COG Considers: Happy Birthday to the World’s Most Powerful Pokemon
Today on COG Considers, let’s talk about Pokemon–or rather, let’s talk about a Pokemon. It’s February 6th, which marks the birthday of one of the franchise’s most beloved characters: Mewtwo. Despite appearing in just two movies (four if you count Genesect and the Legend Awakened and Detective Pikachu), Mewtwo remains compelling and mysterious to this day. For many of us old-school fans, he was the first sign of something truly incredible arriving in the franchise: stakes. From the vicious, traumatized animal of the games to the childish supervillain of Mewtwo Strikes Back to the many modern incarnations available, Mewtwo remains the Pokemon Master of our hearts. Here’s a look at why he’s lasted so long.
The most obvious reason, of course, is that Mewtwo is just cool. A big purple space cat with incredible psychic powers, created in a lab which he escaped from in the most destructive way possible? Sounds awesome! From his very first appearance in Pokemon Red, Blue, and Green, Mewtwo symbolized two things: the danger Pokemon could pose… and the horrors humans could inflict on Pokemon. Though he was introduced as a powerful, erratic, and even savage creature, Mewtwo always had a reason to be angry with humans, as many Pokedex entries have made clear throughout the years. Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum even went so far as to claim he has “the most savage heart among Pokémon.” In a series where almost no one is truly evil and friendship always wins the day, that makes the vicious and violent Mewtwo stand out.
Then Pokemon The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back came out, and what had been a vicious animal lashing out at its tormentors became an artificial god looking at its creators and judging them wanting. In this film, Mewtwo is reimagined as a fully-sapient individual, every bit as intelligent as a human. He stands out from other Pokemon because unlike them, he’s not willing to accept a life of being used by people–and when Team Rocket tries to force him to serve them, he snaps, setting off a chain of events that nearly lead to the world being destroyed. This version of Mewtwo, born in tragedy and forged by abuse, would go on to be the defining version for many. Looking at his unstable charisma, sheer power, and status as one of the few Pokemon villains who truly intended to kill everyone and destroy the world, I can definitely understand why he’s the one who keeps showing up in Smash Bros.
Technically speaking, the Mewtwos who appear in Genesect and Detective Pikachu aren’t the same Mewtwo who stormed into our hearts back in 2000 (1998 for Japanese audiences), but they draw from the same turbulent emotions and desperation to find a place in the world. These Newtwos are just a little further along the character arc that he started. Genesect shows its Mewtwo as an aloof but peaceful guardian, all that simmering rage finally laid to rest. Detective Pikachu, meanwhile, shows a Mewtwo who genuinely wants to help others, even after its trust is once again broken by humans who only want to use it. Even in Pokemon Journeys, it’s made clear that Mewtwo has come a long way from his world-destroying origins, though he certainly retains his world-destroying power.
Happy birthday, Mewtwo. It’s been a wild ride. I for one can’t wait to see where you’ll go next.