Superhero movies will never be the same! From DreamWorks Animation--the studio that brought you "Shrek," "Madagascar," "Kung Fu Panda" and "How to Train Your Dragon"--comes "Megamind", a new take on the eternal battle of good versus evil, or in this case, evil versus good. Meet the villain who is bad at being bad, but just might be great at being good.
Megamind (WILL FERRELL) is the most brilliant super-villain the world has ever known…and the least successful. Over the years, he has tried to conquer Metro City in every imaginable way - Each attempt, a colossal failure, thanks to the caped superhero known as "Metro Man" (BRAD PITT), until the day Megamind actually defeats him in the throes of one of his botched evil plans. Suddenly, the fate of Metro City is threatened when a new villain arrives and chaos runs rampant, leaving everyone to wonder: Can the world's biggest "mind" actually be the one to save the day?
Starring alongside Ferrell and Pitt are: TINA FEY as news reporter Roxanne Ritchi, Metro Man's staunchest ally and the pawn in Megamind's repeatedly foiled schemes; JONAH HILL as Ritchi's super-nerd cameraman Hal, who unwittingly becomes the new superhero Tighten; and DAVID CROSS as Minion, Megamind's lifetime assistant, who's always there to assist in the latest plot…and then rally his friend when success eludes him.
SUPER-BABIES IN SPACE
Destiny is a funny thing. Let's say you're a baby on the planet Krypton, and just before the planet goes kablooey, your dad deposits you in a space module and jettisons you toward the blue-green orb called Earth. Found and raised by good-hearted farmer folk, you grow up to battle evil in all its guises--which is easy for you, because your Kryptonian powers make you super powerful among humankind.
But what if you had landed with people not so good at heart? What would you have become?
Okay, so now, you're one of two kids in space, both popped in pods by your pops, both hurtling toward Earth. And just as in the tale we all know and love, everything depends on where you land--one in a palatial home with loving parents (hooray!), and one in a prison for the criminally gifted (uh-oh!). Super powers schooled in an upper-middle-class home become squarely focused on 'doing good.' But equivalent powers sharpened in lock-down are set on an entirely different trajectory.
Welcome to the story of two babies who grow to become lifetime adversaries: Megamind, the criminal genius, and Metro Man, the charming do-gooder.
In the world of superheroes, super-villains rarely get a chance to play the leading men - those roles are are typically reserved for the dashing and handsome heroes that oppose them. In the epic 3D comedy adventure "Megamind," the traditional superhero movie is upended, as the evil genius finally gets the spotlight.
Megamind is a delusional, egotistical and completely inept criminal bent on taking over Metro City. When it comes to executing his ever evolving master plan, each wild attempt is a colossal failure, thanks to Megamind's nemesis, Metro Man, the beloved white-tighted hero of the city.
For director Tom McGrath--helmer of both "Madagascar" movies and voice of the beloved autocratic penguin, Skipper--given the choice, he'll take a villain every time. "Personally, I love villains," says the director. "I've loved them since I was a kid: Darth Vader, Captain Hook, they were so fascinating. They have the most interesting personas, costumes, gadgets and catch-phrases. Villains are the most fun."
McGrath was finishing up work on another animated film when he was approached regarding a new project brought to DreamWorks Animation by Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld's production company, Red Hour Films. The story revolved around a super-villain who accidentally destroys his archenemy, and the subsequent lack of competition renders his life meaningless.
The film was "Megamind," and McGrath was immediately taken with the project's potential. McGrath states, "I heard it was about a villain who accidentally defeats his nemesis, creates a new hero to battle, and inevitably has to rise up and be the hero himself. And at the center of it was a love story. Just with that simple pitch, I said, 'Wow, that sounds really unique--to tell a story from the villain's point of view.'"
Beginning as a script penned by Alan Schoolcraft and Brent Simons, "Megamind" takes its lead from well-known and beloved superhero stories, but asks, "What happens when the story is told from the other side?" The task the team at DreamWorks Animation had before them was to create a film about a super-villain, while making the character likable, relatable and most importantly, fun.
Although originally conceived as a live-action tale while at Red Hour Films, many came to believe that "Megamind" would be better told through animation. Yet despite its distinctive point of view, the story would still need to incorporate some of the customary devices of a superhero tale, but just take them down a different path. For fans of such stories (as many on the crew were), there was a voiced concern that the project might take on a mocking, instead of reverent, attitude. But from McGrath down, respect of the genre was mandated. Producer Lara Breay observes, "It was important to us that Megamind shouldn't just be a parody. There have been a few of those in the past and they haven't always been particularly successful or funny in our opinion. Besides, we love superhero movies; we would never set out to mock them. What we did want to do was take the audience's expectations -- their deep knowledge of this genre from the hundreds of movies and comic books that have come before -- and knowingly up-end them to create a story that would be fresh and surprising, even to fans of the genre. Nothing and no one in Megamind is what it first seems, and that leads to a lot of thrills and a lot of laughs."
