PG and probably a well-deserved P added to that G. Jonah Hill's Titan is super duper extreme. Like, he's actually kind of scary how violent. It seems like he's something out of The Boys. Similarly, it kind of has a gruesome-seeming death of a major character. It's pretty darned violent. I guess we can't ignore that the movie justifies a lot of bad actions. The movie isn't PG-13 worthy, but there are times where it gets pretty close. PG.
DIRECTOR: Tom McGrath
Last week, one of my seniors referenced this movie in his journal. I didn't really get the reference. It's not like I hadn't seen the movie. It's just that I saw the movie in 2010 and it kind of fell into obscurity for me. I didn't know that Megamind was the thing that the hip kids talk about. But again, this is the same generation that ironically watches The Bee Movie on repeat to get laughs. And now I hate myself because I sound like a Boomer. Let's start over.
I suppose that the biggest curveball that this blog ever took was the concept of family movie night. When I started the blog four years ago, I set up as the mission statement to write about every movie that I watched. In my head, this would force me to de-snobbery the website with movies that people actually watched. Sure, a Criterion Collection blog would have been a novelty. But then I realized that my brain would get tired and I would get a lot of interpretations straight up wrong. I know my own intellect and, as much as it likes to be challenged, that is an intimidating obstacle. So stuff like Megamind showing up was meant to water down some of the more heady, artsy-fartsy stuff. But now it is almost taking over. It's not that I dislike Megamind. It's just that I never realized how little of an impact Megamind has made on my life. I have this emotional jump to all of the many low-impact movies that I rented during my Blockbuster movie pass days. Movies like Along Came a Spider or that Ben Stiller comedy with Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Along Came Polly? Maybe they all started with "Along" or my brain can't help but catalogue useless information into alphabetical order.) Sometimes there is nothing wrong with these movies. Megamind is such an example. It's a fun kids' film that really feels like the product of its time. In some ways, it is very safe. In other ways, I suppose, it actually kind of seems counter-culture. For all the credit I'm going to give this movie by talking about it ad nauseum, it still kind of rests as a forgettable Dreamworks animated picture about superheroes.
The superhero / supervillain subgenre is kind of low hanging fruit for satire. It's really getting on par with the spy commentary that a lot of films like making since Peter Sellers' Casino Royale or Mike Myers' Austin Powers franchise. It makes sense. Sci-fi and fantasy always provide a template for allegory because science fiction is meant to be a commentary on humanity and its potential. Megamind perhaps does the same thing that Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog does and questions if supervillains, given a proper background and some healthy relationships, would actually prove to be more altruistic than characters who have had everything handed to them. Now, I kind of want to look at this very notion within the archetype of the hero. While sometimes, heroes are raised in charming and blessed fashions, more often than not, a hero's background is shrouded in trauma. How many parents or parental figures are killed for the hero to find his meaning? Both Metro Man and Megamind share a similar background. They both come from a dead planet to Earth. Metro Man was raised in an environment that provided him with whatever he wanted. Megamind was raised in a prison. (Okay, I'm on board this joke. The nerd in me wants to comment on Mark Millar's Superman: Red Son, but the writer in me wants to distance himself from that guy.) Metro Man is clearly Superman. Megamind is alien Lex Luthor / J.J. Abrams' Lex Luthor. (Look it up.)
But what Megamind messes up in its Superman archetype is the notion of what it means to be blessed. Yeah, Metro Man gets real tired of being Superman. That's interesting and fun. But what I don't quite see is the concept of the responsibility of knowing that he is the last. What makes Superman interesting is that he is born of trauma, but he doesn't let that trauma burden him. Instead, it inspires him. He is the last of his species. His parents are dead. He has had to hide who he is his entire life and Clark Kent, for all the goodness that he has in his life, is a tether for him. Metro Man doesn't really have that. In the daycare section of the movie, Metro Man is openly a superhero, even as a child. It is a world that has normalized superheroes. Metro Man is unburdened, making the allegory a little bit weak. If Megamind is Lex Luthor, it doesn't quite work. Lex Luthor is based around the concept of xenophobia and extreme conservatism. He believes that humans should come first. Superman represents a weakening of the human spirit with the knowledge that everything comes easy for Superman. He sees himself as the weakened slacker in an Ayn Rand fever dream. His entire existence is over-compensating to prove that outsiders shouldn't interfere with natural born citizens.
But that's not Megamind's motivation. This is a really dark read, and its one that I've made about another movie (although I forget which one), but Megamind's motivation is the same as the school shooters. Listen, I like the idea that the entire story is a redemption arc. I think that is fun and interesting. But Megamind is still a bad guy. The movie celebrates him as the new hero of Metro City. But he created Titan. He has attacked the city time and again and endangered real people countless times. He's an attempted murderer. And it all comes down to the idea that his life was rough. Metro Man used to pick on him and that makes him feel justified to hurt others to find validation. That's...awful. I'm not saying that you can't have a villain with that origin story. Heck, it can ever make a character a sympathetic villain. But what it doesn't do is forgive him for the things that he has done. He's actively a bad person. It's really weird that Roxanne Richie falls in love with him. (I want to get into this in detail, so remind me to come back to this, 'Kay?) The notion that Megamind is allowed to do what he does because he had a rough childhood is absurd. That's why I don't love the Metro Man origin. Heroes often are born of tragedy. It's deciding how to frame that tragedy is what makes someone special.
As progressive as Tina Fey comes across, there's something that is really off about Roxanne Richie. Richie gains points for not automatically falling for Metro Man. One of the greatest evolutions of a character can be found in Lois Lane. She went from being a damsel in distress to being a personality match for Superman. It made sense that Lois and Clark were attracted to one another. Roxanne Richie doesn't fall for Metro Man because he is almost completely vapid. But alternatively, I don't like that she's into Megamind. Part of the message is supposed to be that she sees beyond his odd looks and his past and sees the man at the moment. But their entire relationship is based on a lie. Megamind spends a majority of the film catfishing Richie. He pretends to be someone he's not and puts on a whole show built on lies. Yeah, he's growing as a person, but none of his actions are even remotely okay. As I mentioned earlier, he's still a bad guy. He's just a bad guy who rectified his own mistake. It's kind of what Tony goes through in Age of Ultron. We shouldn't celebrate that Tony beat Ultron because he created Ultron. The same thing is true about Megamind and Titan. He's not a viable adult because he undid the problem he created.
But I do love the commentary about Titan. The movie nails the concept of entitled "good guys." Hal thinks he deserves Roxanne simply because he's not awful at the beginning of the story. Simply because he harbors a crush doesn't make him worthy of Roxanne Richie. I do love that the movie allows Roxanne to state that plainly. Seeing how messed up Hal becomes once he's transformed into Titan / Tighten is horrifying because it is telling as crap. There's nothing fantastic about his use of powers. It's just something to be abhorred.
Yeah, I laughed a few times at Megamind. It's a fun movie that may have some undercooked subtext going on. But the family mostly seemed to enjoy it and I had some stuff to say about it.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.