Last week I needed a break, so I decided to see Dreamworks’ Megamind.
It's a superhero film told from the perspective of the villain (if you’re the type of person who likes to label people based on their deeds), and it’s a good thing, too, because the hero dies about twenty minutes in. So it would be a pretty short movie otherwise.
The hero’s name is Metroman. He has perfect hair, a white uniform, and his teeth glisten audibly when he smiles. He’s the protector of Metro City, although it’s unclear what he protects the city from, besides Megamind.
Megamind, on the other hand, is the villain. He’s bald, because that’s how character designers show that a character is smart. (Are all bald people smart? I haven’t tested the theory, but people do seem to get smarter as they lose their hair.) Bald people are also usually evil – e.g., Lex Luthor, George Costanza, and Michael Clarke Duncan in all of his movies.
Also, in case you couldn’t figure out that Megamind is evil, he dresses in black, sports a goatee, and has spikes all over his outfit to indicate that he rarely gets hugged. (People who get hugged get rid of their spikes after one or two mishaps.) Also, Megamind is blue, because if Avatar has taught us anything, it’s that audiences want to see movies about blue people. Megamind has a sidekick named “Minion”, which in Hebrew means something else entirely. Minion helps Megamind bust out of jail, and even has a kidnapped reporter waiting for him when he gets home.
SUPERVILLAIN RULE #1: Always kidnap the reporter if you want to make the front page.
Megamind proceeds to set a trap, and he accidentally kills Metroman in the process. (Oops.) There’s a tremendous explosion, and when the smoke clears, there lies Metroman’s skeleton, covered in his cape, which is still perfectly white.
I could use the number of that tailor.
At first, Megamind is so happy that he’s dancing in the streets. He walks up to a crowd of cops and reporters, who are literally shaking in their pants at the mere sight of him. He has his moment. Failure after failure, and he’s finally succeeded. He’s the scariest guy in town, and everyone will, no questions asked, do what he tells them to do.
“What do you want us to do?” a reporter asks.
“Um…” he says. “I’ll have to get back to you.”
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie do that. Megamind has been fighting Metroman for as long as he can remember. He’s kidnapped the same reporter so many times that she’s not even scared anymore. She just gets annoyed. She knows it’s not personal. And in fact, after he kills Metroman, Megamind lets her go without a fight. The next time we see her, she’s standing in the crowd of reporters, asking Megamind what he’s going to do next.
What is he going to do next? He has no idea. He was always so focused on the be-all and end-all of getting Metroman that he never thought to plan what he was going to do afterward.
See, that’s why I keep a “To Do” list. That way if I defeat my nemesis, I cross that off, and then I check the list to see what else I’ve got, before I have my press conference.
I believe it was the Joker who said, “I’m like a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it.” But Megamind doesn’t understand that. Maybe he never thought he would actually catch it.
So what does he do next? He steals things – priceless paintings, sculptures, and, I think I saw the Ark of the Covenant. He steals so much money that he and Minion have joyful pillow fights with sacks of cash. But does that make him happy? Not really.
To be fair, he already has the best toys; better than the stuff he steals. He has a talking fish, an enormous robot, a holographic-disguise watch, an invisible car that he keeps tripping over or misplacing, and a machine that gets him dressed in the morning. And because of his line of work, he probably takes it all off as business expenses. What else does he need, really?
Megamind has no idea what to do with himself. It turns out that he enjoyed the chase, and without the chase, his life feels empty. He discovers that running rampant through the streets is pretty tiring, and not very rewarding. He realizes that without a hero to fight, a villain is just a criminal. He’s lost his purpose in life.
“We have it all,” he says. “Yet we have nothing.”
Megamind reminds me of someone who finishes a video game. He defeats the big boss, puts down the controller, and then what? Now he needs another game. That’s why it always bothers me when people use warps and cheat codes to get to the end. They’re losing sight of what they’re doing. You’re not saving a real kingdom. There are no lives that benefit by the fact that you made it to the end. In fact, you bought the game for the entertainment value, and now you’ve shortened it.
So what should Megamind do? Kidnap the reporter again? What’s the point? So he decides to create another hero so he could have someone to fight. He bestows powers on a cameraman who looks a lot like Jonah Hill, and names the hero “Tighten”. He then poses as Tighten’s father and trains him how to be a good guy. That’s how desperate he’s become. (Unfortunately, Tighten ends up becoming a worse bad guy than Megamind ever was, and Megamind is forced to become the hero, defeating Tighten with the help of his minion. Tighten, who could never get a minion, doesn’t have a prayer.)
(Okay, enough with the minion jokes.)
In other words, after finally accomplishing his life goal, Megamind doesn’t know what to do, so he sets about trying to accomplish that same goal again. But life moves on.
Businessmen know this. You can’t rest your laurels on your most recent sale; you have to keep moving or there won’t be food on the table tomorrow. You can’t keep looking backward. Life moves on.
This happens a lot in society. People focus so much on arranging a wedding, planning a vacation, or cleaning for Pesach. And that’s great. But they forget to plan for one minute past that. Their thing is over, and they have no idea what to do with themselves. They’ll say, “What was I doing before I started cleaning for Pesach? I don’t know. I guess I’ll start cleaning for the next one.” Or they’ll say: “Wait. I actually have to live with this person? For the rest of my life? I just wanted to get married!” Or they’ll spend months dieting, hit their target weight, and then what? So they start noshing.
Everyone needs something to look forward to, something to aim for. But if you honestly hope to accomplish the goal you’ve set for yourself, make sure you have another goal lined up behind it.
I’m going to write another article.