Director McGrath says, "If you love superhero movies, here's an entirely new take. We have a lot of fun with all the stereotypical trappings of those film, but I feel we made something new and fresh. And telling it in 3D animation is a big advantage over live-action. When creating an animated film, we can seamlessly blend huge effects and action sequences with intimate character driven scenes. It's all integrated. Everything in 'Megamind' is in the realm of computer graphics, where you can push things a little further than you could in live-action and still be right there with the characters."
McGrath felt that telling the story of Megamind and Metro Man using animation would better serve the story. Taking advantage of the limitless possibilities of computer animation, the filmmakers felt they were able to fully explore the theatrical nature of the movie, as well as the relationship between heroes and villains. McGrath says, "In the superhero movies I see now, everything is slicked up with polycarbon fiber and airbrushed metallic costumes. If there really were superheroes in the world, though, they'd be the biggest celebrities, regardless of the shine on their gadgets."
"This is a re-telling of the classic superhero myth from the villain's point of view," explains production designer David James. "Their natures can oft times be much more interesting than heroes, but also sort of dastardly. In this case, the big challenge for us was to make Megamind a sympathetic guy and to give him a history and a back story audiences could fall in love with."
Producer Lara Breay adds, "This is a classic tale of redemption, but what is different here is that we haven't seen a supervillain take this journey before; to rise and become a superhero."
SEEKING LIKEABLE SUPER-VILLAIN, UNFULFILLED SUPER-HERO, SPUNKY REPORTER, CAMERA NERD AND AQUATIC SIDEKICK
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." Read more
HOW DO I LOOK?
The beginning designs of Megamind showed a more stereotypical alien appearance, but his look changed over the course of production. Art director Timothy J. Lamb remembers, "Megamind's initial designs were a sort of spindly, huge-headed guy. But, extreme character design needs to be balanced with what the story requires. Megamind is funny and has this romantic interest in Roxanne, so it was important to ensure that the character design fit well with all of the aspects of the story--not just the blue alien bent on wreaking havoc." Read more
SUPERHEROES COMING RIGHT AT YOU
Moviegoers have been enjoying 3D movies for quite some time, but only recently has the form become a staple of animation. With DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg's mandate to make all of the studio's films in 3D, DWA continues to make large strides in both the methodology and look of its 3D offerings.
Director of pre-vis Kent Seki puts forth a discussion, "If you were to show an audience a current day action film 20 years ago, people would have lost their minds, because the editing is so fast, and it breaks a lot of traditional rules, like crossing the axis line. But we can understand it today, because audiences are more sophisticated and accustomed to that kind of cutting style. 3D is the same way. There'll be a film 10 years from now that you couldn't show people of today, because they wouldn't know where to look. We can begin to develop an additional cinematic language through the use of 3D. It's an exciting time in film making with the renaissance of 3D."
Global Stereoscopic supervisor Phil Captain 3D McNally agrees. "3D is normal and 2D pictures are less interesting," believes McNally. "The ultimate movie experience would be one where you feel like you're living in a fantastic dream. If we could re-create that in real life, that is what we would do to put audiences in this dream place and really bring these stories to life. That would be the ideal way to enjoy stories."
And it isn't in the big explosions or epic battles where the experience pays off-- McNally believes that Minion is one of the best ways the film shows off its 3D expertise. "Minion literally has a fish tank for a head, and every time you see him, you have these very detailed light refractions and reflections. That, to me, spatially makes it extremely interesting, just to look at him. It's like you're looking at it through a magnifying glass, and you have all these strange ripples and distortions going on. It's really something."
The digital filmmaking finesse to create such a character might have turned McNally and the artists into the proverbial kids in the 3D candy shop--so a bit of self-restraint was intermittently necessary. David Lipton, head of effects, says, "Sometimes, we think, 'Wouldn't it be cool if something came right at the camera?' But then, we would have to consider the viewing experience. We don't try to go over-the-top with it. When presented with a choice, we wanted to keep the audience immersed in the film. Something jumping out of the screen tends to knock a viewer out of it."
While 2D animation is more than a perfectly serviceable tool for showcasing characters and their personalities, Phil McNally believes that 3D is a great magnifier of animation and what it can accomplish: "Animation brings the characters alive. 3D is just putting a layer on top of that. So, even now, after having worked on multiple 3D DreamWorks films, it's still very common for us to look at shots for the first time in 3D and be amazed. I still get knocked out, standing in front of these characters and sensing that they have a real presence."
METRO CITY…AND BEYOND
Though the team at DreamWorks Animation has had extensive experience building the worlds for their previous films, the task of building Metro City presented a refreshing challenge, one of a grand scale. James explains, "We've never had to create such a big city. When we saw the designs for 'Megamind,' we knew we were going to have to travel all over Metro City, because superheroes flying over a city cover lots of ground. We needed to be able to go right down next to some buildings, and then pop up and fly to the top of the tallest buildings and look at the vistas. That was a daunting challenge for us."
As vast and complex as Metro City is, the filmmakers were very aware of not letting the city and its detail distract from the characters and the story. "I wanted to let the visuals and the camerawork be as spectacular as they could be," says production designer David James. "But the design itself shouldn't be so over-the-top that we have to explain or make allowances for it. I'm a firm believer that the location needs to be the straight man." The visual effects team used real cities as the inspiration for Metro City. In taking their cameras to places like San Francisco, the team was able to capture the true level of detail an actual city holds.
