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MEGAMIND

Seeking Likeable Characters
The relationship between Metro Man and Megamind is the classic superhero/super-villain dichotomy. The most iconic villains are a funhouse mirror image of the hero. The good guy represents the nobility, heroism and potential of the human race, while the bad guy represents its greed and lust for power. "Megamind” also plays with the provocative idea that good and evil cannot exist without each other. "The relationship between Megamind and Metro Man is symbiotic,” explains head of story Catherine Yuh Rader. "Megamind believes that there is a mutual respect, a sportsmanship to their battles, and that good and evil are integral to each other. Megamind regards Metro Man as the ultimate adversary, despite that fact that he loses to him every time.” Sent to Earth from a dying planet on the verge of being sucked into a black hole, Megamind inadvertently lands in the Metro City prison and grows up amongst the lowest of the low. He becomes a villain, but only because he believes his destiny made it so. It takes him awhile (and a few major superhero-related events) to realize the benefits of becoming a hero…and that destiny may be more of a circuitous path than a straight road.

One of the most important attributes of a great main character is its likeability—evil or no, the audience needs to relate to him. The fact that Megamind is a blue evil genius raised in Metro City's prison might have made that more difficult, but producer Denise Nolan Cascino disagrees, saying, "We do charge him with being the villain, but we know he isn't really a killer at heart. He actually has a pretty high moral code.”

To give "Megamind” the right tone and balance—to find the likeable in the criminal—the filmmakers turned to comedic genius Will Ferrell to bring Megamind to life. "Casting Will Ferrell was key,” says Breay. "He has this incredible ability to play a bombastic egomaniac hell-bent on world domination in a way that makes him not only hilarious, but lovable. He shows us the vulnerability and longing that's behind the deluded buffoon, and you can't help but root for him.”

Will Ferrell adds, "Megamind is trying his best to be tough and evil, and he really wants to be taken seriously. But at the end of the day, no one is really that afraid of him. Maybe it's because he's blue – it's just not that scary a color.”

Metro Man's origin is similar to Megamind's—both home planets shared the same sad fate. His parents also sent him to Earth in an escape pod, moments before his planet was destroyed. While Megamind landed in a prison, Metro Man found himself in a comfortable, upper middle class home. Tom McGrath says, "Here's the guy who has handsome good looks, even as a kid, and he's given everything. Right out of the box, he can fly and has laser vision. He had it easy his whole life, while Megamind had it very hard.”

The inverse to Megamind in many ways, Metro Man lived a privileged childhood, and he knows it. His powers developed early, "flying around the house as a toddler while holding his surrogate mother was an easy feat for the young superhero,” says Catherine Rader, head of story. "Thanks to a little luck and natural abilities, his life has been effortless and easy, and everyone loves him.”

Metro Man is just as much a hot celebrity in Metro City as he is its savior. The people of the town look up to him, and their reliance upon his thwarting Megamind is a constant. Production designer David James says, "He's a little like that guy in high school, the captain of the football team and president of the student body. You're supposed to like him.”

But there may be a different side to Metro City's finest hero, one unseen by all his fans. As James confides, "Not to give away too much, but the famous, big, brawny guy who everybody loves in reality may not be that great of a guy.”

With the surprising defeat of Metro Man, Megamind is grief-stricken. His whole life has been spent in physical and intellectual competition with his nemesis, and now, that game is at an end. "Under the maniacal laughter, villainous theatrics and fancy gizmos, Megamind is an endearingly naive and vulnerable character,” explains Rader. "He just wants to restore the balance of good and evil, and regain his sense of purpose in life.”

Metro Man, on the other hand, sees this as a new lease on life. He feels as though the citizens of Metro City were taking him for granted - why worry about danger when Metro Man is always around to save you? "In the way that Megamind was defined as a ‘bad boy,' Metro Man was defined as a ‘good guy,'” explains the director. "And maybe he didn't want to be the hero that has to clean up the city. He wanted to do something different. So in our film, he figures out a way to pursue his true passion.”

Not all villains are cold-hearted – we learn they can feel love, too. Megamind's heart is eventually captured by Roxanne Ritchi, the sassy, smart and beautiful reporter standing with a mic at the center of the action. A zealous journalist with a sharp tongue, Roxanne is the hostage in nearly every one of Megamind's attempts at taking over Metro City. Though she is always saved by Metro Man, his help is often unnecessary. "Our damsel in distress is much stronger than anybody else in the movie and can actually take care of herself,” says McGrath. "She's witty and sarcastic, and she's voiced elegantly by Tina Fey. It was fun to play with the concept of the bad guy and the heroine as a couple, as if Lex Luthor and Lois Lane realized they had more in common than they thought, and they actually had an opportunity to get together…and they hit it off.”

Tina Fey adds, "I like her. I think she's strong, but still warm. I like that she's not really scared of anything. And, of course, I like all the attention—she, she likes all of the attention.”

Roxanne winds up having an interesting effect on Megamind. While she has always been in his life (as the victim in all of his schemes), the story allows the two to have a chance to really get to know each other. Tom McGrath explains, "Through this relationship with Roxanne, Megamind starts to see the good in the world. And I think with all of us, too, once you experience love, you start to see the world in a different way. It really affects him and ultimately allows him to be the hero, step in and try to save the day.”

Megamind is not the only one smitten with the beautiful Roxanne Ritchi. The reporter's bumbling camera operator, Hal Stewart, has been harboring a crush on Roxanne for years. McGrath says, "He's seen her just through the camera lens as they worked together. It is rumored that Roxanne has a relationship with Metro Man, but Hal wants to be that guy.”

The designers looked to the Golden Age of comics for their inspiration for nerd-turned-short-lived superhero (turned dangerous supervillain), Hal/Tighten. Production designer David James describes him: "A slacker cameraman, Hal is our version of the boy photographer sidekick…if he were consumed with envy and loathing.”

In a misguided attempt at creating a new hero, Megamind gives Hal super powers (turning him into the superhero Tighten), but Hal has less than noble intentions. "Through a course of events, he gets his opportunity and thinks that with these super powers, he can finally have the girl,” says McGrath. "But Roxanne doesn't prize the powers in someone, she values substance. She rejects Hal, and that's what sends him off on a dark course of vengeance.”

Breay continues, "Unfortunately, Megamind chooses the worst possible guy in Hal, and his plan unravels. Hal ends up becoming a worse villain than Megamind ever was.”

Youn

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