I remember going to see Megamind, the story of a stereotypical villain who becomes a hero, with faint trepidation as well as hope. I was hoping because I thought the set-up was clever–why do these brilliant supervillains, with inventions and minions aplenty, never win? Maybe because they unconsciously don’t want to, and if they succeeded in killing the hero would be stricken with remorse and grief.
I was fearful because Will Ferrell was doing the voice for the hero, and like Nicholas Cage and Steve Carell, I know that he is famous but I will never understand why. It is an enduring mystery to me, like the meaning of life or how to accurately read maps.
So, the main players in the movie: Megamind, the supervillain inventor, Metroman, the superhero he believes he’s killed (in reality, not so much) who is like if Elvis and Superman had a love child, Minion (the minion and BFF of Megamind), and Hal, a weak-minded cameraman who Megamind tries to transform into a superhero so that Megamind can have someone to fight and define himself against once more. Except that power corrupts, and super power super corrupts. Awkward.
And Roxanne Ritchi, the reporter who Hal cameramans for. If Lois Lane and Tina Fey had a baby, that baby would be Roxanne Ritchi. (She is actually voice acted by Tina Fey, who I will love forever for writing Mean Girls among many other reasons.)
Roxanne is the sassy girl reporter archetype. And I really loved her. She made me remember why I loved that archetype. And she is treated with respect by the movie: she is portrayed as the one consistently in the right, and the one who is critiquing the movie’s narrative almost from the start. She is the only character who never gives up.
Admittedly I did not love her right off. In her first scene, she describes Metroman thus: ‘His heart is an ocean within another ocean…’
Then she is promptly kidnapped.
Not a promising start, I thought.
But then, once kidnapped and restrained, she… mocks the villain for his predictable deathtrap array. ‘Your plans never work’ she observes, because she is aware of her narrative! She yawns in the face of sharks with lasers on their heads.
When Metroman rushes to her aid she communicates her location in a calm enough way: she wants to be rescued efficiently, it’s routine to her, as if she wants him to pick up the drycleaning.
The dudes are exchanging Witty Superhero Quips–‘Revenge is a dish best served cold!’ ‘But easily warmed in the microwave of evil’–when she breaks in with, ‘Girls, girls, you’re both pretty. Can I go home now?’
She is totally unfazed. Roxanne Ritchi does not have time for this nonsense.
When Metroman apparently dies, Roxanne is obviously grieved by the sight of a dead body, but she is not freaked out the way our villainous hero is. He’s the one who freaks out: she remains the stoic determined character we’re beginning to see she is.
As the superhero is apparently dead, evil triumphs. The city is taken over.
Roxanne goes on TV and demands of their new totalitarian overlord–‘Are you happy now?”
He is not. She conveys her power with words, as her weapon of choice: she articulates her feelings and Megamind’s as she mourns their hero and her city.
She is being relentlessly Nice Guy’d by her camera man Hal, who invites her to parties at his house that will actually on further questioning be just the two of them. She shuts him down nicely all the time: the narrative never suggests that she should do anything else. His behaviour is gross and she should feel gross about it! Dudes who think they are entitled to a lady just because they want her, the movie and Roxanne suggest, are gross.
‘Heroes aren’t born, they’re made’ she says, and provides Megamind with the plot (scientifically give someone super powers) when all she meant was that someone, anyone, could BECOME a hero if they chose.
When Megamind races off on an insane mission, Roxanne herself decides to BECOME a hero, proving once again that she is always about a hundred steps ahead. She works out Megamind’s secret lair and she charges right in. Hal the cameraman’s all ‘Not again’ as if she charges off all the time, and I believe she does!
When her helper Bernard (secretly Megamind in disguise) is kidnapped by… uh, Megamind (complicated, his evil plans are always so complicated) she seizes a gun and threatens the supervillain to protect her new friend. When grabbed and disarmed herself, she yells at Bernard to run: she naturally takes the lead in a fight against evil. Roxanne acts for the majority of the movie as her own hero.
Megamind is her sidekick. And he finds he likes being her sidekick.
‘I never heard you laugh before’ Megamind says to Roxanne, finding out that relationships work better when you make ladies laugh than when you seize them.
Roxanne, it is clear, likes funny, nerdy guys who are happy to sidekick her.
‘All you have to do is save her and she’ll be yours’ says Megamind to Hal, speaking of Hal’s crush who Megamind does not know is Roxanne, but Megamind is as usual dead wrong, blinded by what he thinks is the inevitable structure of a narrative.
Roxanne was never attracted to dudes who swept in to save her. She was never with the hero she was paired with in the media. They were obviously pals, but nothing more! (I actually wondered if I was meant to think Metroman was gay. Which would have been excellent.)
‘The bad guy doesn’t get the girl’ says Megamind’s Minion. But Roxanne the feisty reporter, from the start, is not interested in the conventions of narrative.
Titan, the new superhero–i.e. Hal, the camera man with super powers, comes and flies with her–she does not like it, because turns out, being helplessly flown around with is totally terrifying–and he believes they will now have a romance because ‘You’re supposed to be with me.’
‘No,’ says Roxanne: no, no and no. Sorry, buddy. Roxanne is owed to no man, however superpowered or airborne.