But what's a city without its citizens? The visual effects artists had a few tricks up their sleeves in order to create the most diverse and unique civilians as possible. "Some of these secondary or strictly background characters are the most fun to conceptualize, because you can really go crazy with the design," enthuses art director Lamb.
In order to make as many variations as possible, the teams had to find a quick way to make each citizen look unique, without spending inordinate amounts of time crafting each 'look' individually. Welcome technical wizardry--Lamb continues, "We used an automated program that allowed us to create different bodies--tall, thin, fat, skinny, old, young--and from there, we mixed and matched the different heads on them throughout the film. We got to play God without developing a complex."
THE QUEST FOR GREATNESS
Producer Denise Nolan Cascino comments, "I think one of the biggest reasons superhero myths are so popular is that we still love that fantasy that anything is possible. What would life really be like with super powers? We set out to create that kind of fantastic adventure, but without a lot of the dark turmoil that sometimes accompanies a superhero story. Anything is possible in 'Megamind,' but you'll be laughing throughout the adventure."
"It's a hilariously funny movie, first and foremost," observes producer Lara Breay. "But it's also a heartfelt story of love and redemption in which Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill and David Cross get to blow a lot of stuff up. A lot of stuff. In fact, one of the things that made it special for all of us who worked on it is that it's the biggest movie we've ever attempted in terms of complexity and the technical challenges we had to overcome to bring a story this epic and explosive to the screen. Of course, moviegoers don't need to know that, or even necessarily care. They're in their seats to see an incredible story, and on that count at least, I hope we've delivered."
"At the end of the day, the story of 'Megamind' is about redemption," concludes director Tom McGrath. "It's basically saying no matter what life gives you and no matter how much you mess up, it's never too late to make the right choices. In the end, Megamind fulfills his true nature and becomes the superhero of Metro City, the one that they never really had. He bumbles a bit, but eventually, he gets it right."
TOM McGrath (Director) has been working in the field of entertainment for more than 20 years. "Megamind" marks the third film he has directed for DreamWorks Animation. He made his feature film directorial debut with the global hit "Madagascar" (on which he also served as writer and showcased his acting talents on the film, voicing the lead penguin, Skipper). McGrath followed the success of "Madagascar" with the box-office hit "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa."
Following the runaway success of "Madagascar" (and while working on its sequel) McGrath voiced Skipper for the short "The Madagascar Penguins in: The Christmas Caper" and provided voices for "Flushed Away" and "Shrek the Third."
McGrath previously worked in the areas of story and concept design for such features as "Cats & Dogs" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." He also worked as an animator and story artist on such animated films as "Space Jam" and "Cool World." His television work includes directing on "The Ren & Stimpy Show," as well as other projects for Nickelodeon. In addition, McGrath has worked on the shorts "Herd" and "The Thing What Lurked in the Tub," and as a directing animator on national commercials for Coors Light and Subaru.
McGrath graduated from the Character Animation program at Cal Arts after studying Industrial Design at the University of Washington
After graduating from Emerson College in Boston, ALAN SCHOOLCRAFT (Screenplay) lived in Los Angeles working in production until he was hired by the Coen Brothers to be their assistant in New York. He worked on such films as "The Big Lebowski," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "Intolerable Cruelty."
While working in New York, Alan began writing long distance with Brent Simons, his former college roommate living in Los Angeles. When they began gaining traction with their script "Mastermind" (a.k.a. "Megamind"), Alan relocated to Los Angeles. Over the next six years, Alan and Brent continued writing on assignment for DreamWorks, Universal Pictures and sold their script "All About Adam" to Disney Pictures.
Their future projects include a television deal with 20th Century Fox Television and the feature film "Dog Show" starring Ellen DeGeneres for Warner Bros. Pictures.
Megamind" is Alan Schoolcraft's first produced script.
Upon graduating from Emerson College in Boston, BRENT SIMONS (Screenplay) moved to Los Angeles to pursue a writing career in film and television. Over the next few years, he worked in both production and in writer management.
While pursuing his writing career, Brent studied with The Groundlings and helped found the Los Angeles based, sketch comedy group TROOP! With TROOP! Brent wrote and performed sketch comedy in Los Angeles and at various comedy festivals, including, Vancouver, New York, Chicago, Austin and Seattle. TROOP! Also performed with The Upright Citizens Brigade, Flight of the Conchords, and Zach Galifianakis.
In 2002, Brent began writing long distance with his friend and former roommate Alan Schoolcraft, who was living in New York. With their script "Mastermind" (a.k.a. "Megamind") gaining traction, Alan and Brent continued writing on assignment for such studios as DreamWorks and Universal Pictures and sold their script "All About Adam" to Disney Pictures.
Their future projects include a television deal with 20th Century Fox Television and the feature film "Dog Show" starring Ellen DeGeneres for Warner Bros. Pictures. "Megamind" is Brent Simons' first produced script.
THE ART OF ANIMATION