Since beginning the podcast I’ve had the privilege of hearing stories from a diverse group of gamers and professionals. They are always teaching me.
“Megamind” has been played in my blueray player more times than I can count. It firmly holds position as my favorite animation. When I popped it in again this week, I saw something new in the lead female character, Roxanne Ritchie, because of what I’ve been learning from our community about strong female roles and agency.
Tina Fey voices Roxanne, the intrepid KMCP News 8 reporter of Metro City. Roxanne is the damsel in almost every scheme the villain, Megamind, attempts in his quest to eliminate his nemesis and all around perfect guy, Metro Man.
“Megamind” is all about identity and stereotypes and what happens when someone doesn’t fit into our preconceived molds. Every main character in “Megamind” has this issue, including Roxanne. She’s an idealist. She believes you’re a good guy or you’re a bad guy, and that good will always save the day. But she also believes there is good in people, although this belief hasn’t been put to a real test yet.
“Happy Metro Man day, Metro City. It’s a beautiful day in beautiful downtown where we’re here to honor a beautiful man, Metro Man. His heart is an ocean that’s inside a bigger ocean. For years he’s been watching us with super vision, saving us with his super strength, and caring for us with his super heart.”
The dominoes begin to tumble when one character decides that the identity he’s been given is not his own and makes a brave choice to define himself. After this, no one is sure of who they are or what their purpose is without him. They try to replace him but it doesn’t work. They are all in crisis.
Roxanne is a very strong character. She’s wise about human nature, a tenacious problem solver, an optimist, a motivator, a leader, and courageous. She knows what she believes in her core.
Two-thirds of the way through, Roxanne’s ideas are ultimately challenged and immediately, with awareness and maturity, we see her realizing she has to reevaluate what she believes. She doesn’t shut the contradiction down but examines it as is her nature.
Roxanne is a consistent character from beginning to end. She changes her mind about how good and bad are judged but, from the start, we see she learns and adapts.
Her first crisis happens when Metro Man dies, which leaves no one to battle Megamind. She asks the villain, “What do you plan to do with us and this city?” She holds him responsible for the well-being of others the way she did Metro Man.
Megamind wreaks havoc on the city. In despair at the absence of a good guy, Roxanne says, “We miss you Metro Man. I miss you.” This is not a romantic sentiment but simply a crisis in her faith of the way things should be. She still believes in the stereotype. “What are we supposed to do? Someone has to stop Megamind.”
Of course, she’s not wrong. Someone needs to stop the bad guy but the idea of who that should be is what will fundamentally change.
We begin to see Roxanne’s notions become malleable when someone starts cleaning up Megamind’s damage to the city.
“The city parks restored to their original glory. The streets the safest they’ve been. The banks reopened. Has something happened to Megamind? Has someone tamed this monster. This is Roxanne Ritchie, cautiously optimistic and pleasantly confused.”
Roxanne’s true moment of crisis comes when she learns that Bernard, the guy she admires and has fallen for, is actually Megamind in disguise. Her knee jerk reaction is to tell him, “Do you really think that I’d ever be with you?” But we know from the look on her face that she is asking herself that question.
There’s a brief moment at the end of the film where I thought the writer’s had slipped up and removed Roxanne’s agency for the benefit of Megamind, but it isn’t so.
After Roxanne and Megamind save the day she says, “You did it.” She is completely secure in her contribution to their success. The person who doesn’t have confidence is Megamind and it is essential that he hears “you,” “You did it.” She brought him there, guided him, and made him stop and realize what he had accomplished. He couldn’t have done it without her, which he acknowledges by adding, “We did it.”
These are super powers you can’t invent or inherit, and Roxanne has those in “Megamind.”
I’ll Give You a Topic
At the end of the film, Roxanne puts Metro Man’s white cape on Megamind, a symbol of the good guy. Did the characters learn nothing about stereotypes? Is Metro Man the only one that has truely evolved? (Talk amongst yourselves.)