How Megamind Can Help Us With Pride

A lot of animated family movies teach the message of “Be yourself and proud of who you are”. For a lot of kids of any age, they need to be reminded not to let bullies or peer pressure get to them. But for some kids who are attracted to the same gender or present themselves outside of the masculine/feminine binary, simple “be proud of who you are” messages aren’t enough.

In 2013, Frozen came out and for a lot of people, “Let It Go” became a coming out anthem. But while the movie (mainly Elsa) does resonate with the LGBT community, it was actually meant to be about mental illness. Is there an animated family film that can be read explicitly as one for LGBT youth?

I think there might be. And that movie is none other than DreamWorks’ 2010 film Megamind.

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This movie wasn’t a huge hit (Disney’s Tangled, which also came out that year, made more money) but it does have a following. It’s a superhero movie with a twist: what if the villain won? And once the villain does win, what happens next? In Megamind’s case, he becomes bored and lonely. He doesn’t really want power, he just wants people to appreciate and acknowledge him. Eventually he becomes a real hero and gets the girl. But I think a queer narrative plays a huge role in that story as well.

For starters, I think you can tell from the poster that he’s queer-coded like a lot of villains tend to be. Skintight, spiky, over-the-top outfits (and some makeup!) and a thin, waifish built. He also has some, ahem, foppish mannerisms, lives with a male best friend who wears a pink apron and raises robot children, can be really emotionally expressive (but not macho or manly), and gazes longingly at Metro Man (the male opponent) just as he does with Roxanne (the female love interest).

And you know what? He’s never demonized for any of this. He isn’t made to be the butt of a joke or gross, that’s just how he is. He’s FABULOUS, and isn’t forced to change, even after he becomes a hero.

What makes me think this is a queer narrative, beyond just how Megamind presents himself, is how his story of discrimination is eerily reminiscent of LGBT youth.

His parents had to send him away, and he spent his childhood growing up (raised by other men) in a prison. When he goes to school he is immediately seen othered by the teacher and the other children, getting no gold stars, put in the corner, and not picked to be on teams. So he has to be independent. Eventually, he decides “if they think I’m a villain, I guess that’s what I’ll be!”

That definitely sounds like a kid from a marginalized identity facing prejudice, and internalizing it. There are unfortunately cases of young kids with internalized homophobia who become aggressive and unhappy. This is a definite parallel to Megamind leading a life of villainy, but eventually realizing that it is depressing and meaningless.

After donning a disguise of a white straight man, Megamind gets closer to Roxanne. He falls in love with her (but still shows a yearning for Metro Man) and even ends up kissing her. When his disguise fades, everyone stops and stares at them with shock and horror. That can definitely be reminiscent of how LGBT couples expressing affection in public are viewed and treated.

Frustrated, Megamind tries to return to being a villain by battling Hal aka Tighten, a ‘hero’ he created. But it turns out the ubermasculine Hal is the real villain, who takes delight in hurting others and is creepily obsessed with Roxanne, feeling entitled to her. Megamind, in all his FABULOUS glory, defeats him and saves the day, becoming the new city hero and Roxanne’s boyfriend.

I think it’s pretty obvious that the blue alien Megamind is meant to be a metaphor for a person of a marginalized identity taking pride in who they are and becoming loved for it. And given his mannerisms, attire, his contrast to the villain, and how he idolizes a male AND a female character, I think it’s safe to say that a bisexual, gender-noncomforming Megamind fits very well. And he can still find love, he can still be a hero, that he doesn’t have to conform, and that he is AWESOME. I think this is something that all LGBT youth can remember when they feel like the world is getting them down.

Happy Pride Month!

 

 

 

Alternatives To Marvel

Marvel dominates the superhero scene, so for people who are looking for something different (or are in no rush to support a company with lots of whitewashing/racism, sexism, and Hydra Captain America), here are some other superheroes you can check out.

HELLBOY

Based on the Dark Horse Comics (which I think they’re easier to get into since it’s one continuing series by the same author/artist, Mike Mignola), Hellboy is an intelligent, thought-provoking series, rich in religious and mythological symbolism and themes and a rather unique hero.

Brought to Earth by the Nazis with the purpose to bring about the Apocalypse but raised by a loving American father, Hellboy longs to be free from confinement, to mingle with people, and to be with his lover, Liz, but can’t be accepted by the world due to his appearance and questionable acts. While he’s rough around the edges, he has a good heart, and his love for Liz is pure. I strongly recommend supporting the two movies since a third Hellboy movie is having trouble seeing the light of day, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy what’s happening so far.

CYBERSIX

Based on an Argentinian comic, Cybersix is a moody,  haunting, atmospheric, and beautiful animated series. It’s about a creation who is struggling to be human, falling in love, making friends, and fighting the evils of her creator. She’s also a great example of a female superhero that is sexy without being sexualized and is actually in control of her sexuality. The show lasted only thirteen episodes but every episode is solid. Please give it a watch. It’s very dear to my heart.

MEGAMIND

A DreamWorks film that starts out as a parody/deconstruction of the superhero movie but becomes a superhero film in its own right. Megamind, an alien who feels that he HAS to be the bad guy because people treat him as such, learns that being good is worth it and that he is about to be a hero despite all odds. While not spectacular, it’s still very enjoyable, and worth a watch at least once.

THE INCREDIBLES

This movie pulls absolutely no punches. It’s very intense, very action packed, and even very adult at times, but the bond between the family and their struggles is what makes the film really good. I’m not sure if there’s much I can say that others haven’t, but, well, this movie is…incredible.

Teen Titans, the DCAU, and other DC properties

DC can be as problematic as Marvel at time, but I can say that these two properites are solid. Teen Titans is a perfect balance of comedy and drama, with lots of character development. Batman: The Animated Series is a classic, but other shows in the DCAU (especially Justice League/Justice League: Unlimited) also hold up really well. They are full of brilliant animation, gripping stories, and compelling characters. DC has also made a lot of animated movies, all of them varying in quality. From what I’ve seen, the better animated DC films are Batman: Under the Red Hood, Batman: Assault on Arkham, Supermna/Batman: Apocalypse, and Wonder Woman. There’s also independent superhero titles such as Watchmen. DC is very big so you’ll probably have to look around for stuff (and yeah, there are some gross/problematic DC properties) but those that are worth it are REALLY worth it.

THE POWERPUFF GIRLS

The Powerpuff Girls – Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup

And I’m referring to the original show (from the first four seasons at least; I don’t think the last two seasons are very good) and NOT the reboot. It’s definitely a classic. It’s funny and clever with memorable characters. My favourite episodes are “Knock It Off” and “Members Only”, which are some of the greatest moments in TV.

Big Hero 6

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No surprise here. While it has it’s ROOTS in Marvel history, it has become it’s own unique identity (and its production had absolutely nothing to do with Marvel, and any continuing products will not have Marvel’s involvement either). You can look through my Big Hero 6 category to get a good idea of why this film is worth it. Just watch it!

There are plenty of others out there that I know of (Spawn, Miraculous Ladybug, One Punch Man, to name a few). I haven’t seen them so I can’t really recommend them, but you can definitely take a look for yourself. You can start HERE to continue looking.

Here’s just a small list of Marvel alternatives. If you have more, feel free to mention them in the comments!