Roxanne works out that Megamind created Titan, and also says firmly something that Megamind hadn’t realised: that Hal is a terrible choice. Again, she is the only person clear-eyed enough to see the situation as it actually is.
‘You judge a person by their actions’ says Roxanne to Megamind, and then they make out. Unfortunately Roxanne’s kissing is so sensational that Megamind transforms back to his original form, and she discovers ‘Bernard her sidekick’ is an illusion. Roxanne has moves.
‘Trickery!’ says Roxanne, furiously, and dumps Megamind like a ton of bricks that are on fire. Megamind’s like ‘Narrative inevitability!’
Roxanne is like ‘Again you misunderstand me. I mean that you’re a deceitful jerk.’
But then a plot crisis comes: Titan suggests to Megamind that they should team up and be partners in evil, because being a hero is for losers, especially if he is not delivered the reward of a lady. Megamind is stunned by this waste of Titan’s powers, and fights him: when defeated Megamind expects to be taken to jail, but he ends up running because Titan plans to kill him. He has to deal with an actual villain: he has to see the damage wrought when other people won’t play fair.
‘Congratulations, another of your genius plans has backfired,’ says Roxanne. She ain’t even surprised.
‘I need your help–you’re one of the smartest people I know’ Megamind admits.
When they go to Metroman’s hideout, it is Roxanne with her eye for details who notes evidence someone is living there. It is in fact Metroman, who faked his own death to run away and become a rock star. Metroman tells Megamind that he realises he had a choice and can be whatever he wants… but Roxanne knew that all along.
Roxanne is furious that Metroman deserted the city. Also, she is the only one who realises the truth, that Metroman’s music is terrible. Roxanne is surrounded by idiots: she finds it very tiring.
But she works with what she has. Finding Metroman a deserter, Roxanne’s new plan is to grab some of Megamind’s superior tech and fight. Megamind is like ‘All is lost! Narrative inevitability!’ and Roxanne develops a migraine.
Everyone gives up but Roxanne. It is not her style.
Roxanne goes off to confront Hal by herself, and try to reason with him. She has a way with words that she’s right to be confident about. She knows this guy and she hopes–as you would–that he has a core of decency. Sadly for her, this guy is terrible and he kidnaps her.
Roxanne has Stockholm Fatigue: she is very very bored with being kidnapped.
When Roxanne is captured by Titan, she gives a rousing speech on camera when Titan expected her to plead for help. She once again uses her words and her perceptiveness: she sees the best in Megamind–he is very persistent and brave–and inspires him to fight, using his inventions. (Which… if you will recall… was Roxanne’s plan to start with.)
‘I lied to Roxanne’ is Megamind’s verdict on his treatment of her: that was the worst thing he did to her. His journey is from being blind to seeing things the way Roxanne does–clearly.
‘You see the best in everyone even when it’s not there. There is no Santa Claus, there is no Easter Bunny, and there is no Queen of England’ says Hal. Not only funny, but true: sometimes people disappoint you, but there IS a queen. Roxanne is right to believe the best of people, because sometimes it pays off: it pays off to believe in Megamind.
‘I knew you’d come back’ she says when he turns up to battle Hal. ‘That makes one of us,’ says Megamind.
Megamind has used his technology to disguise himself as Metroman–who he secretly wanted to be all along. What he says to her when he rescues her is ‘You were right, Roxanne.’ Because she was.
And when Titan is temporarily run off and he goes back to Roxanne, he turns back to himself. Disguise isn’t the answer, not for Roxanne and sadly not for Titan, as Titan works out Megamind isn’t Metroman and returns to murder him.
Roxanne sees where the de-superpowering weapon is hidden, and relays to Megamind in a coded way where it is: because they are intellectual equals, and because of course Roxanne has a hand in defeating the villain.
They get together at the end of the movie, you may not be surprised to learn. Admittedly this is complicated as he has kidnapped her a bunch of times and lied to her, but I did like how Roxanne was obviously never afraid of him–and how he wooed the girl through sidekicking. In the end, the relationship stands this way: Roxanne has to intervene for a socially awkward dude & teach him how to present himself better and more honestly. And Roxanne is happy to do this because she gets a relationship with a dude who makes her laugh, who is a genius whose inventions can be used to benefit the world and who will be following her lead.
Megamind describes her as his reason to win, and Megamind is the one who defeats the hero. It’s Megamind’s movie: he and not Roxanne is at the centre of the narrative. And I liked him! But Roxanne was the one who spoke to me the most.
Megamind lies to himself and the world constantly. Roxanne is dedicated to the truth, and discovering the truth about yourself is the message of the story.
I love a sleuthing lady generally, but I specifically love a reporter heroine because I love words, and the stories built out of them. I am fascinated by the idea of truth and discovery, and the courage needed to discover the truth. I wanted Kami of Unspoken to be like that.
It did not hurt that Roxanne was funny, sassy and a snappy dresser. Also apparently she was deliberately made to be both super hot and have wide hips, which is nice for a change!
‘All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered. The point is to discover them,’ said Galileo. Kami would’ve liked that. So would Roxanne Ritchi.