular.
Tina Fey is pitch-perfect as Roxanne Ritchi, lending a cute lisp to a gal reporter that has played the damsel in distress a dozen times too many. She has the majority of the dialogue and shoulders it well.
Rounding out the cast is Minion (David Cross), a fish in a robotic gorilla suit. Cross, like Ferrell, can occasionally overdo it, but here his comedy is perfectly nuanced as a worrywart mother-figure that happens to be a fish in a gorilla suit. He and Ferrell are a great team, like an old married couple that just happens to share a supervillain lair.
All these characters’ fates collide when Megamind finally succeeds in killing Metro Man. Momentarily elated, Megamind discovers that life isn’t quite the same without his archnemesis. It leaves him feeling hollow, and Megamind soon comes to realize that the issue isn’t Metro Man, but himself. Two competing interests help fill the void in the form of his burgeoning romance with Ritchi (disguised as Bernard) and his mentoring of new superhero Tighten.
There are two other characters that actually carry much of the plot: Bernard (Ben Stiller) and Tighten (Jonah Hill). Bernard is the alter-ego of Megamind, who puts his hologram device to work by disguising himself as a hapless museum curator. Tighten (originally Titan, but kids these days!) is the inverse of Megamind – if Megamind is a nerd with outside ambitions, Tighten is a geek with no ambition whatsoever.
What Megamind does so well is contrast the supervillain archetype. Every nerd has faced off against a jock and felt inferior. Every geek secretly harbors a brilliant, raging Megamind-like ego and a needy, insecure Tighten. And for every clean-cut celebrity espousing healthy living and high morals, there’s a heavy metal opposite who craves the same spotlight. Megamind and Metro Man are also Gen X heroes, representing the uncertainty of thirty-somethings trying to figure out what they want to be now that they’ve grown up. The contrast is heightened by Tighten, a Gen Y punk who would rather waste his superhero powers playing videogames (kids these days!).
In the end, what Megamind does best can be summed up in the one word he uses to distinguish a true supervillain from a jerk: PRESENTATION!