In spite of my worry that the celebrity voice talent would be too distracting, I decided to watch “Megamind” anyway. It’s fine. Not on the level of “The Incredibles,” of course, and there was something about the “camera” angles and movement that was far more obnoxious and overwhelming than Will Ferrell’s vocals, but I enjoyed my time with the simple villain-turned-good storyline. It certainly wasn’t as frustrating as when invested comic book villains soften, a la characters like Venom and Deadpool turning out to at least wind up in the borderline “anti-hero” classification. Plus, halfway through the movie I developed one of my harebrained ideas upon realizing that “Megamind” deals with many of the same themes “The Social Network” does.
Don’t read further if you’re really concerned about spoilers pertaining to either film, mainly the former. I don’t think I mention anything that’s not in the trailers for “Megamind,” but I’ll play it safe anyway.
One of the main points communicated by “The Social Network” is that nerds can be assholes too. And just because they’re unpopular doesn’t mean male geeks treat or understandwomen any better than the studs, jocks, meatheads, etc. typically associated with misogynistic and chauvinistic behavior. “Megamind” has the same message, though of course because it’s a kids’ movie it doesn’t use the word “asshole.” But it’s implied just fine. The character of Hal (voiced by Jonah Hill) is basically an exaggerated cartoon version of Mark Zuckerberg — or the version of him portrayed in “The Social Network.” Hal is a loser who isn’t very good at wooing his dream girl and co-worker, Roxanne (Tina Fey). When he’s transformed into a hotshot superhero named Tighten, he’s no better with the ladies just because he’s suddenly got the body of a god and is strong and powerful. We can also liken him to Mike “The Situation” Sorrento of “Jersey Shore.” Take away the GTL and he’s simply an asshole loser with bad skin.
To really get the girl, at least one who’s more than just DTF, like Roxanne — I’m assuming she hasn’t slept with the guy she thinks is Bernard (Ben Stiller) at some point during their dating montage — you have to renounce your evil ways. This is what Megamind (Ferrell) does, and eventually, in spite of his freakish appearance as well as his deceptive, Cyrano-esque means (hey, I just noticed the reason the female love interest is named Roxanne!) toward showing his romantic side, he appears to be successful. I guess if Megamind had to have a “Social Network” counterpart it’d be the most sympathetic character, Eduardo, but there’s not really enough parallels. We shouldn’t align them anymore than we should — and will — think of Metro Man (Brad Pitt) as the equivalent of the Winklevoss twins, who similarly represent an idea of privileged, entitled and condemned destiny. Metro Man shows us that even the best can lose and that it’s very difficult to escape a life of “greatness” predetermined by what someone like him or either of the Winklevi are born into.
As with many kids’ movies, “Megamind” has a more fantastic, fairy tale-like approach to the themes. In the “real world” of “The Social Network” the asshole geek ends up a famous billionaire, while in “Megamind” he loses his powers and is put in prison. And the Winklevi continue with their inherited destiny to be rich, good looking and very successful rather than attempt careers as musicians (wouldn’t it have been great, though, if there was an appropriate “Parent Trap”-like duet from the dual Armie Hammers?) or anything else they might have preferred to do than follow in the tradition and expectation of Harvard, business, athletics, etc. Always the childhood-grasping dreamer that I am, I prefer the cartoon version of this moral lesson.